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.



The small tough Jews in my high school were wrestlers, except for the one who was a gymnast.

I saw the gymnast — and his wife — years later at a Yiddishe Cup concert.  I said to the wife, “Your husband was a star!”  She didn’t seem to know that.

The great Reed Klein.  He went on to the Ohio State  gymnastics team.  Reed was the only gymnast in our high school.  There was no team.  Reed was an iron man and one small tough Jew.  Five-foot-five, max.

The other small tough Jews were Harry Kramer and Steve Gold.  They wrestled in very low weight classes, like 93 pounds and 103 pounds in junior high.

Small Jewish wrestlers — as a classification — are still with us.  The Cleveland Jewish News ran an article titled “Gross, Jacober, Harris place in state mat meet.”  The boys are Beachwood High’s 112-, 130- and 125-pound wrestlers.

My son Jack wrestled in  middle school.  The matches were so primal: two or three minutes of  animal behavior in a stinky windowless wrestling room.  Tough and scary.  And I was just watching.

My wife dated a wrestler in high school.

Maybe I should have wrestled.

It never entered my mind.  I don’t like singlets.  I don’t like armpits – other guys’.  I don’t like headlocks, unless Bobo Brazil is giving one to Lord Layton, and it’s 1960.


The yideo below, “Stratton of Judea,” is from the Klezmer Guy live show.  The clip is about my father changing his last name.   One of my better efforts.

The text — but not the video — was posted here Sept. 16, 2009.


Yiddishe Cup plays 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug 25, at Wiley Middle School, 2181 Miramar Blvd., University Heights, Ohio.  The concert is in the air-conditioned auditorium rather than on the lawn, due to construction outside the building.   Free.  More info at 216-932-7800.

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1 Garry K { 08.17.11 at 8:38 am }

Enjoyed the column. You may have a typo – “over guys’.” Maybe that should be “other guys'”?

Enjoyed the rental column even more. I just bought a house in South Euclid from HUD that I will be renting out. Wish me luck with the “tenants and toilets.”

2 Bert { 08.17.11 at 9:24 am }

To Garry K:

Thanks for spotting the typo. I’ve just corrected it.

You spotted the error before most readers even saw it. Nice move. (Most readers arrive at the Klezmer Guy depot around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and you took the early train.)

Re: South Euclid rental. Good luck!

3 Kenny G { 08.17.11 at 9:40 am }

At my high school, Brighton High(suburb of Rochester, NY), approximately 35-40% Jewish in my period, overrepresented with Jewish kids were Social Science Forum, International Relations Club, Chess Club, Bridge Club, bands, orchestras, choirs, student government, and probably tennis or golf, language clubs, publications groups.

Underrepresented were all other sports (probably, especially football), Hi-Y, and Y-Teens.

I imagine Shaker Hts. High School was similar at the time, except there were a handful of “minorities.”
We had virtually none (a few “Asian,” etc.).

4 Susan Greene { 08.17.11 at 3:22 pm }

I loved the story [video] about your father. I would bet that most of the time, people changed their name because they could not get a job. That’s why my grandfather changed his name.

It had nothing to do with passing, and everything to do with supporting his family. Eventually, he had his own business.

5 Kenny G { 08.24.11 at 10:58 am }

Changing a name “to pass” vs. changing a name “to get a job” – both are due to fear of actual or fear of anti-Semitism. I guess you mean the one who changes the name to get the job doesn’t necessarily want to abandon Judaism, however how long would he or she stay on the job without its coming out somewhere his or her Judaism?….

6 seth { 08.31.11 at 11:19 pm }

I liked the story [video] about your father too.

I didn’t know about my father’s “real name” until some time in my teens…his father had changed it supposedly on a stopover in London on his way from Poland. Allegedly saw a Marks and Spencer dept. store. It took a number of years before we could joke with him about the old name…

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