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 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



Arvids Jansons.  I got a desk when he left.

Argero Vassileros.   Nickname: Argie.

Michael Bielemuk.  The Professor.  He had three rooms with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Maria Malfundido.  (Not her real name but close enough.)  A kleptomaniac.  She stole light bulbs from the hall so we glued the bulbs into the sockets.

Zenon Chaikovsky.  Building manager and Ukrainian musician.

Saram Carmichael.  A black transvestite who solicited customers from her second floor window.  The johns waited at the bus stop outside her window.  What is a Saram?

Stan Hershfield.  One of the few Jews on the West Side.  He was raised in an orphanage and loved the word bubkes (beans), as in: “Stratton, I have bubkes so don’t hondle me about the rent.”  [Hondle is haggle.]  When Hershfield painted the wood floor in his kitchen, he beamed, “Only the best, Stratton, Benjamin Moore!”

Malfalda Bedrossian.  She was never late with her rent.  Put that on her tombstone.

Chris Andrews.  He made up for his regular name by sleeping in a coffin.

Merjeme Haxhiraj.  An Albanian who talked me down $10 on her rent every year.

John “Chip” Stephens.  A Chet Baker-like figure — in looks, music and name.  He played jazz piano all day and was so good he landed a tenure track job at a university in Missouri.
2 of 2 posts for 9/30/09

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1 Harvey { 09.30.09 at 1:51 pm }

Great names in law:

Christopher Miss. Wanted to be called by his nickname.

Amerzone Weathersby. Asked her the derivation of her interesting first name. The arch-browed response: “The river!”

2 alice stratton { 09.30.09 at 3:59 pm }

One year I had students named Chardoney and Champagne. It was a vintage year.

The following year I had students named Miracle and A’Miracle. It was a miraculous year

3 "Kenny G" { 10.01.09 at 7:53 am }

I know this Mass. guy hasn’t exactly been a tenant, but I can hardly get his yuck-o name out of my head: Hankus Netsky.


4 Bert { 10.01.09 at 8:53 am }

To Kenny G:

I like the two Ks in “Hankus Netsky.” Netsky made my all-star klezmer baseball game roster on the strength of his name. Right up there with Honus Wagner.

You should think about another K in your name, Kenny.

5 Don Friedman { 10.01.09 at 1:26 pm }

I knew Chip Stephens in the 70’s. He is a terrific jazz pianist. Some called him ‘Hip’ Stevens. He had a friendly jazz personality. Not arrogant or uppity(what a strange-looking word).

If Kenny G. reads this, he should know that Hankus Netsky married a woman named Clara!

6 "Kenny G" { 10.08.09 at 8:36 am }

Honus Wagner has a nice musical ring to it compared to the other. A “Dr.” before the name might help slightly, though.

7 Wolf Krakowski { 11.05.09 at 7:47 pm }

“Handl” means “(to) deal in,” as in “er handlt mit gebekst” (he deals in baked goods). “To haggle” or “to bargain” is “dingen zikh.” In Yiddish, that is.

8 Wolf Krakowski { 11.05.09 at 8:02 pm }

“Bobes” are “beans.” “Bobkes” are “goat turds.” Or sheep shit.

9 Bert { 11.06.09 at 9:06 am }

To Wolf Krakowski:

Thanks for the native-Yiddish proofing!

I’m definitely coming from the “Anglish/Yinglish — Yiddish In American Life” School.

The handl thing . . . I’ve heard a Croatian-American banker, and more than a few American-born Jews, use handl for haggle. Basically, to aggressively sell me something. Wheel and deal.

Bubkes means beans in American! Something trifling, not worth a “hill of beans.”

Thanks for clarification on the actual legume. (I just called a 94-year-old Polish Jew who went on and on about the legume being arbes. News to me. Arbes means peas in my dictionaries.)

But I’ve seen the legume called bubkes, as well, in American Jewish usage:

From Jews Without Money, Mike Gold, 1930: “A humpbacked old witch in a red kerchief hobbles by, pushing a baby carriage covered with cloth. There is no baby in there, but a big pot full of hot black-eyed beans. ‘Bubkes!’ she wails in a sort of Chinese falsetto, ‘buy my hot, fresh bubkes!'”

[Mike Gold excerpt is from Gene Bluestein’s book Anglish/Yinglish.]

. . . My Polish Jewish Yiddishist just phoned in an update. He said, “Beblekh is beans. Arbes is peas.”

10 Wolf Krakowski { 11.06.09 at 12:56 pm }

To Bert:

You are welcome.

Yiddish, a fusion language (like English), has 4 dialects; these dialects can overlap as well, so pronunciation varies.

“Stage Yiddish,” although a pure construct, and not representative of any one region, was created by Goldfaden so that Yiddish-speaking actors could speak uniformly in performance. Imagine a play where one character spoke Liverpudlian “scouse,” another had a Georgia drawl, and yet another a Jamaican lilt.

There is laytish (proper) Yiddish, and there is the stuff people think they remember from their grandmothers, or picked up from the old guys at the deli.

I recall a young woman insisting that the expression for “don’t bug me” was hack mir nisht in China, not hack mir nisht in chaynik (lit: Don’t bang my kettle). So you see how similar-sounding words can become interchanged.

Re: handl (to deal in). Since one often bargained over an item that was being “dealt,” a certain linguistic conflation allowed one word to substitute for the other. That still doesn’t make it right, no matter how many people you may have heard use it in that context.

BTW: I am available for interesting Yiddish-English, English-Yiddish translation projects. Standard rates.

Gotta go stack my firewood.

Git shabes.

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