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 Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



When a rent check bounces, the bank charges me. I didn’t bounce the check. Am I supposed to ask my tenants, “Is your check good, or is it tissue paper?”

Eve, a tenant, ran a beauty parlor and was a chronic check-bouncer. She once screamed at me: “My freaking check is good! Why don’t you put it in! I hand-delivered it to the manager yesterday.”

“The bank charges me!” I said. “I just called the bank. The teller said it was no good.”

Eve was at the bank. The check was now good, she claimed. And I had just gone to city hall and filed an eviction on her for $100. Now Eve owed me $100, plus the rent. I said, “OK, I’ll put the check in if it’s good.” I would eat the $100 filing fee.

“The check is good!” she said. “I pay my rent and I intend to pay it until the end of my lease, at which point I’m out of here! And you haven’t fixed the back screen door.”

Unfair what-about-ism, Eve. I said, “I’m evil, I know that. You don’t like me, and I don’t like you.” I hung up and called the bank. The check was good.

Peace and prosperity.

Then next month Eve was back in Bounce City. At the eviction hearing, she cried and walked out, wailing, “I’m crying just like a girl!” The bailiff red-tagged her; he taped a red writ of restitution to the door of her store. She had 10 days to move.

She didn’t. She paid her rent. She was legally evicted, but not real-life evicted.

The following month Eve didn’t pay her rent or show up at court. She called and told me her “baby daddy” wasn’t giving her kid enough money. Also, the store’s electric was off. She hadn’t paid the bill. She couldn’t cut hair without electricity.

That was her problem. The bailiff gave her a second red tag.

My locksmith picked the beauty salon’s front door lock, re-keyed the cylinder ($142 for the pick job), and I walked in. Everything was gone — the barber chairs, wash stations and wall cabinets. Ripped out. The red tag was still there.

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1 comment

1 Stephen Mumford { 04.19.23 at 11:48 pm }

Like you, I’m an artist and a landlord, but I only rent the 1st floor space below our home, to a coffee shop.
But when we bought the place, that space was rented to the Wing Hing Chinese restaurant, a classic nyc Chinese food dive.
I could write a book about my fraught relationship with its management, who were not at all happy about my renovations above them, while I was not happy with their restaurant hygiene and the vermin it attracted.
Eventually they stopped paying rent, and I had to evict them. But before they left, they left the gas burners on with woks with oil heating up, and paper menus strewn all about the place. I was away at the time.
By sheer luck I had a contractor working there who noticed they weren’t open and turned off the gas.
They also had let the water run unabated for 2 or 3 months, resulting in a gargantuan water bill. However, it was worth it to get them out.
I couldn’t eat Chinese food for several years after they left.

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