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 liked to provoke my mother-in-law. She would say, “They’re wearing their hair high in the 1940s look.” And I would say, “Who’s they?” Or she would say, “I don’t have any shoes to wear tonight to the party.” And I would say, “You going barefoot?”

I shouldn’t have been such a smart aleck. I hung around Harvey Pekar, who was inspirational — very bitter. “I’m hateful,” he said.  “I’d like to have a cool way to slip my George Ade article to Lark [Pekar’s second ex-wife, an academic]. She’s small-minded. Who wants to dig through Ade’s school grades? So what. I want to do something more creative.”

This was in 1981.

Now I’m twice as old as my son Ted. Exactly twice as old. He’s 31. Pekar was at Teddy’s bris. Pekar considered writing a comic about the mohel raising his hands like a prize fighter and saying, “Golden hands!”

Ted has been a newspaper reporter and taught English in Korea. He has a law degree. He was on Jeopardy. He has worked temporary crap jobs, too. He has done a lot, but he’s still only half my age!

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past 31 years:

1. Guard against bitterness
2. Make your job interesting
3. Do something beneficial for others
4. Zekhor  (Remember)
5. Get married and have kids
6. “Don’t just view it, do it”  (Shari Lewis)
7. Old people are dumb! (joke)
8. Don’t judge people by bumper stickers, neighborhoods, or their tastes in music.

I hope to list 10 items by the end of the decade.  (Make it to the end of the decade, then worry about the list, dude.)


When my youngest child, Jack, moved to California last year, I held a mini-shiva; I walked through the music room in the basement and threw out old mic cables, cassette tapes and tons of drumsticks.

Eli “Paperboy” Reed (L) and Jack Stratton down the basement, 2011

Jack took his drums and an electric bass out west.  I called him when he was driving through Nebraska, and said, “Did you open the letter I wrote you?”

“Yeah,” he said, “my friends thought it was funny that on the envelope you wrote, ‘Don’t open till Nebraska.’ They thought it contained hallucinogenics.”

I’m anti-drugs!  I was dispensing wisdom-in-a-can (in an envelope) to my youngest child. If  he could combine my old guy’s experience with his 24-year-old’s enthusiasm and creativity, he would do fine. [Story about the letter is here.]

I filled up four contractors garbage bags in the basement.

I hauled the stuff to the tree lawn on garbage day.  An hour later, three bags were gone, but the fourth remained. A junk man had picked up three bags.  And I had put some paperwork in those bags, as well as Jack’s garbage.

Mac — the  junk guy  — pulled up the next week in a pickup truck. He said he liked my trash, particularly the ersatz medieval knight’s helmet from my son’s high school days.

I said, “What about the paperwork?”

He said he had pitched that. Good. I didn’t want my identity stolen that day. He handed me his card.

Age 24 is when you have the least amount of possessions. Now Jack has even less –- four bags less.

And Mac has some good stuff, like the helmet.

Yiddishe Cup is at the College of Wooster (Ohio) 9:30 p.m. Sat. (Nov. 17).  More info here.

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1 Kathy Goodwin { 11.14.12 at 9:40 am }

Hey Bert,
Hope this makes your list by the end of the decade.
Pets are good for a marriage and ease the empty nest angst.

2 Mark Schilling { 11.14.12 at 10:47 am }

Listen to your demons — but not too much.

3 Bert Stratton { 11.14.12 at 11:06 am }

To Mark Schilling:

What’s “Listen to your demons . . .” supposed to mean?

Don’t go cryptic on me; I’m paying you by the word.


My guess: I’m supposed to add “Listen to your demons . . .” to my top 10 list. I don’t like “listen to your demons.” Too scary.

4 Jack { 11.14.12 at 1:24 pm }

the mac illustration is gr8

5 Mark Schilling { 11.14.12 at 7:27 pm }

I don’t mean “demon” in the Stephen King, ‘servants of Satan’ sense. I’m talking about the little voice in your head that tells you to ditch the 9-5 job and write the book or stay out drinking until five in the morning with your dissolute pals instead of going home to the wife and kids. That is, the voice that tells you to follow your instincts/passions/vices and the hell with the consequences. Any one who does anything of consequence listens to it at least once in a while — including Bert Stratton, who could have spent his life squeezing tenants instead of traipsing around the country with a strange little folk music band. Sorry if this sounds like New Age BS. Cryptic is better.

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