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.

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.



Poet Robert Bly’s worst nightmare was visiting his family in Minnesota and attending hockey games.  Maybe not as bad as Vietnam, but up there pain-wise, he said.

Bly’s anti-Midwest rap was a big hit in Ann Arbor in the 1970s.  Bly’s main message: your parents are middle-class stiffs; your real family is elsewhere.  Try the counterculture.

Robert Bly, 1970

Bly was a 44-year-old Harvard man in a ridiculous serape.  He had a lot of chutzpah dispensing life advice in that shmate.

I was a mama’s boy and proud of it.  My family was out of sight.  Whenever I went home for vacation, I received the treatment due the future Dr. Stratton.  I did the occasional minor chore, like emptying the dishwasher and dusting.

Some of my college buddies didn’t go home.  They were scared of becoming middle-class, even for a single weekend.

At home I hung around with old neighborhood pals.  My friend John was installing tanning booths.  My other neighbor, Frank (not his real name), owned shares in a racehorse.  Frank worked as a mutuel clerk at the day-time Thoroughbred track and at the trotters’ track at night.  When Frank wasn’t working, he was  firing his .357 magnum at beer cans in the woods.

I was an American Jew who knew something about guns.  Not a lot, but enough to turn a burglar into Swiss cheese with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Bly knew about guns, too, and Midwestern culture.  But it wasn’t his thing.


Mark Schilling, 1970

For my college American English class,  I traveled with my friend (and classmate) Mark Schilling to southwest Ohio to research dialects.  We asked the Buckeye hicks to choose between bag/sack,
eaves trough /gutter,
belly whopper/belly slam,
lightning bug/firefly
and warsh/wash.

Mark’s parents said “warsh” instead of “wash.” They lived in Troy, Ohio, just north of Dayton.  (This was North Midland dialect country.)

Mark didn’t return to Troy after college.  He wasn’t interested in becoming a J.C. Penney store manager like his dad.

Mark Schilling, 1977

Mark went to L.A. , then on to Japan.

He’s still in Japan 36 years later.

Beat the drum for Mark Schilling, Bly.

Bly, you only spent a year or two in Norway!




Mark Schilling, 2010:

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1 Mark Schilling { 07.27.11 at 10:41 am }

You know, I still have that dialect research paper — a well-deserved A. I’d like a copy of that 1970 pic, though — I didn’t know it existed.

As for the expat thing — I fell into it more than I planned it. As the son of a corporate gypsy — six moves by the time I was 18 — I didn’t have roots anywhere, so why not follow the prevailing wind? It just happened to be blowing over the Pacific…

2 Irwin { 07.27.11 at 10:48 am }

Mark Schilling is one of the most interesting men that I know. As a fellow bicyclist, he has enormous strength and endurance.

And he can’t be beat as a conversationalist, having traveled throughout the world in the capacity as a movie critic.

Here’s to Mark. Lechayim!!

3 alice { 07.27.11 at 10:52 am }

This fear of becoming middle class was/is an issue. Besides our wedding vows, you made me promise not to become bourgeois. What’s the fear? Golf pants, a big American car, tennis club, Lazyboy chair? You own and love them all.

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