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.



I see Hankus Netsky, the leader of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, every couple years.

He never remembers my name.

I don’t hold that against him.  His best greeting is “How is your Mickey Katz project coming?”  (Yiddishe Cup is at times a Mickey Katz cover band.)

I’m flattered.  Hankus remembers something about me.

How many musicians does Netsky see in a week?  A lot.  He teaches at the New England Conservatory, leads a well-known klezmer band, does music projects at the Yiddish Book Center, and plays in a world music group.

I’m Netsky to some people.  I don’t know these people but they know me. For example, Oberlin and Cleveland State students attend Yiddishe Cup gigs, looking for term-paper material, and I don’t remember who they are when they call me three months later.

Hankus Netsky

I wonder who says to Netsky:  “Sorry, I don’t remember your name.”

Nobody says that to Netsky.  Obama doesn’t, Romney doesn’t, Perlman doesn’t.  Sapoznik doesn’t.

Netsky, the Great One . . .


1. Hankus Netsky’s wife is Clara Netsky.  Say that.  (Don Friedman, Yiddishe Cup’s drummer, concocted this pun.)

2. Ring Lardner Jr. said a well-known person will not remember you unless you’ve been introduced at least five times.  (This Lardner Jr. factoid courtesy of  Mark Schilling.)

3. Hankus Netsky is a great guy.  One of the nicest, smartest, most considerate guys on the klezmer scene.  Seriously.


Qué pasa, Harvey Pekar? Vos machst du, Michael Wex? . . .



Harvey Pekar’s reputation took off on December 31, 1979, when he got a rave in the national press — The Village Voice — for the first time. But he wasn’t happy.

He told me in 1980, “Movies, interviews — it all falls through. Maybe I’m bowed — my back is short. I’ve got to become more famous. If you’re not a doctor in this town [Cleveland], you’re stuck. The comic-book thing has picked up some, but it doesn’t mean anything in this town. I’d love a groupie to screw, listen to records with, and leave me alone.”

Harvey’s woe-is-me schtick was no schtick; he was down and out. Even after he became famous — after the movie American Splendor — he kvetched a lot: he had money worries, he said; his family scene was precarious; his health was tenuous; and his toilet handle jiggled. Harvey was the guy with the perpetual toothache who thought happiness was not having a toothache. He never ran out of material.

After American Splendor, the movie, Harvey sat on his porch, and fans from all over the world stopped by. He met interesting people without going out.

I went with a foreign fan to Harvey’s porch. The fan and Harvey BS’d for an hour, mostly about Harvey’s upcoming projects.


Michael Wex was on Fresh Air, Terry Gross’s radio show, one time. Pekar was on Terry Gross twice.

Wex was on the show for his book Born to Kvetch. When Wex’s second book, Just Say Nu, came out, he tried to get on again, but didn’t make the cut.

Wex wrote on his website: “I don’t want a niche, I want an empire!” Funny — and true. In the arts, the more fame the better until you need bodyguards.


I was standing in the prescription pick-up line at CVS with fellow AKs. The man behind me said, “Saul Ludwig, here. You played my daughter’s wedding. Not only that but we also saw you at Chautauqua.”

“I remember you,” I said. “Your daughter is Amy Shulman. I ran into her at a gig in Buffalo.”


Give me a break, Saul.  Do you know how many weddings I play? Shuman, Shulman, abi gezunt. I can’t even go to CVS anymore.

Joke, Saul, joke.

Mickey Katz

I wrote this article, “Mickele: Mickey Katz Lives,” for the Cleveland Jewish News, 7/27/12.  More than you want to know about Mickey Katz, probably.

Yiddshe Cup performs a tribute to Mickey Katz 7 p.m. Thurs., Aug. 9, at Cain Park, Alma Theater, Cleveland Hts.

Tix:, 216-371-3000, or 800-745-3000.

$20-22 advance. $23-25 day of show. Discount for seniors and students.

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1 Bert Stratton { 08.01.12 at 10:39 am }

Protection clause:

Hankus Netsky is a great guy. One of the nicest, smartest, most considerate guys on the klezmer scene. Seriously.

I’m not “putting him down,” as we used to say in high school. I’m just riffing on the name “Hankus Netsky.”

“The Great One” is a riff on Wayne Gretsky, also The Great One. Gretsky/Netsky. That simple.

I admire Hankus Netsky and his work!

(No, Hankus didn’t complain about this post, “What’s Up, Hankus Netsky?”.)

2 Mark Schilling { 08.01.12 at 12:13 pm }

Lardner was talking about baseball players, but it pretty much applies to anyone being introduced to hundreds of strangers annually.

The Big Blank Out happens to me a lot since I meet so many people once a year or less. Facebook helps me keep track of some of them — though all the turtles and cartoon characters and other useless-for-ID profile photos rather defeat the purpose.

3 Kenny G { 08.02.12 at 10:55 am }

Do the right thing. Change your name back to what the family name used to be and Netsky will remember it….

4 Marc { 08.02.12 at 11:09 am }

Netsky is so humble, a real mensch. I met him at the Conservatory when he was putting on a concert. He set up the equipment himself. There is no one like him in the Klezmer world.

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