The Jazz Temple was a former Packard showroom at Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue. Coltrane and Dinah Washington played there. The Jazz Temple was in business from 1960 to 1963. I passed the Jazz Temple weekly on my way to Sunday school at The Temple, the gold-domed Reform temple in University Circle.
Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was the head rabbi at The Temple. He once spoke at the United Nations, advocating for the founding of the State of Israel. Rabbi Silver’s son, Dan, was the assistant rabbi. Dan played football at Harvard and occasionally wrote for the Cleveland Edition.
At Sunday school, kids were mostly from Shaker Heights. One kid got a ride in a limo to temple. The driver wore a chauffeur’s cap. The limo wasn’t a Rolls; it was a Buick station wagon.
I couldn’t grasp how temple — the word — fit into the Jazz Temple. Was Jazz a religion too? Many years later, I met former beatniks who had actually gone to shows at the Jazz Temple.
The Jazz Temple was blown up in 1963. Somebody didn’t like the club or the owner, Winston Willis, a controversial black businessman. At The Temple religious school, we students attended services every Sunday morning to hear Rabbi Silver. (Services were on Sunday, not Saturday, in the 1950s at Silver’s.) Rabbi Silver looked like God. Nowadays, at The Temple East in Beachwood, there is a Abba Hillel Silver memorial study. The rabbi’s desk is laid out like he just stepped out for lunch. He died in 1963, just six days after Kennedy got murdered.
A slightly different version of this appeared 9/5/12. If you need baseball stuff, see my story at City Journal.
November 2, 2016 5 Comments
Hi, Cubs Fans.
I’ve got one word for you: Go Tribe.
I post here every Wednesday.
I had an essay in the Chicago Tribune,“Don’t Be Greedy, Chicago . . . “, the other day.
October 26, 2016 1 Comment
After college I returned to Cleveland and hung around Case Western Reserve University to keep my sanity. I wanted the college bubble. I was at Case every chance I got. At a Case party a medical illustrator asked me what I did, and I said, “I manage apartment buildings.” She walked away. Marcy — a friend at the party — said, “It’s not in her experience — apartment building management.” Marcy was a grad student in organizational behavior. I couldn’t see grad school.
A woman asked me, “Are you in OB?”
“No, I’m not in medical school.”
“OB is organizational behavior.”
“I’m not in that either.”
Apartment building management. What more could I say — want to hear my harmonica? I shut up. Docs, nutritionists, organizational behaviorists, and medical students. I went up to another medical illustrator. Illustrators are arty. She wouldn’t talk to me. (Could have been other factors — not going there.)
Marcy wrote her OB thesis on the “event of play in a closed group.” For a while, I was in her closed group. Marcy’s parents had a mansion outside of New York City with a quarter-mile driveway. I never saw the house but I heard about it. Her dad was on the board of trustees of a major foreign university. I blew it.
“So many Harvard people here!” a woman said, walking past Marcy and me. Three Harvard people: 1) The host, an OB grad student 2) my friend Marcy 3) a man who was on his way to D.C. to be a lobbyist. Harvard people were on their way, and I was in Cleveland, maybe forever. Tenants called about low water pressure and no heat. Tenants mailed in flecks of peeling paint with notes like “I”m taking $10 off my rent because of this.”
I’m in real estate. I say that now. It’s OK when you’re over 30. The night my father died, my mother and I spent hours sorting business checks on the dining room table, waiting to go to the funeral home. I’ve been dealing with bills ever since.
I Googled Marcy. She’s a professor at a college in Massachusetts. (Not Harvard.) I should message her. I won’t. Too awkward. Remembering this — also awkward.
A version of this post appeared in Belt Magazine 2/19/15.
I had another op-ed in the New York Times, on Monday, about Trump, taxes and me. Hundreds of comments.
I own the Times. Sulzberger > Stratton. My dad did that name change.
October 19, 2016 3 Comments
I post up here every Wednesday. Subscribe if you want a weekly dose.
By the way, the “drummer in the Michigan Wolverines women’s basketball pep band” has a new record out today: The Beautiful Game. The band, Vulfpeck, has been on Colbert and appeared at Bonnaroo. (The album is available on Bandcamp.)
If you’re a book editor and want to read my non-fiction book proposal, Landlord, contact Eric Myers at Dystal & Goderich Literary Management.
October 16, 2016 5 Comments
I like to tour all kinds of buildings: retail space, offices, apartments, warehouses. I get a kick from them all. I know — not everybody gets this high. At 21 I bough my first double, on Eddington Road in Cleveland Heights. Now I own hundreds of units. My phone number is everywhere — all my lobbies. I have nothing to hide. The calls: “My tub overflowed. I need an ark” . . . “My ceiling fell on my bed. Lucky I wasn’t sleeping” . . . “My stove smells like carbon monoxide” . . . “My cat is dying from black mold.”
I love it. When I see a building that throws a nice bottom line, my heart skips a beat. If you hear of anything, give me a call.
October 11, 2016 1 Comment
1. Theory has nothing to do with Vulfpeck.
2. Vulfpeck takes chances and, yes, they occasionally screw up.
3. Vulfpeck locks, loads and listens.
4. Pyrotechnics are OK with Vulfpeck.
5. Be chatty, then shut up, then be chatty.
6. Feelings are always appropriate.
7. Vulfpeck’s X-axis is tragedy, its Y-axis is comedy. Plot it.
8. and 9. are proprietary. (Hint: “8” involves blood and “9” is about horse-race handicapping.)
10. To get Vulfpeck’s upcoming album on opening day (Oct 16), sign up here:
October 5, 2016 1 Comment
There was mold on the window sill and black spots on the bathroom ceiling, probably because the tenant never opened the window to her bathroom. She called the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, and the county called the city, and the city told me to get rid of the mold, preferably by knocking down every wall in the bathroom and replacing them with drywall. Destroy a village. I called a back-up drywall guy, who said he’d there Monday. “What if you’re not there?” I said.
“Then I’ll be in the morgue,” he said.
He didn’t show. I called McNeeley, who said he could be there in 10 days. No thanks. (My main guy was busy.) I found Dirk on Craigslist. Not such a great name, but he showed.
“You seem like a nice guy,” I said, “but you never know with Craigslist.”
“You never know,” he said.
He painted over the mold. No new drywall. I used Dirk a season then he disappeared. I never got entirely comfortable with his name.
September 28, 2016 3 Comments
Welcome to my sound. Right now I’m at the corner bar making a lot of noise. I can knock over beer bottles with my booming voice. I sweep a room, no question.
I see blood droplets and people screaming. I’m going to broadcast this mess.
Don’t talk to me about tinnitus! We’re not living in an abbey, folks. Wake up. Hang some string from your ears. Make some noise!
[Some of this was stolen from the Poetry Project Newsletter Feb/March ’14.]
Oh, to be in England
September 21, 2016 No Comments
I write a lot about women. My metier is feelings. I once did a piece on Erma La Douce, who I saw at the Roxy in 1965. My wife didn’t like the article, so I’m not linking to it here. I also wrote a good essay about Dorothy Stratten, the Playboy playmate who was killed. My wife didn’t like that one either. No link. Lately I’ve been writing a lot about real estate and klezmer.
My high school friend Dave just stopped in. Dave likes to talk about how he schtupped his next-door neighbor — this was 40 years ago — at the Pink Motel on Lake Shore Boulevard. The Pink Motel barmaid, Jan, had a tattoo on her left ankle — Greek letters from her Kent State sorority.
Enough. The Mazeltones, a now-defunct Seattle klezmer band, played a few Sephardic tunes because many early Seattle Jewish settlers were from Rhodes, Greece . . .
September 14, 2016 4 Comments
A Protestant church hired Yiddishe Cup. About time. Ninety-eight percent of America isn’t Jewish, so that’s a market. The church music director asked if I wanted the communion table moved. For one, I didn’t know Protestants do communion. But this church did — twice a month. The music director moved the communion table to the narthex. Interesting word. Also, there was a goodwill offering. The minister is called “pastor,” not “minister.”
Please check out my essay “Papa Won’t Preach” at City Journal today. It’s about how “a love of music unites a father and son,” and specifically about the Vulfpeck show in Central Park tonight (Wed. Sept 7). Alice Stratton will be at that concert, and will no doubt jump on stage and do the “Funky Duck” with the band, so if you’re in NYC, be at the show!
September 7, 2016 4 Comments
I grew up in New York and never liked it there. I went to college in Ohio. I’m never going back east. To do what? Live in Williamsburg and write a blog about beer?
My roommate at Kenyon College took me to his hometown, Shaker Heights, a couple times. Cleveland has lawns and you don’t pay $2000/month for a one-bedroom apartment. I moved there. I have a one-bedroom for $850. Tricked out too — marble counter tops and a dishwasher. My dad thinks I’m crazy. He said I should enroll in accounting school at NYU.
I work in property management in Cleveland. I’ve gone back to New York once. I can’t stand it. Going to the deli for a sandwich is a major deal — the crowds, the lines, the elevator. People say I’m going the wrong way. Wrong! I am Jay Gatz in reverse. For a million dollars I could buy almost all of Cleveland. And I will.
August 31, 2016 6 Comments
1. Eat your fist once a week.
2. Sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” every morning. It aligns you. It starts with a major triad, 5-3-1.
3. If you’re blood isn’t bright red, eat cheese immediately.
4. Eat sardines. Chicken of the Sea, lightly smoked in oil, is your best good bet.
5. Avoid fad diets.
6. Drink a shot glass of olive oil once a day.
7. Don’t knock Miller Lite.
8. Exercise at least two minutes an hour.
9. Catholics: carry smartphones. Sainthood is difficult to prove if you don’t have evidence.
10. Eat a lot of marshmallows. They aid your stomach in absorbing the flavonoids.
11. Arby’s Horsy Sauce is better for you than tomato sauce.
A slightly different version of this post appeared here 11/27/13.
Vulfpeck’s Kickstarter for its new album, The Beautiful Game, is up. Click on this link to contribute.
August 24, 2016 5 Comments
Nobody cares about jazz except me and a couple random Berklee freshmen. I’ve played with Frank Sinatra, Jr. That was the darkest year of my life. Vegas wasn’t meant for a 20 year old. I gigged with Chick Corea. His drummer quit and I got the call. I was only 22.
I’ve been a music professor for about 10 years. That’s the best gig for jazzers these days. I want to enroll in the creative writing class at the college here, but the English chairman says all the writing classes are full. Let me in! I want to write a book on how we reverse-engineer musicians. We teach kids technique but none of the spiritual aspects of music. Think about folk musicians. They don’t get nervous and take beta-blockers. They grew up with their music. It’s part of their culture, like food.
There are maybe two people who give a shit about jazz — me and a kid at Berklee. I hope he buys my book.
August 17, 2016 2 Comments
We played a 90th birthday party, where the celebrant’s daughter, age 65, sat about a foot from the band and requested tune after tune. She liked Mickey Katz parodies and knew a lot of other Jewish classics. For instance, she knew the “Russian Sher.” She said she had grown up on Hello Solly, an album by Mickey Katz.
And she had never heard of Yiddishe Cup! This daughter had lived in Cleveland her entire adult life. Yiddishe Cup has played everywhere on Cleveland’s East Side — every temple, park, club, every inch. Was she house-bound?
I Googled the daughter. Facebook said she “studied at The Ohio State University, lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and listens to Yiddishe Cup.” I told her to add that last part. I bet she’ll take it down.
August 10, 2016 2 Comments
Courtlin passed out in the apartment lobby, so a cop called me: “He [Courtlin] set up a picnic on your landing with some 24-ouncers,” the cop said.
“To his credit, Courtlin has his socks on,” the cop said.
A tenant discovered Courtlin an hour earlier in the lobby. I told the tenant the trespasser was fairly harmless — no felony convictions, just criminal trespassing and disorderly conducts. She was OK with that; she didn’t say “I’m moving,” which would have been in line.
The cop said, “He goes to the well — apartment lobbies — for a while until he’s arrested, then he goes someplace else.”
The criminal hearing is in a couple weeks.
. . . Done. He got three days in jail. He’ll be back.
Yiddishe Cup plays 7 p.m. tomorrow (Thurs., Aug. 4) on the lawn at John Carroll U., University Hts., Ohio. Free. Indoors if raining. Free ice cream, kids!
August 3, 2016 4 Comments
I throw wiener roasts at my cottage on Lake Erie. I invite Catholics from Rocky River, Jews from Beachwood, and generics from all over the city. I wonder if my guests come for the lake or me? I hold raffles, we play cards. There’s booze and gambling.
Funny: in Cleveland very few people live close to Lake Erie, so the lake is a big deal. My house — in Cleveland Heights — is six miles from the lake.
Bill Wallace, an old friend from Washington D.C., is coming to town for the wiener roast. Yiddishe Cup will play klezmer music until 10 p.m., then we’ll go into “Wild Thing”-type music. Yiddishe Cup’s former drummer, Don Friedman, will sing “Mustang Sally.” Is that an attraction? Not likely. The lake is the attraction.
July 27, 2016 4 Comments
The building manager called at 2:48 a.m. and said water was pouring from 202 into 102; the manager couldn’t get into 202 because our extra key was missing and the tenant wasn’t home. Take the door down?
The door came down at 5 a.m., right off the hinges. Sludge was backing into 202 and 102 from 302.
At 11 a.m. a tenant’s ceiling fell in. I said, “We just spent $8,500 on a new roof for your part of the building. It better not be water coming in through the roof. I bet it’s coming through the window well.” There were five inches of rain in the window well.
The above paragraphs describe two different incidents, in case you’re confused.
Water goes wherever it wants. It’s not carpet.
July 21, 2016 No Comments
Steve, the building manager said, “I got a call last night at 3:51 a.m. I was thinking it’s a tenant with a ceiling that fell on his head, but no, the guy wanted to rent an apartment. Man, did I light him up. That fool — 3:51 a.m!”
“Was he drunk?” I said.
“No, he wasn’t drunk! He said he had a dilemma. He said, ‘I’m in a dilemma.’ I said, ‘You think so? You also think this is standard business hours, too, or are you trying to get a jump on the market, you idiot!’”
Next subject: “Hey, did Billy give you the rent?” I said.
“Yes, I got the rent from your pal Billy,” Steve said. “Billy? That’s his legal name. What kind of person names his kid Billy.” Billy had flicked cigarette butts out his window onto parked cars below. One night he and his buddies flicked 30 butts. I wrote Billy a letter to straighten up and he did. Don’t knock Billy.
“That guy — calling at 3:51 am,” Steve said. “No, I don’t think so! Are there any boundaries to human stupidity?”
“Billy” is a pseudonym.
I wrote this piece, “How Much Money Can I Make Off Trump’s Convention?”, for yesterday’s New York Times online.
July 20, 2016 4 Comments
I post a new story here every Wednesday.
The Times didn’t activate the “comments” button on my Republican National Convention essay. If you want to comment on the piece, you can fire away here.
July 19, 2016 3 Comments
My husband is a studio photographer and makes zero money. Even worse: I just lost my job as a teacher. My husband hides in his darkroom. He should donate his darkroom to the Smithsonian and get a real job. We’ve been married 19 years ago and 16 years of those years have been a huge mistake. He shops on the Internet all day for metrosexual bullshit like cameras, clothes and wine. I’m screwed. What should I do?
July 13, 2016 2 Comments