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.



The Jazz Temple was a music club in a former Packard showroom at Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue.   Coltrane played there.  Dinah Washington tooEverybody 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, a Reform synagogue in University Circle, Cleveland.

Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver was the head rabbi at The Temple.  Rabbi Silver was  very prominent; he spoke at the United Nations, advocating for the establishment of the state of Israel.  Rabbi Silver’s son, Danny, was the assistant rabbi.  He played football at Harvard and blocked hard for his dad.

The Sunday school kids at The Temple were mostly from Shaker Heights.  One kid got a ride in a limo to shul.  The driver wore a chauffeur’s cap.

I couldn’t grasp how temple — the word — fit into a non-Jewish setting, like in “Jazz Temple.”  Was Jazz a religion too?  (Give me a break. I was 10.)

Years later, I met a couple ex-beatniks who had been old enough to go to the Jazz Temple in the early 1960s.  They had heard Trane and Ella.

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, the religious-school kids would attend the last part of the service and hear the sermon.  Rabbi Silver looked like God and talked like Him.

Today, at The Temple East in Beachwood, there is an Abba Hillel Silver memorial study.  The rabbi’s desk is laid out like he just stepped out for lunch. He died in 1963.

Rabbi Silver: Live at the Jazz Temple.  Interesting.

John Coltrane: Live at The Temple.  Another possibility.

A love supreme . . .

A love supreme . . .



In the arts, if you’re precious, you’re bad. Precious is the worst thing. Precious means you’re dainty and overly refined.

A friend (a former music critic) called all college a cappella music precious.

Harvey Pekar called Willio and Phillio — the Cleveland music-comedy duo — precious. (Willio and Phillio was around in the 1980s.) Willio and Phillio was precious — their stage name for sure. Willio (Will Ryan) went out to Los Angeles to work for Disney, and Phillio (Phil Baron) became a cantor in L.A. They were good, and probably still are.

Yiddishe Cup is precious occasionally. The musicians say “oy vey” too much on stage. I’ve tried to get my guys to stop. I can’t.

Peter Laughner, a Cleveland rocker, died from drug abuse and alcoholism at 24. He killed himself, basically. (This was in 1977.) He was not precious. He was dead — and funny — about art. He was in the Pere Ubu underground before Pere Ubu was famous.

Suicide doesn’t appeal to me for two reasons: 1) My wife would kill me if I tried it. 2) I want to attend my kids’ weddings and eventually meet my grandkids-to-be.

“Precious” is OK for grandkids. (“Grandkids” is precious.)


New construction — Side C — for Michiganders. . .


Chester Ave., Cleveland, 2011

I drove to Rochester, Michigan, which is not as cool as Rochester, New York, but it does have a small-town charm.

I’ve seen Father Coughlin’s former church in Royal Oak, Michigan.

I’ve been to Detroit many times.

My wife, Alice, said, “Detroit has very long roads.”

She probably meant Woodward, Gratiot and Telegraph.

Detroit also has the Lodge. Elmore Leonard mentions the Lodge in his books, like, “The gambling casino, Mutt, you can’t fucking miss it, over by the Lodge freeway.”

A couple Cleveland freeways and bridges have names, like the Bob Hope Memorial Bridge, but nobody ever uses the names.

I stayed at a hotel near the Silverdome, which looked like a big pillow. (The stadium did.) A Detroiter told me the Silverdome sold for about $200,000. A stadium for the price of a California carport.

Who was John C. Lodge? Probably a labor leader. [No, the mayor of Detroit in the 1920s.]

Detroit is like Cleveland. Detroit has the Eastern Market; Cleveland has the West Side Market. Detroit has downtown casinos. Now Cleveland has a downtown casino.

Metro Detroit has a few more Jews than Cleveland. And probably more Arabs, Poles and Ukrainians. And more blacks.

People who wear Tiger caps are cool, as are Indians cap wearers.

What about Berkley, Michigan? Is that worth a visit?

Elmore Leonard eats at the Beverly Hills Café. I wonder if that’s part of the Beverly Hills Café chain, or an independent restaurant in Beverly Hills, Michigan.

I wonder if Elmore Leonard spends his winters in Detroit. I bet he doesn’t. He writes a lot about Florida.

I have some Elmore Leonard junk mail.

City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit. That’s worth reading.

Maple means 15 Mile. Big Beaver is 16 Mile.

What about Oakland University? Does the university have Bobby Seale barbecue sauce in the cafeteria?

I live only three and a half hours from Berkley, Beverly Hills and Oakland.

Yiddishe Cup pulls into Motown Sunday. See us at Cong. Beth Shalom, Oak Park, Mich.,
2 p.m., Sept. 9. Open to the public. Concert info here.

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1 don friedman { 09.05.12 at 1:37 pm }

The Jazz Temple…about 1962 I was still a kid living in Erie, Pa. I had a subscription to Downbeat, and in the back pages I always saw all of the ‘jazz houses’ listed with the musicians playing there.

Since I was so close to Cleveland, I made a decision to drive in and visit the Jazz Temple. I was so excited. Miles Davis was there with Philly Joe Jones on drums. This was big for me.

Upon entering the ‘Temple,’ I was so disappointed to see what looked like a dump to me. It was dark and these ugly-looking drapes hung on all the walls. At the time I didn’t realize their purpose was probably to give the room a softer sound. But I was thrilled to see Miles and Philly Joe. As a kid I always pictured jazz clubs as being as sophisticated as the music.

2 Ted { 09.05.12 at 6:18 pm }

re: Precious / “Suicide doesn’t appeal to me . . .”
I always say try killing someone else to see if you like it first.

re: The Lodge

The Walther Reuther freeway (a.k.a. I-696) IS named after a labor leader.

See you at the Eastern Market this weekend. It makes the West Side Market look like a Walgreens.

3 Mark Schilling { 09.06.12 at 9:15 am }

I’ve never used “precious” in a review, come to think of it — not even “a waste of precious time.”

But I don’t use a lot of “reviewer-ese”: compelling, moving, gripping, thrilling, exciting, etc, etc.

“A compelling performance” = a lazy reviewer.

Not that I’m perfect! The tired brain is always looking for short cuts.

4 Kenny G { 09.06.12 at 10:54 am }

Hard to imagine exactly where this “Jazz Temple” – a “former Packard showroom” – might have been. This was one of the demolished commercial buildings between Mayfield and the CIA Factory building? I could look on my 1933 Plat Book…. I’d think it more likely in the Euclid/E. 105th district.

5 Kenny G { 09.06.12 at 11:00 am }

Never mind – I’m finding lots of stuff on the place; I’m just surprised it didn’t sound familiar. I see it was an early Winston Willis venture. Was it on Euclid or Mayfield?

6 Bert Stratton { 09.06.12 at 11:25 am }

To Kenny G”

The Jazz Temple was on Mayfield Road, about where the new contemporary art museum is going up.

7 Jack { 09.10.12 at 5:13 pm }

daBudin’s [David Budin’s] cameo at the Willio and Phillio Alma Theater show is in my top 5.

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