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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

WHERE DID YOU GO TO
HIGH SCHOOL?

 

When Mel, the bride’s father,  inquired about Yiddishe Cup’s fees, he said his grandmother had baby-sat Joel Grey (Mickey Katz’s son).  Mel asked if Yiddishe Cup knew any Mickey Katz tunes.

I said, “We play more Mickey Katz songs than anybody in the world! You’ve heard us, right?”

No, he hadn’t.

I said, “Have you been under a rock for twenty-one years?”

Mel was from Cleveland.  Where had he been hiding?  Mel said he didn’t get around much.  He used to get around.  He said, “Where did you go to high school?”

“Brush,” I said.

Mel graduated from nearby Cleveland Heights High — a rival — but, nevertheless, he was OK with Brush High.  He had played softball with Brush boys in a JCC league.  Mel was six years old than me; I didn’t know any of his Brush buddies.

Mel’s daughter — the bride — was 31 and living in Brooklyn — Yiddishe Cup’s target demographic.  I said, “Has your daughter checked out Yiddishe Cup’s Web site? It doesn’t matter if you like Mickey Katz.  She’s calling the shots. ”

“Do you know Joel Schackne?” Mel said.  (Schackne had been a champion tennis player at Heights High.)

“I know of him.  Whose idea is the Jewish music?”

“Schackne is in Florida.  He’s still playing tennis.”

“What does your daughter think about Jewish music?”

“What AZA were you in?”  (AZA: a B’nai B’rith boys’ club.)

“I was in a JCC club.”

joel-shakne

The Great Schackne

A week later, I met Bob, a cleaning supply man, and also a Heights High grad.  I met him at an AIPAC meeting.   Bob was not OK with Brush.  He said, “Brush was a bunch of greasers and Italians!”

The AIPAC speaker, a Brush grad by the way, had left Cleveland years ago to attain multiple Ivy League degrees and become a weapons analyst with the government, maybe the CIA.  He was an old friend of mine.  I wanted to talk Iranian nuclear capabilities with him.  The inside story.  He didn’t.

brush-greaser1Ron, a Brush graduate living in Connecticut, phoned to say he was in Cleveland at a nursing home, visiting his dying mother.  Ron asked if anybody was still in town.  (“Anybody” meant “Our Crowd.”)

I said, “Nobody is here.” Most of our gang had left.  The Jewish guys still in town were, for the most part, entrepreneurs and family-business owners.  A couple local guys had even made serious money.  One, who built cell phone towers, was a playboy with femme fatales poolside.

Howard, a Brush grad in New York, called.   He was coming through Cleveland.  His parents were moving to assisted living.  He said we should get together.

Did I have a post–high school life?

I think so.  I’m not stuck on high school.  But the subject does come up.  I live in my hometown.  What can I say?

Go Arcs.
—-
1. Mel didn’t hire Yiddishe Cup for his daughter’s wedding.
2. The Arcs is the nickname of Charles F. Brush High School.  Brush, a Cleveland inventor, developed the arc light, which illuminated streets prior to the incandescent bulb.

—-
A version of this post appeared in the Heights Observer online on April 26, 2011.

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3 comments

1 Margie { 06.29.11 at 10:21 am }

My Heights High reunion is coming up. I’ve started to receive emails from old, old friends. It’s actually more fun than I had expected it to be.

It’s good to hear that most people have had a life after high school. I can vouch for you, and me too, Bert.

2 Ellen { 06.29.11 at 11:08 am }

Hard for me to imagine the hometown life — hardly anyone left in my hometown of Ft. Dodge, Iowa — though strangely enough, my current place of residence rather closely resembles Ft. Dodge — so much so that I’ve been known to accidentally call it Ft. Dodge.

So maybe if we move away from our hometown we simply recreate it wherever we land…

And p.s.: I’m back from wherever I’ve been these past months.

3 Ted { 06.29.11 at 4:58 pm }

First question asked at any Toledo, Cleveland or Detroit social event: What high school did you go to?

It is assumed if you live there you are from there because why would anybody move there?

If it is a Catholic high school all the better.

One of my roommates in Phoenix is from Ft. Dodge.

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