Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz too. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.




Toilets and radiator valves aren’t that much fun to talk about.

Except my dad, Toby, thought they were.

He rambled on about radiator valves and vents. radiator-valves I said, “I wouldn’t mind being the next Cannonball Adderley.”

“Are you pulling my leg, son? Tell me, so I won’t get mad!”

I was half-pulling his leg.  I liked to upset him — not drive him crazy, just rile him.

Toby said, “The arts are one big ego trip.”

All quiet on the father-son front. I had a flesh wound.

Toby took me to a garbage meeting at the Commerce Club on the second floor of the Theatrical Grill in downtown Cleveland.  I was about 24.  We met haulers, real estate brokers, boiler guys and bankers.

I heard jazz wafting up from the piano bar downstairs.  Glenn Covington was on keys.

A black man — a garbage hauler — interrupted my listening reverie.  He said, “I’m Rasool Akar, Recycling Equipment Company.  Compactors, balers and individualized service.  You like the music?”

“Yeah, the dude sounds pretty hip,” I said.

“I like the dudes who play piano at the same time better. Ferrante and Teicher,” Rasool said.

Dude, you’ve got to be kidding! A Black Muslim into Ferrante and Teicher.

chimesThe maître d’ announced the end of the cocktail hour with a chime, and we ate dinner, listening to a speech from the head man of Ohio EPA.

The main question at our table — directed to my dad mostly — was: “You buying?”  (Buying buildings, compactors, Flushmates, anything.)

Toby said, “Depends on the kid.”  Meaning: Depends if Mr. Luftmentsh — Mr. Head-in-the-clouds Son — goes into the real estate biz.

I went into the real estate biz.

My best business moment: opening a checking account for Yiddishe Cup in 1994.  My late father would have been proud I had started a biz from scratch.

My banker was Ervin, a black man who knew all about Don Byron and klezmer.  Ervin was my banker for about a year.  Then he moved to another branch. I tried to follow him. Then he moved again. Screw it.

Ervin printed my checks wrong.  They came out “Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Bank.”  Those were keepers.


My dad loved banks. “Banking is the absolute best business,” Toby had said. “Bankers use other people’s money to make money.”

I started a bank, Dad. The Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Bank offers several enjoyable CDs and free kvetching.

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