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 has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



I met
Yury, a Russian, only four days after he landed in Cleveland.  I met him at a park bench, 1990.  I sold him my 1978 Buick Regal for $500, and I suggested he change his name from Yury to Yuri.  Yury would be a hindrance to his assimilation, I said.  Yuri — as in “Yuri Gagarin” — worked better, at least for me.

Yury is now an engineer and lives in Beachwood.  Still with the y, 25 years later.

Yury lived in a subsidized apartment two blocks from my house. I helped him light the burners on his stove and lent him an old TV.  When he got the Buick Regal, I told him to check it out with the Russian mechanic down on Mayfield Road.  Yury said, “I do not trust Russians.”

Yiddishe Cup had a Russian drummer, Misha from Tashkent.  He was “the stinger man” because he put a stinger (a klezmer ending) on every tune. Which was annoying.  I went to Misha’s mother’s funeral — the smallest funeral of all time. There were maybe 10 people at the funeral home.  I can’t imagine what that woman lived through, what with the Nazis and Communists.  Misha was a pro drummer. That’s all he did in the Soviet Union.  Shelly Manne came through Tashkent in the 1950s and left a lot of drumsticks behind, which everybody prized.  (Might have been Buddy Rich.  I’m not sure now.)

Misha used to hit his wife and daughter, and admit it.  Misha would say, “Here the police listen to the children. In Russian, the parents.”

Misha moved to Boston to drive a cab.

Moishe, the owner of Davis Caterers, said food at Russian gigs is “out of control.”  He said, “The Russians eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner all at once. Fish and cold cuts. Then soup. Then blintzes. Then prime and salmon and desserts. Plus vodka.”

Yiddishe Cup played a few Russian weddings, but not lately.  I miss the food.  Russian immigrant musicians cornered the Russian wedding market.  Immigrant musicians know what the crowd wants and it’s not us.  Yiddishe Cup’s Russian skill-set is  “7-40,” “Hava Nagila,” and some waltzes like “Ershter Waltz” and “Tumbalalaika.”   Also, anything from Fiddler on the Roof  is a winner.

What if my grandparents hadn’t left Russia?

Yiddishe Cup had a second Russian drummer, Vladimir, who forgot his sticks and used dowel rods fashioned from a windowshade. That was his only gig with us.


Irwin Weinberger and I occasionally play gigs at a Russian senior drop-in center.  The Russians seem to like us.   We’ve learned “Kalinka” and “Katyusha.”

Russians, they remind me of what I could have been: dead (via Nazis, etc.) or a bigger partier.

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1 Ted { 03.11.15 at 9:32 am }

Katushka, not Katrushka.
-Fyodor Stratton

2 Ted { 03.11.15 at 9:33 am }

Actually, Katyusha.

3 Bert Stratton { 03.11.15 at 10:18 am }

To Ted:

Thanks. I’ve changed it to “Katyusha.” (Had read “Katrushka.”)

4 MARC { 03.11.15 at 3:02 pm }

Friday night at 9:00 TBS King of the Nerds final episode this season with my son Jonathan Adler , contestent.
Can watch after Shabbos on Youtube as I do.

5 Ken Goldberg { 03.11.15 at 11:07 pm }

…. and don’t forget “Petrushka”!

We had a Russian play several instruments during our wedding ceremony in 1976 – Boris Halip. I wouldn’t be surprised if you knew him.

There’s enough food in Yeleseyevsky Deli [Mayfield Heights] every day of the year to feed ten Russian weddings. I wonder if it will return when the building is demolished for a new strip mall.

6 Ken Goldberg { 03.11.15 at 11:16 pm }

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