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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

HARVARD

After college I returned to Cleveland and hung around Case Western Reserve University to keep my sanity. I wanted the college bubble. I was at Case every chance I got. At a Case party a medical illustrator asked me what I did, and I said, “I manage apartment buildings.” She walked away. Marcy — a friend at the party — said, “It’s not in her experience — apartment building management.” Marcy was a grad student in organizational behavior. I couldn’t see grad school.

A woman asked me, “Are you in OB?”

“No, I’m not in medical school.”

“OB is organizational behavior.”

“I’m not in that either.”

Harmonica dudeApartment building management. What more could I say — want to hear my harmonica? I shut up. Docs, nutritionists, organizational behaviorists, and medical students. I went up to another medical illustrator. Illustrators are arty. She wouldn’t talk to me. (Could have been other factors — not going there.)

Marcy wrote her OB thesis on the “event of play in a closed group.” For a while, I was in her closed group. Marcy’s parents had a mansion outside of New York City with a quarter-mile driveway. I never saw the house but I heard about it. Her dad was on the board of trustees of a major foreign university. I blew it.

“So many Harvard people here!” a woman said, walking past Marcy and me. Three Harvard people: 1) The host, an OB grad student 2) my friend Marcy 3) a man who was on his way to D.C. to be a lobbyist. Harvard people were on their way, and I was in Cleveland, maybe forever. Tenants called about low water pressure and no heat. Tenants mailed in flecks of peeling paint with notes like “I”m taking $10 off my rent because of this.”

I’m in real estate. I say that now. It’s OK when you’re over 30. The night my father died, my mother and I spent hours sorting business checks on the dining room table, waiting to go to the funeral home. I’ve been dealing with bills ever since.

I Googled Marcy. She’s a professor at a college in Massachusetts. (Not Harvard.) I should message her. I won’t. Too awkward. Remembering this — also awkward.


A version of this post appeared in Belt Magazine 2/19/15.

I had another op-ed in the New York Times, on Monday, about Trump, taxes and me. Hundreds of comments. 

I own the Times. Sulzberger > Stratton. My dad did that name change.

Stratton (white cap) surrounded by minority partners in NYT

Stratton (white cap) surrounded by minority partners in NYT

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3 comments

1 David Korn { 10.19.16 at 10:11 am }

I remember that feeling — I still have it. No place is better than college, and if you’re not really in college hanging out as if is still good (tho a bit delusional). Didn’t you meet your wife that way, at a post-college party?

2 Bill Wallace { 10.19.16 at 10:16 am }

Bert, I became friends with you as a grad student (though not at Harvard).

3 David Rowe { 10.19.16 at 4:52 pm }

Marcy might’ve hung on if she’d heard more harmonica licks.

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