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.



1. DARBY CREEK, south of Columbus, Ohio

My wife, Alice, and I hit a tree stump in Darby Creek, and I flipped our canoe.  I  became entangled in branches and logs.  The current felt like nine bathtubs pouring over me at once.  Alice perched herself on a log in the creek, trying to save her iPod.

Tippecanoe and Bert too

The canoe ride was billed as a languid 12-mile paddle downstream with no white water.  But we canoed right after a major storm and a wet spring (last year).  I was rescued by two kayakers, who found my paddle and extricated my leg.  The canoeing outfitter did not want to talk about my adventure.  He was having a slow season and didn’t want anybody to overhear us.

During my flip, I kept repeating, “Do not panic.”  But I panicked some.

“Life is a very narrow bridge, and the important thing is to not be afraid.”  — Rabbi Nachman.   Be afraid, but not longer than, say, a minute.

Alice’s iPod made it.  My cell phone died.  Mother Nature made it.



I don’t go to Waffle House that often.  The closest Waffle House is in Medina, Ohio, and that’s the South.

What are grits?  Cream of wheat? What are you supposed to do with grits?  Pour syrup on them?

At Waffle House I order hash browns with onions.  That’s called “scattered and smothered.”

My son Teddy suggested I try Huddle House.  I went to one in South Carolina on vacation.  Pretty much the same as Waffle House.  (I can’t go to Waffle House — or Huddle House — with my band, because two guys in Yiddishe Cup don’t like “Awful House.”  They like baked potatoes at Wendy’s.)

My wife bought a two-pound bag of stone-ground grits at a gift shop in Charleston, South Carolina.   The label read, “Food for the Southern Soul.”

If that’s true, the South is in trouble.



The sports teams at Shaker Heights High are called the Red Raiders.  Why aren’t they the Shakers?  It would be class, similar to the University of Pennsylvania Quakers.

There are three real Shakers in Maine. That’s it.  Would these elderly women be offended if Shaker’s teams became the Shakers?  I doubt it.

Red Raiders.  What does that mean?

Shaker — the religion — is the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing.  Shaker central in Cleveland was the intersection of Coventry Road and North Park Boulevard.  The Shakers had a grist mill there.  They had buildings — dairies, farms, woodshops, who knows.

I live nine houses from Shaker, in Cleveland Heights.  I have a friend who lives in Shaker and Cleveland Heights.  Her living room is in Cleveland Heights and her bedroom is in Shaker.  Her house straddles the border.  I wonder how this affects her outlook.  She moved to the Heights from the West Coast and may not yet understand what “Shaker” connotes locally.  Harvey Pekar always played down his Shaker High diploma.  Reduced his street cred.

Go Shakers.  Classy name.  Lower Ivy League cachet.

Yiddishe Cup plays 7:30 p.m. Thurs., July 5,  on the lawn at Wiley Middle School, 2181 Miramar Blvd., University Heights, Ohio.  (Indoors if raining.) Free.  It’s “Family Fun Night” with games and free ice cream one-half hour before the show.

Next week’s blog post will go up Tues. July 3 instead of  July 4.

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1 Bill Jones { 06.27.12 at 1:11 pm }

Grits are ground corn that frequently are slathered/combined with grease or some sort in the South to make them “yummy”. Polenta and farina are similar to grits but have a cachet that a Native American dish would not, no matter how much the South tries.

As for the Red Raiders, I suspect the Shaker team was to be the Raiders and then to differentiate them from other “raiders” added the school color. This is supposition on my part.

Somehow I think Hunting Valley, Gates Mills, and Chagrin Falls have more inherent class than the name of a group of disappearing celibates, even if you’ve don’t know a thing about the former.

2 marc { 06.27.12 at 2:05 pm }

My daughter is a Jewish Quaker (she’s a Penn grad). Their sports teams are fighting Quakers.

3 David { 06.27.12 at 4:48 pm }

Some of you are grits challenged. For the uninitiated, which probably includes most readers of this blog, “grits” is a singular word. There is no such thing as a “grit.” As noted by a previous poster, grits is nothing more than ground corn, some grind the corn more coarsely than others, but it’s all grits. Polenta is just Italian grits. The Italian name sells better in fancy restaurants, but it’s all the same stuff. If you know how to prepare it, it can be delicious. My wife makes a grits casserole that even yankee Jews like.

4 Garry Kanter { 06.28.12 at 5:39 am }

I was sitting at the counter at Corky & Lenny’s not too long ago at breakfast time.

I ask the waitress if they have grits. She gives me the look and practically snears “of course not.”

But they sell BLT’s (The “B” is for “bacon.”) So why is it so outlandish to ask about grits?

5 Kenny G { 06.28.12 at 9:44 am }

On our Atlanta trip in the late ’90s we went to Stone Mountain and the Waffle House there. I wanted to concentrate on the “Southern” cuisine down there, when possible with our level of kashruth:

Lillian often orders grits when they’re available at places like the the late Fat Fish Blue, Shaker Square diner, Zanzibar Soul Fusion, or Phil the Fire. To me it’s kind of Cream of Wheat (or is it Rice?). Cheesy is good, though sometimes it’s overspiced.

6 jeff moss { 07.11.12 at 11:12 am }

There is a Waffle House on Vine Street in Willoughby/Eastlake.

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