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 dad, Toby, was a big fan of California. He and every other Ohioan in the 1960s. The clarity of California — those blue skies — enticed my dad. Cleveland, by contrast, was often gray.

My dad had a cosmetics company in our basement, Ovation of California. It was a franchise. Toby sold moisturizers, shampoos, eyebrow pencils, lipsticks and bases. Bases were basically war paint for women. My mother, who modeled the stuff at sales pitches, looked like a Claymation figure. My parents gave presentations at Cleveland hotels, trying to recruit women to do home sales parties. My parents had a carousel-tray slide show with an LP sound track that synced to the slides. Beep. Ovation went bust. Avon Products was the powerhouse back then.

I tried California. I hitchhiked out there four times. Leave your mama behind was my mantra. I bought a yarmulke at a Judaica store on Gerry Street in San Francisco and hitchhiked down the coast. I didn’t get any reaction to the yarmulke until I hit the Chabad House at UCLA. My inspiration for the yarmulke was Bob Dylan wearing a kippah at the Western Wall. I slept on a rooftop near UCLA. Roofs are flat out west. And don’t forget the blue skies. I didn’t need a tent or poncho. My “roommate” on the roof was my college friend Mark Schilling. He moved to Tokyo shortly after that. He has been in Japan for 45 years. I returned to Cleveland and have been there ever since.

Mama’s boy.

Here’s a line from Jack Kerouac’s “October in the Railroad Earth”: “It was that beautiful cut of clouds I could always see above the little S.P. [Southern Pacific] alley, puffs floating by  . . . the clarity of Cal to break your heart.” (Kerouac died in Florida, at age 47, at his mother’s house.)

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1 Mark Schilling { 03.10.21 at 9:05 am }

So you slept on the coop roof too. I was on it about four months, until I finally found my first apartment in LA. Many more adventures after I left the roof…

2 Ken Goldberg { 03.10.21 at 10:41 am }

Mark Shilling – Did you work at NOACA?

3 Seth B. Marks { 03.10.21 at 10:42 am }

Could be a genetic thing…Strattons returning to the roost, often.

4 Seth B. Marks { 03.10.21 at 10:43 am }

loved the Claymation imagery…what would she say?

5 Ken Goldberg { 03.10.21 at 10:43 am }

Bert – two identical (I think) posts in one morning. Today is my LUCKY DAY!!!

6 Mark Schilling { 03.10.21 at 9:54 pm }

No NOACA for me, I’m afraid.

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