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 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.


 
 

Category — Fake Profiles

THE BOXER

I used to box. I listened to Johansson-Patterson fights on the radio. I boxed at the Ukrainian Club, AAU and Junior Golden Gloves. My parents were all for it. Weird: everybody was into tennis and golf and bowling, and I boxed. My father encouraged boxing. In my dad’s day, Jewish fighters sometimes hit the top: Jackie Davis, Benny Leonard. Locally, Harry Levine was a good light heavyweight. Levine fought with his face out front. If he got hit, his head would shake like a bobblehead. He kept hitting though.

My last fight was in 1972. Very old school: the Italian versus the Jew. Johnny Montello had been a cook in ‘Nam. He was punchy and foggy-headed. Maybe he boxed too much in the Pacific. Johnny got into my face verbally, Ali-style, saying: “You’re always talking about Jewish shit.” Johnny pointed at the Star of David on my trunks.

I said, “You should know one thing about me, Montello. Being Jewish is who I am. Everything I do is a part of that.” I had just graduated college. I used to box in Waterman Gym at Michigan — with myself mostly. Existential stuff.

Everybody came to the Montello fight. My friends looked like Hair extras. Montello’s friends were like from Grease. Montello broke my nose and gave me a concussion, and I was done. I got a real job right after that.

I miss the ring. I play tennis now, and contrary to what Agassi says, tennis is not boxing. I still dream about boxing: Babe Triscaro, Jimmy Bivins, Tony Mulia, Herbie Becker. Unfortunately the Senior Olympics is not happening this year.

[fake profile]

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May 13, 2020   6 Comments

THIS UPCOMING REPRESSION

I’ll tell you one thing. I had this old car, couldn’t get it to do nothing. I pushed and pulled and beat on it. Then I throwed it over a cliff. I said, “Let’s throw over a car.” Me and my boys done it. My old lady was against it. She thought she was better than me.

She was something else. The biggest woman for churchgoing you ever seen, and full of crap. She wouldn’t eat things like, hey, meat. She was skinnier than a stick. Totally emancipated. And ornery. And when that heifer got a few bucks from her rich daddy, watch out. I didn’t dig her. She came at me with a mouth full of beer. Got all over me, the floor, and walls. She got claws. They all do.

There’s a lot of good-looking heads out there just waiting to nail you to the cross, I’ll tell you. She made me sick, just thinking of her. I got ferocious of the liver, and that’s a bad situation. Nobody comes between me and my beer. That broad tried.

It’s all in the numbers. I ain’t asking for much, just a little. This upcoming repression is going to be so bad it’ll shake your teeth loose. I want to be reborn the poodle of a rich lady.

[fake profile]

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April 8, 2020   6 Comments

YOU’RE DISGUSTING

There’s a lot I don’t like about you. For one thing, you are rude, like you fist-bump everybody — even before coronavirus — and way too hard. Also, you insist on driving a red car so everybody will notice you. You eat too fast. You’re done before anybody else starts. Disgusting. That word has your name on it. Nothing transformative is going to happen you. Another thing, you’re too macho. Try an ounce of femininity. Watch half a whole football game instead of a whole game. What are you doing for sports during this shut-down?

You know who you are. I probably shouldn’t post this.

A remedy for you, right here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvQvkpD2idc&feature=youtu.be

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March 18, 2020   8 Comments

I’VE MADE MILLIONS

I’ve made millions in gambling. You know that because I’ve written about it. Even so, some blog readers still believe I inherited my money. Wrong! I work hard. I play video poker. I play the Vegas casinos that offer the best margin. I demand a 99.5 JOB (jacks-or-better) edge. I tip well and live well. Do I play video poker all day? Yes, and I love it! My ex-wife didn’t love it. She tried to control my bankroll. Nobody controls my bankroll!

I’m a quantity in Vegas. I even had a radio show there for a couple years. I coughed so much on the air, I got fired. I was in smoky casinos 12 hours a day; I was lucky I could breathe.

I play craps. If you play craps long enough, you lose everything, which I did once. Just once. I’ve filed W-2Gs over $300,000 for many years. The ex-mayor of San Diego lost $13 million on video poker. Don’t be her. Be me. Lots of royal flushes, everybody! My website, Video Poker Millionaire, is here.

gambling 2 2020

[fake profile]

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January 29, 2020   2 Comments

REVERSE GATSBY

I’m Jay Gatz, but in reverse. You see, I moved from New York to the Midwest, specifically to Cleveland, and I changed my name. I used to be Justin Jacobson. Now I’m Bill Jones. Of course, I go by “William J. Jones,” too, whenever that seems appropriate.

I grew up in Manhattan at the San Remo, right next door to where Lennon was shot. My parents owned an art gallery. In fact, they owned two art galleries — one in Switzerland and one in New York. I ran the Zurich gallery for a while and met all the big names. But I got sick of New York and the entire gallery scene. Why? It was too effete. I wanted to hang out with “real people” — real estate guys, for example. I went to Ohio University. After college, I rented a one bedroom in Cleveland for $850. Tricked out, too. Marble countertops, dishwasher. I’ve been in Cleveland a couple years.

I hope to buy up the town — Cleveland. I can probably buy it for what my parents’ NYC apartment is worth. I’ve only made two errors in Cleveland: 1) I guessed wrong that a milk chute is for seltzer delivery, and 2) I didn’t know what tree lawn meant.

Cleveland is a cool town. Like Hoboken. Urban, but not too urban.

[fake profile]

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November 6, 2019   3 Comments

CHECK OUT MY LIFESTYLE

I spit wherever I want.

I go to the city dump for toilet seats and milk cartons. I’m a collagist.

I have sexy legs.

I own a big house and need another one. I’m seeing a realtor Friday.

I can’t read in the car. That’s a weakness.

I want to be Mr. Rogers, but not from Pittsburgh.

Rock-and-roll trivia is my forte. Also, baseball history. Pie Traynor!

I hate air conditioning. I wear a Speedo around the house in the summer.

My favorite movie is The Awning Fabricator. It’s Serbian.

Exercise sucks.

My girlfriend is sumptuous and intense, and a fugitive from my wife.

I often eat alone. My fav meal: Don’t have one.

My fav song: “Meshugeneh Mambo.”

Wednesday mornings I’m at Stone Oven, Eton Collection, Woodmere, Ohio. Stop in.

[fake profile]

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September 25, 2019   4 Comments

LACTOSE INTOLERANT

I shot a cow because it was crippled and couldn’t walk. Then my dad sold the dead cow to the Amish for meat. We couldn’t sell it to anybody else because it wasn’t “choice.” My dad loved everything about cows: barns, ice cream, blintzes. He had me throw baseballs against the side of  the barn like Bob Feller used to. My dad thought I might be the next Rapid Robert. Didn’t happen.

milkI planned to attend Ohio State to major in dairy science, but my high school buddies — all non-dairy types — talked me into Michigan, where I majored in diary science (creative writing).

After college I spent a year in Israel at a kibbutz milking cows in the refet (dairy barn). I like unpasteurized milk, but it’s hard to find. I like ordering milk at bars. Women love that. They say, “James Cagney!”

I have zero tolerance for the lactose intolerant.

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May 1, 2019   1 Comment

My Life in Fiddler on the Roof

I’ve played Perchik and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Mostly in small-town gigs. The regional theater directors often ask me to discuss Jewish stuff with the cast, like about yarmulkes and the breaking of the glass, and chair lifting. I make up stuff. I’ve heard rabbis make up stuff, too — particularly about the glass breaking. There are many reasons why the glass is broken. All bobe mayses.

When I’m not acting, I do a one-man show. I play guitar, hand drum, even harmonica, and I sing. And I use backing tracks. I know some Yiddish, too.

Here’s a promo pic. I use it sparingly now that I’m 65  . . .

irwin 1990s

I should advertise in the back of Hadassah magazine like Ruth Kaye and Caryn Bark. Who are they? Who am I? I live in Cleveland and play the nursing home circuit. I went to Brush High. I’m married with adult children. I spend about six weeks every winter in Florida. I’m in Sarasota today. I’ve played Tevye a dozen times. I’ve also played the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar.

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February 13, 2019   4 Comments

J RAPPER

I’m a J rapper — a Jewish rapper. I like hiphop, klezmer and all that stuff. Weird, because I’m 70. I go to rap-offs and win. I can rhyme Yiddish, like balebos with ball of fuzz, and mishegas with lift up the gas. People like it.

hypno klezThere used to be another old Jewish rapper — Murray Saul. (Yeah, I know there are young Jewish rappers, like Matisyahu and Ari Lesser.) Anyway, old Murray Saul would go on WMMS radio — this was in the 1970s — and screech about the exciting, impending weekend. Saul was Cleveland’s answer to Allen Ginsberg but without the talent. Saul would just yell a lot. He was also a salesman; he sold radio ads.

I have a half hour’s worth of material.

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November 21, 2018   4 Comments

I’M A SENSUOUS OLD CROOK

I’m sensuous. Everybody knows that, like I like opera and tennis. I was born above a deli in 1949. I remember the pickles. The cukes were right in the goddamn basement. My parents got the hell out of there in 1955 and moved to the suburbs, South Euclid.

I never really wanted to kill nobody. I was just an accomplice. At Chillicothe, I did kitchen work. I don’t mind getting dirty. I was numero uno with all the inmates, especially the Cleveland Italians and, of course, the Jews.

comedy judgeFor me, personally, the whole thing went kaplooey in ’79 — the year I was busted. The Crash of ’79, for me, was not a book. It was real. I made some scores after, when I got out, and blew everything on a racehorse –- owning one. I couldn’t deal with the thick-headed Italians at the track no more, to tell you the truth.

I’ve learned a few things. If your mama mixes her monthly blood with hamburger and serve it to you, you won’t hit her. What else?

I never got married. Not my thing.

One last thing, I haven’t ate ice cream in at least thirty years. It’s kids’ food and I’m no kid.

Last call: Funk a Deli / Yiddishe Cup at Cain Park, Cleveland Hts., this Sun. (June 24), 7 p.m. Evans Amphitheater. No tix necessary. Guests: Michael Wex, Steve Greenman, Kathy Sebo, Shawn Fink and Greg Selker.

yc 98 2

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June 20, 2018   3 Comments

MY 15 MINUTES

My band was on MTV and charted #53 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995. But we had a major problem — nobody wanted to be a sideman. Everyone wanted to be the star. I wrote every song, but everybody else thought they were the star.

kosher riffsI go to shul a lot now, and my rabbi’s sermon this week was “What I Learned at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” My rabbi said you’ve got to balance your sideman role in life with your ego-tripping. The rabbi asked for comments from the congregation. I raised my hand and blabbed a bit about my days as a rocker. Most people at shul didn’t know I was a rocker. I mentioned my A-hole manager. I said “A-hole” in shul.

I’m a sideman now. I accept that. We’re all sidemen. I mean, who’s running this band? Think about it.

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May 9, 2018   2 Comments

I NEED A BEER!

I yelled at my wife today. Nothing new.

I need a Bud. My neighbor — from Germany, no less — says Bud is the best beer in America.

I drink too much, I know. My kids won’t even talk to me. I should cut back. I’d like to get down to a case a week. I had a friend from childhood who ultimately drank himself to death at 42. He put away a case a day — 24 brewskis. That’s ridiculous, even by my standards. Four beers a day is what I’m shooting for.

I need a beer!


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April 25, 2018   6 Comments

LET BERT DO IT

My mother, 82, owns 25 rental units in Cleveland Heights. She wants me to collect rents. I’m reluctant. She hides apartment keys for me everywhere and says, “Now this key is to that room, which is next to this door. Turn right, and reach your hand around the corner and it’s on this ledge.” I write it all down. My sister lives in Florida. It’s all on me.

The other day I bumped into Bert Stratton, the klezmer guy. How long has his band been around? They should hang up the Havdalah candle. Bert asks me the same thing every time: “What are you going to do when your mother dies?”

I tell him I’ll sell the stupid houses the minute she dies. He says real estate is solid parnassah, which means livelihood in Yiddish. Bert likes to sling Yiddish. Sling this, Bert: Va fangool! Bert, you manage the houses after my mom dies.

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March 28, 2018   4 Comments

BOOKS TO GO

books 2 colored

Here are some books I’m throwing out. I refuse to take these mediocrities to the library; these clunkers are going right on my treelawn:

Cobbler, Mend my Shoe!
by Thom McAn

My Favorite Car Sales
by Del Spitzer

Fungo Batting
by Woody Held

Selfies
by Jeff “The Body” Sugarman

The Wiener in Bavarian Folk Arts
by Nathan Famoso

photo by Eric Broder

100 Years in an RV
by Irv Weinberger

Puzzles, Wrinkles and Twisters
by Albert Einstein

Sexism at the Battle of Waterloo
by “Jilly”

Chillicothe: Ohio’s First Capital
by George Becker

Jesus in My Glove
by Mac “Octopus” Vouty

How to Identify a Child Molester
by Frederick M. Rogers

I Broke My Knee and Ran 10 Miles
by Mark Schilling

The History of the Electric Toothbrush
by Ralph Solonitz DDS

An Appreciation of Aluminum Siding
by Ken Goldberg

Regular Guy: The Life of Nelson Rockefeller
by Jim Sollisch

Lieder and its Influence on Mick Jagger
by Tricia Springstubb

My .38 Special is Special
by Stan Urankar

Fracking Jews
by Theodore S. Stratton

Guess Your Neighbor’s Net Worth
by James Kerson

Life on the Outskirts of Beer
by Isaac Miller

A hat tip to Gilbert Sorrentino. Ten percent of the book titles are from Sorrentino’s novel Mulligan Stew (1979).

The German wiener photo is by Eric Broder

File this under Fake Profiles. And it’s a rerun.

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November 8, 2017   5 Comments

DIRTY POET

I’m Cush Pack, an intense sex explosion. Guys like me because I write dirty poems. My best poem is “The Poet and the Pediatrician,” which doesn’t sound dirty but it is. My dirtiest poem is “I Want to Wet Your Feelings.” It’s been published in a couple anthologies.

I go clubbing almost every night. All kinds of clubs. Last night I crashed the Shaker Heights Country Club and trashed the parish priest in public. The golfers in the lobby went ballistic. One guy said, “Did I just hear this chick call the priest an atheist?” I do teasy push-pull stuff like that. I like a reaction.

My newest poem is “Who Must File,” about my accountant. Yes, I’m a middle-aged self-supporting woman from Shaker Heights. My “Who Must File” poem is in Belt, an online journal of erotica. My bio note reads: “I like curly fries.” That’s all. I try to play it cool.  Next week I”m changing it to “I’m into herring.”

Tell me something about yourself, please. What are your electives? Come on, pull my rip cord. No, I’m not an undercover cop. Let’s talk. I’m Cush Pack.

socks

A version of this appeared here 3/18/15.

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July 5, 2017   2 Comments

LEGALLY BLIND

I’ve been blind for about three years. Put wax paper in front of your eyes and that’s me. I see shapes but not details. I see the clock face but not the hands.

A med-tech rubbed gel on my eyeballs, and sound waves bounced off my eyes. It was all vibrations.

I miss reading. I miss the lowercase g — so sexy.

I don’t look blind — no cane or shades — so I thought I’d tell you.

blindfold test

fiction

I had an essay, “Sue Me,” at City Journal last week. A tenant sued me. Not fiction.

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February 22, 2017   No Comments

I NEED MONEY

I think a lot about money. I never used to. Today I sketched a $100 bill. If I had a bag of real $100s, I’d be happy, but not completely happy. I need $1,000,000. I have expenses.

My rabbi talked about fire and ash — the fire was the animal sacrifice at the Temple,  and the ash was the charred sacrificial remains. Conclusion: the fire is the fun part of life — such as music, art, and dining at Tommy’s. And the ash is the workaday stuff.  For instance, you’re a doctor and you’re filling out forms instead of healing people, or you’re a teacher doing student assessments instead of teaching. There is a lot of ash-hauling in life, and I’m sick of it. I want to have fun. Have any extra $100s?

money


This is neither fiction nor non-fiction.

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February 8, 2017   4 Comments

Q & A WITH DON FRIEDMAN, DRUMMER

Don Friedman is Yiddishe Cup’s former drummer.

—–
What’s the best part of retirement, Don?

Not schlepping my drums to gigs.

You were with Yiddishe Cup about 20 years. What was the worst part of being in a klezmer band?

Nothing.

Don Friedman, 2011

Don Friedman, 2011

What were some of your highlights with the band?

Playing outdoor gigs – you know, festivals. But I didn’t like the druggie stuff at the outdoor festivals. I think the kids call it mollys – ecstasy. And bearded mountain-men dudes — I don’t like them. They got ugly with us a couple times and called us anti-Semitic names, but we just ignored them.

The band clashed internally. A little or a lot?

Not that I’m aware of you. But I do want to say I was totally gutted every time Bert belittled my hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania, on the bandstand. I finally told him to shut up about it.

What kind of music moves you the most?

Klezmer, jazz. You know, I grew up with jazz. Saw Philly Jo Jones and Trane in the 1950s. I went off to Berklee for a while. It was just one building.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Drink more at gigs. I only had a beer per gig. It was all free. I should have had two per gig.

Who are your heroes?

Buddy Rich, Stan Levey, Teddy Charles — any Jewish jazz drummer.

—–
This interview is fiction.

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January 25, 2017   4 Comments

I HAVE NOT COME A LONG WAY

I grew up about 10 blocks from the Long Island Sound, but for the past 42 years I’ve lived by Lake Erie — no salt. I make do. You can’t see the other side of Lake Erie. It’s a real lake. I don’t swim in the lake too long because I don’t want to catch a disease. I often walk on the beach, and I’m a member of the Edgewater Yacht Club.

After walking on the beach, I like to make a cup of tea. Then I garden or cook, and think back to my childhood by the Long Island Sound. I have come a long way — or not.

lake erie swimming

fiction

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November 30, 2016   4 Comments

CENSORED

I write a lot about women. My metier is feelings. I once did a piece on Erma La Douce, who I saw at the Roxy in 1965. My wife didn’t like the article, so I’m not linking to it here. roxyI also wrote a good essay about Dorothy Stratten, the Playboy playmate who was killed. My wife didn’t like that one either. No link. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about real estate and klezmer.

My high school friend Dave just stopped in. Dave likes to talk about how he schtupped his next-door neighbor — this was 40 years ago — at the Pink Motel on Lake Shore Boulevard. The Pink Motel barmaid, Jan, had a tattoo on her left ankle — Greek letters from her Kent State sorority.

Enough. The Mazeltones, a now-defunct Seattle klezmer band, played a few Sephardic tunes because many early Seattle Jewish settlers were from Rhodes, Greece . . .

 

censored birds and bees

fiction

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September 14, 2016   4 Comments