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. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.
 

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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

QUARTER STEALERS

Some thieves specialize in quarters. They pry open coin boxes on washing machines and dryers in laundry rooms.

Quarter stealers did this a couple times at one of my apartment buildings. One time the building manager ran into them, took their picture, and asked them who they were. They said they were Sarah and Michael.

Afterward, the building manager handed the photo over to the police. Sarah and Michael were then videoed pouring quarters into a coin-sorting machine at a nearby grocery store.

Sarah and Michael hit 21 buildings on the West Side, the cops told me.

About a month later,  I got a letter from the county prosecutor about Paul and Erin — the crooks’ real names.  They were charged with burglary, possessing criminal tools, aggravated theft, theft, tampering with coin machines and vandalism.  The thieves wound up in prison.

My damages: $884.50.

That’s a lot of quarters. (For the record: 3,538.)

SIDE B

Not another fake profile! (The complete fake-profile series is here.)

THE BOXER

I’m a boxer. That’s the essence of who I am.

I’m not a heavyweight so you probably don’t know me. I grew up boxing. I listened to Johansson-Patterson fights on the radio. Also, Patterson versus Clay. I boxed at the Ukrainian Club, AAU and Junior Golden Gloves.

My parents were all for it. My father encouraged boxing. In my dad’s day, Jewish fighters frequently hit the top: Jackie Davis, Benny Leonard. Locally, Harry Levine was a good light heavyweight. Levine fought with his face out front. If it got hit, his head would shake like a bobblehead. He kept hitting though.

My last sanctioned fight was in 1968 against Johnny Montello. We were from the same neighborhood. The bout was old-school, Italian versus Jew. It was a 1930s ethnic turf battle but in the 1960s! Johnny was just back from ’Nam. He had been a cook over there. He was punchy (foggy-headed). He had boxed too much in the Army.

Johnny got into my face verbally, like Ali, saying: “You’re always talking about Jewish shit.” Johnny pointed at the Star of David on my trunks.

I said, “You should know one thing about me: being Jewish is who I am. Everything I do is a part of that.” I was a college student back then. Up at Michigan, I boxed in Waterman Gym — with myself. Existential stuff.

My buddies attended the Montello fight. My friends were hippies. Montello’s friends were extras from Grease.

Montello broke my nose and gave me a concussion. After that, I promised my parents I would quit boxing. My dad, finally, thought it was a good idea and got me private tennis lessons. Tennis was like boxing, he said, but without hitting. Agassi’s dad — a boxer — said the same thing.

I miss the ring. I play tennis, but I miss the ring. I think about boxing a lot: Babe Triscaro, Jimmy Bivins, Tony Mulia.

I would like another chance. The Senior Olympics has pickleball but no boxing. What’s pickleball?


An op-ed, by yo, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Friday (11/29).  The print headline was “Klezmer Christmas?  He’s actually in favor of goodwill to men.” The online headline was “Dreaming of a Green Christmas.”

2 comments

1 Ken G. { 12.04.13 at 11:56 am }

So did you get the $ back in damages? If so from whom?

2 Bert Stratton { 12.04.13 at 11:59 am }

To Ken G.:

I haven’t gotten the money back. The crooks are still in prison. They owe me restitution. We’ll see.

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