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.


 
 

SHOUSE. HE RAISED MONEY

Ben Shouse was a volunteer fundraiser for the Workmen’s Circle. He had a booming voice and a shock of gray hair like H.L. Mencken, and he wore suits like Mencken, and he smoked a cigar like Mencken. Politically speaking, Shouse was un-Menckenable. He was a retired labor union boss and an autodidact (he liked words like inculcate), and he was an advocate for the arts, especially Shakespeare-for-workers stuff.

Shouse phoned me, suggesting Yiddishe Cup pony up for the Workmen’s Circle annual banquet. Yiddishe Cup would be the honoree. He said, “Stratton, you know how these things work.”

I didn’t know how these things worked. Not in 1994. I thought Yiddishe Cup would be honored because we were good. Sort of an arts prize.

Two Yiddishe Cup musicians told me they couldn’t afford the price of the dinner, let alone bring friends. Crazier still, Shouse said, “Buy a table.” I corralled three people, including my wife, into coming. I didn’t want to hock friends for a chicken dinner at a cheesy Alpha Drive party center. Also, my friends wouldn’t want to listen to speeches about Workmen’s Circle, an organization most of my friends had never heard of.

Shouse phoned Yiddishe Cup’s singer and said: “Stratton gave $55. Greenman gave $25. How about you, and who are you bringing?” The singer was speechless.

One Yiddishe Cup musician didn’t even show up for the tribute.

Another Yiddishe Cup musician replayed a phone message from Shouse: “This dinner is in your fucking honor! You’re sophisticated. You know the rules. Do your part!”

Shouse raised a lot of money for the arts.

Ben Shouse

Ben Shouse (Photo by Herb Ascherman) [Shouse died in 2003.]

FREE CONCERT THIS SUNDAY.
Funk A Deli, a k a Yiddishe Cup, is playing on a front lawn near you this Sunday (June 13, 5-7 pm.).

23500 Laureldale Road, Shaker Heights, Ohio. Near Laurel School.

Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Bring dinner. Plop yourself and your possessions on the grassy median strip on Laureldale Road.

The band will play a mix of klezmer and soul music. 

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4 comments

1 Ken Goldberg { 06.09.21 at 9:22 am }

I had forgotten about that character. His language wasn’t “sophisticated”….

2 Charlie B { 06.09.21 at 11:21 am }

Pardon an outside perspective but the Shouse style sounds closer to that of the Purple Gang. ‘Extortionate” may have caused him to bristle, but he would have profited by adding the definition to his vocabulary and ethics.

3 Steven Greenman { 06.09.21 at 2:19 pm }

Ben was truly a unique character and I do remember his tough demeanor and booming voice. I miss all those older Yiddish folks that are no longer with us but were important to us in so many ways.

4 marc adler { 06.09.21 at 3:06 pm }

We used to have Yiddish speaking survivors coming into my store. They are all gone. I miss the Yiddish accents. Sometimes the Satmars come to my shul visiting from out of state but it isn’t the same accent.
My wife and I were honored at the annual dinner a number of years ago by the local Jewish day school. I had to call friends and hit them up for donations I didn’t get much of a response so I ponied up a big donation from my pocket. Everyone in the community eventually gets honored.

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