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.



Evelyn had the dirtiest apartment. Her bathtub was black, like she never used it. There were about 50 roaches in the tub. Lots of beer and liquor bottles around. Cigarette butts everywhere.

roach spray dirtiest apt everI told her to clean up, or I would call the health department on her. I had already dropped about $2,000 on an exterminator for the building, mostly because of her.

She cleaned up. Then I put her on month-to-month; I wanted the flexibility to end the lease if she got sloppy again.

She got cleaner. Not Martha Stewart clean, but no roaches either. She said she wanted to talk to me. I stood outside her door. She said, “How do I know it’s Bert Stratton?”

“I’m not sure. Take your chances.”

She let me in and immediately called me an asshole and said I had disrespected her with the month-to-month lease. She had been on a 12-month lease for 21 years. She also asked for a new refrigerator, plus a two-year lease with a discount for the first six months. She wanted a new kitchen sink cabinet, too. And she wanted her stove removed. “I don’t even use it,” she said. I looked at the stove.  “No,” she said, “Look at me. Look me in the eyes. You have disrespected me all these years. Think of all the money I’ve saved you by not having to redecorate every couple years. To you, I’m an asshole.”

Not true. I liked her spunk. But I shouldn’t have stopped in; I should have had let the building manager handle it, which is always cheaper for me. Evelyn said. “I was in a coma for a couple years. That’s why it’s so messy here. I was a little out of it.  If you come back in two weeks, it’ll look even cleaner. I’m opening a business here.  I’m bringing in customers here.”

I offered her a one-year lease with a $5 increase and a new refrigerator.

She said no thanks.  She said, “Just for shits and giggles, what do you want for this place?”

“The entire building?”


“Eight-hundred thousand.”

“You got it. I’m buying it from you.”

(Hasn’t happened.)

“Evelyn” is a pseudonym.  Here’s a pic of another dirty apartment — not Evelyn’s.  Top 5:

huebner b101 2_21_11

shareEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter


1 Mark Schilling { 04.08.15 at 10:31 am }

This is about as close to Harvey Pekar country as you’ve come. I can see the “Hasn’t happened” thought balloon above your head and a HP-like palms-up-in-the-air shrug.

2 Dave Rowe { 04.16.15 at 1:12 am }

Yikes, hope she at least pays the rent on time, and the checks don’t bounce.

3 Bert Stratton { 04.17.15 at 4:14 pm }

To Dave Rowe:

She pays on time.

Leave a Comment