Back in January of 2016, a song Woody wrote in 1950 about his landlord “old man” Fred Trump made the news. This weekend, the Beach Haven apartments where Woody lived were the subject of another New York Times investigation. It’s the story of yet another rent-raising, tax-dodging Trump family scam, and focused on the ordinary people the Trumps cheated.
Those buildings have been home to generations of strivers, municipal workers and newly arrived immigrants. When their regulated rents started rising more quickly in the 1990s, many tenants had no idea why. Some heard that the Trump family had spent millions on building improvements, but they remained suspicious….
The folk singer Woody Guthrie took an apartment at Beach Haven in 1950. He wrote a song called “Old Man Trump,” contemplating the morality of paying rent to someone who would not allow blacks to live in the building. The chorus began:
Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just can’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
At this point, what else is there to say? We all know how you feel, Woody. Everybody sing along.