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.



My sophomore year at college I took Organic Chemistry (got a D), Physics (A), Intro to Poetry (A), and Psychology (Pass). I was in the process of transitioning from pre-med to no-med. The poetry-class teacher was Ted Berrigan, visiting Ann Arbor from the East Village. Ted was a big man with a beard who giggled like a little girl. He liked everything I wrote. He said young poets didn’t need criticism, they needed encouragement.

I visited him later on in New York. He was a player in the contemporary art/poetry scene in NYC. That’s how I once wound up in Allen Ginsberg’s apartment. (Ginsberg wasn’t there.) Berrigan lived on the edge, financially. He traipsed around to hip bookstores in NYC and collected money for his poetry books that had sold. And he also made real money on the burgeoning college poetry-reading circuit. He sometimes made $1000, adjusted for inflation, for a reading. [Got this  money info from a new book of Berrigan’s collected prose, Get the Money.] Writer/professor Donald Hall brought Berrigan to Michigan for the visiting-prof job.

Berrigan called poetry “work ” — as in “show me your work, Bert.” His poet friend Anne Waldman did a reading at the UGLI (undergrad library), and I handed her my work — a couple poems — and she published one in the St. Mark’s Poetry Project mag, The World. This was around 1972. I have to look that up. I think the poem was “Yellow Pages.” It’s a found poem, lifted from the page headings of the Yellow Pages. For example: “appraiser attorneys / automobile barbecue / bicycles burial / chaplains cigar / clubs cranes / day dentists / drapery engineer / . . . topsoil transmission / truck vacuum / washing water / womens zippers.” Definitely the best poem I ever wrote.

. . . Just back from my attic, home of dead poems. The World poem was not about the Yellow Pages. It was about Herbie Hancock, kind of. “Yellow Pages” — the poem — was published in a different East Village mag, Telephone. The mag was called Telephone. The poem was “Yellow Pages.” You following? If so, you get an A.

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1 Mark Schilling { 01.11.23 at 9:08 am }

Good stuff. How about ‘My Adventures with Berrigan 2’? Or ‘3’?

2 Stephen Mumford { 01.11.23 at 9:32 am }

Agree with Mark… NYC in 1972? Tell us more!

BTW, speaking of poet’s gigs in academia, have you ever heard of Chris Fahy’s book, Chasing the Sun?
From Amazon:
“To Chamberlain College in the small Maine town of Garfield comes Harry Callahan, a Maine-born aging and dyspeptic poet, to receive an honorary degree. He gets the degree all right, but in the process manages to disrupt his home town, his friends of long ago, his reputation, and the college. The depiction of the artist’s life in the United States is disturbingly accurate and hilariously described, with Harry Callahan as the shambling, overweight, incurably honest example. CHASING THE SUN is Fahy’s comedic and humane triumph.”

3 Bert Stratton { 01.11.23 at 11:06 am }

To Stephen Mumford:
Here’s a link to more about yo y el East Village:

[some of the photos in the link don’t work anymore. lo siento.]

4 Ken Goldberg { 01.11.23 at 1:13 pm }

Paul Newman wasn’t there either when we went to his childhood house in Shaker Heights twice – once for “trick or treating”- and I believe it was his mother Theresa who answered the door. Neither was Bob Hope there when we went to his brother Fred’s house in Cleveland Heights, also for “trick or treating” but Bob’s sister-in-law was and we saw a photo of Bob in the living room. Notice a pattern here?

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