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.


 
 

ALMOST BLACK LIKE ME

At Monte’s bar in South Euclid, there was a lot of talk about blacks, but no blacks.

For instance, a Harley Electra Glide was a “nigger-lighted” Harley.  The Harley Electra Glide was the black man’s bike because it had after-market trim lights.  The white man’s bike was the Harley Sportster, the chopper.

“Nigger fishing” meant casting from the power-plant pier instead of from a boat.  Sheepshead was a “nigger fish,” usually caught from the pier.  Lake Erie perch was a high-end fish, often requiring a boat to catch.

Monte’s bar also featured Italian specials like tizzone (“coal”) and mulunyan (“eggplant”).

I went to Monte’s to see my neighborhood friend Frank, a mutuel clerk at the racetrack.  He wore a snub-nosed .38 in a shoulder harness and always had a wad of cash.  Frankie didn’t like dirty money.  “I can’t stand it when people give me dirty bills,” he said.

Frank’s mother had played banjo in an all-women’s band, and his father had idolized trumpeter Harry James.

Frank played trumpet in a white soul band.  He kidded me because I dabbled in a “nigger band” — a band with blacks.

A bad-ass mo'fo, 1969, Michigan dorm

I was interested in soul jazz (Hank Crawford, Wes Montgomery), which I had   heard at my college dorm.  I had lived across the hall from three Detroit black kids who were from inside 8 Mile — way inside.  Two were  dopers into scag (heroin), grass and cocaine.  They railed at me for being so straight and suburban.  I bothered them.  They would say: “Bert, you be a trippin’ motherfucker . . . You’re a bitch with your shit . . . That motherfucker be trippin’ . . . ”

They kidded me because they loved me  . . . “Stop playing that country shit!”  (I played blues harmonica along to Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry tapes.)

When money was low, the dopers would go to the parking garage across from the dorm and sniff gas from cars for a high.  That was called “hitting the tank.”

The third black kid was a non-doper.  He was middle-class,  an “elite.”  He moved to another floor and became a doctor.

At Monte’s bar, patrons liked the idea of blacks and black slang.   I was the maven on the subject.  Frankie suggested I go to the ghetto and talk shit.

Great idea.  I went to Hough and walked past an angry black man (not too hard to find in the early 1970s) and said, “What’s happnin’, man?”

“Nothin’ to it,” the man said, not breaking stride.

I was hip.  He was hip.

I stayed hip for  another two years, until I took an ulpan (Hebrew course) at Case Western Reserve Hillel.

—-
“Monte’s bar” is a made-up name.  “Frank” is also a pseudonym.

More on Frankie at today’s CoolCleveland.com.  See “Mom’s Dating Service.”

World-class shofar playing from Cleveland . . .

More on this guy — and his Kickstarter project —  here.

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8 comments

1 Kenny G { 10.12.11 at 9:43 am }

This guy in the video, with the funny glasses, sounds so New Yorkish….

Bert – Did you get to see the dueling shofars at Kangesser [Park Synagogue, Cleveland] on Rosh Hashanah? Definitely “different.”

2 Kenny G { 10.12.11 at 9:45 am }

BTW, this time I clicked the “Confirm” button first, but usually I waste 5-10 seconds in clicking the “Submit” first and then have to do the other to post at all. If you could do something to change the “Submit” button to UNDER the other little box, I bet there are others to who would stop wasting the precious time.

3 Bill Jones { 10.12.11 at 10:16 am }

Thanks for bringing Mushy Krongold to a wider audience. He certainly has plenty of shofar talent, to say the least. At the same time, I suggest that the ongoing worship of lungs in shofar blowers is not what the purpose of the shofar blowing is all about. Hopefully Mushy’s use, I strongly suspect, of circular breathing, which essentially permits continuous unbroken sound output for as long as you want to hear it, will bring this “race” to an end.

And talking about race, you really should not. It doesn’t befit you anymore than it does Perry’s camp.

Mazel tov on your recognition as Cleveland Jewish New columnist.

4 Charlie B { 10.12.11 at 12:00 pm }

Whose dorm room is that? Do I see a poster from some sort of uprising? Detroit 1967? Hip-ass to see our old friend, A!

5 don friedman { 10.12.11 at 1:06 pm }

I’ll write a comment when I stop laughing. I don’t know why I never saw you at the ‘jams’ at the Native Son in the late 80’s. I hope you don’t have a rock like Rick Perry had.

6 Bert { 10.12.11 at 2:38 pm }

To Kenny G:

No, I wasn’t at the dueling shofars at Park.

To Charlie B:

The dorm room was mine and John I’s. John had a poster of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention melee.

7 Garry K { 10.13.11 at 1:26 am }

You got choots-pah, sir. Not many folks would post those words. I take no offense as they were used.

Enjoyed the column. That’s a nice thing about blogging, isn’t it? You got a little something on your mind, you can share it. A photo, some reminisces, bing-bang-boom, on to the next thing you gotta do.

My apologies if I seem to have trivialized the effort you put forth. That’s not my intent.

8 Mark Schilling { 10.17.11 at 2:04 am }

I bet the Monte’s bar flies liked the “idea” of blacks — but they were also meatheads, as you so dryly imply.

But weren’t many of us from that place and era? Two of my 14-year-old friends and I drew comics with a black hero based on a kid we knew at our jr high who was forever getting into trouble. We imagined him as a kick-ass Marine sergeant with a sly grin on his face and an unfiltered cigarette between his exaggerated lips. We mocked, but admired. One story of many…

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