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.



“Forty years ago, the news media were filled with reports of a generation gap.  Let’s be grateful that we’ve finally solved that problem.” —  Karen  Fingerman and Frank Furstenberg, op-ed, New York Times, 5/31/12.

Beachwood, Ohio, 1973 

I live with my parents at the Mark IV, a high-rise apartment by the freeway.

I’m living with my parents at age 23!  My life is so unexciting it couldn’t get published in a mortuary journal.

Chekhov said, “People do not go to the North Pole and fall off icebergs.  They go to offices, quarrel with their wives and eat cabbage soup.”

I want to go to the North Pole.

My dad almost clobbered me because I didn’t want to save five dollars on traveler’s checks by comparison shopping at banks.  “You aren’t a millionaire yet,” he said, scratching himself.  He was wearing just underwear.

Tonight at a party — a parents’ party — Zoltan Rich, the Hungarian know-it-all, said, “The students protest for entirely selfish reasons.  You know what the chief word is we’re missing — the key to the whole discussion?  It’s obligation.  Parents have abrogated their responsibility.”

It’s time to go.

A guy from Case Western Reserve said he might give me a ride out west tomorrow.

California or Mexico?

I won’t come back here for at least six months.  My mother has a bridge game here tomorrow.  If I’m within 100 feet of that game, I die.

Move along.  Try the Rand McNally approach to self-discovery . . .

It’s 3 a.m. in Utah.  I’m under a lamppost, “sleeping” in a sleeping bag.  I hear deer.  Or is it bears?  I’m afraid of nature!  I hear semis shifting.

I wonder if I like “freak” America.  Deep down I’m straighter than a library science major.  I could wind up back in Cleveland.  You can go home again.

Or maybe I’ll settle out in California.

My dad says, “I’m sure you’ll be a success some day.”

At what?  Whatever it is, I should do a good job of it.  My father never says, “What are your plans? What do you see yourself doing in ten years?”  That would be cruel.


My last month in Cleveland was a hell.  But not a bad hell.  My mother lined up dates for me.  The dates were daughters of my mom’s friends.  I took  girls to bars and ordered 7&7s.  That was my booze repertoire: 7&7s.

I got feedback about the dates from my mother through back channels.  She picked up tidbits at bridge games.  Some of the girls liked me, some didn’t.  One girl thought I was “a little weird.”

She was weird.  She had no business dragging me through her dad’s kangaroo court (his living room was plastered with World War II medals) for interrogation. What are my plans?  What do I do?

What’s an apricot sour?  That’s what I want to know.  She ordered that.

I’m sitting on the dock of the bay in Bodega Bay, California.  I’m eating squid.  Or maybe it’s a big snail.  I’m not sure.  I’m at a marine lab.  Wastin’ time?  I don’t know yet.

Part of this post was on, 10/12/11, called “Mom’s Dating Service.”

Yiddishe Cup plays a tribute to Mickey Katz  7 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 9, at Cain Park, Alma Theater, Cleveland Heights.  For tickets: or 216-371-3000.

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1 Ari Davidow { 07.25.12 at 11:34 am }

Cool? [re:] You are as cool as it gets. Why, just last night I was having dinner with Cleveland alum Dan Kirschner and our wives, talking about that hip Cleveland personality who plays clarinet in a klezmer band, um, name is on the tip of my tongue, but, damn, what a great guy, yeah, BERT STRATTON! Harvey Pekar’s got nothing on you, man.

2 alice { 07.25.12 at 8:25 pm }

LOL. “1973” could be a sequel script for The Graduate part 2. Oh the ennui of living at home after college. When my parents went to bed, I would blast Santana in the den and dance wildly in the dark. I was like a caged animal. Is it still that bad for kids living at home? Has the generation gap closed at all?

3 Mark Schilling { 07.26.12 at 7:05 am }

More treasures from the attic! Back then we were all scheming to make the Great Escape. When I first saw the movie, age 13, I liked the two guys who stole bicycles and kept peddling until they reached a big harbor and stowed away on a big ship. They were just about the only ones who made it!
But every other guy who saw TGE wanted to be Steve McQueen..

I’m still on that ship today.

4 Bert Stratton { 07.26.12 at 8:35 am }

To Alice:

The “generation gap” is history. It was a part of the 1960s cultural thunderstorm, for better or worse.

To Mark Schilling:

I take it that “more treasures from the attic” means golden-ager blog posts.

I have a ton in the attic. Stay tuned.

5 Kenny G { 07.26.12 at 9:57 am }

First of all, Bert, where the h-ll is “Side B??” I left plenty of time on the bus for it and “no delivery!”

As for your “Library Science crack” – again, twice within a week, cool it, man! Some of us “were” (at least) quite hip…. Look, we had one party, anyway, where about ten of us represented a group of a hundred in the Dewey Decimal System.

Question: What’s less hip than a mother who lands dates for her kids? Response: when she reviews what she heard about it through bridge game women-talk and the son has to listen….

Finally, squid?/snails?…. either would be a hard sell in the vicinity of Cedar-Green and southward.

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