Category — Sports Pages
I grew up in a gully, according to my friend Max Burstyn. Max said, “You lived on one of those dead-end streets that had flooding. You lived in a gully.”
Yes, there was some flooding, Max. I remember a canoe on my street.
Max lived in the Jewish highlands on the other side of the public park. No flooding in the highlands there, and 99-percent yidlach. Max was equal to
1 ½ Jews. He spoke Yiddish and German. His dad was a Galitzianer from Krakow. Max was born in Munich and came to America as a baby in the 1950s.
I played tennis with Max in the park. That’s where we met.
Max still rants about the gully. He says, “You lived with the goys — like Stropki. I played Pony League with him. There were about eight Stropkis. What about Bobrowski? He was a Catholic too. Went to St. Joe’s. He played third-string for the Browns. He was from your street. There was Mastrobuono. He had a funny walk.”
True, I lived with Catholics, but I heard Jewish mothers shry gevalt (scream bloody murder) at their kids from across the park. Those Jewish moms had powerful lungs.
“Max, what about Willie Hendricks?” I said. “Why was he in your neighborhood?”
“Hendrick’s mother was Jewish,” Max said. “He could pitch.” Hendricks was about 6-4. He was drafted by the majors but never played pro ball.
Max was a self-described mischling ersten grades. (First-degree mixed race.) That’s a Nazi term, but Max used it — at least around me. Max’s mother was a German gentile and his dad was a Polish Jew. They met in Germany after the war. Max was halachically converted as a baby.
Max comes to my house for shabbes. I like his Yiddish. He knows words that nobody else knows. He talks about a kudraychik — a swindler. I can’t find that in the dictionary. It’s probably Slavic, not Yiddish. For example, Max says, “There was a kudraychik, a Jewish barber, in the occupied zone after the
war . . .”
Max books rooms for a hotel chain. He works out of his house. He occasionally talks German to Europeans who want to book rooms in Florida and play golf. Max also gets calls from drunken Englishmen who call him “your majesty.” He has to work 92 percent of the time during business hours. He can watch baseball and football games on mute. “It’s not a bad job,” Max said. The occasional call from Germany, no boss and no commute. Not bad.
Max beat me at tennis. I hadn’t lost to him in a while. Did I sully the honor of the gully? I don’t think so. I’m not Catholic and I’m not gully-proud.
The tennis instructors at Bexley Park were mostly college kids who didn’t care about the job. One year it was Stovsky; the next year, Nagy, the state champ. These “pros” rarely showed us anything. Maybe they showed us grips: the Western, the Eastern, the Continental.
The courts were asphalt with cracks and weeds. At least the nets were real, not chain-link.
My dad got me about 10 private lessons at the Cleveland Skating Club in Shaker Heights. The pro there called me Tiger. I think he called most non-members Tiger. He was John Hendrix. He went on to coach at Ohio State.
Some of my Bexley Park tennis friends became jealous of me because of my private lessons. I got better than most of the Bexley players. One player, Shelly Gordon, still harps about my private lessons, like I violated the South Euclid Tennis Court Oath: Don’t Be a Tennis Snob. Shelly played at Ohio State and became a teaching pro in Israel. He’s self-taught. His strokes are horrible, but he’s good.
A seeming midget, Denny A., ruled Bexley Park, along with a gambler, Twitch, and a tomboy named Annie G. They bet on everything, like who could hit the most first serves in, who could bounce a ball the longest on his racquet. Bexley Park was not a genteel place. Some guys didn’t wear shirts. Billings –- the court gentile — played so much shirtless tennis he wound up with skin cancer.
Krinsky was the best hitter. He could have been a regional player, but he preferred baseball, softball and chasing girls. He was voted the “best dancer” in the senior class.
Max was third singles. Not that good, not that bad.
Some of the best public court players were from neighboring Cleveland Heights. A couple Cleveland Heights boys took several private lessons at the Jewish country club, Oakwood. Garry Levy and Rich Greenberg became the number-one doubles team in Northeast Ohio.
The great public courts players of my day were:
Chuck McKinley, St. Louis
Billie Jean King, Long Beach, California
Pancho Gonzales, Los Angeles
Shelly Gordon, Cleveland
Shelly is remembered by all some in Cleveland, even though he moved to Israel years ago.
Yiddishe Cup plays 7:30 p.m. Thurs. (July 5) on the lawn at Wiley Middle School, 2181 Miramar Blvd., University Heights, Ohio. (Indoors if raining.) Free. It’s “Family Fun Night” with games and free ice cream one-half hour before the show.
July 3, 2012 2 Comments
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.
This one, on the other hand, is real.
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.
June 6, 2012 6 Comments
After my mother died, I put her furniture in storage in the basement of one of my apartment buildings on the West Side.
The furniture sat there for five years. My older son, Teddy, took the furniture when he went off to law school. The furniture was mildewed, but usable.
When I visited Teddy, I saw my mom’s furniture and suffered post-mom stress disorder. My mother’s sectional sofa meant nothing to me, but her yellow kitchen table was like a punch to my solar plexus. I had eaten at that table for my first 18 years, and now it was in marginal student-housing in Toledo, Ohio!
Unacceptable. My mother’s table belonged in the Cleveland Museum of Art. The table was worth something. It was Formica. It was 1950s. I hope my son doesn’t sell it on eBay or Craigslist.
During high school, I was historically laconic at that table. How’s school? Forget it, I ain’t talking.
My dad, for that matter, didn’t talk much either.
My entire family didn’t talk much. We didn’t watch TV during dinner either. We ate a lot of fish. Fish was cheap. Halibut was very cheap, believe it or not.
For breakfast, we ate pink grapefruit quietly.
Hitchhiking story . . . Ple-ease, no!
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE
I occasionally meet young people who lament they didn’t live through the hippie era.
They lived through nothing.
I know that feeling — living through nothing. I missed World War II and felt bad about that.
Skip Heller, a rockabilly musician, posted a video “Reflections of a 44-Year-Old Middle-aged Jewboy.” It was his reminiscence.
Heller was born in 1965; he missed not only World War II but the hippie era. What could he possibly reminisce about? Transformers?
I hitchhiked across America four times, I think. That’s worth talking about for a minute. One minute . . .
I spent eight hours at the on-ramp in Needles, California, in 100-degree heat. I counted so many Roadway trucks and “Humpin’ to Please” trucks and Consolidated Freightways trucks and Winnebagos . . . it was forgettable.
Worse, no driver ever told me the secret of life. Drivers often asked me my college major and if I knew anybody in Flint, Michigan. (I told drivers I was from Ann Arbor, close by. That got a better response than “Cleveland.”)
A man in Arkansas said he was the youngest person to ever have a heart attack. I gave him a $10 traveler’s check. That was a lot of money in 1970. You could hitchhike cross-country on $5 in the 1970s. (Five dollars equals $29 in today’s money.)
The hippies — aka freaks — had the worst cars. Alternator troubles, steering problems.
The city of Flagstaff, Arizona, didn’t allow hitchhiking. You had to walk through Flagstaff.
Jim Mandich, a Miami Dolphins star, gave me a ride out of Toledo, Ohio. He had been a standout player at Michigan. He was coming from Ann Arbor, where he had partied with former Michigan players — “studs,” he called them. (Studs die. Mandich died of cancer last year at 62.)
I hitchhiked across country with an English girl. She was cute and Jewish. The problem: she was meeting her boyfriend in California.
In Nebraska I stayed at the house of a future congressman, Mezvinsky. No, that was in Iowa. Mez got busted a decade or so later. For what, I can’t remember.
I hitchhiked too much. I should have done something more productive. My knowledge of trucking companies has yet to come in handy.
May 9, 2012 6 Comments
I remember Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. Who wrote the Fail part?
I remember Ted Williams could read the label on the ball.
I remember the Cream-O-Freeze.
I remember when the Air Force Academy sent me an application. I was only 10. I wanted a catalog.
I remember Larry and Norm Sherry of the Dodgers.
I remember Summit, the board game.
I remember Burger Chef.
I remember crepe dreidels hanging in the dining room.
I remember the biography of Robert E. Lee.
I remember my mother’s apple sauce. Always lumpy.
I remember the CTS 45 bus to the JCC.
I remember the Boy Scouts’ Life badge.
I remember my dad “hitting them out” to me in the park.
I remember playing “Exodus” on the clarinet at the sixth grade assembly. I remember playing “Margie.”
I remember the shofar player missing every single note on Rosh Hashanah.
I remember 1950-D nickels.
I remember U.N. stamp souvenir sheets.
I remember the H-bomb.
I remember Continental pants, Pedwin loafers and
I remember Chemical Bond Approach Chemistry.
I remember Charlene Cohen, homecoming
I remember “Hands Off Cuba” graffiti by the Rapid.
I remember Saturday Night at the Movies on TV.
I remember slow-dancing to “Moon River” with a
I remember the Roxy.
I remember the JCC’s vending room and how the pop machine was always broken. The milk machine worked. I got a lot of chocolate milk. Was that a parents’ plot?
I remember Walter Lippmann.
I remember my mother writing: “Bert was absent from school yesterday due to religious observances.”
I remember T.A. Davis tennis rackets.
I remember How to Play Better Tennis by Bill Tilden.
I remember Rich Greenberg lost to Bobby McKinley (Chuck’s younger brother) in the National 16-and-unders.
I remember the bell at 3:30.
I remember Harvey Greenberg got a 799 Math
and 785 Verbal.
I remember more Greenbergs.
I remember Madden Football. No, I don’t.
I remember Chap’s GTO.
I remember Geronimo, a Landmark book.
I remember Bruno Bornino’s “Big Beat” music column in the Cleveland Press. (He also wrote “Pit Stop” about cars.)
I remember when I was 21 and remembering all this and feeling old.
This post is a riff on poet Joe Brainard’s I Remember.
You may not have seen the post below. It went up this weekend. The cartoon at the end is super.
March 21, 2012 17 Comments
Jimmy Sollisch, a friend, plays basketball at age 53. But he’s hurting. Jimmy has plantar fasciitis and is temporarily out of action.
I’m glad Jimmy is hurt. Guys in their fifties, they think they’re going to be pain-free forever. It’s sick fun to watch them get zapped by the middle-age hand buzzer.
I ran into Ken Kurtz, who was on Penn’s all-star lacrosse team. Not now. In 1955. Ken is 78, but looks 65. He played singles tennis until several months ago. He said, “You have to know when to quit, but it’s impossible to know. I never know.” Ken has stopped playing lacrosse, squash, basketball and, now, singles tennis. His advice: “Take up painting.”
I said, “I already do things like that.” (Like klezmer music.)
Jimmy — the basketball player – wants to play basketball at 70. That’s like climbing Mount Everest.
Jimmy’s “painting” is cooking. He makes an excellent roasted lamb.
Sacrifice the lamb, kid. That’s the way to make it to basketball at 70.
Every decade or so, I throw out my elbow braces, thumb splints and knee braces. Sometimes I get emotionally attached to the stuff, and it’s hard to throw out certain items. Like, if you sleep with a molded arm splint for three months, you can’t just pitch it.
My friend Carl wears a knee brace when he plays tennis. I refuse. Knee braces are crutches.
I threw out my “clarinet tendinitis 1991” notes and exercise diagrams.
I did biofeedback back then. I did it just once.
I went to a blind masseuse who believed in inducing terrific pain in me. His dog should have stopped him. Deep tissue, deep purple. He was accused of rape. (Different customer.)
I have a new bag of orthotics — mostly knee braces and exercise diagrams.
I’m supposed to balance on one foot for 30 seconds with my eyes closed.
Try it. If you succeed, you are completely well.
You shouldn’t have read this. You might become “worried well.”
February 22, 2012 7 Comments
I maintained records on my bike, like car owners keep track of oil changes. Like when I last greased the hub.
I stopped with cleaned power chain in 1983. I have winged it since.
My bike has miles on it. I bought it at Heights Furniture & Toy for $169 in 1978. ($586 in today’s dollars.) It’s a 10-speed Kabuki Superlight, which is not super light. The bike has been to both oceans and several foreign countries.
It’s my wife’s fault. When I met her, she was training to be an American Youth Hostels bike trip leader. On our honeymoon, we biked in the Yucatán, where we sucked high-sulfur Mexican truck fumes on jungle roads. It sucked. We parked the bikes in Mérida and took the train to Palenque.
These days — particularly on weekends — my bike goes automatically to Chagrin Falls, 12 miles east of my garage. Chagrin Falls is very pleasant.
Chagrin Falls has ice cream shops, a popcorn shop and a bookstore. Along the way, there are hills and valleys. Novelist Don Robertson called Chagrin Falls “Paradise Falls.” The town is, except when I can’t get a free cup of water at Dave’s Cosmic Subs. Lighten up, Dave. How many stores do you own already?
When I’m in southern Ohio on the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA), my Kabuki bike is the source of ribbing from bike geeks.
I don’t mind their kidding.
My bike doesn’t mind either.
Ask the bike. Go ahead, ask the bike . . .
Chagrin Falls, January 10, 2012. Endless summer . . .
Jack Stratton’s Funklet made Kickstarter’s list of Top 12 Videos of 2011. See the videos here.
January 11, 2012 10 Comments
When Mel, the bride’s father, inquired about Yiddishe Cup’s fees, he said his grandmother had baby-sat Joel Grey (Mickey Katz’s son). Mel asked if Yiddishe Cup knew any Mickey Katz tunes.
I said, “We play more Mickey Katz songs than anybody in the world! You’ve heard us, right?”
No, he hadn’t.
I said, “Have you been under a rock for twenty-one years?”
Mel was from Cleveland. Where had he been hiding? Mel said he didn’t get around much. He used to get around. He said, “Where did you go to high school?”
“Brush,” I said.
Mel graduated from nearby Cleveland Heights High — a rival — but, nevertheless, he was OK with Brush High. He had played softball with Brush boys in a JCC league. Mel was six years old than me; I didn’t know any of his Brush buddies.
Mel’s daughter – the bride — was 31 and living in Brooklyn — Yiddishe Cup’s target demographic. I said, “Has your daughter checked out Yiddishe Cup’s Web site? It doesn’t matter if you like Mickey Katz. She’s calling the shots. ”
“Do you know Joel Schackne?” Mel said. (Schackne had been a champion tennis player at Heights High.)
“I know of him. Whose idea is the Jewish music?”
“Schackne is in Florida. He’s still playing tennis.”
“What does your daughter think about Jewish music?”
“What AZA were you in?” (AZA: a B’nai B’rith boys’ club.)
“I was in a JCC club.”
A week later, I met Bob, a cleaning supply man, and also a Heights High grad. I met him at an AIPAC meeting. Bob was not OK with Brush. He said, “Brush was a bunch of greasers and Italians!”
The AIPAC speaker, a Brush grad by the way, had left Cleveland years ago to attain multiple Ivy League degrees and become a weapons analyst with the government, maybe the CIA. He was an old friend of mine. I wanted to talk Iranian nuclear capabilities with him. The inside story. He didn’t.
Ron, a Brush graduate living in Connecticut, phoned to say he was in Cleveland at a nursing home, visiting his dying mother. Ron asked if anybody was still in town. (“Anybody” meant “Our Crowd.”)
I said, “Nobody is here.” Most of our gang had left. The Jewish guys still in town were, for the most part, entrepreneurs and family-business owners. A couple local guys had even made serious money. One, who built cell phone towers, was a playboy with femme fatales poolside.
Howard, a Brush grad in New York, called. He was coming through Cleveland. His parents were moving to assisted living. He said we should get together.
Did I have a post–high school life?
I think so. I’m not stuck on high school. But the subject does come up. I live in my hometown. What can I say?
1. Mel didn’t hire Yiddishe Cup for his daughter’s wedding.
2. The Arcs is the nickname of Charles F. Brush High School. Brush, a Cleveland inventor, developed the arc light, which illuminated streets prior to the incandescent bulb.
A version of this post appeared in the Heights Observer online on April 26, 2011.
June 29, 2011 3 Comments
1. EAST DIVISION
The ping-pong season started several months ago, when violinist Steve Greenman called and said “I want to play ping-pong tonight.” He got tilapia out of it. Not a bad night for a single guy (soon to be married). My wife, Alice, cooked.
Ping-pong is predominately a winter sport in Cleveland. The Jewish ping-pong dean here is Valeriy Elnatanov. He’s a Russian pro who used to teach ping-pong and pilpul at Green Road Synagogue, an Orthodox shul. [Not sure about pilpul (a Talmudic study method) but he did teach Hebrew to Russians.]
Valeriy moved on to other training facilities. I saw him at the Shaker Heights community building playing top-notch Asians.
Valeriy said the best way to develop a top-spin forehand is to turn a bicycle upside-down and swat repeatedly at the spinning tire with your paddle. I never did that, but I thought about it.
When Valeriy practiced, he used dozens of balls. That’s the way to go. You bend down less.
My wife, Alice, has a good forehand slam. Steve Greenman has a steady backhand. Neither cheats. Many ping-pong players don’t toss the ball up high enough on the serve.
2. WEST DIVISION
How come documentaries about California musicians — Hal Blaine, the Sherman brothers — have poolside shots, but no outdoor ping-pong shots?
I played ping-pong on a patio in Los Angeles. You don’t forget that if you’re from the Midwest.
In the Cal movies, the musicians are sunbathing poolside. Are they embarrassed to show their ping-pong moves? (The Kids Are All Right, set in California, had an outdoor ping-pong table. No musicians playing, though.)
My father, Toby, had a childhood friend in Los Angeles, Irv Drooyan, who taught school, wrote math textbooks and played outdoor ping-pong. Toby kept in touch with Irv and one other Clevelander in California, Sol of San Diego. In the 1950s, California was just an extension of Cleveland.
These friends of my dad occasionally switched their first names — maybe to dodge anti-Semitism. Irv was Red. Sol was Al. Toby was Ted.
My introduction to outdoor ping-pong was on Red Drooyan’s patio in Woodland Hills, California, in 1962. Unforgettable because a) it was outdoors, and b) I didn’t know my dad had any friends. In Cleveland, my father had hung around exclusively with my mom’s friends and their husbands.
California was about a) stippled paddles — with a woody sound, and b) my dad with friends.
Good vibrations. Got to get back there.
To 1962 or California?
To the ping-pong table.
[For goys only. In Ralph Solonitz's ping-pong table illustration, "milchidike" refers to dairy and "fleishidike" means meat. The two major divisions in the Kosher League.]
Please see the post below too. It’s raunchy and new.
Yiddishe Cup celebrates Purim this Sat. (March 19), 7:45- 9 p.m., Park Synagogue, Cleveland Heights. Open to all. Free.
March 16, 2011 9 Comments
Rich Greenberg, a former tennis pro, thanked me for the blues harmonica lessons I gave him 32 years ago. My lessons — in conjunction with pros’ instructional videos on YouTube — had helped him, Rich wrote in an email.
Rich ended with “Do you still play tennis?”
What? Tennis? Tennis was another lifetime ago, Rich. And what exactly is “tennis”? Hacker tennis, club level, or college caliber?
When Rich and I were in high school, tennis was a tree of life to lay hold fast of. Rich shoveled the snow off the courts at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights. Nuts. He played so well he wound up on the UC-Santa Barbara team. Maybe the Cali coaches needed a court shoveler. (Rich has been out west for decades.)
Rich taught me an important life lesson: how to wait. I waited six months every winter to play tennis. I wasn’t going to shovel courts. Think about it: no snow blowers in the 1960s, and the courts had to be perfectly dry. And right after you shoveled, it would snow again.
Contemplating tennis — and not playing — was like practicing music without an instrument. It was doable, but not much fun. I had Bill Tilden’s book on singles and Gardnar Mulloy’s doubles book. There was no tennis on TV.
I wasn’t in Rich’s league. (Correction: I was in Rich’s league. Rich went to Cleveland Heights High and I went to Brush High. Heights and Brush were in the Lake Erie League. No question, though, Rich was much better than me.)
Tim Gallwey in The Inner Game of Tennis recommends watching the spin on the ball. Focus on the rotation of the ball’s seams. The author of The Inner Game of Music said something similar. Focus. I can’t remember on what. (Not as good a book as Inner Tennis.)
I sometimes focus on a green cot, as a mental image, when I play a concert. The cot is an emergency-shelter Red Cross cot. Keeps me calm.
When I was a sub on a gig, the bandleader shouted at me: “Listen!” Meaning “Listen to the music!” Maybe I was distracted by the hors d’oeuvre.
In my twenties, after college, I thought tennis was just stupid. Dumb. Existentially dumb. Two adults hitting a ball over a net. That was not solving any world problem.
I hung out with Rich at his tennis pro job in Rocky River, Ohio. Rich said he couldn’t teach the middle-aged women — the 35 year olds — anything new. He said, “I wish tennis hadn’t boomed. It would force me to do something else.” He spent time arranging interclubs between “our girls” and Lorain.
Rich, in his email, asked if I still played harmonica. I said I sometimes play harp in first position on the song “Tsena, Tsena.”
“First position” means playing diatonically (no sharps, no flats). It is usually simple non-bluesy melodies. First position, initially, is insipid and idiotic, just like tennis.
Then you grow up.
Please see the next post too. It’s an original video from Klezmer Guy Studios.
January 26, 2011 2 Comments
In the Midwest, you need to know something about football. You don’t need to know much.
Here’s what you need to know today:
1. Rich Rodriguez — the just-fired Michigan football coach — is going to the University of Pittsburgh, where the brand-new Pitt coach allegedly beat up a woman and just got fired. (This is speculation, the Rich-to-Pitt bit.)
2. The Big Ten has 12 teams. The league should add the University of Toledo and put a lid on new powerhouses.
3. I told my sons I was going to watch the Mississippi State – Michigan game on New Year’s. They laughed at me. Who cared about that game, they said. (I didn’t dare watch.)
4. My Ohio State-alum dad, of blessed memory, is breathing easy for another year; Ohio State beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
5. The Sugar Bowl is the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Next year take a charter flight to the Manischewitz Borscht Bowl. Everybody wears pink and knocks back “l’chaim” vodka shots. It’s in Pinsk.
6. My former neighbor, a rabid Michigan fan, lit a votive candle after every Wolverines touchdown. The candle triggered a music box that played the Michigan fight song. Those were the days. Michigan won a lot. (About four years ago.)
7. What’s Michigan going to do for a coach? You tell me.
8. If you want to see real, quality, cheatin’ football, go down south.
9. Maybe you don’t want to see football. Then please see the Weekend Klezmer Report,
10. Klezmer star Michael Winograd is bar-storming the West Coast, playing nearly every bar and bar mitzvah between Los Angeles and Oregon. Tomorrow The Wino is at Havurah Shir Hadash in Ashland, Oregon. Kikhl-off is 8 p.m.
[Kikhl is "sugar cookie."]
Thanks to journalist Stan Urankar for the Rich Rod–to-Pitt tip.
January 7, 2011 2 Comments
My father’s triumvirate of sports heroes was Bob Feller, Harrison Dillard and Jesse Owens.
My father, Toby, went to Ohio State during the Owens era. My dad lived in the stadium where Owens ran. (The stadium had a dorm in it.)
Who was Dillard? I think he won gold medals in track in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics. [No, it was the 1948 and 1952 Olympics.]
Toby bought an insurance policy from Bob Feller. Toby bought the insurance mostly so he could say, “Bob Feller was in my house.” Feller inscribed How to Pitch to me. I was 12. “To my friend Albert.” Ouch.
Last week’s obituaries on Bob Feller mentioned Feller’s father’s influence on young Bob’s pitching.
Ditto: my dad and my pitching. My father taught me the big-kick windup like Feller (or Marichal) in our driveway.
I didn’t pitch my first year in Little League. I played outfield.
I ran into my Little League manager, Mr. Feldman, at a Yiddishe Cup gig. I didn’t recognize him, but he knew me. Mr. Feldman mentioned his sports triumvirate: Zuckerman, Hyatt and Stone.* Zuckerman, shortstop, became a successful real estate developer in Atlanta; Hyatt (formerly Zylberberg), infield, had been a U.S. Senate candidate and was now a multi-millionaire macher in California; and Stone, first base, was a doctor. “You were good boys,” Mr. Feldman said.
My dad became manager the next year. One of Toby’s lessons to the boys was about nepotism. I pitched.
I didn’t throw the “very small ball,” as Casey Stengel described Feller’s ball. I threw the large beach ball. Luckily, I was a lefty, which rattled a few batters.
The big lesson from Bob Feller’s How to Pitch: Pitch balls. Pitch insurance. Keep pitching.
* “Stone, first base” — in Mr. Feldman’s triumvirate — is made up. I can’t remember who the third player Mr. Feldman mentioned, but the player was definitely a doctor or lawyer.
December 24, 2010 3 Comments
1. RAH-RAH AND SO-SO
A simple fall pleasure is walking around Shaker Lakes listening to Michigan football on the radio.
I came by this diversion fairly recently. My older kids went to liberal arts colleges with no football teams. I figured my youngest child would too. I took him to Oberlin on a college tour and said, “Can you see yourself here?”
“In a word, Dad, no,” he said. “There’s not enough sports talk.” Jack, the youngest, wanted rah-rah.
He went to Michigan and got rah-rah. We rehashed the football games his freshman year.
I monitored the university’s Web site like a helicopter parent. I told my son to audition for the pep band, the Hillel a cappella group, the school’s percussion group and anything else he could think of. I wanted him to find a niche at the Big U.
And I wanted Michigan to win at football, because my son was so rah-rah.
I followed the football games on the Internet my son’s first year. I didn’t know about the games on Cleveland radio. That was stupefying — the Internet — like staring at a tickertape: Joe Blow . . . 3 yards . . . 3rd and 5 . . . M 46 yard line.”
Then I serendipitously found Michigan football on Cleveland radio. No more squinting at the computer. The announcer promoted Detroit pizza parlors and grocery stores. I felt like a ham operator picking up an exotic locale. “Gratiot at 8 Mile.” CKLW radio — the border blaster — was sending out the Wolverine word from Windsor.
Michigan football isn’t on CKLW this year. It’s on a weak FM station from Detroit. End of my fall bliss.
The team used to be good, then suddenly stunk. The university hired a new coach.
I asked my son what he thought of the new guy.
He said, “Who is it?”
He didn’t know about Rich Rod! (Rich Rodriquez, the new coach.) Jack had fallen under the sway of the football atheists at the Residential College and music school.
I knew more Michigan football than my son. I was now rah-rah and he was so-so. Odd.
2. SONNY, LISTEN
A PhD classical music student at the co-op house in Ann Arbor didn’t like my practicing. He didn’t like jazz, period. And he didn’t like my girlfriend. He called her a “hole,” which was black slang around 1970. This guy, though, was a tall blond Texan.
Tex would answer the house phone and announce to one and all: “Bertie, your hole is on the line.” (“Bertie” wasn’t too cool either.)
I punched him. He was seated on the couch in the co-op living room. I hit him and his coffee went flying. He stopped bugging people — at least me — after that. He thought I was nuts.
I wasn’t nuts. I haven’t attacked anybody since, except a teenager I punched when I taught at an ESL school. (Different story.)
In 1970 Miles Davis had just released Bitches Brew, the first big-time jazz-rock album. I borrowed recordings of Hank Crawford, Lou Donaldson and Rufus Harley from black students. I went to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit to see Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt and Roland Kirk.
Tex became an administrator in the Michigan music school. Mazel tov. He stayed there forever.
My youngest kid went to music school at Michigan. Mazel tov. I occasionally went to see my son perform and kept an eye out for Tex. I didn’t run into him. I was ready to apologize, unless he called me Bertie again.
Bertie? That numbskull, I swear . . .
October 13, 2010 6 Comments
I played a crummy clarinet, blasting against the side of a barn door on a bike trip in rural Ohio. I nearly destroyed my lip.
Last summer my friend Mark Schilling from Japan wanted to ride the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA), so I couldn’t very well say: “Mark, I’m passing on GOBA. I have a big gig coming up and need to practice.”
I had to practice for Yiddishe Cup’s twentieth anniversary concert, which was the day after the bike tour.
Some musicians don’t need to practice; they practiced in music school and can wing it as adults. I didn’t go to music school. I have to feel the notes in my fingers and brain almost daily before a big show.
My borrowed cheap clarinet had decayed pads, squeaky keys and cracked dirty reeds. The mouthpiece had layers of caked lip gunk. The axe was plastic and generic. No name. I got it from a friend. Ray-somebody in Sioux City, Iowa, had once repaired it; his card was in the case.
Why didn’t I have a back-up axe of my own? Was this an example of rigid thinking on my part? I had put my professional clarinet through so much — parades and other outdoor indignities — and didn’t own a back-up. For example, I should have had a plastic horn for the 2004 Israel Independence Day parade when we marched outside in 40 degrees. (One Yiddishe Cup musician went AWOL on that parade because he didn’t play under 50.)
On the GOBA trip, I played next to the Wood County Fairgrounds sheep barn. If I had stood in the middle of the horse-showing ring and played — without the barn wall to bounce sound off — I would have blown my lip out even more.
I had to practice high notes, which cheap clarinets don’t do well. You need a decent mouthpiece and a quality reed. I bit down hard and tore my lower, inside cheek.
Nobody on the bike tour – about 2,500 riders — complained about my playing. Midwesterners, particularly bicyclists, are very tolerant and polite.
I also practiced at a high school football field. That town, Elmore, had a bass drone coming from the Ohio Turnpike a block away.
I used cortisone cream on my cheek.
The final day of the ride, my friend and I performed at the bike rally’s talent show. Mark and I had written a song about aching backs, bad food and smelly port-a-potties. So had all the other contestants. The difference: our tune had a klezmer clarinet.
We riffed on the melody “Nayer Sher,” a.k.a. the “Wedding Samba,” popularized by Xavier Cugat. I had heard that 1950s tune on Muzak in a Cleveland grocery store. The song had crossover appeal.
But we didn’t win.
A barbershop trio did. They sang about tandem bike riders smelling each other’s gas. We hadn’t thought of that.
Irwin Weinberger, a veteran GOBA cyclist and Yiddishe Cup’s singer, came in second. Irwin inserted port-a-potty lyrics into the Kinks’ “Lola.”
Irwin hadn’t practiced all week. Irwin is a natural. And he’s a gas.
GOBA begins June 20 in Logan, Ohio. The GOBA encampment is half Pilot Gas rest stop, half Cabela’s. There are six semi-haulers and many tents. The semis carry the cyclists’ baggage. Two of the semis are actually mobile shower trucks (which are sometimes used for natural disasters). There is close-quarters snoring on the football field, with hundreds of tents pitched within several feet of each other. Rated: Difficult.
Yiddishe Cup plays the post-parade concert at Parade The Circle 1 p.m. this Sat. (June 12). Wade Oval, Cleveland. Traffic tip: Ride your bike to the parade and park in the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op lot.
June 9, 2010 3 Comments
1. GOT A CARD? NO!
I was a guest at a wedding where the band’s sign was bigger than LeBron James. The banner was eight-foot, like something you might see on a telephone pole announcing “125 years of excellence in education.”
The wedding reception was elegant, but the band’s sign was totally Bedford Auto Mile. The sign read “More Acts, Better Music, Higher Standards.”
Higher Standards? The bandleader was Italian. I knew him. Roman standard bearers? The bandleader said to me, “It’s better to be a guest than to work, huh?”
What? I always prefer playing over schmoozing.
When Yiddishe Cup does weddings, I hand out business cards. Nothing gaudy. And I don’t shovel them out. These cards are almost collectors’ items. I’m not going to pass them out willy-nilly.
Everybody already knows Yiddishe Cup. If you say “klezmer band” in Ohio, it’s us. Now, if we’re in Buffalo, N.Y., for example, I might go heavier on cards. But I don’t put out a tray. That’s too dental office.
Granted, we feature Yiddishe Cup’s logo on our bass drum. Our logo is cool, whimsical and tasteful, and it gets us some gigs. (Ralph Solonitz designed the logo.)
At the “Higher Standards” wedding, I met a businessman who did music production as a sideline. I asked for his card. He didn’t have one. And he had 100 employees, he said.
He had achieved placid-plus status: no card.
My goal is to be him.
2. BALLISTIC / LOADING / CAVS
A Yiddishe Cup musician went ballistic when he saw a college football game, or so he thought, off in the distance. He said, “I’m so through with this country’s obsessions with sports!”
Yiddishe Cup was loading-in at a student union by a college stadium.
The Yiddishe Cup musician had fouled. Here’s why: (1.) The college kids were playing lacrosse, not football. (2.) It was a Division III game. The stadium was small, with no crowd to speak of. (3.) The kids were getting some exercise; this was not a big money, faux-pro game.
Yiddishe Cup musicians, for the most part, are not up on today’s sports scene. For instance, I just learned a basketball shot “from downtown” means a three-pointer. And I’m wondering what “the post” is. I watched several basketball games lately.
I have an agreement with my cousin George, a serious sports fan, to go to the Cavs victory parade. I want to be there. Depends on my Depends though, because I’ll be very old. Also, depends if it’s raining. I’m fair weather.
Last Sunday Yiddishe Cup had a gig, a pre-Shavuot Torah dedication/celebration, which was almost postponed to accommodate LeBron James’ reading of the Book of Kells. The Cavs were scheduled to play the Celtics then. (Cleveland lost prior, on Thursday, so the playoff series ended, and everything worked out fine for the Torah dedication.)
About championships . . . My father, Toby, promised to take me to the World Series, but the Tribe never made it when I was growing up. My dad, instead, took me to Ohio State homecoming games.
I took my kids to the 1992 OSU homecoming game. The Ohio Stadium scoreboard lit up: This Sat. at the Wexner Center, Don Byron Salutes Mickey Katz.
What next, Bucks? “Fight the Team Across the Field” in Yiddish?
Don Byron played OSU, I think, because Columbus resident Les Wexner, the billionaire owner of The Limited, paid Byron’s band to entertain Wexner’s elderly mother, who probably requested the Mickey Katz show because she didn’t want to fly to New York. That’s the only logical explanation. Don Byron never played any other Mickey Katz–tribute shows in Ohio.
If you’re a Cubs fan, or whatever, be quiet about your sports-induced suffering. You don’t know anything.
May 19, 2010 3 Comments
Terry wanted to sell Notre Dame paraphernalia from an empty store I had across from St. James Church. He had just come back from South Bend, Ind., with a carload of merchandise. [Terry isn't his real name.]
He sang in two church choirs, knew the bishop, and knew the town’s development director, Kelly. He knew the mayor too, FitzGerald. And probably knew the former building director, Fitzgerald.
Terry wanted the rent lowered.
I couldn’t figure out if he had any money.
He kept talking choirs. He sang in two — St. Ignatius and St. Malachi. That wasn’t money.
I told him my building manager sang in a choir too — a Ukrainian one. “Call the manager to see the inside of the store,” I said. “He lives in an apartment right above the store.”
“You own the apartments above too?” Terry said. “I’m looking for a place.”
That was a bad. Maybe Terry’s car trunk had all his worldly possessions, plus the Notre Dame gear.
I told him I had a vacancy upstairs. “Too bad about Notre Dame’s final twenty-two seconds against Michigan,” I said.
He didn’t want to talk football. I couldn’t blame him . . . Michigan and Notre Dame.
Terry didn’t rent — the store or the apartment.
I’ve only had a couple commercial tenants who also lived in the building. I had a photographer who lived in the basement of his shop. That was free living quarters. The photographer installed a dishwasher, stall shower and kitchen. He was down there for decades, and the city never looked. That photographer should have had a bumpsticker: “Thank God I’m a Morlock.” (In the 1980s, ethnic bumperstickers were a fad in Cleveland. “Thank God I’m Slovenian” was the most popular, I think. “Thank God I’m Jewish” was special order.)
I had a barber who lived over her store. She paid extra. Her store had a window sign: “Fighter Chick Parking Only.” She was a lesbian Puerto Rican cage fighter who got along with everybody. (She’s still there, but doesn’t live in the apartment.)
I had a Chinese tenant who lived beneath his meditation and “healing arts” studio. He lasted 10 years. (He didn’t live under the store all those years. Only after his divorce.) If you develop a following, you can make it in a business like healing. Yoga is another field like that. Charisma-driven. I have a yoga store that seems to be doing well. The owner is very outgoing.
I had a tenant who re-sold children’s toys. She left me a basement of orphaned Fisher-Price kids. A whole basement: the kids, plus broken schoolhouses, gas stations and school buses. Also, Little Tykes picnic tables and Big Wheels. I wish she had left a Fisher-Price dump truck.
2 of 2 posts for 11/25/09
November 25, 2009 1 Comment
When I was growing up, saying “Jewish music” was like “Jewish cars.” Didn’t mean a thing.
On second thought, “Jewish cars” did mean something. It meant, for example, the Boat — an Olds 98 owned by my friend Mark’s father. The Boat had electric windows and was oceanic. (Mark was richer than the rest of us, I think. He lived by Cedar and Green roads, and his doorbell lit up.)
Years later, a West Side gentile called those humongous Detroit rides “Jew boats.” So maybe there were Jewish cars.
Re: Jewish music . . .
I learned about that at the house of another high school friend, Shelly Gordon. His parents knew Israeli and Yiddish music, cold. Shelly was rarely home. I was an adult when I got interested in Jewish music, and Shelly had already moved to Israel. (His parents were such impassioned Zionists most of the family wound up in Israel.)
Shelly’s parents were Labor Zionists (Poale Zion). They seemed to know every classic Israeli tune and how to dance and/or sing it. And the Gordon family attended a Yiddish camp in Michigan. (Farband/Jewish National Workers Alliance.)
The parents didn’t know sports, which was odd because Shelly turned into a star athlete. He played tennis for Ohio State and became a tennis pro in Israel. Shelly did that for more than 30 years. (Still at it.) He never took a private tennis lesson.
Shelly didn’t care about Jewish music; he cared about the Browns, Buckeyes and Indians. In Israel he logs on — to this day — at about 3 a.m. to catch Cleveland sports scores on the Internet. He has a yarmulke that reads “Cleveland Cavaliers.”
When I went to Jerusalem in 2006, I played The Wall. Shelly. At the Israel Tennis Center, Shelly was like Moshiach (Messiah); he had the highest seniority and everybody deferred to him. He had even beaten Andy Ram, a Wimbledon doubles champion. “Andy was 12 at the time,” Shelly pointed out.
Shelly’s dad, Sanford (the man who knew all the Hebrew tunes), never played tennis. In fact Mr. Gordon was so oblivious to sports he didn’t even sign Shelly up for Little League. Mr. Gordon was not an immigrant or DP (Displaced Person); he was a NASA scientist and full-time Zionist. Baseball meant nothing to Israelis, thus, it meant nothing to Mr. Gordon.
Shelly went to a Zionist camp in Michigan. (Habonim Camp/The Builders.)
On the flipside: My parents played tennis; didn’t collect Jewish song books; didn’t send me to any kind of camp; and my dad managed a Little League team. So I wound up playing klezmer music.
When Mrs. Gordon died last month, her body was flown from Israel to Cleveland, to Mt. Olive Cemetery. A twist on shipping an American Jewish corpse to Mt. Olive, Jerusalem. Mrs. Gordon wanted to be buried next to her late husband.
At Mrs. Gordon’s funeral, I had time to kill because the mourners, following Orthodox tradition, shoveled mounds and mounds of dirt into the grave. Took a half hour. I noticed Mr. Gordon’s tombstone said on the back side: “A kind and gentle man loved by all.” In his case, true.
Mr. Gordon was eydl (polite/refined). Also, a rocket scientist and excellent balloon twister. His wife, Beatrice, had gone to college and social work school after raising children. She wasn’t idle.
When my kids were little, I took them to the Gordons often. (The Gordon grandchildren were in Israel. That worked out well for my family.) I called Mr. and Mrs. Gordon “Beasan” behind their backs. It was a contraction of Beatrice and Sanford, as in: “Let’s go to Beasan’s for pizza and some magic tricks.”
What a pair.
1 of 2 posts for 11/11/09. Please see the post below too.
November 11, 2009 2 Comments
My father, Toby, got a letter from a Piney Woods Arkansas man, extolling my dad’s homemade foot powder: “Mr. Lesbert: Do NOT stop making the powdor! Do NOT stop!!”
Toby used to make the foot powder in the basement. The company was Lesbert Drug Co., named after my sister, Leslie, and me.
My dad stopped making the stuff. The Arkansas man was about his only customer.
Then Toby started selling cosmetics. Then he starting buying buildings . . . on and on. He was the Jewish Willy Loman. (Kind of like how klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras was the Jewish Benny Goodman.)
My best business moment: When I opened a checking account for Yiddishe Cup. My old man would have been proud; I had started a biz from scratch.
My banker was Ervin, a black man who knew all about Don Byron and klezmer. Ervin was my banker for about a year. Then he moved to another branch. I tried to follow him. Then he moved again. Screw it.
Ervin printed my checks wrong. They came out “Yiddishe Cup Klezmer Bank.” Those were keepers.
My dad admired bankers. In my dad’s pantheon of great Cleveland Jewish families, the number one clan was the Bilsky family, who started out making bagels, then went into medicine (a son or two), and ultimately started a bank. “The Bilskys make big bagels out of little bagels,” my grandmother used to say.
My dad schlepped me to banks. I remember a banker who called my dad “Teddy.” That was weird. My father’s given name was Theodore and his Jewish nickname was Toby. This banker liked to talk Tribe — baseball — and his wife’s spaghetti recipes. The banker was a “people’s person,” he said. (Maybe he was a dogs’ person too.)
My father was not a people’s person. He was the Lone Ranger. He got the mortgage and we got out of there.
My father had one record album, an Ohio State marching band LP. No, that was my record. He bought it for me. My dad had no LP records.
My dad had stock records.
Toby bought his first stock, Seaboard Air Line, when he was at Ohio State. Air line meant train line back then. An air line was the shortest distance between two points — the way the crow flies.
My father didn’t care I wound up at Michigan. He wasn’t a Buckeye nut.
My band had a trumpet player — a sub — who was such a rabid Buckeyes fan I gave him time off during a gig to watch part of the game. The other musicians were nonplussed. “It’s just a game, man.” They did not get this trumpeter had been in the OSU marching band and had attended every single Ohio State bowl game, including the Tostitos Bowl. The musicians did not get my father had given me one album, the Ohio State University Marching Band, featuring the “Buckeye Battle Cry.”
1 of 2 posts for 8/19/09. Please see post below too.
Yiddishe Cup concert: 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 20, Wiley Middle School, University Hts., Ohio.
August 19, 2009 6 Comments
Yiddishe Cup’s singer, Irwin Weinberger, wrote a sweetly nostalgic song about attending baseball games with his father, who was a Holocaust survivor. Irwin even mentioned The Rock in the song: Rocky Colavito. (Next up, a song about Harvey Kuenn for the Detroit market.)
Nowadays Irwin is laissez-faire on sports — unless the Indians get hot again.
Guys are supposed to talk about sports, and drink when they get together. I know this isn’t always a fact. One Yiddishe Cup musician calls sports a “cult.” This musician is proud he doesn’t know a thing about pro sports.
The whole town went ape-wire over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He didn’t care.
Some of the other guys did.
The previous time Yiddishe Cup was sports batty was 1997, when the Indians were in the World Series, and Yiddishe Cup was playing Simchat Torah gigs. (Goys: Simchat Torah is right after Succot.) We hid in the temple’s cloak room and caught bits of the action on a small portable TV.
Yiddishe Cup is not sports adverse. Yiddishe Cup plays a variety of fight songs, including The Yiddishe Cup Fight Song, which is a major-key freylekhs (hora) interspersed with the verbal chants of ”Go Cup Go” and “De-feat Maxwell Street.” Maxwell Street, from Chicago, is our archrival. They probably don’t know that.
Here are other fight songs you need to know in our part of the Midwest:
1. Ohio State. Use “Hang On Sloopy” or “Fight The Team Across the Field.” Sometimes we hold off on “Hang On Sloopy” until the Buckeyes score. That’s the protocol. Be aware of this if a guest is listening to the game at a gig. If you play “Hang on Sloopy” before the Bucks score, it’s bad luck.
2. Michigan’s “The Victors” is a biggie. This tune is one of the most insipid tunes of all time. Or greatest — depending.
Other requests: Michigan State, “On Wisconsin,” and the Pitt fight song, which is not the same as the Steelers’ song.
Forget about Notre Dame unless they get a Jewish quarterback again.
Be flexible. For instance, Yiddishe Cup knows “Are You From Wooster?”:
If you’re from Oberlin or Denison or Wesleyan U.,
The Scots will take good care of you before they’re through.
Wooster has many international students and a lively Hillel. Check out The COW (The College of Wooster) with your 16 year old. Great school. Yiddishe Cup has played there a half dozen times.
Another good, small Ohio school is Kenyon, which Yiddishe Cup has played a few times. Kenyon has a Medieval dining hall out of Hogwarts. The school’s swim team dines there wearing big purple capes and eats tons of priceless food. Swipe that college ID card. Free food to students, $50,000 to Dad and Mom.
DOUBLE PORTION OF MANNA . . . Bandleaders’ pay.
June 3, 2009 4 Comments
My father was particularly interested in family, money and Ohio State football. “Family” and “money” were the biggies. File both under “security.” He’d been through the Depression.
He wanted financial security. And he got it. But not before losing a lot of money on a cosmetics firm, postage-stamp machines, race horses, and a New Mexico real estate gamble. The cosmetics firm was in the basement. Like Mary Kay but not pink. Red.
His “day job” was at a key company. Car keys. The plant was right next to the King Musical Instruments factory. I got a student-model alto sax, at a steep discount, out of that. The sax’s model was “Cleveland.” (Cool. Like my ping pong table, which is a Detroiter.)
When my dad escaped the key company — after 17 years — he became self-employed (real estate). The only way to go, he claimed. Even with all the aggravation. Aggravation was one of his favorite themes. Like he’d say to me, “You ever shave anymore? You’re aggravating me. If you dress like a bum, your tenants will treat your building like trash.”
It took me a while to find the rhythm of property management.
Running a building is not for the faint-hearted . . . it’s a bunch of city building inspectors trying to nail you with violations. Put a lens cover on that fluorescent light in the basement. What’s a lens cover? It’s the rectangular plastic thing that shields the two-foot fluorescent tube, which is screwed into a metal holder called a troffer.
Tear down that 11-car garage. Why? Because the eastern wall is 20 degrees out of plumb — and will last another hundred years — but the inspector says tear it down. And get a structural engineer to do some drawings. (My father used to give the city building commissioner a fifth of whiskey at Christmas. Maybe I should try that.)
My escape hatch is jamming with my violin buddy in my basement. He sounds like Fritz Kreisler and I sound like Fritz the Cat. My violin buddy writes terrific tunes and plays everywhere. What he does is Art. What I do is Bill. It works.
MICHELLE HATES “MICHELLE” . . . Bride’s eponymous tune loathing.
May 27, 2009 3 Comments