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.



A young man opened up a street-wear store in my building.  Street-wear is hip-hop clothes, like low-slung pants.

I was nuts to rent to the guy.  He just sat on a beat-up couch in the store and never really opened. I hired workers to do dry wall and electrical work, and block off doorways.  The tenant said he would do the rest.

He complained about the awning out front.  It spelled “Main Street” — stodgy — to him.  He wanted a funkier look. I wanted the classic green canvas awning to stay.  He knew that up front.  I had it in writing.

He complained about the basement.  He said, “It’s old.  There are rats maybe.  The walls are crumbling.”  I hadn’t even promised him a basement.  It was an add-on.

He said he was going to paint the interior of the store black.  OK, paint it black. Fine.  Just do it.  Get off the couch.

Some hip-hop buddies from New York stopped by to give him design pointers.  They sat on the couch too. The tenant said to me, “People are going to come from LA and New York to shop at this store.”

He didn’t get off the couch. “My dad thinks you’re ripping us off,” he said.  “He’s an extremist.  But still, the basement is a wreck.”

I thought, “Spend some money.”  I said, “The basement is the least of your worries.  You don’t know what hit you.  Wait till you get the city’s code violations letter. Forget about the basement.  You’ll have bigger problems.”  For instance, he had no electrical service.  He had low rent and was supposed to do the “build out” — the electrical, the improvements.

I gave him one month’s free rent.  I couldn’t do more.  No, I gave him $2000 off on the new electric service panel.

Nothing much happened.  Finally I said, “I’ll give you all your money back plus $500 if you move out.”

He took that.

I rented to a tax-prep guy. He wears shorts, but not low-hanging.

Yiddishe Cup is in Parade The Circle, Wade Oval, Cleveland, noon June 14.

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1 Ken G. { 06.04.14 at 10:13 am }

First of all, I think your adventuresome band should all wear low-strung pants and see what the reactions might be.

Second, you’re saying a green awning was left over from another business. (I take it it wasn’t “Main Street Cupcakes,” which is now both in Chagrin Falls and Hudson.) I don’t see why anyone would want another business’ name on his or her awning. Sorry, but that’s the way I feel.

Third, sounds like it was to be an “urban” store. The language has taken some bad turns…. I imagine the tax guy has a pretty conservative outlook. So he has an awning that says “Main Street” on it?

Frankly, I’m a big stickler for correct information outside a business. I HATE it when signs with hours open are not followed, when employees take breaks without leaving an appropriate sign, when breaks are longer than the sign indicates “Be back in five minutes” and it’s two hours, when someone puts a cutesy sign, such as I just saw on Coventry, such as “May open 10, possibly 11, or whenever.” Been seeing too much of that lately. All part of the pinky, sub-generate liberalism that’s overtaken the country. Obama’s fault, too, because he’s a hippie.

2 Bert Stratton { 06.04.14 at 11:17 am }

To Ken G.

There was no lettering on the green canvas awning in front of the store. It spelled “Main Street” figuratively.

The tax guy put up some actual lettering.

3 Ted { 06.04.14 at 11:22 am }

I feel like this could be the beginning of your first Wall Street Journal article.

4 don friedman { 06.04.14 at 12:25 pm }

Hey Ken G….bad idea for adventuresome band to wear low slung pants…..Although, I would not be included because I sit behind the drumset. My view would cause me to play gigs with my eyes closed!

5 Ken G. { 06.04.14 at 1:09 pm }

I hate ’em, too. Would serve them right if they fell down in the most embarrassing setting.

6 Dave Rowe { 07.16.14 at 3:17 am }

In the apartment complex in Asheville NC no one wears short shorts but sometimes tempers get short.

An example is the laundry room; there are a lot of hen squables – women accuse other women of “monopolizing the laundry room.” Good managing stepped in and drew up a schedule – each tenant has a specified day to do laundry. My day is Tuesday and it fits in OK with my schedule.

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