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.



eating utensils

My last close relative left Cleveland in 2001. Now my Seders are with friends. My relatives went to warmer places or died.

I’m in about two traffic jams a year in Cleveland. I would prefer five. I don’t relish the traffic of Chicago or Washington, but a few more traffic jams in Cleveland would be nice. In the 1970s, Clevelanders first began imagining the whole town could go under. A musician in Milwaukee wrote a song called “Thank God This Isn’t Cleveland.” Some Clevelanders never got over the trauma of the 1970s. I know Clevelanders who vacation in Cape Cod; they’re instructed by the national press to vacation on the East Coast. They wait an hour for ice cream on Cape Cod.

Some of the best scenery in America is the bike path from Gambier to Coshocton, Ohio: rolling farm country, horses, sheep, cows, pigs and Amish buggies. However, some Midwesterners need to see the ocean. They drive all day to the Carolina shore. Why? Lake Erie has beaches, waves and miniature golf.

Every one of my relatives bailed. Now I look for distant relatives. I’ve found some. My older son found Mississippi relatives via a PBS documentary, “Delta Jews,” about the Jews of the Mississippi Delta. The mayor of Louise, Miss., had been my mother’s cousin. (My mother grew up in Yazoo City, Miss.) My son called down there. We eventually met the Mississippi clan. Most were lawyers. They have Southern accents. That’s what you want from Southerners — a Southern accent. (So often Southern Jews will disappoint you on that.)

Seder-with-friends is not the same as with Aunt Bernice, Uncle Al, Cousin Howard and the rest of the family at the old Seder table. I live three miles from where I was born. I often see things that don’t exist anymore.


A version of this appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer 4/6/12.

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1 marc { 04.20.16 at 2:26 pm }

Great drawings. We used to have big family seders when I was a kid. We had to rent a hall for my father’s mother’s extended family. Today not much family left in RI.
We do seders with friends Orthodox that end at 3am. This year I’m bringing the frogs.

2 Ken G. { 04.20.16 at 3:34 pm }

“See things that don’t exist anymore” where?
Negative images of places die hard. When someone badmouths downtown Cleveland, for example, I like to ask when was the last time that person was there. Same with Hts. Schools – has the person kept up with all the programs they are involved with to try to improve the situation? I’m friendly with the optician in downtown Chagrin Falls – and generally have a good discussion with him, at least once a year, about eyewear but also lots of other things. He is reasonably intelligent and fairly ‘with it.” But a year and a half or so I mentioned something about new apartments downtown and he said “There are new apartments downtown?
Yes, the whole family seder thing is long gone from my experiences, too, unless I have it with the Didovichers in Baltimore, which is quite different. Or maybe some day they’ll come here. My parents, for many years, had various older relatives for seders, so those people were able to keep attending family seders when I sm not.

3 Irwin Weinberger { 04.20.16 at 4:02 pm }

Looking forward to Pesach in Cleveland this year. Most of my family is gone but I’m grateful to be spending both nights at Seder with friends. Looking forward to matzah, horseradish and Haroset. Dayeinu!

4 Dave Rowe { 04.20.16 at 5:24 pm }

Western North Carolina has mountains but beaches are hard to find.

5 Ken G. { 04.21.16 at 10:14 am }

By the way, it’s “Ye olde seder table”….

6 Ken G. { 04.28.16 at 11:03 am }

Dave, I presume it’s the South Carolina beaches referred to – they’re the famous ones.

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