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.



Poet Robert Bly’s worst nightmare was visiting his family in Minnesota and attending hockey games.  Maybe not as bad as Vietnam, but up there pain-wise, he said. Bly’s anti-Midwest rap was a big hit in Ann Arbor in the 1970s. Bly’s main message: your parents are middle-class stiffs; your real family is elsewhere.

Robert Bly, 1970

Bly was a 44-year-old Harvard man in a serape. He had a lot of chutzpah dispensing life advice in that shmate.

I was a mama’s boy. Whenever I went home for vacation, I received the treatment due a future Dr. Stratton. I did the occasional minor chore, like emptying the dishwasher and dusting. Some of my college buddies didn’t go home. They were scared of becoming middle-class, even for a weekend.

At home I hung around with old pals from my street. My friend John was installing tanning booths. My friend Frank (not his real name) owned shares in a racehorse. Frank worked as a mutuel clerk at the day-time Thoroughbred track and at the trotters’ track at night. When Frank wasn’t working, he was  firing his .357 magnum at beer cans in the woods.

Bly knew about guns, too, and Midwestern culture.  But it wasn’t his thing.

For my American English class at the U. of Michigan, I traveled with a friend — and classmate — Mark Schilling to southwest Ohio to research dialects. We asked the southwest Buckeyes to choose between

belly whopper/belly slam
lightning bug/firefly 


Mark Schilling, 1977

Mark’s parents said “warsh” instead of “wash.” They lived in Troy, Ohio, just north of Dayton. (This was North Midland dialect country.) Mark didn’t return to Troy after college. He wasn’t interested in becoming a J.C. Penney store manager like his dad. Mark went to L.A., then on to Japan. He’s still in Japan, 48 years later. Beat the drum for Mark Schilling, Bly.

Bly, you only spent a year — maybe two — in Norway! And then you wound up back in Minnesota and died there.

Check out the trailer for Mark’s movie  Convenience Story, recently released.

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1 Mark Schilling { 08.30.23 at 9:30 am }

I still have the paper we did for that class. The prof was going to give you and our research partner, Simon, A’s and me a B because I only wrote the intro. You two pleaded my case, saying we all shared the load equally, and got my grade raised to an A. I still owe you for that. And I haven’t heard anyone, family members included, say “warsh” in ages.

2 David Korn { 08.30.23 at 9:43 am }

I never met Bly but I remember his poetry, which I discovered the great summer of ’69, and is still on my bookshelf. His anti-middle class conformity vibe was front and center. From “The Executive’s Death” :”. . . high in the sky, executives walk on cool floors, and suddenly fall: Dying . . . .” Thank you for your reminder. (btw: bag, lightning bug, gutter)

3 David Katz { 08.30.23 at 11:23 am }

In keeping with the dialect research vein you might want to check out the 25 question U.S. Dialect Quiz. It’s based on a Harvard study and was available in The NY Times, so it is behind a paywall. It pinpointed the exact city I grew up in (Yonkers, NY) along with the area I moved to 20+ years ago (South Florida). Maybe they got the idea for their original survey study from you and Mark :) Love your columns, by the way.

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