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

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

I’M COLD

I don’t help with the shopping, cooking, or bill-paying. I never cut the grass or wash the dishes. Self-medication — mostly alcohol — works best.

brain freeze alcohol

Brain Freeze

I had a miserable childhood. That’s part of it. And I botch up my adulthood daily. For instance, I screamed at my wife today for moving the rinse glass in the bathroom. Where is it? I have to stop blaming her — and others — for everything.

Bottom line, I have wronged a lot of people. Maybe I should disappear. Where to? Hawaii? Canada? I’m thinking Canada. I’m cold.

This is a fake profile — the part about the booze.

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February 17, 2016   8 Comments

FATHER-SON TECH TEAM

THE DAD:

My son has a knack for writing, which he got from me. I’m a tech writer.

I have a friend my age who cries whenever his computer crashes. I’ve seen him roll on the floor crying. It’s usually a matter of rebooting the damn thing. If I’m not home, I send my son over.

My first cell phone was a Motorola.

 

THE SON:

I fix computers my dad can’t fix. My customers are old hippies like my dad. They don’t know a web browser from a server. I fix their gear, and then haul their shit to the tree lawn. I have hauled couches and other heavy stuff.

I got the writing bug from my dad. I need to raise $15,000 on Kickstarter to publish a book.  Here are some chapter titles: ‘My Dog Browser,’  ‘I’m Updating Your Mother’ and ‘Router in the Hole.’

I like going into people’s houses and watching the customers shout with joy when I fix their stupid problems.

Consider my Kickstarter. I don’t want to live with my dad any longer. This photo from our kitchen says it all:

phone push button  shelburne 2015

This is a fake profile.

Yiddishe Cup plays The Ark,  Ann Arbor, Mich., 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 6.  $20.  Our Schmotown Revue — mixing klezmer and Motown.

yiddishe cup 12_15_15 300 dpi maybe

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January 27, 2016   4 Comments

I HAVE A FOLLOWING

I make goodie bags for guys. Most goodie bags are made by women for women. (Goodie bags are handed out at hotel desks to out-of-towners checking into bar mitzvahs and weddings.)

party favorsI don’t put in mandarin oranges, Tic Tacs, or sparkling water. I shop at Walmart at Steelyard Commons — next to the steel mill. I load up on Reese’s Cups and Hershey bars in aisle 4 — bagged candy. I sometimes go with gummy bears. Snacks are in aisle 12: rod pretzels, chips.

Walmart has lime green and pink gift bags on display. I ask for dark bags, which aren’t on display.

I deliver the bags to the hotel. I have a following.

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January 20, 2016   3 Comments

I’M OUT OF THE MUSIC BUSINESS

I used to play a lot of gigs and nobody listened. I once did a gig where pillows were strewn on the floor, and the audience literally nodded out. They went in and out of consciousness. One guy, awakening after an hour, yelled, “You suck!” That was it.

nodding out  pillows

Now I play for myself. I write a lot of lyrics. The downside to lyric-writing is the English language is so limited — all that moon/spoon/June kind of shit. Another problem: everybody thinks they can write, so everybody is so quick to judge.

I’m amazed how many musicians are still gigging — what, with nobody listening. I used to play weddings. I was in a klezmer wedding band for years. I was embattled, mostly with myself. I made latkes with that band, but “Hava Nagila” every weekend nearly killed me. Throw my instruments on the curb, where tourists can play them — if tourists are around here. Throw my axes out the window. Throw my suitcase out there too. 

Are you listening? 

No, I didn’t think so.


This is a fake profile. Yiddishe Cup is around — in its 28th year! (Nineteen percent of this post is stolen from a Clark Coolidge interview from the Poetry Project Newsletter, Feb/March 2013.) 

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November 11, 2015   5 Comments

THE DAY MY DAD WENT TO PRISON

Friedman from the bakers’ union didn’t look too good. Neither did Presser from the Teamsters. Shondor Birns, the numbers guy, was dead — blown up. My father — my thieving father — faced a 10-year sentence, which meant at least five years, which meant he would die in prison because he was so sickly. He had dreck stains on his pants, a severe shuffling gait, and a 250-pound man’s clogged heart.

Could I erase all this? I tried. I put Hello Kitty stickers on everything, but it didn’t work.

I was at my dad’s apartment, looking at a spider on the ceiling. My dad said, “Too many times I’ve let you down.” True, Dad.

He tried to kiss me on the forehead but missed because my head was looking at the spider.

The deputies escorted my father to the parking lot to ship him off. Next to the car, he bear-hugged me. With each squeeze, my ribs cracked slightly.

My dad died in prison. I can’t say that I missed him. My dad tried to learn Hebrew in jail. He never got past transliteration. He was good with numbers but not letters.

dad died in prison

—-
Five percent of the above is stolen from the Poetry Project Newsletter (Dec 2014./Jan 2015).  The post is fiction.

Here’s Yiddishe Cup’s mash-up of Fiddler on the Roof and The Temptations:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMFG_K8NXSU

Here’s Vulfpeck‘s newest song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5pYL-Y–To

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August 26, 2015   3 Comments

FLY THE FLAG

I sell nautical flags, banners, buntings and American flags. My busy season is Memorial Day through July 4. By the way, Flag Day is Sunday.

flagI fly the American flag every day. I have to trim the hem on the bunting edge every couple months because of the wind around here.

My dream is that Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state. Another state would be good for the flag business.

I have a quiz question for you: What are the five most-recent states? A lot of people, I bet, can name the four newest states, but few people know the fifth most-recent state.


For the answer, please see the comments section.

[btw, I don’t sell flags. This post is a fake profile.]


Yiddishe Cup plays the annual Workmen’s Circle Yiddish concert at Cain Park, Cleveland Hts, 7 p.m. Sunday, June 28. No tix necessary. Just show up. Evans Amphitheater. We’re doing a mash up of  The Temptations and Fiddler on the Roof.  Other acts that night are Steven Greenman and Lori Cahan-Simon.
YCKB logo from web page

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June 10, 2015   3 Comments

MR. 1939

mr 1939 crossroad

I published a literary magazine, Crossroad, in Cleveland in 1939. Ruth Seid (aka Jo Sinclair), the novelist, wrote for me, as did Chester Himes. Chester was just out of the Ohio Penitentiary. Sidney Vincent also wrote. Sid eventually worked at the Jewish Federation. I had a couple professors from Cleveland College, too.

Chester Himes is now best-known for If He Hollers Let Him Go, published in 1945. As for Ruth Seid, she was discovered in the 1980s by the lesbian literary scene. I didn’t know Ruth was gay. I didn’t know a lot in 1939.

When Hitler and Stalin signed the non-aggression pact, Chester left the Communist Party. I followed right after that. Then I was drafted and sent to the Pacific.

After the war, I sold plumbing supplies for my father-in-law in Cleveland. Chester moved to Paris, and Ruth became a gardener in Geauga County.

The Crossroad era is just between you and me, OK?


SIDE B

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG

Every year I thank the major commenters to this blog. I could do Klezmer Guy without comments, but it wouldn’t be as interesting.

In no particular order, thanks to Marc Adler, Ken Goldberg, Gerald Ross, Ted, Bill Jones, Mark Schilling, Seth Marks . . .

David Korn, Dave Rowe, Irwin Weinberger, Mimi Harris and Don Friedman.

See your name here next year by writing in.

An extra gracias to Ken Goldberg and Mark Schilling. They crank out comments in bulk — always insightful, inciting and/or stupid.

Lastly, thanks to bloggie illustrator Ralph Solonitz, the best and cleverest drawer around. Here’s an old post about Ralph and his motorcycle.

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May 20, 2015   3 Comments

THE SCARED DOLLAR
IS NO DOLLAR

I play cards at the Horseshoe Casino downtown. I play poker, and I love it. Also, I get free parking and free food, and I have a free cruise lined up. It has to be on Norwegian. And I have a free trip to any Harrah’s in America. Where should I go? Vegas? San Diego?

I hang with others gamblers — guys I know from the tables. I do not hang out with old ladies who play slots all day. Last week I met two Serbian furniture dealers who can out-drink me. (Impressive.)

Here’s a gambling tip: the scared dollar is no dollar. If you’re scared, you’ll never make the play. I win, I lose, I play. Right now I’m down a couple thousand. I’m always down a couple thousand.

gamblerIf you want a free buffet meal, meet up with me. Any casino. I have rewards all over the country. If you’re a bitter gambler, don’t contact me. There are so many bitter gamblers. I’m not one of them. Your deal.

This is a fake profile. Another gambler post is here, side B, 1/15/14.

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April 15, 2015   1 Comment

SYN ARCHITECT

I’m an architect who does mostly McDonald’s, TGIFridays and synagogues.  I was the first with the “fast-casual shul.”  You can get a nosh at my shuls.  If the worship service is too long, go to the rear of the sanctuary, to my built-in Frank Lloyd Wright snack bar.

My professional credo:

1. Put the bima (altar) on ground level, among the people.  Power to the people.

2. Never use stained glass.  That spells “rich guy” to the little guy.

4. Keep kosher on some level.  (I dine frequently at kosher-style delis.)

5.  Leave a stamp — a signature.  I always embed a tiny cross in the coatroom ceiling for the custodial staff.

I also do retrofits.  I put in a nosh bar at Park Synagogue, Cleveland Heights.  It caught fire, not literally, but you wouldn’t believe the crowds.. They hired an Israeli chef and a dump truck to maneuver the mounds of ersatz chopped liver.

I’m working on a mosque/falafel stand in Dearborn, Michigan.  Saalam alaykum, bros.  The old Semitic cousin routine.  Whatever.

Fake profile.

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March 25, 2015   No Comments

PISS MONEY

People say I’m a good businessman.  Why?  Because I’m not around.  Gone — outta here — is a sign of brilliance, particularly in Cleveland in February.

I’m not in Arizona, California or Florida.  I’m in Mexico.  I’m in a pueblo just south of Mexico City.  (I’d rather not say exactly where.)

I invest; that’s what I do, even on vacation.  I own a tube hotel/spa.  (I do excellent foot massages.)  My tube hotel is old sewer pipes:

And I analyze the Mexican market for fun.  Educated Mexicans are often snobs; when I raised the price on my tube hotel to $50 a night, the rich Mexicans came.  Lower than $50, nobody showed up.

I own half interest in a tortilla school, too.  Tourists make tortillas and tamales.  I freeze their products and sell the extra at the local market. Rule one: El que no transa, no avanza.  (If you don’t cheat, you don’t advance.)

My most successful business is WCs — bathrooms.  I charge 5 pesos (40 cents) a piss. Everybody urinates, am I right?  Am I right?  I keep my toilets USA tidy.  Everybody likes that.

When my friends in Cleveland write, I say, “You don’t want to come here.  This is Mexico: Montezuma’s revenge, stray dogs, narcotraficos.”  My friends stay away.  That’s good!

The locals seem to like me — or at least put up with me. I attend  the town hall meetings, and on fiesta days I pass out brooms, mops and small coins — piss money.

Stream it.


This is a fake profile.


Locals, come to Nighttown next Wednesday, Feb. 25.  7 p.m.  The Klezmer Guy Trio. $10.  One-stop shopping for Aretha’s “I Say a Little Prayer,” klezmer and prose blurts.  Make a reservation. It was pretty full the last time we did this show (2013). 216-795-0550.

Alan Douglass (L), Bert Stratton and Tamar Gray

Alan Douglass (L), Bert Stratton and Tamar Gray

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February 18, 2015   3 Comments

DON’T BE MAD AT ME

I lived in Cleveland for 23 years, then left.  It was a great place to raise a family, and it had wonderful cultural attractions, but I couldn’t take the weather anymore.  When I wrecked my knee, I couldn’t even ski anymore.

dont be mad at me 2Now I sit on my patio, listen to the birds, and look at the blue sky every single day of the year.  The temple out here is about the size of a CVS.  Nothing fancy.  I’m in Wandering Jews — a group at my temple.  We go into the mountains and pray once a month.  I never could stand the mega-temples back in Cleveland.

My friends in Cleveland expected me to die there, I think.  No thanks!  I have no roots in that town.  I moved to Cleveland for a job in 1992 . Before that, we lived in Columbus.  Before that, Philadelphia.  I was born in Albany.

Please don’t be mad at me for leaving.  Visit me here.  We’ll sit on the patio and listen to the birds.  By the way, what’s the temperature there?


This is a fake profile.  If I fooled you, sorry.  I didn’t move.

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January 14, 2015   2 Comments

ROCK STAR #53

I was a rock star of sorts in the 1990s.  My band was on MTV and charted #53 on the Billboard Hot 100.  But we had a problem; nobody wanted to be a sideman, everyone wanted to be the star.  I wrote the songs but everybody thought they were the star.  I was the star!

rock star #53

Now I mostly do solo gigs and give private piano lessons.  I don’t play klezmer.  I knew you’d ask.  I like klezmer, but I don’t play it.  I like the blues — all kinds.   The Jewish blues, by the way, is all about the flatted 2nd.  Last shabbes my rabbi’s sermon was “What I Learned at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”  The rabbi must have seen 20 Feet from Stardom recently.  He said you’ve got to balance your sideman role with your star-tripping goals.  Joseph was a star-tripper, and his brother Judah played in Joseph’s band as a sideman, not as a star-tripper.

You don’t know the story of Joseph?  Look it up.

The rabbi asked for comments from the congregation.  He likes to work the room. I chimed in about my old band.  The worshipers loved my comments!  Most people didn’t even know I was a rocker.  I talked about my record deals and my A-hole managers.  I even said “A-hole.”

I’m a sideman.  I accept that now.  Deep breath.  Om.

We’re all sidemen.  But, hey, don’t forget this: I hit #53 on the Billboard Hot 100, June 21, 1995, with “My Afterlife is After Yours.”

This is a fake profile.

Yiddishe Cup plays tonight (Wed. 12/31) at Akron (Ohio) First Night, 9:30 p.m., John S. Knight Convention Center.

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December 31, 2014   3 Comments

KLEZKAMP

KlezKamp shuts down this month after 30 annual get-togethers. This post looks at KlezKamp 1990.  KlezKamp was a huge positive influence on many musicians.

Sid Beckerman was a living legend of klez clarinet. I followed him around KlezKamp — the  annual music conference in the Catskills.

Sid talked to me!  Big deal?  Yes, it was.  Sid was paid staff, and I was a payer, as in student/customer/fawner, and paid staff was on a higher plane, hard to corner.  They had a lot of demands on their time.

Sid Beckerman, 1998 photo.

Sid Beckerman, 1998

Sid had no ego, according to Washington clarinetist Rodney Brooks, another student.  “Sid was never a star,” Rodney explained.  Sid was “discovered” by klez revivalists, and made his first record at 70.  (He died at 88 in 2007.)

Sid had a handwritten tune-book called “the sheets,” as in “sheet music.”  Sid’s guardian of “the sheets” was pianist Pete Sokolow (b. 1940), who had transcribed the tunes for Sid.

The most popular tune in the collection was “SB7,” which meant “Sid Beckerman tune #7.”  Dave Tarras had originally recorded it as “Di Zilberne Chasene” (The Silver Wedding).  Yiddishe Cup recorded it as “40A.”

Pete Sokolow, 2007

Pete Sokolow, 2007

At KlezKamp I developed a strategy for getting the sheets from Pete Sokolow.  First, I gave Pete a xerox of an obscure 1938 magazine article about “Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn,” hoping to get in Pete’s good graces. Sokolow, stuffing the magazine article in his pocket, said, “The sheets?  What sheets?  I’m so busy now.  I’m working up an arrangement for fifteen people.  What did Sid say?”

I hadn’t asked Sid.  So I went to Sid and offered him $20 for the sheets.  Sid said, “For what?  What transcriptions?”

Funny, all the clarinetists from D.C. knew the SB tunes. So I badgered Rodney, the dean of D.C. clarinetists, some more.  I hocked him.  He finally admitted he had the sheets.  “You can xerox them,” he said.  “But don’t say you got them from me.  Somebody might take umbrage.”

A year later, 1991, the sheets came out as the Klezmer Plus! Folio by Tara Publications.  Everybody could buy them.  Sokolow and Sid were just protecting their investments.


The above post is a rerun.  A version ran as “The Sheets,” 10/7/09.   Also, please check out the first comment (recycled from ’09) by Steven Greenman, about Sid Beckerman.


SIDE B

OK, you want to read something new . . .

I NEED A BEER!

I yelled at my wife today. Nothing new there. She forgot to buy milk.

I need a Bud. My neighbor — a guy from Germany — says Bud is the best beer in America.

I drink too much, I know that. Anymore, I’m surprised my wife puts up with me. My kids left. They won’t even talk to me.

I know I should cut back. I’d like to get down to a case a week. I had a friend who 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!


This is a fake profile.

Yiddishe Cup plays First Night Akron (Ohio) New Year’s Eve, 9:30 p.m. John S. Knight Convention Center. Booze-free event.

Did somebody say free booze?

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December 24, 2014   3 Comments

VULFPECK’S MANAGER

I’ve been managing bands for years, mostly as a hobby. I know something about marketing, booking and touring. I won’t discuss that stuff here, other than to say the most important thing nowadays is DIY: publicity stunts, cameo appearances at strip joints, stealth holographic projections of your band onto billboards at night.

vulf peckI have this group, Vulfpeck, who I manage informally. They do the opposite of whatever I tell them. Like I say send a press release to the New York Times, and they don’t.  They don’t know what a press release is.  They’re all about social media.  I’m about social too; hello, my name is  _________.

Vulfpeck, they have no idea how well I manage them. I lead a second life through those guys, at no charge to them. Right now two of them are in L.A., one is in Ann Arbor, and the other is at a racino in Toledo.  I follow them.  (I know where you are too, and I’m not pleased.)

Check out this terrific Vulfpeck vid, “Christmas in L.A.” Came out yesterday. Get in on the ground floor. Has a dog in it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5K3UgrPdbQ&feature=share

I tell Vulfpeck to sell themselves.  Get a publicist for starters.  Naturally, they don’t. They generate fuzz through Facebook and Twitter.  I’m old school; they’re New School.  I need help from the Urban Dictionary.  (“Fuzz” means “hipster buzz” — to me.)

I’m Vulfpeck’s manager. They don’t know it.  If they did, they’d fire me.


This is a fake profile.  Or at least 51 percent fake.

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December 10, 2014   6 Comments

I ENVY YOU

I envy you. That’s not good, but I can’t help myself. I envy a lot of people.  For instance, I envy the patients at the Cleveland Clinic. They are among the 1,700 sickest people in the city.

The Clinic is the fourth-best hospital in the country, says US News & World Report. I envy that number-4 ranking.  I’d like to be fourth best at something. Fourth shows mastery and modesty.

I want to walk through the Clinic in a white lab coat.

I just did . . .

Palliative Care, Desk C-20. People are dying and feeling OK about that.  I envy that “feeling OK” part.  I take drugs but don’t feel that good.

Pain Management, H-70. The patients there don’t know what pain is!  My car has terrible static on 91.5 FM — the jazz station. That’s pain.  What’s your BMI?  I’m 23.33 kg/m2.  My pulse is 53 —  slightly higher than a dead man’s.  If your pulse is lower than mine — and you’re not dead — I envy you.

Dermatology, G-50.  The doctor took full-body naked pics of me.  TMI.

Eye Clinic, I-20.  Floaters to my left, floaters to my right.  Nice.  At the eye-clinic parking lot, I told the toll attendant, “You’ve got the most dangerous job in the world, because half the people coming out of here are blind.”

“Don’t you know it,” he said. “This is the third time we’ve fixed the turnstile this month.”  I envy him the crashes he sees.

Envy Clinic, NV-50.  I’m here for a while.  Will report back in a month.


Fake profile.

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December 3, 2014   1 Comment

KLEZMER GOY

I’m a German klezmer musician. Hold your questions. Here are the answers:

I live in Berlin. My aunt once told me — she was drunk — “Why do you play that crap? You’re German!”

I play every year Kristallnacht commemorations, where there is always at least one Jew who comes up to me and says, “Are you Jewish?”  I say no, and he’s says, “You have to be!”  Sometimes I tell the person my grandfather was Romanian,  just to move on.

I also play jazz and funk (Vulfpeck).  I have played even for Orthodox Jews in the States, but they don’t thrill too much to my jazz music.

klezgoyI play reeds — saxophone and clarinet.  I don’t try to be Jewish.  I never wanted to be Jewish or not Jewish. Somebody said, “You’re not really a Jew unless at one point in your life you didn’t want to be a Jew.”   I don’t know about such things.

In the Middle West, in Ohio, an old Jew called me a “poseur.”  I had to look that  up.  He was a klezmer musician.  Maybe he was a poseur.  The middle of the United States is very red, I think.  Only he could play klezmer, I think he means. If people think I’m a bad person for playing music from somewhere else, then they know damn little about music.

I’m a klezmer musician.  Forget about the German part for a second.

————–

Check out Magdalena Waligorska‘s nonfiction book Klezmer’s Afterlife, about the klezmer scene in Berlin and Cracow. Forty-three percent of this post is lifted from the book.

File this under KlezFiction and Fake Profiles.

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October 8, 2014   2 Comments

TEMPLE JEWS

(This is a rerun, just for Rosh Hashanah. A previous version appeared here 9/23/09. No, I’m not running out of stuff. Side B, below, is new.)

Some Jews don’t like choirs in temple. Some can’t stand guitars.  Some can’t stand temple.

I have a friend who is down on “temple Jews” — people who actively participate in synagogue life.  They’re too conventional for her, which is saying a lot, because she’s very conventional (college decals on the car, Heinen’s fried chicken in the frig).

I’m a temple Jew, at least on occasion.  My family belonged to Silver’s Temple, named for Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver.  The temple’s official name was The Temple.

“Which temple do you belong to?”

“The.”

Rabbi Abba Hillel SIlver

“The Temple” morphed into The Temple-Tifereth Israel  after the rabbi and his son (also a rabbi) died.  My family didn’t really fit in there in the 1960s, because many of the members were a lot richer, many from Shaker Heights.  One Shaker kid arrived in a station wagon driven by a chauffeur with a shiny-visor cap.

My younger son went through religious high school at The Temple.  The place had mellowed by then. Nobody cared anymore if you were Deutsche Yehudim — one of Cleveland’s original German Jewish settlers.  When my parents left Silver’s, they went to Temple Emanu El, a middle-class temple in the ‘burbs.  My mom taught macramé there and volunteered in the sisterhood gift shop.  She collected “donor points” for volunteering — points that reduced her admission costs to the annual temple dance.

Yiddishe Cup has played some of these temple dances.  Not so many lately because few people want to dance at temples. They’d rather stay home and watch people dance on TV.

My parents joined the heymish synagogue after I was confirmed, so I didn’t much care what they did. (Heymish — the word — should be banned, by the way. Too heymish.)

On the High Holidays, I went with my parents to the heymish temple, or else with my friends to Hillel at Case Western Reserve. After Rosh Hashanah services, we’d eat at Tommy’s restaurant.  Years ago an older woman told me, “I joined Fairmount Temple because I like the music there.”  She had other reasons too: Brith Emeth didn’t have enough money to carpet, she said, and she liked Fairmount Temple’s classic Reform music.  That stuck with me: joining a temple for the music.

I belong to Park Synagogue because, among other things, I like the music and the rabbi, who likes my band.  Yiddishe Cup is scheduled to play Park Synagogue’s holiday celebrations until about 5800. I once played a holiday gig at another shul, where the rabbi left early to attend a rock concert. He said he was seeing a famous band.  I wasn’t impressed.  The rabbi was walking out on Yiddishe Cup!

It’s impossible to be a rabbi.

Park Synagogue uses a choir once in a while.  Some Jews think a choir is super-goyish.  Not true.  In Europe there were synagogue choirs as far back as the 1500s.

Some temples have rock bands. (I have subbed in several rockin’ shabbat bands.) Rock on. Some congregants really enjoy that groove.

I can see picking a shul for the music.  Why not.  I enjoy hearing the Israeli cantor my shul imports for the Rosh Hashanah overflow.  Either way I’m OK —  main sanctuary (with the regular cantor) or overflow auditorium.  SRO in both places.  Who’s got extra tickets?

Happy New Year.

 B'nai Big Tent

Congregation B’nai Big Tent


SIDE B

Gear shift . . .

MEET THE FRACKERS

When I was up in North Dakota, I filled my tank for under $3/gallon. I actually thought about moving there, but I don’t want to live in a trailer, and there is a serious lack of lox.

But I do love cheap gas. I own a pickup and two cars.

I love natural gas too. It’s all organic — all Cs and Os.

I want “in” on the Utica shale play here in Ohio. Drillers from Oklahoma and Texas are here. Why should they have all the fun?

frackers go vestPrimer for me: OSU means Oklahoma State, not Ohio State; OU is the University of Oklahoma, not Ohio University. I need to learn this.  Today I’m buying some Western wear and tomorrow I’m heading down to Marietta, Ohio, which is a lot closer than Williston, North Dakota.

Meet the frackers. I’m trying to!

File this under fake profiles.

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September 24, 2014   8 Comments

MY MIDWESTERN VALUES

I wrote an essay, “The Rust Belt Rides Again,” about traditional Midwestern values — how Midwesterners have good manners, don’t raise their voices, and don’t care about college credentials.  I also threw in LeBron’s return and the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland in 2016.

liner notesThe Plain Dealer ran the story, as did a lot of other papers.  It even appeared in Malta.  Apparently a lot of people can relate to being an underdog and/or provincial.

Back story: the article was a complete con.  Yes, I’m a Midwesterner, but I could become a fast-talking New Yorker in about ten minutes. I could get the New York accent too if I tried. In the Plain Dealer article I mentioned The Drive, The Fumble and The Shot.  I played up my “Bert Stratton/Ohio boy” persona.  There’s another Ohio Jewish writer who plays my game: Bob Greene. He grew up in suburban Columbus  — Bexley, the Shaker Heights of Columbus.  He’s small town like I’m small town.

rust belt chic

I live and die with the Browns and Indians (on paper), and miss the steel mills, and I work with my hands. Clarinet counts!

Maybe I should act more like a real Midwesterner.  I might live longer.

Can I help you?

This is a fake profile.  Sorry about that.  I didn’t write about Midwestern values for the Plain Dealer or anybody else.

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September 10, 2014   9 Comments

MY NEIGHBOR’S DIRTY BOOKS

books 2 colored

My neighbor got rid of a lot of her books because she’s moving. Twenty-five years of books.  Many of them dirty.  I took these:

Cobbler, Mend my Shoe!
by Thom McAn

Stupid Bastard: The Life of Harry Purim
by Meier Meier

Amusing Car Sales
by Del Spitzer

Good Riddance, Chancres
by Rodney Benson MD

Fungo Batting
by Woody Held

Tie Your Own Tubes
by V.A. Szechtomijh

My Selfies
by Elaine “The Body” Sugarman

Put It Right There
by Vera Panting

The Cry of the Serbo-Croats
by Boris Crzwcwzw

10 Days to a Hairless Body
by Alice Greune

The Wiener in Bavarian Folk Arts
by Nathan Famoso

photo by Eric Broder

So You Want to Be Jewish?
by Saul Bernard Roth

The Story of the Harlem Cooperative Bakery
by Rose Towne Krug

100 Years in an RV
by Gabe Marquez

The Cheater
by Bernie Madoff

Algebraical Puzzles, Nuts, Wrinkles and Twisters
by Albert Einstein

Sexism at the Battle of Waterloo
by “Jilly”

Chillicothe: Ohio’s First Capital
by Les Peterson

Jesus in My Glove
by Mac “Octopus” Vouty

Cuckoos and Grosbeaks
by Nancy Debeak

Golf Your Way to Sexual Fulfillment
by Franz Godemiche

How to Identify a Child Molester
by Frederick McFeely Rogers

Blood and Bills: My Life as a Successful Surgeon
by Kirk Benway MD

I Broke My Knee and Ran 10 Miles
by Mark Schilling

What It Means to Be a Coprophile
by “Raymond”

The History of the Electric Toothbrush
by Ralph Solonitz DDS

The Streets of San Francisco (and Richmond, California)
by Cindy L. Barbour

Covering Your Lawn with Sheet Metal
by Leo Kaufman

Throw Away Your Truss
by Charles Atlas

Jackoff in the Old Red Barn
by Ricky Dickey

An Appreciation of Aluminum Siding
by Kenneth Goldberg

Regular Guy: The Life of Nelson Rockefeller
by Barry Grovel

So You Want to Dance, Act, and Play the Clarinet!
by Priscilla Peck

Lieder and its Influence on Mick Jagger
by Aaron Alwitz

The Birdwatcher
by J. Philip Stratton

My .38 Special is So Special
by Stan Urankar

Masturbate Those Pounds Away!
by Weary Reilly

The Hipster Jogger Handbook
by Meghan Corriendo

Lesbianism in Western Ireland (1886 – 1891)
by Olive D’Olyly and Winnie Carr

Speling Maid Ez
by Kent Read

A Priest Looks at Group Sex
by Pedro Nanismo

Kreplach in the Congo
by Reb Yellen

All My Laundromats
by Johnny Park

Pet Insurance for Dummies
by Fido Buster

klez dogs

More Selfies
by Elaine “The Body” Sugarman

Bowl Game Jitters
by Glenn E. “Bo” Schembechler Jr.

Sitz-Bathing Around the World
by Lee Huang

How to Get into Princeton
by Muncy Rowfant and Michael Yu

Fracking Jews
by T. Boone Soltzberg

Guess Your Neighbor’s Net Worth
by Alton Whitehouse IV

Thank you and Goodbye, and Hello
by Hillary Clinton

Peeing is the New Smoking
by Amy Streem

Social Media for Seniors
by Betty Dumchick

Life on the Outskirts of Beer
by Isaac Miller

A major hat tip to Gilbert Sorrentino. Forty-nine percent of the above book titles are from Sorrentino’s novel Mulligan Stew (1979).

The German wiener photo is by Eric Broder

File this under Fake Profiles.

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July 2, 2014   6 Comments