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 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



My father, Toby, handled pain better than most. For instance, bone marrow tests didn’t faze him, and he never used Novocain at the dentist’s office. But he wasn’t iron. He wanted to be buried with a bottle of Chlor-Trimeton, he said. He had allergies and often caught colds.

My dad and I went to the allergist together. The doc saw about 12  patients per hour.  He chatted with each patient for a few minutes, then poked. On family vacations, we took along syringes and bottled medicine, supplied by the doctor. My dad and I poked each other.

Needles were family to me.

Bert and Toby, 1957

My dad listened to his body before “listening to your body” was a thing. He drank Tiger shakes at the Old Arcade. He was a fitness buff. He had the Royal Canadian Air Force exercise booklet. He jogged in his underwear in the kitchen. Gross. Toby was a founding member of the Linus Pauling Church of Vitamin C.

Toby lay on the living room couch. This was during his final days. I said, “Your view would improve if you turned the other direction.”  He didn’t care what way he turned. He had a 104 temperature. We talked taxes.  That was our go-to subject when he was dying. I was in the 15 percent tax bracket, I said. Toby said I was in the 28 percent bracket. How was that possible? I didn’t understand marginal tax brackets  — the last-dollar-in concept. I had something to learn. Another question: How come, when interest rates go down, bond prices go up?

Toby went through chemo treatments and transfusions for leukemia. He got the shakes and was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic. When a nurse asked him how he was doing, he didn’t answer. She turned to me. “Maybe he turned off his hearing aid,” she said.

“He’s never done that before.” I said.

The nurse put ice under Toby’s legs to cool him down.  “I don’t want to hurt the old guy,” she said, putting ice between sheets.

That “old guy” was my father!  He was a jogger and exercise freak.

Theodore “Toby” Stratton, 66 (1983)

I got shingles. My uncle said, “What’s wrong with you, Bert?  Shingles are for old people!” I was feeling kind of old at that moment.  (I was 36. My dad was 68.)

The nurse called at 3 a.m. and said my dad was dead.  I went with my mother to the hospital.  The room was tidy — no bedpans, no chucks, no tubes. No more needles.

I have an op-ed in the New York Times about Chief Wahoo.


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1 Ken Goldberg { 01.31.18 at 10:11 am }

Thanks for giving us more this time, Bert. I’m guessing, from the first photo, that you weren’t big on hats even then. I’m glad someone was.

2 David Korn { 01.31.18 at 10:56 am }

Good meaty essay. Many thanks.

3 Bill Katz { 02.01.18 at 8:04 pm }

Which uncle with the shingles?

4 Bert Stratton { 02.01.18 at 8:40 pm }

Uncle Miltie!

aka Milt Soltzberg, my father’s brother who lived in Washington D.C.

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