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.



In Mickey Katz’s autobiography, Papa, Play For Me, Katz tells some off-color jokes, like “Tailor, I have a problem. I have five penises. Will the pants fit?” The tailor says, “Like a glove.” Then Katz name drops: “I was part of a regular bridge game consisting of George Burns, Dave Siegel, George Raft, and myself. Occasionally Chico Marx.”

Katz kvells about his “creative wife” Grace, and sons Joel and Ron.

Fine, but the best stuff in the book is about Cleveland. Katz mentions many Cleveland landmarks. The first half of the book — before Katz moved to L.A. in 1946 — reads like an unofficial Jewish Encyclopedia of Cleveland. For instance, Katz mentions a musician who went to an East 105 Street bagel shop at 1 a.m. in 1935 and demanded a half-dozen fresh bagels, which he ate next door at Solomon’s deli (along with a corned beef sandwich) because Solomon’s was out of bagels. That’s detail.

Mickey Katz 1959

In 1977, when the book came out, Katz was somewhat famous because his son Joel Grey was huge in Cabaret then. The first line in the book has the words “my son Joel Grey.” (The ghost writer of Katz’s autobio is Hannibal Coons, who was the main writer for the Addams Family.)

A couple decades ago, I took some Katz Yinglish (Yiddish-English) lyrics to a Workmen’s Circle meeting for translation. The translators – generally elderly Yiddishist purists — considered Katz shund (literary trash). Songs like “K’nock Around the Clock” and “Nudnik the Flying Shisl” (Pest the Flying Saucer) were beyond the pale.

I once lectured on Katz at the International Association of Yiddish Clubs convention in Cleveland (2007), and I met two musicians who had worked with him: cantor Hale Porter and singer Tanja Solnik. They had appeared with Katz in Hello Solly, a 1960s off-Broadway show. I asked them what Mickey had been like because I couldn’t tell from the autobio. I didn’t get a good answer from Tanja because she had been only 8 when she performed with Katz. She had been “Little Tanja.” Hale Porter didn’t say much memorable either. But it was interesting — at least for me — to simply meet people who had giggled with Mickele.

Myron “Mickey” Katz (1909 – 1985): Clevelander, clarinetist, comedian.

Katz writes about playing clarinet on the Goodtime, the Lake Erie cruise boat. (I’ve been on the Goodtime, and so has every other Clevelander.) The Goodtime was owned by the Seeandbee line. The “See” is for “Cleveland” and the “bee” is for “Buffalo.” Does that interest you?

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