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.



Whenever I came home for college vacation, my mother always suggested I go to the West Side with my father. (West Side meant the apartment biz.) My mother never went to the West Side. She didn’t go once! On the West Side I listened to my dad talk about boiler additives and sump pumps. My dad carried an Allen wrench to adjust boiler controls. I nearly died on the West Side. I was resentful. I had seen Roland Kirk at the Eastown Motor Hotel, East Cleveland; Sonny Stitt at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, Detroit; Ben Webster at Ronnie Scott’s Club, London. And now I was on the West Side talking about radiator vents.

I watched the Dick Cavett Show and hung out with my high school buddies who were also home for college vacation. One guy was applying to medical school. Another was studying for the CPA exam. A friend was angling for a job as a reporter. The nightmare job: a high school acquaintance was studying nursing-home administration. How did he come up with that? He didn’t. His mother did. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, besides write novels. (Wrote them. Different story.)

I gave my parents tsuris. College was nonsense, I said, and I quit. I wound up in front of the draft board. The whole nine yards: bend over, touch your toes, spread your cheeks. I had a low number, 42, in the draft lottery. (You remember your lottery number if you’re of a certain age. It’s the closest our gang got to military service, except for G. Klein, who went to Annapolis.)

At the Selective Service office downtown, I took a mechanical aptitude exam. This test featured drawings of carburetors and brake shoes. The test stumped me. Many of the other test-takers loved it. A test about GTOs! These test-takers were mostly from my neighborhood. Draft boards went by neighborhoods, and my ‘hood had more than its share of greasers. At the end of the exams, I handed the draft-board doctor a list of my allergy medications and shots, and got out.

My parents didn’t go AWOL on me. They could have. My dad was bemused by my combat boots and jeans jacket, but he didn’t go Archie Bunker on me. My dad took his marching orders from Walter Lippmann, who called Vietnam a “quagmire.” My parents waited me out. My mother insisted I was still a good boy. She had been saying that since I was in kindergarten. I graduated college in due time, and I eventually went to the West Side — a lot. You’re a good boy. I can still hear my mother saying that.

I have a story in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer about leaf blowers. Check it out here.

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1 Mark Schilling { 11.18.20 at 9:16 am }

Mine was over 200 so I’ve forgotten it. In my year — the first they had the lottery — the danger zone was under 100. I remember Mich House guys sitting around the radio (!) listening to the draft lottery live. Russ Garland, if I recall correctly, got a one — and the commiseration of all present. He ended up as a conscientious objector. The only Coop guy I knew who was actually drafted into the military was my former roommate Tim Brandyberry. He tried to get out by being underweight, but they kept calling him back for physicals and he finally got tired of starving himself. My last contact with him was a letter he sent from boot camp.

2 marc adler { 11.18.20 at 3:32 pm }

I was number 3. The draft ended before I was called. However I have a great story. When I went for the examination I recognized the Navy lieutenant who was in charge and telling us what to do. Before he started talking, I said, “Hi, Herb, how are you doing?” Which I think embarrassed him. He said he would talk to me later.

After the spiel he took me aside to a private room to talk to me. He asked me who I was. I told him I was Marc Adler, who was one of his campers at Camp Hadar in Clinton, Connecticut, where he was the waterfront counselor. It was a Jewish camp. He actually taught he lifesaving. At that time I was in college, probably 5 years older since he had seen me last and had long hair. I was the hippy, he was the conservative soldier from the south. He said he didn’t recognize me and was not particularly friendly. We had slept in the same cabin for 4 weeks when I was at that camp.

Actually I was a draft counselor. I had taken a course and was counseling people. I actually got a 4 F for hyperhydrosis, which means my feet sweat a lot. I knew it was specifically listed as something that would keep you out and mentioned it to the head doctor, who knew I would fight it all the way unless he sent me to a specialist to get it verified, which he did.

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