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 Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



Would you prefer to be buried or cremated? To put it another way, rot or burn? The “rot or burn” expression comes from a Saul Bellow novel. In Humboldt’s Gift, the main character, Charlie Citrine, is always rambling on about death, and how death might feel the same as before you were born.

Also, along the same lines, check out Nabokov’s memoir Speak, Memory, which opens with “. . . Our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for.”

I try to imagine my prenatal abyss. For instance, September 1949. (I was conceived in October 1949.) How does it feel not to exist? Bellow believed something comes after death, but he just said “something.” Be more specific, Saul!

I’ve going to rot. My wife would prefer to burn, but I’ve bought burial plots at Hillcrest cemetery. The plots come with cement coffin sealers. The vault sealers are pretty much mandatory at every cemetery I’ve ever been to. I’m not wild about coffin sealers. They don’t prevent the rot, but they slow it down. They aren’t sealed airtight because bodily gases would explode them. The vaults are mandatory to keep the cemetery grounds level. I’m all about being level. (I like levels — those tools with the bubbles.)

One personal request: if you have something interesting to say about September 1949, let me know. For instance, my friend Mark Schilling, who was born in August 1949, can probably give me the lowdown.

Take me home, to the place I belong . . .

Change of topic: L’shana tova!

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1 Kenneth Goldberg { 09.01.21 at 9:41 am }

I became eight months old that month – that’s EXTREMELY interesting!!!
I wonder if the most observant Jews tolerate this sealant; those who favor the plain pine boxes do so with the idea that what becomes of the deceased should not be artificially delayed.
I’d take you sort of as a Mayfield Cemetery sort of guy….

2 Mark Schilling { 09.01.21 at 11:04 am }

“White Heat” and “The Third Man” both premiered in September 1949. That makes it a pretty good month. I was living in Zanesville at the time, though my memory of that period is about as hazy as that for prenatal July.

3 Rev Don Friedman { 09.01.21 at 11:13 am }

Bert, you say rot or burn, I say smoking or nonsmoking! They say at least 50% of people today choose cremation. In years to come that figure is expected to continue its upward trend. Sooner than later it will be cost effective to have your ashes scattered in space.

4 joel feuer { 09.01.21 at 10:47 pm }

Here in New york, I have never seen a vault for burial. Just the standard wood pine casket into the ground, and dirt covering it.

5 Ken Goldberg { 09.02.21 at 8:09 am }

Joel Feuer – I take it you’re referring to the burial of observant Jews? That’s kind of an important detail to have left out. I’m sure there are plenty of vaults in the NYC cemeteries.

6 Linda Jaffe { 09.02.21 at 11:08 am }

I think the Park Synagogue cemetery, Beit Olam, uses just a coffin, no cement. Maybe they hide it inside the coffin? I’m not observant, but give me a plain pine box.

7 Bert Stratton { 09.08.21 at 5:42 pm }

Park cemetery uses a coffin liner, for sure.

8 Seth B. Marks { 09.09.21 at 1:56 pm }

My solution du jour is to have three fingers cut off and burn the rest. Give the ashes and one finger to each of my kids so, just in case I can be fairly well reconstituted by my DNA, they or the grandkids, will have the chance to enjoy me for a few more decades.

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