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.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



At the Harvey Pekar (urn) Benefit, a hipster with shoulder-length dreadlocks said, “I wrote a book about my sex life.  Three-hundred forty pages.”

I asked, “You going to do another one?”

“No, I don’t think people are that interested.”

The Pekar benefit had characters, especially hippie dinosaur characters, myself included.  (Another species of dinosaurs — old ethnics — gathered three blocks down at the Slovenian Workmen’s Home to hear Bobby Kravos’ polka band.)  The Pekar benefit was at the Beachland Ballroom, formerly the Croatian Liberty Home, Collinwood.

Ex-Cleveland Heights Mayor Alan “Popo” Rapoport, age 61 — and 23 years out of politics — was back on the scene.  He danced a hora to Yiddishe Cup.  He was running for the new county council seat.

After the benefit, my wife, Alice, and I ate with Popo at a nearby cafe.  He said he was in Collinwood, in part, to put up campaign yard signs at street intersections.  He did the sign installations around midnight so he wouldn’t get a ticket for littering.

I asked Popo what he had been up to for the past two decades.

“Real estate law and probate,” he said. “Sometimes called graves and ground.”

Alice said, “You should write a blog, ‘Graves and Ground.'”

Popo said the Harvey Pekar toxicology report could take six weeks or so to come back from the coroner’s office.

At the Beachland Ballroom bar earlier, Harvey’s wife, Joyce Brabner, had told me, “Harvey had worse [prostate] cancer than I let on.”

When I offered Joyce my condolences, she said, “Some people get that confused and say ‘congratulations.'”

“That too,” I said.

I wanted to ask: “How can you suddenly croak of cancer in your sleep?”   (Harvey had died quickly at home in his bedroom.)  Instead I said, “Is there some Latin word for how he died?”

Joyce said no. Then she left the bar area. She knew many people in the Beachland, including a free-lance photographer on assignment from the New York Times.

The New York Times had run an article “The Upbeat Final Days and Busy Future of Harvey Pekar” several weeks  earlier.  In the piece, a Cleveland illustrator had said Harvey was chipper the day before he died.   Joyce wanted her side of the story out.  Harvey, upbeat?  Not likely.

Would The Times actually run three stories on Pekar?  (1.) Half-page obit.  Done.  (2.) Chipper Harvey story. Done.  And now Joyce’s take?  Joyce was the PR wizard.  Could happen.

The angle: How could Pekar not have enough money to bury himself?  The cheapest guy who ever lived!  He lectured for decent fees; had a piece — albeit small — of a Hollywood movie; and collected Social Security and government pensions.

Joyce said the gobierno had cut off Harvey’s checks, pending determination of the cause of death.  Harvey died at 70 and left no will.

Seventy is the new 60 for dying. Seventy is a raw deal.  You’re supposed to reach 80 now, al minimo.  My dad died at 69 in 1986; very few people back then considered that unusual.

Eighty-plus or bust.  Alfred Lerner, the former billionaire chairman of MBNA and owner of the Cleveland Browns, died at 68 of brain cancer a few years ago.  That was news on two fronts:  (1.) The man died so young.  (2.) The man’s mega-money couldn’t get him another decade.

The Beachland Ballroom owner talked about erecting a statue of Harvey at Lake View Cemetery.

Joyce said, “This town can’t raise enough money for a statue of Superman, let alone one for Harvey.”

Paging Harvey Pekar.  Your burial urn tsuris cries out for a new episode of American Splendor.


1. There was talk of putting up a Superman statue in Glenville, the Cleveland neighborhood where two high school boys created Superman in the 1930s.

2. The sentence “Your burial urn tsuris cries out for a new
episode . . .” is stolen, in large part, from writer/critic Mark Schilling.
2 of 2 posts for 8/11/10

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