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

MY RELIGION IS EX-JEWISH

I was a Jewish greaser in high school.  It was me, Neil Zuckerman and Tom Steiner — three Jewish greasers from a class of 650.  There were plenty greasers, just not many Jewish greasers.

Go Charles F. Brush Arcs!

During the winter we hung out at the pool hall.  In summer we went to the swimming pool three times a day.  We hung with the Catholic girls.

I live in Mentor now, with my motorcycle and dog, and don’t run into many Jews.  Fine.

Those Jewish kids were rude.  I wanted to be Italian. I got my first kiss from a dago, Elaine Monachino, by the pavilion in the park.   I worked hard for that kiss.

I wasn’t invited to any bar mitzvahs, and  I didn’t go to any Jewish spin-the-bottle parties.  I didn’t even go to temple, because  my parents didn’t belong.  Maybe if they had, I’d be more Jewish.

My religion now is basically Swedish cars.  I like Saabs and Volvos.  My first car was a ’64 Saab 96.  I was no fool!  But in my neighborhood I got no brownie points for working on cars.  If you weren’t pre-med, you were nobody.

I wish my high school had a hall of fame for Jewish greasers. I think there’s one for the Jewish A-holes — the kids who teased me and became lawyers and doctors.

I started fires in high school.  That’s worthy of note, isn’t it? Wastebasket fires. Ron Levine — a major asshole — teased me because I wore off-brand penny loafers in eighth grade.  Not Pedwins.   So I switched to pointy black “rack” shoes — Regals —  and kicked Levine’s ass, or tried to.  I kicked his hand and fractured his wrist.

Ricky Miller — #2 major asshole — teased me for wearing white socks.  How was I to know white socks went out of fashion the night before?  I didn’t have a personal stylist!

I like it here in Mentor.  Shalom and out.

If I ever see another Jew . . . Wait, no hate.

I’m in the ex-Jewish column.  I’m comfortable here, next to Aleutian.

File under fake profiles.  Fortify yourself; I think May will be fake profiles month.

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April 30, 2014   6 Comments

TOILETRY

Some excellent free activities are sex, talking about the weather, and defecation.

A few more: dreaming, library books, jaywalking.

I sell toilets — not free.

You want a urinal?  What kind?  Stainless steel?

When I sleep, I see gold and brown dots, and movement.  It’s entertaining and free.  I have a friend who sees bright lights — red and black — when he falls asleep.  I don’t.

People say, “Hey, look out your window and get some sensory stimulus.”  That’s fine, but I prefer looking inside toilets.  The blank looks I get.

How about a 0.8 gpf for $150 total?  Would you buy one?  Niagara Stealth.  How about five Stealths at a discount?

I say, “I know you don’t want to talk about toilets, but think of the sudden shifts, the transitions, the swoosh.”

A good bowel movement is as good as sex; Harvey Pekar, the comic book writer, said that.  I sold 10 toilets to Stratton — this blog’s author — with that literary crap. The froth, the bubbles, the shine.

I still have an intensity, to this day, that goes back to age 21. Yes, my life is scarier now that I’m 35, but I’m not at “flush” yet.    I have a slick pack of possibilities, and I appreciate deep listening.

Gurgle.

Lavatory means sink to a plumber. Commode, yourself!  By the way, you look like an elongated toilet seat.

When a stranger takes off her pants and sits on one of my toilets, that’s a good feeling — a fragile catastrophe, a tinge of very heavy weight, a grand opening.

The key factors: the empathic rictus, the squeeze, the brilliant flash.

It’s all binary.  One and two.  Map it.

Fourteen percent of this post was stolen from the Poetry Project Newsletter.

The complete fake-profile collection is here.

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April 23, 2014   3 Comments

MORDECAI HAM

I use the name Mordecai Ham on the Internet I post a lot of comments and don’t want cyber-nuts tracking me down.

Mordecai Ham — the actual person — was an evangelist.  He influenced Billy Graham.  Look Ham up. I know from Ham; I know fundamentalist Christianity. From an early age, I was taught in church to venerate Jews and Israel.

Yes, the Jews killed Jesus and cried out, “His blood be upon us and on our children.” But they did so out of ignorance.  It was part of God’s plan laid out in the prophesies of Isaiah 9:6, Ezekiel and Esther. The Jews suffered mightily as God rained down Inquisitions and Holocausts to beat the band.

My daddy was about hellfire and brimstone, tongue-talking and Satan-stomping.  He attended the same college I did: the Kentucky Mountain Bible College.  On my graduation I ordered neon polyester suits from the same store my daddy did: Hart, Schaffner and Marx in Chicago.

I dress less showy nowadays.  For one thing, I’m older.  Secondly, neon is out.

Where my father pastored, he had a rack of John Birch literature next to the King James Bibles in the church foyer.  Paul Harvey was our only news source.  Now I get news from all over. I know what bobe mayse means, for example.

I don’t smoke a corncob pipe. I don’t have a ZZ Top beard. (Pentecostals don’t smoke, by the way.) I’m Mordecai Ham, I am. I read the Jew York Times.  That’s what my father called it.

The Rev. Woody Allen said about the New York Times: “I want you to get an injunction against the Times.  It’s a New York, Jewish, communist, left-wing, homosexual newspaper.  And that’s just the sports section.”

My full name is Walter Terry Hamilton. Everybody calls me Sonny. I have a B.S. (Biblical Studies).

I invite you to stop by my shul, down here in the hills of beautiful Eastern Kentucky.  I’ll save a piece of kichel for you.

Shalom, chaverim.

Yes, my iPhone has a Yiddish/Hebrew-word-a-day app.

The complete fake-profiles series is here.

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January 8, 2014   9 Comments

QUARTER STEALERS

Some thieves specialize in quarters. They pry open coin boxes on washing machines and dryers in laundry rooms.

Quarter stealers did this a couple times at one of my apartment buildings. One time the building manager ran into them, took their picture, and asked them who they were. They said they were Sarah and Michael.

Afterward, the building manager handed the photo over to the police. Sarah and Michael were then videoed pouring quarters into a coin-sorting machine at a nearby grocery store.

Sarah and Michael hit 21 buildings on the West Side, the cops told me.

About a month later,  I got a letter from the county prosecutor about Paul and Erin — the crooks’ real names.  They were charged with burglary, possessing criminal tools, aggravated theft, theft, tampering with coin machines and vandalism.  The thieves wound up in prison.

My damages: $884.50.

That’s a lot of quarters. (For the record: 3,538.)

SIDE B

Not another fake profile! (The complete fake-profile series is here.)

THE BOXER

I’m a boxer. That’s the essence of who I am.

I’m not a heavyweight so you probably don’t know me. I grew up boxing. I listened to Johansson-Patterson fights on the radio. Also, Patterson versus Clay. I boxed at the Ukrainian Club, AAU and Junior Golden Gloves.

My parents were all for it. My father encouraged boxing. In my dad’s day, Jewish fighters frequently hit the top: Jackie Davis, Benny Leonard. Locally, Harry Levine was a good light heavyweight. Levine fought with his face out front. If it got hit, his head would shake like a bobblehead. He kept hitting though.

My last sanctioned fight was in 1968 against Johnny Montello. We were from the same neighborhood. The bout was old-school, Italian versus Jew. It was a 1930s ethnic turf battle but in the 1960s! Johnny was just back from ’Nam. He had been a cook over there. He was punchy (foggy-headed). He had boxed too much in the Army.

Johnny got into my face verbally, like Ali, 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: being Jewish is who I am. Everything I do is a part of that.” I was a college student back then. Up at Michigan, I boxed in Waterman Gym — with myself. Existential stuff.

My buddies attended the Montello fight. My friends were hippies. Montello’s friends were extras from Grease.

Montello broke my nose and gave me a concussion. After that, I promised my parents I would quit boxing. My dad, finally, thought it was a good idea and got me private tennis lessons. Tennis was like boxing, he said, but without hitting. Agassi’s dad — a boxer — said the same thing.

I miss the ring. I play tennis, but I miss the ring. I think about boxing a lot: Babe Triscaro, Jimmy Bivins, Tony Mulia.

I would like another chance. The Senior Olympics has pickleball but no boxing. What’s pickleball?


An op-ed, by yo, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Friday (11/29).  The print headline was “Klezmer Christmas?  He’s actually in favor of goodwill to men.” The online headline was “Dreaming of a Green Christmas.”

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December 4, 2013   2 Comments

I’M AS GOOD AS DANNY KAYE

This is a fake profile. The complete fake-profiles series is here.

Danny Kaye watched surgery for a hobby.  He hung around doctors and operating rooms.

My parents admired Danny Kaye; he could dance, sing, and do impersonations, plus the medical stuff.

My parents wanted me to be Danny Kaye — the medical part.

Instead, I majored in history and became a journalist.  I wrote a 4,000-word article on open-heart surgery. I also did a story on polio.  I watched some surgery.

I tried surgery.  My patient –- call her Karen — took two years to recover, and I suffered financial and legal complications.  I never expected to make money from operating on her but I didn’t think I would go broke, which I did.  A lawyer called me a “kidnapper,” as if I had purposefully kept Karen captive for eight hours. (The surgery was only seven hours, schmuck!)

Post-op, I told Karen, “The good news is you’re alive and your aortas — two of them – are 90-percent clear.  I used pipe cleaner.  The bad news is the other aortas are controversial.  Any sudden outburst by you now, and you might die.”

Karen screamed but didn’t die.  She sued me.

Danny Kaye hosted Herman’s Hermits on his TV show in 1965, to encourage  youngsters to watch. Danny’s older viewers preferred Imogene Coca, Nanette Fabrey and Jim Nabors.

Kaye experimented.  He took chances.  So did I.

I have mixed feelings about Kaye, to this day.  My parents liked him more than me. I performed my operation on Karen so I wouldn’t have to endure more snide remarks from my parents, like “Son, you write for a suburban weekly. That’s not a living.”

Walk in my shoes. The cold rejection of my parents.  I took a knife to a young woman’s heart.

I’m good at surgery.  I’m not Cleveland Clinic quality but I’m good.

I’m as good as Danny Kaye.

Carlo Wolff wrote an in-depth, real profile of Ralph Solonitz, this blog’s illustrator. Click here to read it. (Cleveland Jewish News, 10/25/13.)  By the way, the drawing above is a pen atop a gurney.

Yiddishe Cup is at KlezmerPalooza at The Temple, Beachwood, Ohio, 7:30 p.m. Sat., Nov. 16. $20, or $15 if you buy by Nov. 9. Call 216-831-3233. Free dessert, beer and wine.

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October 30, 2013   3 Comments

MOTHER’S ’HOOD

This is a fake profile . The complete fake-profiles series is here.

My mother collects rents.  She tracks down delinquent tenants every third of the month.  She’s a bit forgetful — she misplaces checks — but she still makes the rounds, chasing tenants.  She’s 80 and owns 38 units on the East Side of Cleveland.

She wants me to do the collecting. I don’t want to.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t want to dun 22 year olds for their rent.  I prefer to be at work; I’m a lawyer, and have been for 29 years.

I have manilla folders with notes from my mom.  She collects legal clauses like some old ladies collect Hummels. I once tried to streamline her five-page lease but she wouldn’t let me. She instructs her tenants to use a string mop.  That’s in the lease! Why?  What 22 year old even owns a mop?

My mother hides apartment keys everywhere, and says to me, “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 have to write all that down. My sister is in Texas. It’s all on me.

I ran into Bert Stratton, the real estate blogger, the other day.  His klezmer band really should hang it up.  How long have they been around?  Pass the torch (Havdalah candle), Bert!  Bert always asks me the same thing: “What are you going to do when your mother dies?”

I don’t want to collect rents and fix leaky toilets, Bert, understand?

Bert says he understands that, but then mentions the real estate gig is, if nothing else, parnassah.  Bert likes to sling Yiddish.  Sling this, Bert: Va fangool(Parnassah means livelihood in Yiddish.)

I’ve got a livelihood!  I’m 54 with a successful law practice.

Stratton: “Really, what are you going to do when your mother dies?”

“Call you, Bert.”

That shuts him up.

No disrespect to anybody.

For more on the landlord biz, check out my interview on NPR yesterday, from the show The Story.  I got my 15 minutes.  No, 20 minutes.  It’s long, yet amusing.

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September 18, 2013   5 Comments

PAPES

I feel bad for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The PD is understaffed and demoralized. But I feel worse for myself. I want my local news, in print, on the breakfast table every morning.  (The paper is now home-delivered only four days a week.)

Yes, I’ve heard of the Internet and iPads.  I’m not going that way with my papes!

When John Gilligan, an ex-Ohio governor, died, I read about it two days late. That’s not right; I should have gotten that news sooner.

I’m signing up for Pony Express.

The Wall Street Journal stopped coming to my house the same day the Plain Dealer died (August 5).  All newspaper home-delivery got screwed up. A neighbor — nine houses away — still received the Wall Street Journal. I took hers. She didn’t need it!  (She has a different delivery guy, apparently.)

My cousin George, a big sports fan, is in a newspaper funk too, because he can’t read the Plain Dealer sports pages daily with his morning coffee.

Everybody over 50, please repeat with me: “Screw Newhouse!” (Newhouse owns the PD.)

My son Ted delivered the Sun Press, a weekly.  I was his sub.  My dad delivered the Cleveland News.  My grandfather delivered the Vilna Bugle (Shofar), maybe. My dad wouldn’t allow me to be a paperboy.  He wanted me to enjoy life more than he did.

I enjoy papes. Where are my papes?


SIDE B

This is a fake profile. The complete fake-profiles series is here.

WHATEVER IT TAKES

I’ve played Perchik and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.

Sometimes I get calls from small-town theater troupes to discuss Jewish stuff, like Fiddler. They ask about yarmulkes and the breaking of the glass, and chair lifting.

I make up stuff. I’ve been to enough Jewish weddings to know the rabbis make up stuff too — particularly about the glass breaking. There are many reasons why the glass is broken. All bobe mayses (old wives’ tales).

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

Here’s a promo pic from my glory days. I use it sparingly, now that I’m 59 . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I should advertise in the back of Hadassah mag like Ruth Kaye and Caryn Bark. Who are they?

Who am I? I hear you.  I live in Jersey and play the nursing home circuit in the tri-state region. And I work Florida in the winters.

I’ve played Tevye three times. I’ve also played the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar at summer stock in Ohio.

Whatever it takes.

L’shanah tova. (Happy New Year.)

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September 4, 2013   2 Comments

OHIO SCHOOL OF WRITING

This is a fake profile.  The complete fake-profile collection is here.

1. 
I wrote several unpublished novels in college.  My best was about a married couple with a kid who died from SIDS. I sent the manuscript around. An editor at Doubleday liked it.  She wrote, “We need you to change it to a woman narrator.”

Yes!

My agent — suddenly everybody wanted to be my agent — told me, “If you don’t want to change the narrator’s sex, don’t. I can sell it as is.”

Better yet.

My agent shopped the manuscript around and I got plenty compliments — “evocative” came up often.  Two years’ worth of “evocatives.”

In the end, nothing. It was heartbreaking. I should have rewritten the book.

I did.  Two year later I sent the revised version to Doubleday. The editor was long gone.

How many novelists came out of Kent State? (I graduated in 1982.)  I had no Ivy League friends; I knew absolutely nobody in publishing.

And I kept writing. You may remember my first book, Bodegas and Bagels.  It was a trade paperback about the Americanization of the bagel.  It came out in 1997.

Lately I’ve been kind of dry. I write the occasional poem and blog post.  I have a following among academic Jews — professors who teach Jewish studies.  In 2009 I wrote Maimonides, My Main Man. Check it out. It’s self-helpy. I feel certain it would make gratifying entertainment for millions of readers, not just Jewish readers.  The Jewish Review of Books gave it five dreidels.

Right now I’m working on a novel, Gads!, set in an era of apocalyptic war and famine. My friends describe it as riveting.  New York isn’t so riveted.

I might do an e-book.  Maybe a 3-D book.

An astrologer did my chart four times, and every time I came up “optimist.” I want to be the commencement speaker at Kent State.

But first I have to finish Gads! Maybe I should delete the arcane Jewish references.  For starters, cut all references to baba ganoush. There’s this character, a Jewish studies prof, who subsists solely on baba during the famine.

I’ll work it out.

2.
I work
at an ad agency. I got into that after the University of Akron, where I was an adjunct writing professor, going nowhere. My ad agency is 80 years old and has 124 employees.  I’ve never seen Mad Men. Don’t need to.

I worked on the Hot Pockets campaign. I did Snickerdoodles.  I did Crown condoms — very big in Japan. Now I’m working on a project for Ovaltine. Moms send in quotes from their kids.  The quotes are memes — cute things kid say.  Long live Art Linkletter! The 20- and 30-somethings at my agency don’t know from Art.

We have ping pong tables, pool tables, three pinball machines — all the usual stuff — at work.  Dogs, yes. About 15 of them.  The kids bring their dogs to work.

I’m working on health-indicator jewelry. The jewelry turns colors depending on your blood pressure.  Remember mood rings?  The kids don’t!

My agency is at I-271 and Emery Road, Cleveland. You don’t have to go to New York or Chicago.

3.
I work
the alphabet hard.  I work it hard every single day. After work I write my novel. My favorite letters tonight are K and L, like in “Glock.”

I’m the bard. Let’s leave it at that. One problem: everybody thinks they can write, so everybody is quick to judge. The “creatives” – that’s an advertising term for the boys by the ping pong table — aren’t that creative.  Neither am I right now. This evening I wrote “I Smoke my Own Lox.” The poem sucks, I know that. I’ll try again.

Tomorrow I’m going to work with Fs and Us. Got any ideas?  I’m going to be the commencement speaker at Kent State — and not in 2025!

My op-ed  “My Job Isn’t So Bad” was in the New York Times  Saturday (8/17/13). The story was about the family biz. I wrote in part about a ratty apartment.  Here’s a classic dirty apt. pic:


—-

SIDE B

in memory of Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

THE LODGE

My wife, Alice, and I were in Detroit.

Alice said, “Detroit has very long roads.”

What’s that mean, Alice?

“Woodward, Gratiot and Telegraph.”

Detroit also has the Lodge. Elmore Leonard mentioned the Lodge in his books, like, “The gambling casino, Mutt, you can’t fucking miss it, over by the Lodge freeway.”

A couple Cleveland freeways and bridges have names.  The Hope Memorial Bridge, the Willow Freeway.  But nobody ever uses the names.

Who was John C. Lodge? Probably a labor leader. [No, the mayor of Detroit in the 1920s.]

Detroit is a lot like Cleveland. Detroit has the Eastern Market; Cleveland has the West Side Market. Detroit has downtown casinos; Cleveland has a downtown casino.

People who wear Tiger caps are cool, as are Indians cap wearers.

What about suburban Berkley, Michigan? Is that worth a visit?

Elmore Leonard ate at the Beverly Hills Café. I wonder if that’s part of the national Beverly Hills Café chain, or an independent restaurant in Beverly Hills, Michigan.

I wonder if Elmore Leonard spent his winters in Detroit. I bet he didn’t. He wrote a lot about Florida.

I have some Elmore Leonard junk mail.  My friend Charlie, a Detroiter, gave it to me.

City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit. That’s worth reading.

Maple is 15 Mile. Big Beaver is 16 Mile.

What about Oakland University? Does the U. have Bobby Seale barbecue sauce in the cafeteria?

Motown, Berkley, Beverly Hills and Oakland.  Elmore Leonard’s golden land.

(A version of this post, “The Lodge,” appeared here  9/5/12.)

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August 21, 2013   7 Comments

CHECK OUT MY LIFESTYLE

This is a fake profile.

I spit whenever and wherever I want.

I search the city dump for old toilet seats and crumpled milk cartons.  I use them for collages.  I reject traditional beauty.

I love TV.

I have very sexy legs.

I have a big house. I need another one.  I’m going to see a real estate agent on Friday.

I can’t read in the car.  That’s my major weakness: motion sickness.

I want to be Mr. Rogers, but not from Pittsburgh.  I’m tender and vivid, kids tell me.

My fields of expertise?  A few . . .

Rock and roll trivia, Oriental rugs and baking.  I talk mostly about baking, because everyone thinks that’s great; everyone likes cake.

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

I trigger crises.

I love movies — all kinds: avant-garde, Jewish, Gay/Lesbian.   My favorite movie is The Awning Fabricator.  It’s Serbian.

Exercise sucks.

I’ve had ink ooze from my pens into my pants.

My girlfriend, Kiki, is sumptuous, intense, curvaceous and grotesque. She is  also a fugitive, mostly from my wife.

Let’s meet for lunch.  I’m in Aspen today.  I would love to see you.

Check out my lifestyle.

Footnote: Four percent of the above verbiage is stolen from the  Poetry Project Newsletter.

Forecast: Klondikes at Wiley

Be at Wiley tomorrow night (7:30 p.m. Thurs., July 25). See Yiddishe Cup.

Wiley Middle School is at 2181 Miramar Blvd., University Hts., Ohio.  Free music, free ice cream.  Indoors if raining. 

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July 24, 2013   5 Comments

I HAD AN AFFAIR

I’m waiting for the guy I had an affair with to die.  He’s 78 and kind of well-known.

I wore a red “wet look” vinyl coat to his English Lit class.  This was quite a few years ago. The other girls wore rags I wouldn’t even wear to paint in.  I’ve always been fashionable.

I was a pretty good student.  I wrote a Chaucer paper about the miller — or somebody, I can’t remember – maybe the pardoner.  I compared the pardoner to the then-omnipresent countercultural huckster, such as the Columbia Records pitchman:  “But The Man can’t bust our music.”

The professor called me into his office and said, “I want to see more work like that!” He had a Ph.D. and a couple books out. He paid attention to li’l ol’ me.

We walked across campus.  We got ice cream.  I got the hairy eyeball from girls — and guys — my age. Awkward.

The prof lived in the suburbs.  I was at his house only once, when his wife was out of town.  He had a bedroom dedicated to just books, and me apparently.

The prof was fascinated by the “youth culture.” He thought I could help him on that count.  Wrong.   I was a high school English-teacher manqué, not a rabble-rousing hippie.  He didn’t even know what “make out” meant.  He would say “How you making out?” in his class, and kids would giggle. It’s like today when kids say “hooking up” and we don’t know what the kids are talking about.

The prof once asked me, “Have you ever taken pot?” Taken pot?  Also, he didn’t know what hash was.

We talked by phone every night after midnight.  Pre-cellphones.

The prof and I had our liaisons at the house of a professor who was on sabbatical in California.

I just Googled the prof . . .

Holy shit, he’s still teaching! He’s on Rate Your Professor.  Some students like his lectures; some say he rambles. One alum writes: “I took his course 41 years ago and still remember his comments on my papers. I write for TV now; both his entertaining insights and his honest assessment of good and bad in my sophomoric work help me earn a living.”

Maybe I’ll rate my prof.

No, let’s leave this unrated.

Yiddishe Cup, 2012, Parade the Circle

Yiddishe Cup plays Parade the Circle noon Saturday (June 8) at Wade Oval, University Circle, Cleveland. 

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June 5, 2013   3 Comments

I HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD

I was out of my skull.  I broke into boxcars and unloaded Cutty Sark, golf balls and tires.  On a bad night, tennis shoes.

I had tin snips that cut right through corrugated steel roofs.

This was several years ago.  Now I’m retired and live a fairly quiet life.  I’d rather not say where.

I belong to no clubs and don’t go out.  I watch sports on TV. I have an intense appetite for the Browns, Indians, sausage and hash browns.

I never got married.  I should have. There was this gal in the 1970s — Roz Falk.  She loved me, but I wasn’t ready.  I was 45.  Schmuck!  Me. 

I was in the Marines.  A lot of people don’t know that.  I couldn’t stand it.  I was in for six months. Semper Fidelis was plain bullshit to me.  Latin bullshit.

You ever notice how Italians use that kind of bullshit language?  It’s very big with them.  If you’re Italian, you’re better than the next guy.  You can be the biggest, dumbest fuck on two feet, but if you’re Italian, you’re it.

I have enough spaghetti and wine in my veins to be Italian.  Believe it.  And the goddamn hot peppers, I can eat a whole mason jar full.

Funny, I grew up in a deli — a Jewish deli — on Kinsman in Cleveland.  I remember the pickles best.  The cukes were right in the goddamn basement.  They were delicious.  And the goddamn gherkins . . .

My family disowned me after Marion.  A nice Jewish boy in the joint.  Not exactly kosher.  I did three years in Marion, then eight in Chillicothe.  I haven’t talked to any relatives in, I bet, 30 years.

When I got out — the last  time — I made a clean slate of things.  I sold stained glass to restaurants.  Completely legit. I didn’t like it.

I went back to stealing. The hardest part was carrying the loot.  I was that good.

I never killed nobody. I…did…not.  I was an accomplice, yes that’s true, but I never killed nobody. The chickenshits from Murray Hill, they did.  They didn’t have my abilities.  I did everything that took a brain, and they stood around with their hands in their pockets, except when it came to guns.

It’s all a head game — crime.  Keep your mouth shut and show your intelligence, and you’ll be fine. It has worked for me most of the time.

I’m paranoid.  That has saved me — being paranoid.    Sometimes you know a place is a death trap. It’s all trial and error.

My biggest mistake . . . You know?  Quitting high school.  I thought I knew more than the teachers.  Schmuck! Again. I could have been an engineer.

I hung with the older boys who ran a stolen butter and cigarette ring on Woodland.  An old fat Jew — the Eggman — was in charge.  I rigged him up a walkie-talkie.

I don’t have a dime anymore. I spent everything I ever earned.  I blew it all on cards, broads and racehorses — owning horses.   I couldn’t deal with the thickheaded Italians at the racetrack, so I got out, but not before I was broke.

I eat wieners and Coke.  Love that combo.  I remember when I pinched three cases of sausage from Red Barn.  I didn’t fence it.  I ate it all.

I’m in menopause — male menopause.  I’m 79. The docs talk about that on TV.

I love my TV set.  It don’t talk back to me.  Perfect.

I ain’t got nobody, just my TV.

I do have a record . . .

NAME:  JOSEPH A. MOSKOWITZ
ALIAS/NICKNAME:  JOE MOSCOW
DOB: 12-11-1933
FACIAL ODDIITES:  UNK
FACIAL HAIR:  GOATEE
SPEECH:  POLITE
COMPLEXION: MED
MISSING BODY PARTS:  UNK
GENERAL APPEARANCE:  UNKEMPT
TEETH:  UNK
SCAR/BIRTHMARK/MOLE:  UNK
TATTOO: UNK
WT:  305
HGT:  5-8
ADDRESS: UNK
CONVIC: MANSLAUGHTER, AGGRAV BURGLARY, LARCENY, KIDNAPPING, CRIMINAL TOOLS, GRAND LARCENY


This is the latest in a series of  fake profiles.  (Cyberspace needs them!)


Jack Stratton’s latest Kickstarter campaign is up.  Something about a half-Jewish German-American band, Vulfpeck.  The Kickstarter staff — as well as Bandcamp people — picked the project as a fav. Check it out here.

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March 20, 2013   5 Comments

I MOVED TO L.A.

I moved to L.A. on December 7, 1990.  I still don’t take the weather for granted. Everyday I wake up and say thank you.  Even if it’s only 50 degrees.

I live near a gelato store,  smoothie shop, and three vegan restaurants.  I can order a tofu bratwurst at 2 a.m.

I’m too old to be a hipster! I’m 47.  I’m more retro.  I prefer the beatnik era — the real hipsters! My stereo system is so good it’s like I’m seated in the front row at Shelly’s Manne Hole.  That live.  The speakers are mounted on maple block.

Shelly’s Manne Hole is gone.  It was at Hollywood and Cahuenga.

What do hipsters listen to now?  I don’t know. I don’t talk to them. I live across the street from the “Shameless” guys.  I’m not sure what that is. A TV show?  A band?

Everyone here is in the industry.

Me too. I started off writing celebrity profiles for Us and People. I wrote for Wings. I wrote for Cheers.  I wrote for Seinfeld.

After Seinfeld shoots, we would hang at Jerry’s Famous Deli in Studio City.  Jerry once told me he liked working in L.A. because, since we had such long hours, he didn’t feel he was missing much, like if we had been in New York.

I bought my house here in 1996. It’s a double in Silver Lake.  My brother Josh the lawyer — who lives in Cleveland — visits me every January with his wife.

Most recently I  explained the word “ofay” to Josh.  Means white guy.  Pig Latin for “foe.”  I know, my “ofay” etymology is a bubbe-mayse, but I like the idea of blacks speaking Pig Latin. And I like telling Josh what’s what.

Josh calls me Moon (short for Moonbeam).  Josh is the only guy who can get away with that.  I was the beatnik at Shaker Heights High, 1984. I’m still a little “outside,” but not that much by L.A. standards.  I wear Arthur Ashe–era short shorts. Big deal.

My first year here I had a hard time making the rent nut, but I hung in. I played b-ball with other writers.  I had slow times. I’ve had fast times.

I just put a half million dollars into a gangster love story.  I directed and wrote it.  Hopefully, we’ll get it into Sundance.  A long shot, I know. Then there’s Toronto. Even if the movie goes nowhere, I’m OK.  I didn’t refinance my house for it.

I shot the movie in Cleveland.  They love me there.  The press I get there.  Right now I need about 30,000 Clevelanders to “like” my movie trailer on Facebook. Please search “Bloody Vista Boulevard” on Facebook and “like.”

My steady check  is my rental unit. I’ve got two musicians next door.  $3,000/month.  They sleep till noon and go out from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. They say they “shed” Charlie Parker, but I’ve never heard it.  (Josh, “shed” means “woodshed” — to practice.)

I’m going to die in this house.

Cleveland doesn’t have the mountains, the ocean, the sun.  Thank God I’m here.

The Seinfeld info is stolen from writer Peter Mehlman. This post is fiction.

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January 16, 2013   5 Comments

I CRY A LOT

Charlie Chaplin brings me to tears.  Louis Armstrong and Beethoven do too.  T.S. Eliot — yes, I know he didn’t like Jews — but you can’t deny his greatness For instance, “Humankind can not bear too much reality.”

Yes, reality blows — as we used to say in junior high. (We said the “blows” part.)

Art?

I escape to the arts.  I escape to this:

Fire escapes have to be painted every year in Cleveland, or they rust.

I used to be shallower, vainer, younger and facetious.  Now I’m all that, and older.

I’m thinking of getting elevator shoes. A couple inches might change my life.

I don’t like ferrets.

Go ahead, indict me.

Indict me on this too: Anglomania, Jewmania and prickliness.

Downton Abbey — the TV show — is terrific.  Everybody is so taciturn and proper.  Nobody runs his or her mouth.

Who’s a Jew?  That’s my second obsession.  I annually debate whether Brubeck was a Jew.  He wasn’t.   Or was Chaplin Jewish?  No,  he wasn’t.

Prickliness, that’s a universal trait.  I cut off a man’s position in the check-out line at Dave’s supermarket. The man said,  “What you doin’?”

“I’m ahead of you.”

“No, you ain’t. You moved!”

I had moved for a second!  I had left my cart in one line and walked to another line to see which was shorter.

I said “you win” to the man, and let him in front. He got out of the store before me!

I’m looking for elevator shoes.

I cry a lot.


SIDE B

This one is real.  The above post is half real.

FIRING SABINA

It’s easy to fire a drunken building manager, or a thieving one, but it’s hard to fire a manager who is only lousy.

For instance, he doesn’t answer the phone quickly enough, or he doesn’t clean enough.

I thought about firing Sabina; I had hired her husband, not her, and her husband had skipped out on her. She was shoveling snow, cutting grass, and climbing ladders. It wasn’t her strong suit; she had majored in Russian lit at a Russian university.

My tenants reported negative things about her.

That helped — me.

I asked a tenant how the manager was performing, and he said, “I hate her.”

“Do you hate me too?” I said, trying to establish a baseline on his “hate.”

He didn’t hate me. “She doesn’t clean, she has her kids cutting the grass, and she doesn’t tell us anything — when anything is going to get fixed.”

I fired her.

Then I rehired her. She couldn’t get welfare because she had no green card. I let her stay.

Avon calling

She found a boyfriend – a guy in Avon Lake – and moved out.

I owe that guy in Avon Lake.


“Sabina” is a pseudonym.

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January 2, 2013   3 Comments

THE YIDDISH POLICEMAN

Klezmer music was popular for a second in the mid-1990s.  I protected talent — the klez stars.  The klezmer scene had stars back then.   Andy Statman, for instance.  Small stars.

For security, I hired Cleveland toughs.   I didn’t import Israelis from New York.  I had Albanians and Ukrainians from Cleveland’s West Side.  One of my guys — a goy from Lvov — had Yiddish tattoos and played tuba in a klezmer band back home.

I’m still at it — security work.  My office is on Mercantile Road in Beachwood.  No sign.  We’re in back of Pella Windows.

I tore down a Royal Castle hamburger stand and had the tiny orange crown tiles (like on the Ontario license plate) inlaid in my company’s lunchroom floor.  I’m putting in an indoor sliding board.  My place is one of the “Top 10 best places to work in Ohio.”   I chose it.

I do collections — rent collections.  Tenants scream at my Ukie boys: “You can’t put my shit out on the street!”  And my boys scream back: “You break law.  You no pay rent.  Now we break law!”

I’ve got ’tude, but I’m also a nice guy.  I’m involved in the community.  I hire summer interns from the Beachwood High wrestling team, like Sam Gross 112, Alec Jacober 130, Ryan Harris 125.  These guys can squeeze through small openings.

“You Want to be a Jewish Cop?” — that’s the title of my annual lecture at Beachwood High career day.  I say: “Be a cop, kids, but don’t be a wussy cop.  Don’t be like that cop at Heinen’s parking lot with the Harpo Marx Jewfro.”

I still listen to klezmer.   I like the music.  I’m friends with Bratton — Steve Bratton — the leader of Klezmer Cup.

I know every yidl by name in Cleveland.

Call me.  I’m in back of Pella Windows.

—-

SIDE B

This one, on the other hand, is real.

TICKETS

Scott Raab, a writer and former Clevelander, carries a ticket from the 1964 Browns-Colts championship game in his wallet.

I have a ticket to that game too.

Retrieved from my attic . . .

Raab’s ticket was part of an ESPN.com story about how Cleveland sports teams haven’t won a championship lately. This story — or a version of it — is recycled regularly. Raab put his ticket on the cover of his new book, The Whore of Akron, about LeBron James ditching Cleveland.  (Read the book.)

The Cleveland Browns beat the Colts 27-0 in 1964. My Uncle Al, my dad, and I went to the championship game. Maybe my dad knew Cleveland would never win another championship. He was just a lukewarm Browns fan.

***

I have this ticket too, Scott Raab:

The 1964 Davis Cup finals in Cleveland.

Chuck McKinley was short. Roy Emerson was short. I was short. I was at the Davis Cup tournament. My mother bought me the ticket (which was expensive — in today’s dollars $72), and I went by myself.

In Cleveland Heights, a temporary 7,500-seat tennis stadium appeared next to a junior high in 1964. Fred Stolle and Emerson from Australia played America’s Dennis Ralston and McKinley. (Stolle and Ralston weren’t short.)

The Australians won 3-2. The score was beside the point. The 1964 Davis Cup was the best sporting event ever.

—-

I have  an essay, “And What’s That on Your Head?”, in the current issue of CJ: Voices of Conservative /Masorti Judiasm,  the house mag  of Conservative Judaism.  (A version of the story appeared on this blog 1/5/11, titled “Yid Lids.”)

Yiddishe Cup plays Parade the Circle this Sat. (June 9), noon, University Circle.  Best arts event in Cleveland ever.  Ride your bike down there, locals.

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June 6, 2012   6 Comments