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. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.
 

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

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

WHAT’S THE TEMPERATURE?

Cleveland is a great place to raise a family. It has wonderful cultural attractions, but I couldn’t take the place anymore. I couldn’t take the weather. When I wrecked my knee, I couldn’t even ski.

screw upI’m a member of Wandering Jews here, a group at my temple. We go up into the mountains and pray once a month. I never could stand the glitzy mega-temples in Cleveland.

My friends back home expected me to die in Cleveland. No thanks.

Please don’t be mad at me for leaving. Visit me, and we’ll sit on my patio and listen to the birds.

By the way, what’s the temperature in Cleve today?

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March 14, 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

I NEVER REPORT
MY MUSIC INCOME

I never report my music income. I’m a klezmer clarinetist and blues harmonica player, not a tax guy. I don’t give a shit about taxes. I play music eight hours a day, and in between I wait for the phone to ring for gigs. I have no life except music, and I’m proud of it.

I owe some people money. Big deal. That’s standard in the music biz. My go-to line is “Can you lend me five dollars to get home from the gig?  What’s five bucks?” (I often get paid by check for gigging.)

blue eyed soulOne musician yelled at me, “Five bucks is pathetic! At least ask for twenty!” He gave me a twenty. Nice.

I occasionally hock my instruments and show up at gigs with student-level gear. This, too, annoys bandleaders. Charlie Parker hocked his horn; I’m in good company! A bandleader once told me, “Tools, man, where are your tools?” I have tools — cheesy student tools, which I  play better than you! I once asked a priest for gas money at a wedding, and he gave it to me.

I have bad habits. I’m flawed. What about you?  Are you perfect?

 

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October 4, 2017   3 Comments

MY RELIGION IS EX-JEWISH

I was a Jewish greaser in high school. It was me, Neil Zuckerman and Tommy Steiner — three Jewish greasers in a class of 650. There were greasers, just not Jewish greasers. In the winter we hung out at the pool hall, and in the summer we went to the swimming pool three times a day. We hung with the Catholic girls.

brush greaserI live in Mentor now, with my motorcycle and dog, and don’t see many Jews. I always wanted to be Italian. I got my first kiss from a dago. I wasn’t invited to any bar mitzvahs. I didn’t ever go to temple.

I got no brownie points in my Jewish ’hood for working on cars. If you weren’t pre-med, you were nobody. Levine, a jerk, teased me when I wore the wrong kind of penny loafers in eighth grade. Not Pedwins. I switched to pointy black “rack” shoes, Regals, that night and became a greaser. Rick Miller, another podiatrist-in-training, teased me for wearing white socks. How was I supposed to know white socks had just gone out of style?

Put me in the ex-Jewish column, next to Aleutian.

A version of this post appeared 4/30/14.

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August 16, 2017   3 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

THE DEAL ANIMAL

I like to tour all kinds of buildings: retail space, offices, apartments, warehouses. I get a kick from them all. I know — not everybody gets this high. At 21 I bough my first double, on Eddington Road in Cleveland Heights. Now I own hundreds of units. My phone number is everywhere — all my lobbies. I have nothing to hide. The calls: “My tub overflowed. I need an ark” . . . “My ceiling fell on my bed. Lucky I wasn’t sleeping” . . . “My stove smells like carbon monoxide” . . .  “My cat is dying from black mold.”

I love it. When I see a building that throws a nice bottom line, my heart skips a beat. If you hear of anything, give me a call.

heart better deal animal

fiction

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October 11, 2016   1 Comment

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

IN REVERSE

I grew up in New York and never liked it there. I went to college in Ohio. I’m never going back east. To do what? Live in Williamsburg and write a blog about beer?

My roommate at Kenyon College took me to his hometown, Shaker Heights, a couple times. Cleveland has lawns and you don’t pay $2000/month for a one-bedroom apartment. I moved there. I have a one-bedroom for $850. Tricked out too — marble counter tops and a dishwasher. My dad thinks I’m crazy. He said I should enroll in accounting school at NYU

I work in property management in Cleveland. I’ve gone back to New York once. I can’t stand it. Going to the deli for a sandwich is a major deal — the crowds, the lines, the elevator. People say I’m going the wrong way. Wrong! I am Jay Gatz in reverse. For a million dollars I could buy almost all of Cleveland. And I will.

fiction

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August 31, 2016   6 Comments

JAZZER

Nobody cares about jazz except me and a couple random Berklee freshmen. I’ve played with Frank Sinatra, Jr. That was the darkest year of my life. Vegas wasn’t meant for a 20 year old. I gigged with Chick Corea. His drummer quit and I got the call. I was only 22.

I’ve been a music professor for about 10 years. That’s the best gig for jazzers these days. I want to enroll in the creative writing class at the college here, but the English chairman says all the writing classes are full. Let me in! I want to write a book on how we reverse-engineer musicians. We teach kids technique but none of the spiritual aspects of music. give shit about jazz 2 somewhat cleanerThink about folk musicians. They don’t get nervous and take beta-blockers. They grew up with their music. It’s part of their culture, like food.

There are maybe two people who give a shit about jazz — me and a kid at Berklee. I hope he buys my book.

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August 17, 2016   2 Comments

WIENER ROAST ON THE LAKE

I throw wiener roasts at my cottage on Lake Erie. I invite Catholics from Rocky River, Jews from Beachwood, and generics from all over the city. I wonder if my guests come for the lake or me? I hold raffles, we play cards. There’s booze and gambling.

Funny: in Cleveland very few people live close to Lake Erie, so the lake is a big deal. My house — in Cleveland Heights — is six miles from the lake.

Bill Wallace, an old friend from Washington D.C., is coming to town for the wiener roast. Yiddishe Cup will play klezmer music until 10 p.m., then we’ll go into “Wild Thing”-type music. Yiddishe Cup’s former drummer, Don Friedman, will sing “Mustang Sally.” Is that an attraction? Not likely. The lake is the attraction.

cabin by lake

fiction

Yiddishe Cup plays 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 4, on the lawn at John Carroll U., University Hts., Ohio. Free. Indoors if raining.  Free ice cream, kids!

ice cream highway

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July 27, 2016   4 Comments

I’M SCREWED

My husband is a studio photographer and makes zero money. Even worse: I just lost my job as a teacher. My husband hides in his darkroom. He should donate his darkroom to the Smithsonian and get a real job. We’ve been married 19 years ago and 16 years of those years have been a huge mistake. He shops on the Internet all day for metrosexual bullshit like cameras, clothes and wine. I’m screwed. What should I do?

photographer dark room

fiction

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July 13, 2016   2 Comments

THE HIPPIE STRIPPER

During the dying days of burlesque, I was a stripper in Toledo, Ohio. I dressed like a hippie — bell-bottoms and long hair — and went by the name Tzippy the Hippie. I did New Burlesque, which we called “burlesque” back then.

tzippy the hippie stripper

I worked throughout the Midwest. The main burlesque guy in Detroit was Herman the Head. He liked to drink. I think he was a beer bottle in a previous life. I lived with Herman for six months. He also liked talk radio a lot. He listened to that shit so much he was a radio before he was a beer bottle. I  didn’t get my name, Tzippy the Hippie, from Herman; I got  it from a U. of Toledo professor. Yes, I have some college!

I dyed my hair blond, wore tie-dyed rags, and didn’t shave my underarms. One night, when I was supposed to be in Fort Wayne, I was in Toledo with my professor, and Herman found out about it. I said to him on the phone, “I’m not coming home. There’s this party here in Fort Wayne and I’m so drunk I’m going to crash here.” Herm knew I was lying.  He went directly to the prof’s house, and I ate out of a straw for six weeks. (The prof suffered three broken ribs.)

Now I’m 70 and my health is real bad. It’s awful — diabetes, heart condition and arthritis.  Every cent, to me, is precious now. A vintage strippers website says I’m dead. Not quite, kids! Next week I’m in Denver for a New Burlesque conference. I’m getting $200 plus expenses. I have cool 1969 photos for sale (only $10). Hope to see you there!

This post is based 0.1 percent on Pat Oleszko the Hippie Stripper — a 1960s performance artist from Ann Arbor. This post is fiction, I think.

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March 30, 2016   7 Comments