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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

Category — KlezFiction

THE YIDDISHE CUP TOUR

Yiddishe Cup did a month tour in June ’13. We had a touring bus, and a ton of guys, like a lighting guy, sound guy and tour manager. You know, the usual. We never had to set up anything. We had a masseuse. We had hot meals.

We had screaming fans. It wasn’t about Yiddishe Cup. We weren’t even “Yiddishe Cup.” We were “Cup,” which happened to be a very competent band of predominantly old Jews.

I jogged a lot to keep my sanity. The screaming teenage fans could drive you nuts. We sold 10 Yiddishe Cup CDs, total. Not our crowd, I’ll admit. But we were the “support” band, and we ably supported the star, who sold $30,000 in merch a night. (The star wants to remain anonymous.) The idea of a pop icon touring with a bunch of old Jews was novel, and it worked. But I wouldn’t do it again.

phoenix sweatin'

Jogging on an off-day in Oklahoma City

fiction

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March 1, 2017   8 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

THE KLEZMER BLINDFOLD TEST

Blindfold test. I received no prior information. Ratings are on a 1-to-5 scale.

***

1. “Oy Avram” Yiddish Princess

This one reminds me of Daniel Kahn, the young Jew in Berlin. Maybe he’s not that young. Let’s call him late-30s. Middle age is a long slog. When does it start? What about 66 — is that still middle age? What’s old?

The lead singer on this is Sarah Cooper. Sing, baby, sing. I give it a 5.

Sarah Mina Gordon, vocals; Michael Winograd, synths; Avi Fox-Rosen, guitar; Yoshie Fruchter, guitar; Ari Folman-Cohen, bass; Chris Berry drums.

***

2. “Blooz” Michael Winograd’s Infection

My philosophy: do something new every day. If I have Kashi Island Vanilla for breakfast today, I go with Kashi Autumn Wheat tomorrow. Joe’s O’s or Cheerios?  Depends.

Michael Winograd

This is Wino, Michael Winograd, on clarinet. He constructs his tunes with great care. Give him a 5.

Michael Winograd, clarinet; Frank London, trumpet; Daniel Blackberg, trombone; Brandon Seabrook guitar; Michael McLaughlin, accordion; Jason Nazary, drums.

***

3. “Sher 199” Bessarabian Hop. Michael Winograd

Again with Winograd? He’s big-time. His clarinet is Canadian, that much I know.

Winograd plays with time and stretches out the composition. It’s a 5.

Winograd, clarinet; Joey Weisenberg, mandolin; Patrick Farrell, accordion; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Daniel Blacksberg, trombone; Nick Cudahy, bass; Richie Barshay, drums.

***

4. “Epstein” Poykler’s Shloft Lied. Matt Temkin’s Yiddishe Jam Band

That’s Temkin. He wears his hat backwards and hangs out in Brooklyn. I know a backward hat-wearing drummer in Cleveland. My guy is Greek and does apartment cleanups after fires. Married to a Jewish girl. Plays some Jewish.

Frank London is on trumpet here. He’s on every klezmer record. Give it a 5.

Temkin, drums; Mike Cohen, reeds; Binyomin Ginzberg, keys; Brian Glassman, bass; Rachel Lemisch, trombone; Allen Watsky guitar: Frank London. trumpet.

***

 

 

5. “Baladi” Balada. Bulgarian Wedding Music.  Yuri Yunakov

Heavy brass and breakneck tempos. These guys drink slivovitz by the gallon. I have one word for them: slow down. Give it a 5.

Yunakov, alto sax; Neshko Neshev, accordion; Lauren Brody, synth; Seido Salifoski, dumbek; Catherine Foster, clarinet; Carol Silverman, vocals.

***

6. “Shake Hands with your Uncle Max” The Jewish Songbook.  Jason Alexander

Who is this? I’m seeing ghosts. I’m fainting. Give it a 3.

Alexander, vocals; Mike Garson, piano; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Don Heffington, drums; Marc Ellis, guitar.

***

7. “Mazl Tov Dances” You Should Be So Lucky! Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

The music is harmonically deep and soulful. Give it a 5. Thank you, KCB!

Ralph Wilder, clarinet; Alex Koffman, violin; Ivo Braun, trumpet; Sam Margolis, trombone; Gail Mangurten, piano; David Rothstein, bass; Steve Hawk, percussion.

***

8. “Meshugge ’bout my Myed’l” Klezmerfats!  Peter Sokolow

Pete Sokolow

Sokolow is a rhythmically complex animal. Not only can he play, he can he talk; he’ll drey you a kup for three straight hours at KlezKamp, and all good stuff.  Read his interview with professor Phil Brown. That’s the best musician interview ever.

Pete combines earthiness, gravity and buoyancy. A 5.

Sokolow, piano, vocals.

***

9. “Ko Riboyn Olam” Stempenyu’s Dream.   Steven Greenman.

Greenman

This is Greenman, the LeBron of klezmer violin. Greenie sinks a 5-pointer.

Greenman, violin, vocals; Michael Alpert, violin, vocals; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Mark Rubin, bass.

***

 

 

10. “Rumenye”  Homesick Songs Golem

Golem

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Ezekiel’s Wheels. This is so meaty. What’s for lunch?  Give it a 6.

Annette Ezekiel, vocals, accordion; Aaron Diskin, vocals; Alicia Jo Rabins, violin; Curtis Hasselbring, trombone; Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, bass; Laura Cromwell, drums.


A version of this post first appeared here 6/26/13.

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January 18, 2017   2 Comments

1-800-KLEZART

I have a closet full of unsold Yiddishe Cup CDs. Maybe I should get Irwin Weinberger from Yiddishe Cup to hand-paint covers for the CDs. I’ll sell them as art. (Irwin is a painter and musico.)

art not so much(4). . . Done.

Thanks, Irwin!

I’ve already sent out some of Irwin’s art-laden CDs for review, and I’ve gotten back these blurbs:

1. Rabbi Albert Trattons: “You nailed it, Yiddishe Cup. This is better than my shalom plaque. However, the music is so-so.”

2. Treb Nottarts, Cleveland Plain Dealer art critic: “This is grand theft–art from the Jewish Museum. I’m talking New York Jewish Museum. Tremendous. Just one quibble, why so few rollicking tunes on this CD?”

3. Albie Sattront, A&R, Capitol Records: “Love the Chagall cover. Music is kind of  fun too.  Caught half of  track 1 — a personal best for me and klez.”

4. Albert Ratnotts, real estate developer: “I’m buying your band! These CDs would make excellent tiles for the kitchen floors at my downtown apartments.”

To order your art-enhanced Yiddishe Cup CD, call 1-888-KLEZART.  $49.50. Includes shipping.

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February 10, 2016   2 Comments

THE TOP 10 KLEZMER RECORDS
OF 2015

Notso Kosher Records

My desk is piled high with free CDs: Ezekiel’s Wheels, Golem, Vulfpeck, Winograd, all kinds of Dutch and Polish bands, and the old standbys like Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Klezmatics.

Drum roll . . . Here are the best klezmer recordings of 2015:

1. Orlando. Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars take us on a tour of Disney World. “Mickey’s Philharmonic” features London on electric toothbrush (pulse position). “Whistle While You Work” is about short people — Jewish short people: Billy Crystal, Abe Beame and Menachem Begin, and that’s just the first 30 seconds.

2. I Believe in Cod. Andy Statman flips out. Sample lyrics: “May cod bless you and guide you. Praise cod in the high heaven and in the deep sea. Teeming oceans, fire and hail, snow and mist, storm and wind, obey cod’s will.”

3. The Room Where I Was Born. Steven Greenman recreates the sonic architecture of his Pittsburgh childhood bedroom, complete with Steelers pennants and Fiddler on the Roof LPs. Sweaty and no A/C.

Alan Douglass, Yiddishe Cup enforcer, 2011

4. This Can’t Be Klezmer by Yiddishe Cup. A musical jail complete with corporal punishment. Perfect for the heartbroken, horny and dead. Yiddishe Cup mixes barely adequate musicianship with a touch of humor. It doesn’t sound like klezmer, but then what did you expect with a title like This Can’t Be Klezmer?

5. Strung Out by Pete Rushefsky. Nothing on the 1 and 3; it’s all off-beats. Drives you crazy, but in a good way. There is an after-party. You have to be in New York.

6. Anti Semit by Michael Wex. Sixty LOL minutes from Wex’s KlezKanada emceeing. Can anybody top Wex’s Walter Brennan-is-a-Jew sketch? No.

7. Odorous by Shtreiml. Jason Rosenblatt spent years in the lab on this one. This smells like sulfur.  Le jazz hot — and funky — from Montreal.

Jack Stratton, about 2008

8. Without a Net. Vulfpeck’s Jack Stratton uses metal parts from surgeries gone bad — mostly hip replacements — to perform Meron drum licks. Particularly good cuts: “Bodies Thrown Back” and “Clarity.”  The rest of the album is pretty conventional.

9. In the Klezmer Aisle by Yiddish Princess. Sarah Gordon does freestyle rapping about Kashi Autumn Wheat and Island Vanilla cereals, which leads to kishke, which leads to ka-ka. Juvenile and fun.

10. Blackout. Henry Sapoznik gives us a wake-up call, smashing his banjo, then picking up a clarinet. Tons of squeaks. Sapoznik whines like a fourth-grader at the end: “I quit! I quit!”

This post first appeared 12/5/12 in slightly different form.

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December 16, 2015   9 Comments

BURGERS AND KLEZMER

I know a fair amount about flower arranging, photo booths, video production, and music. I’m a party planner. I once built a 24-foot Barbie doll house from flowers, candy and Elmer’s glue.

Food-wise, I  stop by Rally’s and buy fries and burgers for my parties. The music — not the food — makes the event. My clients always leave saying: “The food sucked but the band was terrific.”

Yiddishe Cup. Try them. They’re the best.

party planner bert as

Burgers and Yiddishe Cup

Yiddishe Cup plays 7 p.m. tomorrow (Thurs. Aug. 13) on the John Carroll U. quad, University Heights, Ohio. Free. Indoors if raining. Free ice cream, too. No burgers.

jews with horns 2

This is relevant. How Yiddishe Cup started. (fiction)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-hMmgIWXTY

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August 12, 2015   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

THE YIDDISHE CUP EXPERIENCE
IS HORRIBLE

Tacky tourist attractions are popping up near the stellar Challah Fame. The latest shtick dreck is the Yiddishe Cup Experience, in the old Beef Corral at Cedar Center, South Euclid, Ohio.

shtick Dreck tour yiddishe cup experience

Sombuddy pleaz open ah vindah!

Don’t go.  Repeat, don’t go. Here’s what you’ll “miss”:

1. The first Jewish traffic light (a semaphore actually), from Kinsman Road, 1925. The semaphore has matzo, knish, and seltzer symbols instead of red, yellow and green.  The semaphore was taken down in 1926 because the Italians couldn’t tell matzo from knishes.

2. Theodore Bikel and Mickey Katz hand puppets. Who made these?  [Josh Dolgin of Canada.]

3. The “Jewish Underground Railroad Experience.”  A sandbox. Supposed to be the Sinai.

5. A “Chagall” mural by Anonymous, scraped off the wall from Mira’s Cafe, Mandel JCC, Beachwood, Ohio.

6. A video clip from Harley Son of David, a movie about Jewish motorcyclists.  Music by Yiddishe Cup.

7. Klezmer-themed postage stamps from Lichtenstein and Malaysia. Musicians on the stamps include Marcel Salomon, Adrianne Greenbaum and Moshe Berlin.

8. A matchbook from Solomon’s restaurant, Cedar Center, 1966.

9. Itchy the Squirrel, an animatron who sings “Oyfn Pripetchik.”  (Poor fidelity, but surprisingly good Yiddish.)

10. Shtetl Avenue — a recreation of 1920s East 105th Street, complete with midwives, klezmer bands, appetizing shops and candy stores.   Staffed by teen volunteers from Agnon School.

challah fameThe place is horrible. Don’t go.  Go to The Challah Fame.

(Yiddishe Cup, the band, is not affiliated with the Yiddishe Cup Experience.  Again: Yiddishe Cup, the band, is not affiliated with the Yiddishe Cup Experience)

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July 16, 2014   5 Comments

BICYCLING WITH
AND WITHOUT JEWS

Ask me about my bike

Ask me about my bike trip

On the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA), I’m around far fewer Jews than I’m used to. I’m most comfortable with a 20 percent-or-more Jewish crowd in life. If the Jewish count is less than that, I get a bit uneasy, mostly because less people understand my sense of humor.

My high school was about 25 percent Jewish; my college was about 20 percent Jewish; my social scene in Cleveland is 58.7 percent Jewish; and my place of worship is 100 percent.

On GOBA, there are at most 20 Jews out of 2,500 riders.  It’s like a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

Oddly, one year (2009) I pedaled GOBA with an Orthodox woman. She brought more tuna fish than Nixon took to China. She wore a skirt. There was an Amish woman with a skirt too. The Frisco Kid: Gene Wilder and the Amish thing. Maybe both women will be at GOBA this year.

In 2010 I met a Jewish doctor from Dayton, Ohio; a Jewish guitar player from University Heights; and my buddy — and fellow cyclist — Irwin Weinberger (Yidddishe Cup’s singer) played “Ose Shalom” on Friday night.  This was after a fried fish shabbes dinner at the Fraternal Order of Eagles hall in McArthur, Ohio. We made kiddush over Miller Lite, which technically isn’t brucha (blessing) material. (Tain’t a grape.)

GOBA kicks off in Mansfield, Ohio, this Sunday.

Gear shift . . .

Is there a market for a Jewish-tinged “Chosen to Ride” bike tour of the Midwest?

Day 1

We meet at Chicago Midway airport and bike to Pepe’s, a Mexican restaurant on Cicero Avenue. Traffic is crazy but fun in Chicago. Bring a helmet and a sword.

Lodging at the Beloit, Wisconsin, Holiday Inn.

Day 2

Lunch stop at the Park View Motel, Richland Center, Wisconsin, next to AgriDairy. See the Frank Lloyd Wright silo.

Dinner at the Ground Round, Dubuque, Iowa.

Day 3

Pitch tents on the lawn of the Omaha JCC and check out the exhibit in the hallway about The Bagel, the name for the old Jewish ‘hood in Omaha.

chosen to ride  bicycling

Chosen to Ride

Day 4

Dinner in Nevada, Missouri.  We’ll eat in the cafeteria at Cottey College, an all-women’s school.

Days 5 and 6

Shabbes in St. Louis. We spend time off the bikes and at riverboat casinos, where we suck cig smoke and lose a few fun bucks. Each night we’re at Ted Drewes custard stand.

Day 7

Dinner at Wabash College, an all-men’s college in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Equal rights for men.

Day 8

At the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, we attend a concert by Gabe Kaplan and Yiddishe Cup. Kaplan doesn’t look like Gabe Kaplan anymore. He’s a million years old. (As is Yiddishe Cup.)  Kaplan’s best joke is “A widower in Miami Beach asks his date, an elderly woman, if she likes sex, and she says, ‘Infrequently.’ The widower says, ‘Is that one word or two?’”

Day 9

Our farewell banquet is at Ken’s Diner in Skokie, Illinois, a glatt kosher hamburger joint. Music by the clarinet/harp duo of Kurt and Annette Bjorling.

Think about it.

—-

Yiddishe Cup is in Parade the Circle noon Saturday (June 14), Wade Oval, Cleveland.

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June 11, 2014   4 Comments

SAVE THE DATE:
THE CHALLAH FAME FUNDRAISER

Save the date: August 31, Cleveland.

We’re having a costume ball at The Challah Fame fundraiser.  We’ll have styling stations with plenty of gear in case you forget to dress right; we’ll have Greek fishermen’s caps, Tevye vests, Russian cavalry boots and wash-off Yiddish tattoos.

We’re blocking off three blocks on Euclid Avenue for bowling, pierogis, borscht, schnitzel, herring, slivovits and brewskis.  The theme is The Other, as in Jews, Slavs, Gypsies and Martians.  IDs not necessary.

Live music,  of course.  We’ve already booked Beyond the Pale and Sharon, Lois, and Bram.

We’ll march up Euclid Avenue to East 17th Street, where the Alpine Village used to be, and play Austrian oom-pah music. [Mickey Katz played at the Alpine during the war.  The club’s owner, Herman Pirchner (an Austrian), wanted to show he wasn’t pro-Nazi.]

Robert Gates, former secretary of defense, will lecture on “The Klezmer CDs We Found at Bin Laden’s Lair and What That Meant.”  Other lecturers are the usual suspects: Wex, Sokolow, Horowitz, Netsky.  Also, a Ladino lecture by Septimo Rodriguez:  “Soluciones para pequena empresas Ladinas.”

Finally, a motorcycle ride out to the Popcorn Shop in Chagrin Falls, led by Mayor Merle Gorden of Beachwood.  (We’ll have three-wheel motorcycles for rent.)

Save the date: August 31.

SIDE B

The post above is so stupid it deserves another . . .

BLOW HARD

I sometimes get a spiritual lift from playing clarinet. This might happen during a pop tune like “Hallelujah,” or an old Naftule Brandwein klez number, or even a scale. I never know.

Young musicians ask me, “I see you put a lot of heart into your music. Where’s that coming from? How do you do that?”

I have no answer. I say, “Blow hard. Don’t worry about it. Blow hard.”

Blowhard?
 
 
 

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March 19, 2014   1 Comment

SAYS WHO

I check out websites of other klezmer bands to see what I can steal. For instance, clarinetist Joel Rubin’s website had this bit: “Rubin has long been considered by many to be the leading performer of Jewish instrumental klezmer music in the world today.”

I stole from Rubin.

Please disregard the bracketed material . . .

Yiddishe Cup has long been considered by many [Alice Stratton, Irwin Weinberger, Steve Ostrow] to be the leading performers of Jewish klezmer comedy in the world.  Who else is doing klezmer comedy?  Who?  Name somebody!

Yiddishe Cup is an integral part of the music scene in Cleveland, which according to many [Lori Cahan-Simon, Steven Greenman,Walt Mahovlich] is quite vibrant. The Cleveland scene is a focal point of  klezmer and Eastern European music [according to Gheorghe Trombitas, Zenon Chaikovsky and Alex Fedoriouk].

Mickey Katz is where it all started for klezmer comedy.  [Somebody said that. Who?] Literary critic Leon Wieseltier called Katz the “mishugener.”  In Pirket Avot, it is written “Man is born to take the plough against the unyielding earth.” That is man’s job. The counterweight to that heavy lifting is the supremely nutty Katz, said Wieseltier.

Stratton’s former rabbi, Michael Hecht, said, “Make Judaism fun.”

Somebody [Lea Grossman of Boston?] said Yiddishe Cup is the most entertaining band in the country.  Yiddishe Cup is almost cool.  [George Robinson  wrote that, almost, in the New York Jewish Week.]

Yiddishe Cup is also a top notch simcha band [said Shawn Fink].  Let the wedding gigs roll forth! Funerals are more interesting than weddings, but Yiddishe Cup doesn’t play many funerals [zero, in fact]. Instead, the band plays parties and acts happy. You wouldn’t want musicians in mourning at your wedding.

How many bands have comedic and musical talent?  Yiddishe Cup does [said Irwin Weinberger and Don Friedman].

Who else is out there?  Weird Al Yankovic?  Shlock Rock?  They’re not as good as Yiddishe Cup [said Daniel Ducoff].

Yiddishe Cup strikes the classic Jewish outsider pose. Yiddishe Cup has long been considered a funny band. [Sanford Gordon thought so. So did Jack Saul.]

Yiddishe Cup is nostalgic and a bit corny, but in a good way.  Childhood was a lot less hassle than adulthood.

Other klezmer bands aren’t that funny [said Don Friedman].   They aren’t funny at all! [Find a source for that.]  There’s a pianist in Brooklyn, Pete Sokolow, who does Jewish spins on Fats Waller and Dixieland.  Sokolow wrote, “We purposefully try to remain faithful to the original performances.”  Does Sokolow do creative new adaptations?  OK, maybe.   Does Yiddishe Cup? Yes. [At least once: “Meshugeneh Mambo.”]

Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz –- the album — had two avant-garde jazz pieces and the rest was verbatim remakes of Mickey Katz tunes.  Make it new, Don Don!

Avi Hoffman’s Too Jewish Two album had a lot of humor, but was too schmaltzy. Sample song title: “I Love Being a Jew Blues.”

Yiddishe Cup is considered the best neo-Borscht Belt klezmer comedy band in the world [according to Alice Stratton, Jack Stratton, Daniel Ducoff, Steve Ostrow and Don Friedman].

Yiddishe Cup is the best band in the land.

[Who said that?]

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February 19, 2014   7 Comments

SO FILTHY

I have this new band, Funklikht, which is so filthy. My lead singer is the shit — a Lebanese kid from Detroit who does it all, including Yiddish hip-hop. He was a shabbes goy in Oak Park. My drummer — also from Detroit — grew up  next-door to Aretha in Bloomfield Hills.  He’s shit-plus.

My bass player kills it.  (He has a following in Norway.)

I found all these players in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I go up there regularly for cheap young talent.

We’re on fire. We play temples and Jewish arts festivals throughout the country, but we aren’t stuck in the J bag.

We have a major presence on iTunes.  Our best-selling tunes are  “Shvantz Tantz,” “Di Gantse Velt is a Blintz” and “Dreck II.”

We’re in discussion with a major label, but I’m skeptical; the label thinks we’re “too Jewish.” We’re not too Jewish! We’re too filthy!


SIDE B

This one is real . . .

LARRY DAVISES

I knew two Larry Davises — both Jewish landlords in Cleveland. There was Larry Davis of Solon and Larry Davis of Cleveland Heights.

Larry Davis of Solon was a Romanian immigrant who developed industrial parks in the far eastern suburbs. He loved Yiddish music and hired Yiddishe Cup for his 75th birthday party. He died shortly after that. (No foul play.)

Larry Davis of the Heights is alive, and owns property in Cleveland Heights. You’ve probably seen him around (if you live in Cleveland). He has a beard, wear shorts a lot, and has a small tattoo on his leg. Larry Heights started with a lunch counter in Lakewood and worked his way up.

I ran into Larry Heights at the grocery store and we kvetched about the real estate biz. Our kids weren’t too crazy about running the properties. Larry said, “I wouldn’t wish it on my daughter.”

I thought to myself, “Here we are, two fairly healthy guys, standing in the vegetable aisle at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday. Objectively speaking, we’ve got it made.”

Maybe I’m the third Larry Davis. Larry Davis Heights II.

—-

Larry Davis, Heights, left / Larry Davis, Solon, right:

(Click on the drawing to make it bigger)

Footnote: “Objectively speaking, you’ve got it made” is a line I regularly steal from writer Mark Schilling.


Yiddishe Cup plays First Night Akron (Ohio), 6 p.m. Dec. 31.

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December 18, 2013   7 Comments

MY SCENE

I’m popular on the klezmer scene, mostly because I run The Challah Fame (aka the Klezmer Hall of Fame). The principle of the klezmer scene being the starved-dog principle when you throw a bit of food into the pit and all the dogs leap for it with fangs out, killing each other as they leap, that is the scene. There are so few bones (gigs) that the competition turns musicians into creeps immediately, because they’re climbing over each other’s backs for scraps.

I produce concerts at The Challah Fame. These concerts are big productions, and mine to dole out.  I favor Steven Greenman, for instance, because he has a cute bulldog and lives in Cleveland.  My band, Yiddishe Cup, naturally gets heavy rotation.  I also hire Harmonia and a handful of other bands that treat me right.

I pick musicians who, first off, like the Midwest (no putdowns of Cleveland, please), who play masterfully, who do the obligatory educational workshop, and who get drunk with me after the show. I like performers who tell me who is sleeping with whom on the scene, who is getting gigs in Poland, and who is on Sapoznik’s most-favored list today.  (Sapoznik is the klez Mafia don and a co-founder of KlezKamp.)

I try to hire young klezmer musicians because I was one once.  I remember when I lived near Coventry Road with a couple of babies.  The babies’ bedroom had obscene paintings on the wall and toys strewn about.  It was a typical starving musician’s pad, and I was the boss.  I thought so.  My wife didn’t. I got up every morning at 5 a.m. and watched the speed freaks feed the pigeons at Turtle Park. I’m looking for young Challah Fame talent like that.

If you’re a fresh, new klez musician and want to be really popular — “sell out” — that’s fine with me.  I respect any player who wants to eat.  If you can wrangle a gig with Perlman, go for it.  To me, Hustler is not just an Ohio-based porn magazine, it’s a badge of honor. Circle the wagons and promote yourself.

The perks the ones I dispense — go to musicians who respect The Challah Fame and its mission.  The Challah Fame, and the klezmer world in general, is a network, a mini-establishment.  When you mess with The Challah, you are messing not only me, but with everybody who buys into The Challah Fame, and that’s a lot of yehudim (plus three gentiles in Germany).

The Challah receives grant money from the county, state, NEA and foundations.  And a lot of individual philanthropic donations.  Enemies of The Challah are doomed,  on the outside looking in, like Pete Rose, forever.

I won’t print my enemies’ names.  So many people detest me, and they would love recognition — any recognition.

On second thought, haters, sign in here.  I  need to update my data base:__________, ___________, ___________, ___________, _____________, _____________.

Friends?  I have a few.  Wex, he’s très kosher. If you don’t know Wex, pick up a copy of the Klezmer News today at your newsstand and read up, man!  Wex is the poet laureate of klezmer.  He talked to me back when I was nobody,  before The Challah opened. I still enjoy getting drunk with Wex.

I like Byron too.  Lord Don Byron.  Thanks, Don, we’re  tired of just klez cats (kitties) on FB.

Rubintubist Rubin — is also on my A team, even though he once called Yiddishe Cup “crap,” or words to that effect.  Yiddishe Cup is a middle-brow schmaltz peddler, Rubin said.  I’m open to criticism if it’s that outrageous.

My scene, it is so different from the other klezmer scenes. My scene is compassionate and fun.

Heymish?  Nah.

Real?

Very.

The first paragraph of this post is a 95-percent ripoff of a Tom Clark rant on the poetry scene from Little Caesar #11 magazine, 1980.   Seventeen-percent of the rest of the post is a ripoff as well.  Thanks to Charlie Burch for the Little Caesar article.

File “My Scene” under KlezFiction. The complete KlezFiction series is here.

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December 11, 2013   12 Comments

13 HEALTH TIPS FOR CHANUKAH (AND THANKSGIVING)

This is KlezFiction.  The complete KlezFiction series is here.

These 13 health tips are from my new e-book, The Klezmer Guy Tune Up, (which makes a great Chanukah gift!)

1. Eat your fist at least once a week.

2. Sing the beginning of “The Star-Spangled Banner” every morning.  It’s a major triad, 5-3-1.  It’ll align you.

3. Prick yourself.  If your blood isn’t bright red, immediately eat potato chips.  Any brand.  For the salt.

4. Therapy is always worth it, but don’t pay more than $150/hour.

5. Eat sardines once a week.  Lightly smoked Chicken of the Sea, in oil, is your best bet.

6. You need a gum graft. Get it now!

7. Drink olive oil in a shot glass daily.

8. Don’t knock Miller Lite. It does the job.

9. Visit a pawn shop today and buy a power tool. Get outside your bubble!

10. [For Catholics only: carry a smartphone at all times.  Sainthood is hard to prove if you don’t have good documentation.]

11. Eat a marshmallow with your dark chocolate. This helps your stomach absorb the flavenoids.

12. Gamble.  It fine-tunes the nervous system.  Try craps first.

13. Use Arby’s Horsy Sauce on all your salads, fish and fries.   It’s better for you than even tomato sauce.

There is no Klezmer Guy Tune-up book.  Like I said, this is  KlezFiction.

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November 27, 2013   3 Comments

ORIGINS OF THE CHALLAH FAME

This is KlezFiction. The complete KlezFiction series is here.

Why is the Klezmer Hall of Fame — aka The Challah Fame — in Cleveland? Here’s why: Do you remember Bob Malaga, the lawyer who brought the Davis Cup to Cleveland in 1964?  Bob Malaga — aka Mr. Tennis — pulled off that Forest Hills-to-Cleveland heist almost single-handedly.

The Challah Fame story is a similar saga, but about another Cleveland monomaniac: Klezmer Guy, aka Mr. Guy.

Mr. Guy wrote record reviews for his college paper, the Michigan Daily, about Muddy Waters, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mott the Hoople, and The Up.  He also wrote about Buddy Guy (no relation).  Mr. Guy had insights. For instance, he disliked Detroit rock and roll because it was simplistic and too loud. Guy lambasted John Lennon’s “Free John Sinclair” concert at the Michigan basketball arena in 1971.  Face it, Allen Ginsberg’s harmonium was not music.

John Sinclair and his friends at the White Panther Party were not happy with Guy’s review. Those potheads were fuming. What did they want?

Not the truth.

Guy left Ann Arbor in a hurry, returning to his hometown, Cleveland, to open a nightclub.  Cleveland was perfectly situated on the nightclub circuit, halfway between Chicago and New York.  Guy booked quality acts into his club, which he operated out of the basement of a shul on Taylor Road. Guy told the temple gadolim (big shots) he was running a Jewish music coffeehouse, and they were ecstatic.  The rent was free.

Guy rocked the gatkes (underwear) off the shul — Taylor Road Synagogue (TRS) — which was empty even back then.  The shul let Guy use the main sanctuary too.  “Use the sanctuary but keep it Jewish!” the TRS president said.

Guy booked the Electric Prunes, Steve Miller and Quicksilver.  All Jewish acts, according to Guy. Underground radio DJs bellowed, “Go see Steve Miller tonight at TRS!”

TRS’ sanctuary was packed.  So Guy said to himself, “I’m in a shul.  I’m making money.  Why not go for some authentic Jewish music?”  Guy locked onto klezmer.  Dave Tarras  sold out TRS, as did Mickey Katz.

When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened, Guy rode the Rock Hall’s PR coattails and opened The Challah Fame.

Tarras statue (L) w/ a Challah Fame maintenance man

Guy displayed his personal memorabilia: a Corky & Lenny’s T-shirt, Park Synagogue refrigerator magnet and a saxophone reed signed by Hankus Netsky of the Klezmer Conservatory Band — “Love ya!  Hankus.”  Guy also had a flyer from Lethbridge, Alberta, 1966: Beatnik Coffeehouse Tonight / Tim Hortons / Michael Wex.  Guy had violinist Steven Greenman’s fourth grade report card (redacted).

Are you interested in this stuff?

Apparently you are.  You’ve read this far.

The Challah Fame keeps irregular hours. Please call ahead.

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October 16, 2013   5 Comments

I BRAKE FOR ETHNICITY

1.

Yiddishe Cup has shared the stage with the Hungarian Scouts, Ukrainian Kashtan dancers, and Csardas, a Hungarian troupe. These groups draw fans to local festivals, and the dancers perform in difficult odd meters. Yiddishe Cup doesn’t draw many fans to these multicultural shows. The typical Jew doesn’t want to watch Ukrainians, Poles, or Hungarians dance.

At one festival, some of the folk dances had sappy English titles, like “My Little Cherry Tree” and “I Love You, Shepherd Boy.” I took the printed program home and looked up the real titles:

“Tylko We Lwowie” (Let’s Get Out of Lviv)

“Frogisic Sie Pani” (My Bagpipes are Soggy)

“Jaz Pa Ti” (Dad is Tipsy)

“Pytala Sie Pani” (Pierogis With Butter, Senator)

“Llactosi Nyasa Pilsenioya” (I Hate Milk and Like Beer)

“Jak Szybko Hund Chwile” (Jacko’s Chili Dog Is Outstanding)

“Nasza Jest, Noc Tylko” (Not Tonight, Not Tomorrow.)

 

2.

I bought a raffle ticket for the St. Mary’s Church (Collinwood) fundraiser, Catholic Order of Foresters, Court #1640.

I bought the ticket from Stan. Stan’s father was Stan too.   Stan — my friend  Stan – got married at St. William’s Church, not St. Stan’s.  (St. Stan’s church is  Polish.  Stan is Slovenian.)

Stan’s wedding reception was at the big Slovenian National Home on  St. Clair Avenue at E. 65th Street. Stan hired his uncle’s polka band.  At the  wedding, we danced Slovenian-style polka — not the same as Polish-style polka.  (If you don’t know the difference, please see Harvey Pekar’s “Polka Wars” American Splendor, issue #16.)

Yiddishe Cup can play Slovenian! We’ve done Yankovic’s “Just Because” and “Blue Skirt Waltz,” and some charts from polka musician Joey Tomsick.

I won $20 in the St. Mary’s raffle.  I haven’t seen the money yet.

Slovenians are tight with a buck.  That’s their in-group reputation. Amongst themselves, Slovenians brag about their frugality, and they like to trash Lithuanians, who are even tighter.  Stan told me all this.

The St. Mary’s Church raffle was three years ago.  Stan, you owe me $23 — that’s $20 plus interest.   Pay up, Stan.  Any Stan.

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September 25, 2013   6 Comments

THE BUDDY HOLLY
KLEZMER BAND

This is KlezFiction . . .

I dream about klezmer music and Buddy Holly. I want to be Buddy Holly, but I have to settle  for Klezmer Guy.

Animal voices — the sound of cats and fleas.  Significant to my music?  I need to find out.

There are no rules for good music, only examples of it.

Yiddishe Cup’s Meshugeneh Mambo is a terrific record.  Klezperanto –- another good choice. (By the group Klezperanto.)

The wrong song in the wrong place can be the right song.

Hope You Like Klezmer, a coffee table book,  has more than 100 color photos of klezmer musicians.  Some tied up, some with instruments in odd places.  I’m in a bathtub with reeds, like Moses.

Half-ended melodies are fun.

I’m here.  Hineni.  Take it or leave it.

Please, don’t go!

Fine, go.

I want to play medium-sized halls — 1,500-seat venues — this summer with my band: the Buddy Holly Klezmer Band.


Check out “Renting the American Dream” in the latest City Journal.  It’s not fiction.  Read the comments too.


Yiddishe Cup plays Wiley Middle Scho0ol lawn, University Heights, Ohio, 7:30 p.m. Thurs. July 25.  Indoors if raining.  Free ice cream.

Here’s a vid from the 2009 Wiley show:

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July 10, 2013   3 Comments

THE KLEZMER BLINDFOLD TEST

Yiddishe Cup‘s Bert Stratton tries to identify musicians and songs from selected recordings.  Stratton received no prior information.  Ratings are 1 to 5.

***

1. “Oy Avram” Yiddish Princess

This recording reminds me of Daniel Kahn, the young Jew in Berlin.  Maybe he’s not so young.  Let’s call him 35.

Middle age is a long slog, isn’t it? What about 63, is that still middle age?

What’s really, really old? Anybody 10 years older than yourself.

The lead singer on this is Sarah Cooper — or whatever her name is.  She has a leaf blower in her right lung.  Sing, baby, sing! I give it a 5.

Sarah Mina Gordon, vocals; Michael Winograd, synths; Avi Fox-Rosen, guitar; Yoshie Fruchter, guitar; Ari Folman-Cohen, bass; Chris Berry drums.

***

2. “Blooz” Michael Winograd’s Infection

My philosophy is do something new every day, but always in relationship to the past and tradition.  If I have Kashi Island Vanilla today, I go with Kashi Autumn Wheat tomorrow. Sugar Pops, no thanks.  Corn Pops, double no thanks.  Call them what you will.  Joe’s O’s or Cheerios?  Depends.  I’ll go with Joe’s on Mondays and Cherrios on Tuesdays.  And don’t forget Ralston’s Tasteoos.

Miguel Winograd

This tune?  This is the Wino, Michael Winograd, on clarinet. He constructs his tunes with great care: one note, then silence, then another note.  Give it a 5.

Michael Winograd, clarinet; Frank London, trumpet; Daniel Blackberg, trombone; Brandon Seabrook guitar; Michael McLaughlin, accordion; Jason Nazary, drums.

***

3. “Sher 199” Bessarabian Hop. Michael Winograd 

Again with the Wino?  He’s sucking up all the klezmer oxygen.  Is he living in Barcelona?  New York?  L.A.?  He probably has three houses.  He’s big.

His clarinet is Canadian, that much I know.

I have no idea who his sidemen are, but they are very, very flexible.   They play with time and stretch out the composition. The accordion is a little choppy. It’s a 4.

Winograd, clarinet; Joey Weisenberg, mandolin; Patrick Farrell, accordion; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Daniel Blacksberg, trombone; Nick Cudahy, bass; Richie Barshay, drums.

***

4. “Epstein” Poykler’s Shloft Lied. Matt Temkin’s Yiddishe Jam Band

That’s got to be Temkin. He wears his hat backwards and hangs out in Brooklyn.

I know another backwards hat-wearing drummer, but in Cleveland. My guy is Greek and does apartment cleanups after fires. Married to a Jewish girl.  Plays some Jewish.

Frank London is on trumpet. That’s a no-brainer.  He’s on every klezmer record.

Clarinet and keys? I have no idea.

Temkin hires sidemen from the same  Brooklyn Home Depot parking lot as Winograd.  I wish the Home Depot in Cleveland had this kind of talent.  Give it a 4.

Temkin, drums; Mike Cohen, reeds; Binyomin Ginzberg, keys; Brian Glassman, bass; Rachel Lemisch, trombone; Allen Watsky guitar: Frank London. trumpet.

***

5. “Baladi” Balada. Bulgarian Wedding Music.  Yuri Yunakov

This is Slavic Soul Party.  Heavy brass and breakneck tempos. These guys drink slivovitz by the gallon. I have one word for them: slow down. Give it a 3.

Yunakov, alto sax; Neshko Neshev, accordion; Lauren Brody, synth; Seido Salifoski, dumbek; Catherine Foster, clarinet; Carol Silverman, vocals.

***

6. “Shake Hands with your Uncle Max” The Jewish Songbook.  Jason Alexander

Who is the singer?  He bears a strong resemblance to an incompetent.  Give it a 3.  No, a 2.   I’m seeing ghosts, I’m fainting. Give it a 1.

Alexander, vocals; Mike Garson, piano; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Don Heffington, drums; Marc Ellis, guitar.

***

7. “Mazl Tov Dances” You Should Be So Lucky! Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

A Mickey Katz tune, yes!  This is KCB [Klezmer Conservatory Band].

Yes, I know the Mickey Katz reboot is over, but not for me. I knew Mickey’s cousin.  She was in a nursing home in Cleveland.  She was about 100.  My hobby is Mickey’s geo-hagiography.  I walk by his [former] apartment in Cleveland Heights all the time.

The music is harmonically deep and soulful.  Give it a 5. Thank you, KCB!

Ralph Wilder, clarinet; Alex Koffman, violin; Ivo Braun, trumpet; Sam Margolis, trombone; Gail Mangurten, piano; David Rothstein, bass; Steve Hawk, percussion.

***

8. “Meshugge ’bout my Myed’l” Klezmerfats!  Peter Sokolow

Pete Sokolow

Sokolow is — forgive me — an animal.  A rhythmically complex animal.  Not only can he bang out chords, he can play — and can he talk; he’ll drey you a kup for three straight hours at KlezKamp, and all good stuff.  Read his interview with professor Phil Brown. That’s the best musician interview ever.

Pete combines earthiness, gravity and buoyancy.  What’s his weight these days?

I like to guess ages and weights. I’m taking this blindfold off.

Oh jeez, why didn’t you tell me you’re 500 pounds!

Pete, he’s ancient.  He’s 73.

A 4 rating.

Sokolow, piano, vocals.

***

9. “Ko Riboyn Olam” Stempenyu’s Dream.   Steven Greenman.

Greenman, about to rob a bank

I cheated.  I should put my blindfold back on. This is Greenman, the LeBron of klezmer violin.  But Steve didn’t take his talents to South Beach.  He stayed here [Cleveland]. Give Greenie a 5, on that alone.

Greenman, violin, vocals; Michael Alpert, violin, vocals; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Mark Rubin, bass.

***

10. “Rumenye”  Homesick Songs Golem

Golem

This is Reverend Gary Davis singing in Yiddish.  Joking, man.  Really out there, but good. It’s Ezekiel’s Wheels.

This is meaty.  I’m guessing the band weighs 1423 pounds, total.  I’m close.  What’s for lunch?  Give it a 4.7.

Annette Ezekiel, vocals, accordion; Aaron Diskin, vocals; Alicia Jo Rabins, violin; Curtis Hasselbring, trombone; Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, bass; Laura Cromwell, drums.

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June 26, 2013   9 Comments

THE BIG THRILL

I went to the White House for a Christmas party.  Did you?

My daughter, Lucy, works for a Chicago event-planning company, and she helped decorate the White House for Christmas.  She got me in.

Lucy and I arrived fashionably late, because my daughter has been to the White House before, and she didn’t want to wait in the long line.  We were the last guests — numbers 485 and 486.

I was denied entrance. What?

I sat on a folding chair in a heated tool shed–like room in the White House backyard. My birth date was listed incorrectly on the White House checklist. I thought I might miss the party.

But the guard, constantly checking her smartphone for updates, finally said, “You’re good. Tell the next security booth, you’re a re-clear.”

I was a re-clear at the next security stop — a dog-sniffing station.

A Marine Band jazz quintet played in the main entrance of the White House. Michelle Obama was there. Lincoln’s portrait was up in the State Dining Room.  There were 54 live Christmas trees, according to the Washington Post.  Plus some fake trees — classy fake trees, like out of glass.

I told the Marine Band’s bass player to tell his boss to bring in Yiddishe Cup for the Chanukah party next year.

I did not see Bo the dog.  I did not sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. I did not see any celebs. The food — at grazing stations — was very good.  Spielberg, dressed like Lincoln, was at the White House a couple nights before, to screen Lincoln with the president.  That was the word at the party.  There was a 300-pound gingerbread replica of White House.

This event was a thrill for me — a once in a lifetime experience. No, wait, I’ve got to talk to my rabbi; he once lit the White House Chanukah menorah.  Maybe he’ll know how to get Yiddishe Cup in.

My rabbi called.  He said,  “Somebody from the synagogue got me in. Or a group of people.  No one person from the synagogue took sole credit.  Maybe the White House wanted somebody from Cleveland.”

The Jews of Cuyahoga County.  Work with them.

Lucy Stratton, Bert Stratton, and Claus.
White House, 2012

SIDE B

KLEZKAMP 2012

This year’s KlezKamp theme is anti-NY.

No rush-rush.

The KlezKamp swimming pool has piped-in klezmer music. Don’t do the crawl; your wildly flapping arms will drown out the underwater speakers. (Kapelye’s classic, “Chicken,” is looped.)

New this year: a pretzel bar . . . Rold Gold, Dan Dee, Snyder’s of Berlin, Snyder’s of Hanover. (Trucked in from Cleveland.  Heymish.)

There is a spiritual gathering every morning in the exercise room. Universal love machines. Yarmulkes optional.

You can touch your musical instrument but can’t play it.  Oil keys, apply grease to cork joints, rub valve oil. And calm down.

Dress code?  Only if you insist.  Try the all-cotton plush bathrobes with the KlezKamp logo ($179).  Notice how young klezmer musicians  wear KK bathrobes on stage?

At KlezKamp, director Henry Sapoznik repeats the same spiel every hour, so you don’t miss anything if you skip a lecture. His topic this year: “New York Sucks. I Moved to Wisconsin.”

Also, this year pianist Pete Sokolow blots out — pours Manischewitz on — his classic how-to book, 100 Jewish Music Insults That Really Work.

Before this book disappears forever, here are, for the record, Sokolow’s five favorite putdowns:

1.  What’s your phone number? Junior congregation needs a clarinetist.
2.  You’re slicker than butter on matzo, but there’s no salt.
3.  Tighten your neck strap.  Tighter.
4.  You couldn’t find D freygish with a GPS.
5.  I make desk lamps. Let me see your clarinet.

—-
This is KlezFiction.  KlezKamp is real.  It happens next week.

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December 19, 2012   7 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