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.



From today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer . . .

It’s not about the racket

by Bert Stratton

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — When I trounced my friend Jimmy in tennis, he blamed it on his racket. His racket — his good racket — was in the shop for restringing. Jimmy said he was hitting the ball longer than usual with his back-up racket, and he didn’t have his usual deft touch on drop shots. I was surprised by the kvetching; Jimmy is usually stoical about his game and has never been an equipment freak.

Lance Armstrong said it best: “It’s not about the bike.” Or, it’s not about the racket. For example, I have a childhood friend who is a tennis pro in Israel, and he occasionally comes back to Cleveland to visit relatives and beat me in tennis. My friend, Shelly Gordon, doesn’t even bring a racket with him from Israel; he borrows one of mine. Shelly and I grew up playing tennis on the public courts at Bexley Park in South Euclid. The dress code then, in the 1960s, was Bermuda shorts, Jack Purcell tennis shoes and T-shirt (optional). Shelly never took private tennis lessons; nevertheless, he made the Ohio State University tennis team.

I took about 10 private lessons at the Cleveland Skating Club in Shaker Heights. My dad paid a nonmembers’ rate for the lessons. The club pro called me “Tiger.” I think he called all nonmembers “Tiger” because he didn’t want to learn their names.

At a recent high school reunion, a former Brush High tennis player was still mad at me — and envious of me for my private lessons. Hotshot players like him, from all over the East Side, would schlep down to Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, where the best public-court players hung out. There was a Cleveland Heights High player, Rich Greenberg, who was so into tennis he would shovel snow off the courts in the winter. He eventually played for the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Bert Stratton, age 16, 1967, Brush High courts

Rich taught me an important life lesson: how to wait. Every winter, I had to wait six months for good weather to come around again, so I could play tennis. I wasn’t going to shovel courts. Think about it: No snow blowers in the 1960s, and the courts had to be perfectly dry. And right after you shoveled, it would snow again. (And we didn’t have access to indoor courts.)

When I played my friend Kvetchin’ Jimmy — the man with the bad racket — he muttered unintelligible things to himself and fiddled with his strings. I beat him 6-2, 6-2. He usually beats me. Funny, I, too, had a handicap. But did I complain? No, I didn’t. My left hand (my dominant hand) tingled from having played a steel-string acoustic guitar the night before. I didn’t mention that to Jimmy. Probably because I won.

In tennis, it’s all on you. There’s usually nobody else to blame. Here’s a useful rule: If you lose, blame the wind. That’s less offensive than blaming your racket.

Yiddishe Cup performs 2-3 pm this Sun. (June 16). Father’s Day. Free. Beachwood Branch, Cuyahoga County Library, 25501 Shaker Blvd. (corner of Shaker Boulevard and Richmond Road). Indoors.

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1 dgk { 06.12.24 at 9:53 am }

Good piece Bert. Equipment problems can be devastating to a match. I busted a string on my Bancroft Executive (a great racket!) about 1980. Haven’t played since.

2 Bert Stratton { 06.12.24 at 10:25 am }

dgk, I had a Bancroft Players Special. Almost as good as your racket.

3 Ken Goldberg { 06.12.24 at 4:39 pm }

One can blame a mosquito buzzing around too….

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