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.



Mark Schilling was my beat-est buddy. He moved to Los Angeles, quite possibly to live out a Charles Bukowski fantasy. Before L.A., Mark was in Ann Arbor, where he did some cool things (can’t remember any of them) and some cloddish things, like going out on a first date and taking one dollar with him, and the girl said, “Do you think I’m paying for myself.”

“Yes,” Mark said.

Mark showed up at my place. “Just blew another one!” he said. We played the Best of the Beach Boys, Vol 2, and Mark sang along. He had a good voice. We hopped into Mark’s Chevy and made the scene — The Scene bar in downtown Ann Arbor. The bar had flashing colored lights, nude photos of women on the ceiling, and peace and love posters. The Scene was cheesy, an ersatz European discotheque. Stupid. The more philosophical heads in town were at Flick’s Bar or Mr. Flood’s Party. But Mark and I preferred the drama of The Scene, because at The Scene there was dancing, which could lead to . . . whatever. The Scene had a contingent from Ypsilanti that could go nuts at any moment.

I approached a girl called Pinball Annie, who was next to the speakers. She refused to budge, and I didn’t feel like going deaf, so Mark and I retreated to the loft, above the dance floor. The viewing was good up there, and Mark and I were above-average voyeurs. (Below-average players.) Mark talked about his student teaching and what he’d been reading lately. Mark worshipped Henry Miller. Mark was all about Hen (Miller) and Buk (Bukowski). Mark also admired Anais Nin, who lectured once at U-M. She defended Henry Miler before a crowd of Miller-hating women. She said Miller’s writing was picaresque.

Mark was picaresque, too. (Picaresque: “relating to an episodic style of fiction dealing with the adventures of a rough and dishonest but appealing hero.”) Mark was all that, but honest.

Mark sold Christmas trees in L.A., then moved to Tokyo to teach English at Sony. He quit the Sony ESL gig after a few years and wrote books and articles about Japanese culture. One of Mark’s first books was a guide to nightlife, Tokyo After Dark. Figures.

mark schilling BEST PHOTO(R) & bert stratton, 1971, ann arbor

Bert Stratton (L) and Mark Schilling. 1971. A2.

P.S. Mark is still my beat-est buddy.

I recently wrote a book review of Donald Hall’s Old Poets for City Journal. The review is titled “A Viking Cruise for Old English Majors.”

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1 Mark Schilling { 01.05.22 at 10:14 am }

I wrote a ripped-from-the-memory-banks scene about The Scene in my never-finished novel, which I penned on my rounds as an LSA Building security guard. You picked up a chick who knew Kerouac — and were soon deep in poetic conversation with her while her friend and I discussed the environment, among other dismal topics. More on request, including the “cool stuff.” Great piece and pic BTW!

2 Bert Stratton { 01.05.22 at 10:33 am }

To Mark Schilling:

I request more. Write up something long, and I’ll put up a guest blog post, or just write a very,very long comment on this post. Your choice. On third thought: Your assignment is to do 800 words and I put it up as a guest post. Make it more about you than me.

3 Kenneth Goldberg { 01.05.22 at 10:49 am }

Is it possible he might have worked at my agency, NOACA, before I came in 1983?

4 Bert Stratton { 01.05.22 at 10:54 am }

To Kenneth Goldberg:


5 Alice Stratton { 01.05.22 at 11:29 am }

Loved this! Funny how guys are “looking for love in all the wrong places.” More!!!

6 Mark Schilling { 01.05.22 at 1:01 pm }

Consider it done

7 Ken Goldberg { 01.05.22 at 5:43 pm }

I think the NOACA guy was a Mark Salling. That must be Jack Stratton on the left in the photo…. (Or he was trying to look just like Jack….)

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