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.



Here’s my essay in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer.

If that link doesn’t work for you, here’s the text, pasted in:


Cleveland Heights, Ohio — You don’t see the letter B for “basement” in elevators much anymore. It’s mostly LL for “lower level.” Classier, I guess. But I recently stumbled upon a B-level basement in Washington, D.C., that was truly top shelf. The basement was at the University Club, a 1920s mansion not too far from the White House. Several Brush High School buddies and I met up at the club. My childhood friends wouldn’t come to Cleveland, so I had to go to Washington. My Brush High friends are all members of the coastal elite now. I brought a sports jacket.

I spent a lot of time in the basement at the University Club because I wasn’t allowed in the club dining room on the main floor. I was wearing tennis shoes, which weren’t permitted in the dining room, but were OK in the basement. I’m all for dress standards, but those University Club regs were extreme. I jabbered in Spanish with the dining room hostess. She didn’t let me in. In hindsight, I don’t think she was Hispanic. She didn’t seem to know what I was talking about.

I was wearing tennis shoes because I planned to do a lot of sightseeing in Washington. In the lobby, outside the dining room, I noticed a visitor in a blue blazer and a blue oxford-cloth shirt. I asked him if he was going to eat breakfast in the restaurant. He said “yes,” and I pointed at him and said to the hostess, “This man has on tennis shoes!”

“These are Cole Haan,” the man said coolly. His Cole Haan shoes had white rubber trim around the soles, just like my New Balance tennis shoes. But his Cole Haans were not tennis shoes, apparently. I was perplexed. I had on a sports jacket and black tennis shoes. I wasn’t wearing Sen. John Fetterman cargo pants.

There was a snack bar in the basement, plus a Jacuzzi, two saunas (steam and dry), and a four-lane swimming pool. While I ate breakfast in the basement snack bar, I had a good view of the empty pool. John Kennedy, when he was a senator, swam laps at the pool. I had a swimsuit in my suitcase. I got the suit and swam where Kennedy swam. (By the way, there used to be a University Club in Cleveland on Euclid Avenue. It had tennis courts, but I don’t think a pool. The building morphed into the Children’s Museum of Cleveland in 2017.)

My friends and I reminisced about bygone Cleveland hangouts, like La Cave, the music club at East 105th Street and Euclid Avenue, Balaton Restaurant on Buckeye Road, and Publix Book Mart on Prospect Avenue. We covered a lot of intersections. Next time we should go deeper: Jean’s Funny House and the Roxy Burlesque.

I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and considered checking out the National Portrait Gallery, but that was too far off my Mall-focused walking route. Besides, I needed to get back to my man cave — the basement at the University Club. I wanted to swim more laps in the Kennedy pool. That B-level basement in Washington was absolutely grade-A.

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1 Mark Schilling { 10.18.23 at 10:01 am }

High-class Japanese restaurants elide the whole problem of shoes by having everyone take off their footwear at the entrance. And no rules about holes in socks that I’m aware of.

2 Bert Stratton { 10.18.23 at 10:45 am }

To Mark Schilling:
Thanks for the reportage from Japan! You are the Far East correspondent for the Klezmer Guy Blog. Which reminds me, didn’t you write occasionally for the WSJ Far East edition?

3 Ken Goldberg { 10.18.23 at 8:00 pm }

The University Club on 16th St, NW was certainly not built as a house, though it may have replaced several mansions. The street was lined with them, all part of Mrs. John B. Henderson’s grand plans for the corridor.

4 Mark Schilling { 10.18.23 at 10:17 pm }

Getting some recognition for my contributions at last:-) And, yes, I wrote for the Asian edition of the WSJ back in the day. I was their sumo reporter.

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