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.



(A version of this post appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer 11/4/12.)

When will it end?

Superstorm Sandy or the election?


Definitely by Tuesday.

Ohio returns to flyover status Tuesday, and I’m back to looking for celebs at Ohio Turnpike rest stops — bands and gangsters traveling from New York to Chicago.

Bill Clinton, Bruce Springsteen and Condoleezza Rice: history.

My friend Jane posted on Facebook: “Can’t wait until this election season is over so I can be sane again.”

A friend from Rhode Island asked me, “How is it living in a swing state?”

“It’s swinging,” I said.  It’s sweet. We’re loved.

When I’m not loved, I’m a landlord. I receive calls from political operatives who want to rent stores for “staging areas.”

I haven’t rented to a politician in years, because politicians tend to trash stores and not pay enough rent. The campaign workers are gone the day after the election, but the pizza boxes aren’t. And where are the keys?

I’m supposed to give the store away cheap, as a political gesture. My gesture: Pay and I’ll rent to you.

“I’m Brian,” said the young man on the phone.

“Where are you from?” I asked. He didn’t sound local.

“I’m in Cleveland right now.”

“I see.”

“I need the store for a few days.”

“How many people will be in the store?”

“Twenty to 30 people. They’ll go out canvassing. Teams are sent out.”

Twenty to 30 people is a lot of foot traffic for a 1,000 square-foot store, and a lot of pizza boxes.

Plain or pepperoni.

I’ll never know.  My price was too high, I guess.


From the history channel . . .


When a relative ran for school board and lost, my father said, “Don’t run again.  You don’t want to get a loser’s reputation.”

My relative didn’t run again.

I, too, play by my dad’s rules.

I might run.  When?  Not saying.

First, a little background: I was a Kennedy man.  (Who wasn’t?  A lot of people.)

Bert Stratton w/ Kennedy buttons, Ohio Stadium, 1960

I started my own country (on paper) in sixth grade and elected presidents and representatives.  My country was a solace, because  in the real world I couldn’t run for president because a) I wasn’t 35 and b) I was Jewish.

My mother said I could run and win.  She duped me!  My man, Abe Ribicoff of Connecticut, couldn’t even run.  Newsweek  said the country wasn’t ready for the Ribman for prez or even veep.

Now presumably a Jew could win the nomination for the top job.

Let me be clear: I won’t start out at school-board level or even vice president.

My Little League teammate Joel Hyatt (Cleveland Heights High ’68) ran for U.S. Senate and got clobbered.  He hadn’t paid his dues; he hadn’t run for lesser offices.

Lee Fisher wins state senate seat, 1982

Lee Fisher (Shaker Heights High ’69) paid dues.  I saw him at civic club meetings in Collinwood in 1982:  six neighbors, me and Lee.  Fisher eventually climbed to lieutenant governor. Then he got clobbered for the U.S. Senate.  He paid  dues.  Give him that.

I’m willing to pay dues.  About $10.

My American history teacher in high school said Stratton is a good political name.  (My teacher was Americo Betori.  He should have run for mayor of Cleveland in 1950.  He would have won.)

Stratton.  Remember that name.


A few weeks ago at Simchat Torah, the rabbi said, “We will now read the last verse of the Book of Deuteronomy.”  A Yiddishe Cup musician — not paying close attention — said, “Did he just say, ‘We will now read from the Book of Mitt Romney’?”

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1 Mark Schilling { 10.31.12 at 10:41 am }

I was a Republican stalwart in 1960 — and still have an “I’m for Nixon and Lodge” and a “Keep Ayres Congressman” badge to prove it. What happened?

I remember my first grade teacher, Miss Donson, announcing that one of us could be president some day. We looked around at each other, wondering who it would be. (I wasn’t thinking of the girls, I must admit.)

2 Charlie B { 10.31.12 at 12:53 pm }

Can we call that Kennedy campaign item a “button”? It’s got the diameter of a dinner plate. I’ve still got mine salted away in a box full of such things…from a time when it seemed to matter more. Now I’m more focused on current prices for 1960s political ephemera on eBay.

3 Ted { 10.31.12 at 1:20 pm }

I was asked recently, “Who was Nixon’s running mate in 1960?” Couldn’t do it. It was for $20.

You just don’t hear much about Henry Cabot Lodge.

4 Kenny G { 11.01.12 at 11:15 am }

I think my parents both suppored Eisenhower in ’52 and ’56, though my father acknowledged in later years Stevenson was preferred by many of the more intellectual types.

1960 was the election we really got involved in in school, and it was kind of exciting. As our middle school, Brighton, was approx. one-third Jewish and it appeared my class, or the whole school, was approximately 2/3 for Nixon, 1/3 for Kennedy. We discussed the election a lot in 7th-grade Social Studies with Mrs. Costa, who was Jewish and admitted she favored Kennedy but tried to keep the discussion very open.

We had an assembly, I recall, where both sides were presented. I was watching tv at a moment when the popular vote changed from Nixon to Kennedy, and when it was all done I was extremely surprised Kennedy won (next morning).

After he was killed I think my mother had a better opinion of him. Once my father became aware of any speck of scandalous behavior, such as JFK as a womanizer, he could never favor that person very much, whether it be a politician, entertainer, etc.

5 Kenny G { 11.07.12 at 11:29 am }

I also got to see both 1960 prez candidates at big rallies in Rochester’s War Memorial. I recall a 10,000 figure was given for attendance at each, and this same Mrs. Costa had said in class “you couldn’t fit a horseshoe” in the auditorium for one of them.

6 Nina { 05.11.13 at 3:33 pm }

Hello, we would love to use your photo
“Bert Stratton w/ Kennedy buttons, Ohio Stadium, 1960” in an upcoming book on Kennedy’s campaign. Please email me if it is available.
Thank you,

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