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. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.

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 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



I employed a custodian whose family was “a bunch of  burglars,” according to the investigating cop.  Why the cop had waited so long to tell me, I don’t know.

All along, the custodian’s kids had pilfered tools and lawnmowers, but I couldn’t prove anything and, besides, I liked the custodian.  He was a hard-working “hillbilly”— his term by the way.

I was his “little bitty buddy” — and his kids were crooks.  They took the master key and broke into an apartment across the hall.

Then they committed a botched burglary down the street and confessed to that, plus my break-in.

My custodian and his family had to move out.  “See you in the funny papers.”  That was my custodian’s sign-off.  Six years with me, then bye because his kids were crooks.

“I’m getting better by the numbers.”  He said that too.  I never did figure that one out.

Twenty-four years later: A different custodian, Speedy: the hardest working man on earth.  Speedy climbed many a ledge and ladder for me — and upped my workers’ comp.  He fell off a lot of ladders.  And he had some crook relatives and friends.

One relative, his so-called niece, was a prostitute.  The niece took the master key and entered a neighboring apartment and stole the tenant’s checkbook, ID and ring.

At first I thought the burglar was Speedy’s “nephew” Dave, a felon.   But then my plumber  reported seeing a new woman around, Amber, sleeping on Speedy’s couch.  “A black guy is pimping her,” the plumber said.

I told the police about Amber.  The detective said, “Amber Carney.*  She’s a known druggie and thief.” [*Not her real last name but close enough.]

Amber, the “niece,” got caught at the bank, forging checks.

The victim — my tenant—was more upset about the stolen ring than the stolen money.  She said it was an Irish ring.  It was fenced.  It was gone.  She asked if I was Irish.

“No, I’m Jewish,” I said.

“Funny, I’m Palestinian,” she said.

No problem— for her.   She was, as my father used to say, one cool customer. Most females would have been out of that burglarized apartment in a day.  I changed the lock and she stayed another year, pressing charges against the whore.

Amber, the prostitute, went to jail.  Speedy moved out and took a job at an adult bookstore.  I know because I received updates about Speedy’s employment through his workers’ comp lawyer, who kept sending me claims — for years— about Speedy falling off ladders back in the day.
1 of 2 posts for 7/22/09.  Please see post below too.

Yiddishe Cup concert: noon Sun., July 26, Little Mountain Heritage Festival, Painesville, Ohio.

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1 Teddy { 07.22.09 at 3:24 pm }


2 Bert { 07.22.09 at 4:31 pm }

Teddy, glad you were amused. Funny, this post didn’t “feel” funny when I wrote it. Felt more like a tough-guy cop novel riff.

3 Mark Schilling { 07.23.09 at 8:06 am }

Elmore Leonard comes to Cleveland! You can’t make up this stuff.. The secret of EL’s success is that he plays it straight — but his straight is also funny. And it all comes from the characters — their goofy criminal deeds and the wacky-but-true way they talk. Who’d think that a real “hillbilly” (his description) would really say “little biddy buddy”? But he did, right? More, more!

4 marc { 09.02.15 at 1:32 pm }

The beauty of your profession is that you get to deal with all classes of society.

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