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.



I wanted to be to Herbert Gold, who wrote for Playboy and other mags. He also wrote novels about growing up in Cleveland. They weren’t good novels. They were too wordy, going in circles. He couldn’t do plot. (Not too many people can.)

Gold was one of a handful of Jews who grew up in Lakewood in the 1920s and 1930s. He lived on Hathaway Avenue. He died on Nov. 19 at 99 in San Francisco. His father ran a small grocery store in Lakewood, and the father — unlike most Cleveland Jews — didn’t settle on the East Side. (Lakewood, on Cleveland’s West Side, was beyond the pale for Jews back then, and still is to some extent.)

Herbert Gold. circa 2010.

I passed Gold’s house on Hathaway Avenue in the 1970s on my way to managing apartments in Lakewood. I had unpublished novels; I had a lit agent in New York. I wanted to be the “next Herbert Gold,” though slightly better. Instead, I became the “first Bert Stratton.”

The Prospect Before Us was Gold’s novel about managing a rundown hotel on Prospect Avenue in Cleveland. You’d think a book with such a good title would be good, but it never went anywhere. It wasn’t funny or tragic. Don Robertson, another local novelist, was better. Robertson could be funny, for one thing.

Gold’s memoir My Last Two Thousand Years — about his father and Herb’s relationship to Jewishness — was moving. He wrote, “My father came to America from Russia and lived in a basement on the Lower East Side. I came to America from Lakewood to live in a basement on the Lower East Side. I washed dishes, cleaned rooms, waited on tables and tried to learn a little Yiddish [1942, NYC].”

Gold moved to San Francisco in 1960 and stayed there. He visited Haiti often. I occasionally saw his brother Sid on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. Sid was a Coventry cowboy — a regular in Harvey Pekar’s comic books. Sid didn’t have a job and played a lot of chess.

In a 2021 interview, Gold said, “I’m very preoccupied with the fact that I’m not going to live forever. Death is inevitable and I have to accept it. I’m comforted by the fact that a few people, my children, will remember me or will inherit something from me, and I will be immortal in that sense.”

Herb Gold: a Jewish writer from Lakewood, Ohio. I gotta drive by his childhood house at 1229 Hathaway Avenue again.

I had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 16. “My Gaza Friend is Dead.” [No paywall]

Baraa Abu Elaish (L) and Alice Stratton. Fairfax Elementary School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio. 2014.

On a lighter subject, here’s my essay in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Pondering signs, borders and license plates.”

Yiddishe Cup plays a free concert 2-3 pm this Sun. (Dec. 3) at the Beachwood Community Center, 25225 Fairmount Blvd, Beachwood, Ohio. Be there!

Plain Dealer ad, 6/24/36

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1 Ari Davidow { 11.29.23 at 11:55 am }

You have a couple of typos in link to wsj article. Should begin https://….

Have fun!

2 Norm Green { 11.29.23 at 4:18 pm }

Thanks for writing about Herb Gold. I always enjoyed his occasional essays and op-eds, and sometimes a book. Plus, he turned me on to my favorite San Francisco restaurant, a Hong Kong-style vegetarian place on a side street in S Francisco.

3 Bert Stratton { 11.29.23 at 5:16 pm }


Norm Green / Herb Gold

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