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 Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



My daughter, Lucy, is a corporate event planner in Chicago.  She has done work for the president, Oprah, McDonald’s, Coke and Target.  She has worked gigs from Turkey to Australia.  Maybe I’m not allowed to say all this.  (I’ll clear it with her.)  She said to me, “We’re doing something [in Chicago] for Topshop.  Do you know what that is, Dad?   It’s a women’s fashion store from London.  They want to bring in their own fashion-show coordinators from New York.  They don’t trust Chicago.”

Lucy Stratton in Chi, Dec. 2007

Chicago is fourth — behind New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco — in American coolness, Lucy said.  “They think we’re hicks.”

What do Londoners think of Cleveland?  Do they think it’s in northern England?  I think Cleveland is in northern England.  [Yes, it’s a county near Scotland.]

Cleveland, Tennessee.  Magic Chef makes stoves there.

Boston.  That was a cool town once.  In the early 1970s,  young people headed to Boston.  The town was popular because, for one thing, it had James Taylor . . .  “[The turnpike was covered] from Stockbridge to Boston.”  The Ohio Turnpike was covered from Youngstown to Toledo, but nobody noticed that.

New York wasn’t that popular in the 1970s.  Chicago wasn’t either.

These days Chicago attracts young people from all over Big Ten country.  Whenever I meet baby-boomers in Cleveland, I assume their kids are in Chicago unless told otherwise.

I like Pittsburgh.

“Keep Austin weird.”  That’s so lame.

I would like at least one of my three adult children to move back to Cleveland.  But I’m not twisting my kids’ arms.  Cleveland ain’t happening, at least not like the Big Four (Chi, LA, SF and NY).

The Big Four gets old when you get old, kids.

Which city is number five?  Minnie?  Seattle?  DC?  Cleveland?

Cleveland.  (I just polled myself.)



My challah purveyor is On the Rise Bakery in Cleveland Heights.  I know the owner and some of the help.

I went there to put up a poster for a klezmer concert:

The cashier said, “We don’t do religious events.”


I stammered, “It’s not religious. It’s the Workmen’s Circle. It’s secular. It’s bluegrass and klezmer.”

I wonder if the owner is against religion. I’ll have to ask him. I don’t think he is. He’s Jewish. I get along with him. The cashier said, “I’ll have to run it by the owner.”

I went back a week later, and the poster was up.

What if the poster hadn’t been up? I would have had to move my challah biz to another bakery — one with  “religious” flyers.

Thank God, the poster was up, because I really like On the Rise.

For tix to the Klezmer Mountain Boys concert, click here. The concert is 7 p.m. Sunday, Mandel JCC, Cleveland.

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1 Richard Grayson { 06.20.12 at 9:58 am }

I’m back in Brooklyn. A couple of years ago at the McCarren pool concerts, they had Topshop booths and stuff when they opened Topshop. It belongs in NY and there’s no other cool place in North America, bro. When you leave NY, you are camping out.

2 Richard Grayson { 06.20.12 at 10:01 am }

L.A. is cool, too. Also Miami sometimes.

Chicago is very nice, but it is not cool. It’s filled with people from the Midwest. I just left Arizona, which was ruined by Midwesterners. They should let all Mexicans stay and deport the Midwesterners and Arizona would be better. Midwesterners turn everything they touch into polite, good-natured shit.

3 Bill Jones { 06.20.12 at 11:40 am }

Nu, so why didn’t you put one up in Unger’s? I’d like to hear about that transaction, particularly how you explain sexually segregated seating. Of course, a mixed band already is a big strike against you. Never can tell. It’s not like Mea Shearim.


I support your point about when major cities get old even when they’re cool. Obviously truth telling doesn’t always fall on fertile minds.

4 don friedman { 06.20.12 at 12:47 pm }

We just played a wedding where the challa got married!

5 Kenny G { 06.20.12 at 1:05 pm }

On the Rise is too liberal to get into religious events, even “religious” performances like yours.

Yes, Seattle is very cool. Toronto is even more cool, so it depends how you define “American.”

I’m a baby boomer and my kids are NOT in Chi-Town, so there! Great, great place to spend time, though. Official FLW [Frank Lloyd Wright] Country supreme.

In case you didn’t know, Trader Joe’s now sells challah too, but theirs has the official “chesher” and is pareve (it takes a lot of chutzpah to produce a dairy challah….).

6 Marc { 06.20.12 at 4:22 pm }

When you have of Orthodox friends you get to eat a lot of home-baked challahs, by far the best. Note to Bert: Get invited to some Shabbos dinners at Orthodox homes for the best challahs you will ever find.

7 Ellen { 06.22.12 at 3:21 pm }

I’d bake you home-made challah. But you’d have to travel to the really cool town.

8 Garry Kanter { 06.23.12 at 6:11 am }

I always wonder if “cool” lists don’t say more about the author than the subject.

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