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 I got rid of my LP record abums, my friend Carl said, “How can you do that?”

The LPs were heavy, for one thing.  And I hadn’t listened to them in 20 years.  “Carl, in 10 years I might not be  able to physically pitch them, ” I  said.  “I’ll be pointing at each one from my La-Z-Boy and making my kids choose between Bob Dylan and Charlie Parker.  So I’m doing it now for my kids’ sake.”

I could have put my records on the treelawn (Cleveland-
speak for the grass strip by the curb).   I could have taken the LPs to a record store.  Or a record store could come to me.

A record store came to me.   Pete the Record Guy showed up at my house.

Just prior to Pete, Carl took five LPs for a wall montage.  He liked Coltrane Plays the Blues, Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane, and Archie Shlepp’s Four for Trane — all good cover art.  Carl, a roots-music maven, said I was in the top 5 percent of respectable record collections.

My record collection was my former identity.  It was my Facebook persona, circa 1975.

I found a receipt in a Stuff Smith Black Violin album — $1.50 from Mole’s.   Where was Mole’s?  I don’t remember.  [It was on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights.]

Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar used to rifle through my albums.  The only album he ever wanted was my Charlie Parker Memorial Album, Vogue Records, England, 1956.  I didn’t sell it to Harvey.  I figured, If Pekar wants the record that badly, it must be worth something.

I checked on the Charlie Parker Memorial on the Internet.  Today it’s worth £5.40 to an Englishman on eBay.  That’s about $9.  Nothing.  Pekar was always into small numbers.

My kids didn’t want my albums.

I wanted to play Lenny Bruce’s “Lima, Ohio” bit (from The Best of Lenny Bruce) for Carl, but I didn’t have a record player handy.  Carl said, “It’s probably on YouTube.”

Right.  That’s why I got rid of my records.

Pete the Record Guy went through my albums three times.  Adiós Aretha Live at the Fillmore West, John Handy’s Carnival, Paul Butterfield . . .

Let it go.

Three-hundred dollars from Pete for 100 records.  Not bad.  Pete didn’t care about the condition of the records.   Pete said young kids –- his main customers — “won’t buy the reissue LPs, they want the originals, like yours.”

I said, “What jumped out at you? Is there any album worth 90 percent of what you paid me?”

He said, “I like your two Fred Neil’s, Everybody’s Talkin’ and Sessions.  You don’t see those often.”

“Let me take a photo.  Don’t worry, Pete, I’m not taking the records back.”

(This flip side is a little something extra for readers arriving on the A train from
New York Times Square. Northerners, let’s trash the Sun Belt . . .)


Atlanta is not far enough south for some Atlantans. Right next to the Atlanta airport is a billboard “Beach Bummed?” Meaning, go to Florida.

Atlanta isn’t very good for sunbathing unless you want to tan your left elbow in traffic for several hours.

I was at Atlanta airport, going through nine time zones to get to my gate.  The TSA clerk, glancing at my ticket, said, “So you’re going back to beautiful Cleveland?”

Yes, sir, and it’s a lot better than Atlanta.  (I didn’t say anything.)  Cleveland is not Paris — or Pittsburgh, for that matter — but it’s a step up from a Southern-sprawl traffic crawl.

I’m going to Atlanta this month for a family bat mitzvah, and I have a summer gig there with Yiddishe Cup.  I’ve been to the Coke Museum twice.  Is there a rum-and-Coke museum in Atlanta?  If so, where?

Atlanta relatives, nothing personal!

My best writing is “The Landlord’s Tale” in the latest City Journal.  Please check it out.   Must read long amusing essay about real estate now!

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1 Garry Kanter { 03.07.12 at 10:07 am }

Letting your vinyl albums leave the nest. Maybe they will find good homes.

None of us is getting any younger.

2 Mark Schilling { 03.07.12 at 10:43 am }

You wore the shit out of that “Everybody’s Talkin'” album. It seemed like every time I walked into your room at Mich House, for a period of weeks (months?) you were playing it.

I have one rare Beatles album that I found in a cut-out bin decades ago. It’s worth about $100 on Ebay. I’d sell it in a heartbeat.

But Fred Neil? Maybe you should have hung onto him. He’s one of the better-spent parts of your youth, no?

But I’ve still got the first 45 I ever bought.

3 Don Friedman { 03.07.12 at 12:06 pm }

And if it [a recording]is not on YouTube, it’s at the House of Swing…I had an album in the late 50’s…’Hi Fi Drums’…lost it somewhere in time and found it again at the House of Swing in the 90’s. Had a beer and listened to it. Brought back memories. The ‘House’ must have 100,000 vinyls!

4 Marc { 03.07.12 at 12:12 pm }

I finally put my record/cassette player in the basement last month.

5 Don E { 03.07.12 at 8:16 pm }

Looking forward to discovering Fred Neil. Everybodys Talkin’ is now on my IPOD for $1.29 – squeezed in next to Ose Shalom. IPOD still seems to weigh the same!

6 Charlie B { 03.08.12 at 11:24 am }

As a fellow lp & 45 possessor I wonder if the Facebook analogy gets it. Our records were one tangible signifier of how cool we were. And album covers certainly had many faces on them to have and to hold. However, the 21st century version may be more about Spotify or Pandora whereby music tastes can take on extreme and widely dispersed forms of sharing and hipitute. At least that’s what my kids tell me.

7 Charlie B { 03.08.12 at 11:29 am }

And if I think of one lp I heard most often with you on Sunday afternoons at Mrs. Pole’s rooming house in Ann Arbor it would have to have been Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come.”

8 jack { 03.08.12 at 12:37 pm }

shoot. i would’ve taken the vinyl

9 Don E { 03.09.12 at 8:32 pm }

In addition to all the other acknowledgments of your “Landlord” piece. I found an excerpt in THE WEEK (9 Mar) magazine under “best columns”. Well deserved recognition.

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