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.



The letter is from Milt — a friend of my parents — to his kids. 

May 15, 1990

Dear Children,

In 15 days I’ll be 71.

As you know, I’m not religious, but I do like a good party.

About my funeral: Use the gentile funeral home, Fioritto in Lyndhurst, to deliver my body to the Workmen’s Circle Cemetery.  Just bury me.  Invite some family and friends.  No rabbi!  I’ve never gone to synagogue, so don’t start with that now.

Pick a convenient Sunday afternoon to throw a memorial service at the Workmen’s Circle hall on Green Road.  There is plenty room, a loudspeaker, and a kitchen. Anybody who wants to speak, can speak. Except Bernstein.

I want a nice sendoff: trays, Scotch, music, dancing, food, coffee, pastry, wine and cold beer.  Whiskey too.  Hire a klezmer band — Bert Stratton’s band.  (Bert is Julia and Toby’s son.)  But remember, one hour of klezmer is enough.

Get the trays at Bernie Shulman’s at Cedar Center.  They’re good and cheap, but you have to pick up the goods yourself.  Get pastries from Acme supermarket at Mayfield near Green.  Their pastries are excellent and much cheaper than the Jewish bakeries.

I want coffee, lots of coffee; the Workmen’s Circle can make it by the gallon.  And plenty of soft drinks and wine — good wine. No Champagne.  And hire kitchen help.

Mom will say I’m nuts.  She can stay home if she wants!  This is what I want.



Footnote: Milt died 16 years after he wrote the letter.  He ate a lot and never exercised and lived to 87.  He had a graveside service with no band and no food.  No hard feelings, Milt.  All mourners received a copy of Milt’s brisket recipe at the funeral.

I slightly “enhanced” the letter.   I added Except Bernstein to “Anybody can speak. Except Bernstein.”  And I added “One hour of klezmer is enough.” Couldn’t help it.

“Milt” is a pseudonym.  If Milt’s children want his real name here, they’ll let me know.

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1 david { 06.18.14 at 9:12 am }

As always, good and pithy. We Jews, we are very into death. Saying kaddish and making a minyan to allow a mourner to say kaddish are mitzvot. I think that there is more than a little ancestor-worship involved. We all want to be remembered after death (apparently Milt for his brisket recipe), Jew and gentile alike. The goyim build monuments to their lives, achievements, but Jews pass on to their descendants the obligation — and blessing — of remembrance.

2 Ted { 06.18.14 at 10:37 am }

Having read the original one, this was pretty funny.

3 Ken G. { 06.18.14 at 10:53 am }

Some of the details were impossible, like the Bernie Shulman’s, but it seems his wishes should have been followed more closely. Did you get this from the kids or the guy himself? Maybe he changed some of his ideas over the 16 years.

4 don friedman { 06.18.14 at 12:19 pm }

One hour of Klez…..can we at least break to eat….all of our crowds are always so hungry!

5 steven greenman { 06.18.14 at 1:36 pm }

Bernie Shulmans! Wow, a name from the past that I had nearly forgotten. I used to shop there for food for the Hillel Kosher Coop.

6 Seth { 06.18.14 at 5:18 pm }

I was sad that Milt was a pseudonym. I thought I knew the perfect Milt to fit the details. If you want his full name you’ll have to let me know.

As an aside, did you know that one can read your blog with Vulfpeck in the background and bop and smile even more energetically?

7 Ken G. { 06.18.14 at 5:44 pm }

Could help.

8 Bert Stratton { 06.19.14 at 4:40 pm }

To Ken. G.:

You saying Bernie Shulman’s didn’t exist then? You’re probably wrong. I’ll let you do the research, though!

9 Bert Stratton { 06.23.14 at 6:16 pm }

To Ken G.:

You didn’t do the research. You made me do it. It took about 30 seconds on the ‘net: Marc Glassman (of Marc’s) used the name “Bernie Shulman” at select store locations on the East Side through 1992. So Milt wasn’t hallucinating or time-traveling when he wrote “Bernie Shulman” in 1990.

I got the letter from one of Milt’s sons.

To Seth:

I listen to Vulfpeck a lot. I’m one of the band’s oldest fans. There might be one fan older than me.

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