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.



This is Bert Stratton. Is there a market for a book with that title? There’s a book This is Larry Morrow . . . My Life On and Off the Air: Stories from Four Decades in Cleveland Radio. There’s a new book by Paul Orlousky: Punched, Kicked, Spat On, and Sometimes Thanked: Memoirs of a Cleveland TV News Reporter.

Is there a market for Bert? Yes, I know I’d have to expand the title. How about This is Bert Stratton . . . Stories About Strippers, Mobsters and Klezmorim.

Every Sunday my family gathered around the piano. Neighbors stood on the sidewalk and listened. We played klezmer music, which we simply called “Jewish music” in the 1960s. Neighbors didn’t listen for too long. By age 13 I was supporting my family, playing at the Roxy Burlesque, where I saw naked women. I knew Tarzana and Morganna, who were at my bar mitzvah party at the Shaker House Motel. Nobody could top that.

I knew mobsters. An acquaintance, gangster Shondor Birns, was blown up by a car bomb on the West Side. Then Danny Greene, a fellow mobster, was blown up by a car bomb in Lyndhurst. By default I became head of the Cleveland Mob. My gangster income, plus my music, was a living. My high school grades suffered, but so what.

I have a couple questions for you. Would people in, say, Peoria, Illinois, buy a book about Cleveland mobsters, strippers and klezmer musicians? Or should I cut the part about mobsters and strippers, and go pure klez?

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1 David Korn { 02.03.21 at 9:55 am }

When it comes to teasing out the book buying public, remember that they’ll come for the mob and strippers, but they’ll stay for Bi Mir Bist Du Shoen. I’ll read it either way, so long as it mentions delis.

2 Ellen { 02.03.21 at 9:57 am }

Hey Klezmer Guy! I happen to have a lot of friends in and near Peoria. So I asked one. Nancy said: “I would probably be more interested in the mobsters and the strippers, but then we have all of those in Chicago. Klezmer maybe not so much.”

3 Steve Kohn { 02.03.21 at 12:42 pm }

David Korn said it perfectly, nothing more to add.
I’ve recently discovered your ramblings (in the WSJ) and am a fan. Anything you write, I’ll read.

4 Ken Goldberg { 02.03.21 at 1:06 pm }

Bert – I’m trying to figure it out; were you actually the leader of the Cleveland Mob? I know there’s “The Dorothy Stratten Story” film but that was THE Dorothy Stratten. If you officially change your name back to the original family surname you may entice a few readers anyway….

5 a gray { 02.03.21 at 2:39 pm }

I would “go pure klez”. Nobody’s interested in mobsters or strippers anymore unless they are dancing to klezmer music.

6 Dave Lull { 02.05.21 at 8:43 am }

I don’t know about in Peoria, but in northwestern Wisconsin either version of your book would get read, at least once.

7 Ken Goldberg { 02.05.21 at 5:16 pm }

NW Wisconsin must be full of desperados….

8 Dave Lull { 02.07.21 at 9:22 am }

I don’t know of any desperados in northwestern Wisconsin these days, but in the 1920s and 1930s, a few notable ones hung out here and there across northern Wisconsin. See for examples:

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