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 Sweeney moved out, he left a huge pile of empty beer cartons. The apartment was a mess. I was surprised, because Sweeney was always so polite, so I figured he’d be clean, too. He called me whenever he was late with the rent. His final call was “I tried like hell to come up with the rent but couldn’t.” Sweeney said he was moving to Cedar Point to work.

Sweeney’s kitchen

He was very polite. I already said that, but it bears repeating. Most tenants, when they’re late with their rent, they don’t call you. Sweeney said, “Don’t bother with an eviction. I turned in the keys. I didn’t have time to clean. I’d be happy to stay in touch. If you have any concerns, please feel free to reach me.” He said his security deposit would probably cover the cleanup.

No way. Should I call Sweeney and spell out “P-I-G” on his voicemail? He was such a polite guy. If you have any concerns? Yes, I do.

I had an essay in Belt Magazine on Father’s Day about the one and only Toby Stratton. Check the article out here.

Toby Stratton at American Greetings, 1954. Age 37

I wrote an essay on how I got scammed.  The article was in the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week and was paywalled. So here’s the article, pasted in:

June 16, 2023


CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — I used to scoff at “AARP Bulletin” articles about scams targeting the elderly. How could my fellow AARP members be so gullible? Do they walk around with credit-card numbers taped to their foreheads? Do they give out personal information to random callers from India?

I used to scoff. I got scammed last month. Here was the setup. Say, your grandchild had a sporting event, school play, or concert in North Carolina and you live in Cleveland, and the scammer informed you there was a free livestream of the event. You could watch the event from your La-Z-Boy in Cleveland Heights. Nice.

Not so nice. For instance, my son, who lives in Los Angeles, has a band which played a show in Illinois last month. Every Memorial Day weekend, approximately 20,000 people attend the Summer Camp Music Festival outside of Peoria, Illinois. I was not in summer-camp mode last month. For one thing, I didn’t relish standing in a field with several thousand young people, some of whom are colloquially known as wooks. According to the Urban Dictionary, a wook is “a dirty, vagrant variety of hippie. Almost always unemployed, following around jam bands or festivals, and ripping people off.” The Urban Dictionary definition is probably extreme, but still, I didn’t feel like doing the field research to find out.

I would gladly live-stream my son’s show from home. I clicked the live-stream link on the festival’s Facebook page and gave them my credit card info. Slightly Stoopid. That’s the name of a well-known jam band on the festival circuit. And it’s me. The phony live-stream link was posted by a commenter on the festival’s Facebook page. My son had told me the festival wouldn’t be live-streamed, but who was I going to believe — my son or the internet?

Apparently other parents, grandparents and friends give credit-card information to fake live-streamers for bogus concerts and sporting events. The Better Business Bureau and various state athletic associations have issued warnings. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association cautioned: “There are hundreds of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube events being promoted, sometimes within prominent online groups, that appear to be real live streams, but are phishing for your personal information, and sometimes trying to install malware on your device.”

Was I just slightly stupid or 100-percent? My son’s band, Vulfpeck, is legit. They’re playing the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, tonight, and that festival is being live-streamed — for real — on Hulu. Vulfpeck’s slot on the bill is after midnight – Saturday, at 1:45 am Eastern time — following Kendrick Lamar.

Shortly after I disclosed my credit-card information, I noticed a char​​ge on my card for $1.08 from Toned Glutes. Toned glutes? I asked my wife if it was her charge, and she said no. And I knew — from reading AARP articles– that phishers often start with small charges, hope you don’t notice, and then hit you with a major credit-card charge.

Allison, at Chase Bank, confirmed I had been scammed. “Toned Glutes” aligned, she said, with spurious foreign phone numbers and links on her computer. So I jettisoned my Chase card. Now comes my punishment: changing all my autopays. AARP knows best. Lesson learned.

Jack Stratton on a Yiddishe Cup gig, 2017.

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1 Ken Goldberg { 06.21.23 at 9:46 am }

Fortunately I don’t do streaming and the like so I won’t worry about that one. I’m very suspicious of most things foreign to me and sometimes it really, really helps!

2 Stephen Mumford { 06.21.23 at 10:23 am }

Funny coincidence: I just got scammed via Chase as well. I got an alert that a charge was rejected on my card for a Wendys visit… maybe because I never eat there?
But on checking my account I found that $1,500 had been sent out via Western Union.
I’m hoping I get it back.
I didn’t give my info to a scammer, but 2 weeks before several bills I sent were apparently stolen from a mailbox and never reached their destinations. Maybe there was a connection. Perhaps some wook was behind it all.

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