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.




Every January I spend a day filling out employer tax forms.

My favorite is the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) form.

I did my first FUTA Form 940 in 1978, when my dad went to Florida for the winter.  He and his high school buddies golfed in Boca Raton, and I filled out FUTAs in Cleveland.

Not bad.  I like tax forms better than golf.

Toby Stratton (far L) w/ friends at Boca Lago CC, 1983

The treasurer of Ohio likes his W-2 reconciliations promptly.  The Ohio Bureau of Employment Services also likes its money quickly.  The  Ohio Workers  Compensation bureau has rachmones (pity) and bugs me only twice a year, not quarterly like everybody else.

I used an IBM Selectric-style typewriter for tax forms until the machine died last year.  The A key wouldn’t work.  That was its main drawback.
“ lbert
Str tton”  didn’t cut it with the government.  I threw out the typewriter and several boxes of Ko-Rec-Type.

Now I use IRS computer forms, except for my Yiddishe Cup 1099s, which I do by hand.

Last year I used blue ink on Yiddishe Cup’s 1099s.

The gobierno prefers black ink, I’ve learned.  I’ll get with the program this year.

What are you in jail for?

Blue ink.

No thanks.


I wore a camping headlamp and crawled around the attic, culling old manila folders, making room for new files.

The old files weren’t read by anybody.

Why did I save all this stuff?

Because the government wanted me to.

I got insulation flecks on my fleece jacket.  It was freezing up there.  And there were mouse droppings and desiccated rubber bands.

My dad used to recycle manila folders.  For instance, he would reuse the file “1975 Plumbing” in 1981.

I threw out 30 pounds of paid invoices, checks and rent rolls.  I do this every January.

Should I feel nostalgic?

I don’t.

Here’s an op-ed, “From Soltzberg to Stratton,” from last week’s Jerusalem Post (Jan. 17).

Theodore “Toby” Stratton (ne Soltzberg), 1938, age 21

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1 Garry Kanter { 01.25.12 at 8:47 am }

Great writing this week. Both of them. Thanks!

2 Kenny G { 01.25.12 at 10:31 am }

I maintain tax-related records something like that too, with the older ones in the attic and most discarded gradually. Also the dried rubber bands, etc. So I’m not the only one…

Your dad and his cronies were sure spiffy dressers. I’ll bet if they wore belts with this attire, they would have been white — no? White shoes, perhaps, too.

1983 is a little late for the garb. When I came here in ’73, the style was dwindling, but readily seen with older men.

Anyway, perhaps the look can give you some ideas for your band — seems you’ve done about everything else.

3 Bert { 01.25.12 at 11:40 am }

To Kenny G:

The white-belt, white-shoe look was early-bird special attire, not golf-course wear. That’s how I remember it.

4 Don E { 01.25.12 at 3:39 pm }

As a Cincinnatian, I’m self-conscious engaging on the white shoes/white belt topic. But wouldn’t that be a “two-thirds Cleveland” – i.e. no tie?

5 Bert { 01.25.12 at 4:24 pm }

To Don E:

Are you saying a “full Cleveland” would be white shoes, white belts and a tie?

That’s not a “full Cleveland.”

I just learned what a “full Cleveland,” sartorially speaking, is:

11 August 1977, San Mateo (CA) Times:
“Jules Witcover, the Washington Post political correspondent, describes something called the ‘Full Cleveland’ in Marathon, his book on the 1976 presidential campaign. The full Cleveland was the informal uniform worn by a labor delegation from Ohio — baby blue polyester leisure suit, white open collar shirt, white belt, white socks and white patent leather shoes.’

6 Kenny G { 01.25.12 at 4:31 pm }

When I came [to Cleveland], I noticed whites didn’t have white-wall tires on their cars — this was associated with “minorities.” In cities with fewer “minorities,” I saw more whites who still had the white-wall tires. Slightly different topic, but as long as we’re writin’ about “white”…

On same topic, I see here [in Cleveland] primarily only black males with the very decorative blingy eyewear (perhaps some hip-hoppers, too), but in Paris I saw many white males with this.

7 marc { 01.25.12 at 5:16 pm }

I was going though our business records today and found some old ledger books. We have records from 1942.

My favorite was 5 tons of coal for $62.50.

8 Don E { 01.25.12 at 7:55 pm }

I appreciate being enlightened on the “full Cleveland” and, of course, deeply regret not appropriately crediting the city with its contribution to 70’s fashion.

9 Kenny G { 01.26.12 at 8:53 am }

Greater Cleveland contributed to the Pink Flamingo Boom a few decades earlier (and, in some, cases, far later).

10 jeff moss { 06.01.12 at 3:33 pm }

My dad is a lawyer, and he has every file from the time he started practicing law in 1983.
You never know when you might need it…

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