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.


 
 

TWO GUYS FROM CLEVELAND

Italians have great names, grant them that. The best name from my old neighborhood was Bocky Boo DiPasquale.  Bocky led a band, Bocky and the Visions, a local version of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Bocky Boo was a pre-Beatles greaser with a strong regional following; he got significant air play on Cleveland radio and on Detroit’s CKLW.

Bocky Boo, second from left, early 1960s

The Bock became a Cleveland legend. I, however, was too young to grasp Bocky’s vision. I didn’t listen to his music. I just knew his name and wondered, Can Bocky Boo be real?

I knew an Alfred Mastrobuono. Real.

I knew Carmen Yafanaro. Real.

Ralph Dodero. Real.

Bocky Boo’s real name was Robert DiPasquale.

Robby Stamps — another musician from my high school — knew The Bock and all other local bands, past or present.  Stamps was a rocker, riding the first wave of psychedelia. (Robby’s sister incidentally was Penny Stamps.)

Stamps never showed up at high school reunions. He said the Italian greasers would harass him for being a radical. Stamps was a misher — a meddler — more than a radical. He was always around the action, like Zelig. Stamps was shot in the buttock at Kent State on May 4, 1970.

After graduating Kent, Stamps worked jobs as an adjunct faculty member in Hawaii, California and Florida. He majored in sociology and Spanish. Stamps was half Jewish — an oddity in the 1960s. Back then you were generally all Jewish, or you weren’t. Robby’s father was Floyd(Not a Jew.) 

Robby Stamps, 1996, at Kent State

Stamps hung around with just about everybody in high school: racks (aka greasers, dagos), white-bread American kids (aka squids, collegiates) and Jews (aka Jews). Stamps was an emissary between the various groups; he had a pisk (big mouth), played music and was fearless — except at reunions.

Stamps wasn’t part of the “in” crowd or the “out” crowd. Stamps was his own man. He  scribbled “pseudo-freak” on the photo of a hippie poseur in my yearbook.

In middle age, Stamps developed every kind of illness: Crohn’s, Lyme Disease and pneumonia, plus he had the May 4 bullet wound. He died in 2008 at 58.

If Stamps had come to the reunions, he probably would have shed light — some sociology — on the  cliques. Stamps’ perspective was sarcastic, bitter and funny. He would have said something like: “See those Jews at the bar, those guys wore penny loafers in seventh grade without pennies in them, and yelled at me because I put pennies in mine.   They threw pennies on the floor. If you picked up the pennies, you were a ‘cheap Jew.’ I threw pennies. I worked both sides of the street.”

In 1988 Bocky Boo was shot and killed in a bar. The cops — some who had grown up with The Bock — tried hard to find Bocky’s killer. There was even a website, whokilledbocky, for a few years ago. (Now down. ) No Luck. The Bock and Stamps didn’t stick around.

Well, that’s one thing I can say about that boy, he gotta go.
–Paul Butterfield Blues Band, “Born in Chicago,” lyrics by Nick Gravenites

Tombstone Eyes

This post originally appeared 5/2/12.

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7 comments

1 Bert Stratton { 05.04.16 at 11:24 am }

From an email I just got:

New him [Robby Stamps] at Rowland and used to spend a good deal of time at his house—because he was allowed to have comic books.

Floyd owned Floyd Stamps Rambler, a car dealership. His mother was a lovely gentle woman who’d been a nurse—that’s how she met his father, who I believe had been wounded in the war.

Stamps always said in the third grade that he was a descendent of Stonewall Jackson. I don’t doubt it. His father was a real Southerner. (He loved boxing. I remember his saying that Ingemar Johnansson had knocked out Floyd Patterson with a “lucky punch”).

2 marc { 05.04.16 at 3:17 pm }

I knew a Ralph Mastrangelo in high school.

Had a primarily Italian high school. See the movie Jersey Boys and that’s my cultural background growing up.

3 Donald R Edwards { 05.04.16 at 4:06 pm }

Thanks for keeping memories of the Kent State shootings alive.

Strange, but this reminded me of the old song “Washington Square” by The Village Stompers. I have heard someone theorize that it is a klezmer/dixieland (!?) dirge for the Triangle Shirt factory fire.

I’m glad we have “Ohio” for Kent State. Wish there were others.

4 Mike Madorsky { 05.04.16 at 9:30 pm }

Wow, love those Italian names.

When I moved from S.Euclid to Shaker Hts in 1963, I met the whole Italian crowd from the other side of Shaker Square, the ones who went to Our Lady of Peace on Shaker Blvd. One of the hot greaser chicks was Eileen Serfelippi, great name, and she had the whole beehive thing going, tight skirt. Yeh, you remember.

Another crazy name from Shaker High was my classmate Dusty Knavel. True. and a super nice guy.

And one more thing, Bert. In Ann Arbor there is a Penny Stamps Gallery, which is part of the University Art Department. Any connection?

5 Ken G. { 05.04.16 at 10:25 pm }

Italian names must be even cooler if one knows the Italian and can thus translate them. Or perhaps that would spoil it. Of course one can say that about all nationalities’ names. Actually, I don’t think people pay much attention to the meanings in British names unless they’re really odd. One of the local papers just had an obituary for a Michael Michael.

My father’s family used to know a Harry Herring. He had worked at their bedding business making mattresses, etc. When my father was looking for him he used to go to the lobby of the old, downtrodden hotel and call out in the lobby “Is Harry Herring in the lobby?” The guy once said that in an elementary school class there was also a Harry Harry (or was it Herry?). Poor teacher.

6 Bert Stratton { 05.05.16 at 9:26 am }

To Mike Madorsky:

I don’t think there is any connection between the Penny Stamps Gallery of Ann Arbor, and Penny Stamps formerly of South Euclid. I looked into this once and came up with nada.

7 Mark Schilling { 05.05.16 at 12:43 pm }

You remember that Stamps gave you and me a tour of the Kent ‘battlefield’ not too long after the shootings. That, I believe, was the only time I met him. The memory lingers, though…

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