on leonard cohen’s “hallelujah”

I didn’t want to write this post. I thought I wouldn’t need to. I thought our collective listening comprehension was better. I should have known.

Let me be clear: I really like this song. All of its many verses. I like it a bit less when it’s belted by some aspiring diva who doesn’t understand subtlety, but it’s still a great song. It’s a song of profound heartbreak and honesty. It is beautiful in its strophic simplicity. It is not, however — as so many people apparently believe — a religious song. I know, I know. Hear me out on this.

It started last year when I heard several (mediocre) renditions on holiday radio. Even when any song even vaguely referencing holidays or winter qualifies as a “Christmas song” or “holiday song,” this references neither. I rhetorically wondered to a coworker why this song was so heavily featured in the radio station’s rotation, and he replied, “Well, isn’t ‘hallelujah’ something they say in church?”

I… wow. Sure, yes, but… really? First off, “hallelujah” is traditionally more associated with Easter than Christmas (please, please don’t get me started on the “Hallelujah Chorus”). But more importantly, that line of reasoning qualifies Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” for liturgical inclusion. And last I checked, Madonna (the singer, not the mother of Jesus) was still verboten in church. (Please do not correct me if I’m wrong.)

I figured this coming holiday season I’d have to write something on it. As you know, I have a special place in my heart for holiday songs of all kinds, from liturgical to super-secular. This is simply not one of them. So I had it on my brain’s back burner. Until this morning, when someone sang it in church.

I couldn’t believe it. Whoever decided it was okay for inclusion in a church service apparently fell for the same reasoning as my coworker and paid zero attention to the actual lyrics. Let’s review, shall we?

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
that David played, and it pleased the Lord,
but you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth,
the minor fall, the major lift;
the baffled king composing Hallelujah!

Your faith was strong but you needed proof.
You saw her bathing on the roof;
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair,
she broke your throne and she cut your hair,
and from your lips she drew a Hallelujah.

Maybe there’s a God above
but all I ever learned from love
was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
It’s not a cry that you hear at night,
it’s not somebody who’s seen the light,
it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

These were the three verses performed in church this morning, probably the most popular. And thank heaven for that, because the other two popular verses are much more suggestive. Here, we’ve got several historical biblical references — including to Samson, brought down by his love for a woman — but nothing that even remotely qualifies it for inclusion in any church service. Which made me seriously wonder how the performers didn’t realize this is completely inappropriate. Worse, the congregation didn’t notice either. They loved it.

I am not bashing this song. On the contrary, it’s one of the better pop tunes out there. But without getting into a screed regarding the theological soundness of modern worship music, I pray we can all agree that this does not belong in a church service. Ever. Sing it at home, sing it in the car, sing it at the talent show. Don’t sing it during church.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under guerrilla pop musicology, this actually happened

life imitating art imitating life

So I’m sitting at my desk eating a cheeseburger. Lindsay Lohan, one of the resident cats, is sitting on the windowsill next to me. She likes to look out the window at passing cars and critters. After a few minutes I turn my head to look at her, for no particular reason. She’s looking right at me with that look. The one all pet owners know. Pitiful begging.

“Oh, hi. I see you have a food there. It smells good. I also like food. Maybe… maybe I can have some? Maybe…

“I can haz cheezburger?”

That’s right, kids. I was just memed by a cat named Lindsay Lohan.

Leave a comment

Filed under story time, this actually happened, Uncategorized

on why mariah carey’s ‘all i want for christmas’ is one of the greatest pop songs ever written

I know. It’s August. It’s not even Pumpkin Spice Latte season yet, nevermind Christmas. But I think this needs to be brought to light now, in preparation for what’s to come. You know what I’m talking about: the pervasive self-satisfaction in claiming to hate this song. It’s fashionable to disparage it because it’s so damn catchy and upbeat – nowadays nobody wants to be so gauche as to actually enjoy a catchy tune. Even though we all love it, it’s officially attained “guilty pleasure” status. We listen in secret, scorned by the more discriminating tastes of our friends. We apologize when it pops up on our holiday party playlist, feigning embarrassment, even though we deliberately included it. But this season, when your friends start complaining how much they hate it, you no longer have to pretend to agree. You don’t have to feel guilty about liking this song anymore. Because I firmly believe – and will provide evidence to that end – that Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit “All I Want For Christmas” is one of the greatest pop songs ever written.

WARNING: It’s about to get extremely nerdy and a little blasphemous. I make no apologies and I ask no forgiveness. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve read several excellent posts over the years which focused largely on the nostalgic quality of the song lending to its popularity as a Christmas song. The orchestration immediately invokes a holiday mood; the richer, more colorful harmonic language borrowed from the American Songbook (nicely laid out here), as compared to today’s more bland primary chord-based progressions, aurally reminds us of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and the Gershwins. The driving 12/8 meter, combined with the obvious stand-alone (as opposed to self-dubbed) backup singers, hearken back to the 50s and 60s Motown sound as well as traditional rock -n-roll, and arguably the pinnacle of the popular Christmas tune (think Andy Williams) and the lion’s share of holiday radio programming. These factors alone make “All I Want for Christmas” a contender for Christmas Tune Hall of Fame. But a key element has been overlooked – an element I consider the essence of this song’s excellence, and the element that, when combined with the song’s Golden Age musical language and Motown texture, makes it one of the greatest pop songs of all time, transcending the ages. That element is form.

In order to understand “All I Want for Christmas” as a modern pop song based in the tradition of the American Songbook, we must consider the formal language of both genres. Typically, a Songbook’s structure is binary: Intro-Verse. The intro, which serves to set the stage for the song proper, can be viewed as a modern version of recitative: though it was metered, it was not strict. The verse’s usual AABA lyric structure was built toward the “tag,” a phrase at the end of each A line that typically also served as the title of the song (i.e. Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me”).

In contrast, most modern pop songs forego the Songbook’s compound binary structure in favor of a larger rondo-based form. A typical modern pop song might be structured thus: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus(x1000). Common variations include halving the length of the second verse and/or inserting a third verse (or a repeat of all or part of the first verse) before the final chorus. The bridge serves as a contrast to the verse and chorus sections, and can be anything from a reworking of the chorus to an instrumental solo version of a verse to a full-fledged excursion into new material (source: my substantial memory of popular songs from c. 1980-2005).

Notably, some of the greatest modern hits break this structure. The most obvious is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a through-composed song with neither verse nor chorus. But a more interesting and apropos example is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which withholds the chorus until the very end, effectively turning the form on its head, arriving at the chorus as a result of built momentum instead of a familiar waystation between verses. But while Journey relies only on standard pop song form, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” achieves the same momentum by masterfully combining the most effective elements of both idioms, aurally bridging the gap between decades of popular song.

The structure of “All I Want for Christmas” is the pop music equivalent of a sonata-rondo. It begins with a fully orchestrated free-metered introduction, providing Mariah the opportunity to be Mariah while very deliberately building tension; something big is about to happen. Sure enough, after vocal gymnastics and fermatas worthy of a Classical concerto, that driving rock 12/8 we all know and love emerges and with a gliss we slide headfirst into the first verse.

We immediately recognize it as the structured and slightly expanded version of the free intro, and furthermore as a proper pop song verse. It settles nicely in square phrases of 4+4 (“I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need/I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree”); it is comfortable, familiar territory to our modern ears. However, the back half of the verse notably shifts, building momentum. Recalling Songbook traits, the phrases – textually, harmonically, and melodically – foreshorten to groupings of 2+2 (“I just want you for my own/more than you could ever know/make my wish come true”), then we hear the tag: “all I want for Christmas/is you.” We now have, effectively, the length and structured narrative of a modern pop verse propelled by lyric drive to the tag – the punchline, the title of the song – the strength of its arrival psychologically supplanting a chorus.

A second verse, structured identically but with new lyrics, holds to its Songbook roots. In Standards, the second verses – if they exist at all – are substantively equal to and typically align in mood with the first verse (i.e. Gershwin, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”). On the other hand, second verses in modern pop music often either further the emotional state of the singer or advance the narrative. Here, in keeping with Songbook tradition, Mariah opts for the former. Once again, the same foreshortening leads to the tag, and without any delay we are swept into the bridge.

Until this point, Mariah has been focused on her own emotional state, specifically how nothing traditionally seasonal will satisfy her.  Including the introduction, there have so far been five instances each of “don’t” and “won’t”. She has effectively been pouting (“I won’t make a list and send it/to the North Pole for Saint Nick”), refusing to expend any effort whatsoever as it will surely be futile. These sentiments find an appropriate home in the mostly-Songbook form – a free introduction followed by two similar verses, each leading to a tag.

The inclusion of a truly modern bridge at this point redirects and focuses the song’s narrative. The dramatic and musical differences are immediate: here are short, factual statements, underscored by a simpler, shorter, more repetitive harmonic progression than in the prior verses. It is as if she suddenly looks around at the rest of her world (“All the lights are shining so brightly everywhere/and the sound of children’s laughter fills the air”) and realizes her desperation – everyone is enjoying the trappings of the season while she is miserable. These new, short, declamatory statements are bereft of qualifiers and softeners such as “just” and “even.” She is not happy. Notably, this is the first time in the entire song she is obviously overdubbed by herself, not her backup singers; in addition to being a noticeable (and modern) aural contrast, it is has a definite psychological effect – she is inside her own head. The foreshortening present in the verses also appears here, once again dramatizing her heightened emotional state: “And everyone is singing/I hear those sleigh bells ringing.” And whereas before, the tag served as the conclusion to the thought process (“All I want for Christmas/is you”), here there is no conclusion, only a plea: “Santa won’t you bring me the one I really need/Won’t you please bring my baby to me.” It is like a prayer – a supplication to a higher power for help, more than half of it recited on a single note, in a simple, repetitive rhythm. It is also phrased appropriately: “won’t you” (“will you not”) highlights the humility of the supplicant and appeals to the merciful side of the one being asked. 

It is this desperate and heartfelt plea that makes the seamless return to a verse seem like an extension of the bridge itself. The verse, though using the same texture and harmonic language as the previous two, is a full four phrases shorter and contains no complaints about what won’t satisfy her. She has gone through an emotional transformation in the bridge; she has taken stock of her surroundings and her situation and she means business. This final verse is now framed by and heard through the context of that bridge, that plea; the lyrics (“I don’t want a lot for Christmas/This is all I’m asking for”) have become the content of the “prayer” instead of simply a third verse, and the tag – the title, the final line – has become the emotional and dramatic goal of the entire song.

We can now clearly identify the two component forms comprising the song as a whole. The first, to our modern ears, is that of a pop song with a tag instead of a chorus. Its narrative drive and length fit that form quite nicely, and is not unheard of. The second is that of an expanded and extended Songbook form with only one verse. Each A section ends as expected with a tag, and the B section provides contrast. It can be viewed as a development of Songbook form the same way sonata form can be seen as an evolution of rounded binary. However, each of these forms on its own cannot account for the dramatic power of this song; the drive to the tag and the narrative shift of the bridge are each crucial to its development and would not be as effective without the other.

Without this hybrid form, “All I Want for Christmas” would not pack the emotional punch it does. A modern chorus-based idiom would lessen the drama significantly due to its repetitive nature. A traditional Songbook form, on the other hand, would remove the sense of a narrative and restrict the opportunity for development due to its constrained structure. It is, therefore, the exploitation of the key dramatic device of each form – the tag and the bridge – that make this song what it is. The tag is, after all, the dramatic goal of the verse, but the inclusion of a masterfully-written modern bridge re-casts its emotional punch, making it the necessary conclusion to the entire song, not just each verse. It is this masterful blending of forms – the emotional weight of the Songbook and narrative drive of the modern pop song – that, when combined with Songbook harmonic language and Motown texture, make Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” a song for the ages and one of the greatest pop songs of all time.

1 Comment

Filed under guerrilla pop musicology

let sleeping dragons lie Pt IV, rubble

So apparently my email to Linda hit a nerve. I wasn’t originally going to post her reply but… the more I read it, the more it needs to be shared. I think you’ll agree.

I went to bed around midnight last night, and I was done. Done with all of it.

The flicker of lightning woke me up around 3:30, and then I noticed my phone blinking a notification at me. It was an email. From Linda. Time-stamped 3:04 am. Well! That’s quite a time to be sending an email. Let’s see what it says. (Note: I have redacted some details to protect her family, as I don’t have evidence that they were involved in the illegal aspects of this shitshow.)

“You are correct.  I have no experience as a landlord nor have I as a tenant.  My intention for buying was to move in and share with family.  Several of my [family] live in Cincinnati and work at [places] nearby.  My [family] who lives [nearby] found the place.  We bought it very quickly without investigating. Since you had a lease, [family] was recovering from surgery, and my [family] and my place in [other state] hadn’t sold yet, I found that along with having the building,  I was to becoming a landlord by default.  And still did not have my own place in Cincinnati.  It was bad experience.  Thank you for taking the time to educate me.  I’ve learned I don’t want to be a landlord.”

Let’s unpack this gem, shall we?

First off: Who enters a legal contract with another person and goes, “huh, I know nothing about this, I’ll just wing it?” How… how dumb do you have to be?  I mean, the whole situation sounds like poorly thought-through and even more poorly executed mess, but really, winging a legal contract? Really?

Second: That’s a lot of excuses – a lot of excuses – I count five excuses and five irrelevant “life is hard” complaints masquerading as extenuating circumstances, correct me if I’m wrong – with not even an acknowledgement of any responsibility on her part whatsoever.

Third: No apology. Nothing even in the same galaxy as an apology. Not even a half-assed one. Not “Sorry you went through this,” or “Sorry this turned out the way it did.” Nothing.

I cannot even imagine the hubris it took to hit Send. Seriously though, you end up in legal jeopardy due to your own willful neglect, I decline to take you to court over it, you can’t even admit you had any responsibility in the matter, and don’t even attempt to apologize? Wow. I can’t quite decide if she’s too ashamed to let it go without attempting justification or too proud to admit she fucked up big. Could go either way, but judging by the snide and condescending tone, I’d bet on the latter.

But, the moral of the story stands. Don’t rent from Linda Wilson (Wilson Booth LLC). She’s already proven she’s a horrific landlord. She’s just built a pile of evidence against her as a person, as well.

Good riddance.

Leave a comment

Filed under home sweet home, story time, this actually happened

let sleeping dragons lie Pt III, burn

Landlord‘s name is Linda Wilson. She is neglectful, uncommunicative, and unfit to be a landlord. Do not rent from her.

Right about when I had enough alcohol to calm me down Linda responded to my email last night, approaching midnight, destroying any chances I had of sleeping. It began:

“Dear Liz,

I assumed you decided to forego your deposit. [Yes, she actually typed that.]  I know you were working at cleaning but with the heat I thought you had given up. I took pictures which I will attach so you can see what all still needed to be done.  I hired someone to help.  She worked for over 15 hours at $20 an hour.  I paid her $300.  I will have a copy of the receipt made for you if you like.”

She then sent me a series of photos. The only actual cause against me were boxes left in the basement and some items on the porch, both of which I verbally cleared with her in the preceding weeks. Every other picture was of dust. Literally. Dusty windowsills, a cobweb in a corner.

She claimed “it was a big job” and offered me $150.

I could drag her into small claims court, dispute every charge she made against my deposit, and win almost all of them. And boy is that tempting, after all the shit she’s tried to pull. But the thought of dealing with her for that much longer… I couldn’t abide it. I accepted the offer, and I drafted an email laying out my case against her and why she is unfit to be a landlord. She dropped off the check this afternoon, and as soon as I deposited it, I sent the email.

—————

Linda,

Thank you for dropping off the check. Speaking as your now former tenant, I advise you to brush up on Ohio’s laws regarding the landlord-tenant relationship before leasing out the apartment again. I don’t know if you’ve ever been a landlord before but it’s painfully clear you don’t know what you’re doing. The only reason I haven’t taken you to small claims court is that I sincerely never want to deal with you again. But I could have, and was sorely tempted to. Here’s why.

According to statute in every state, the security deposit cannot be used to cover anything that is considered “normal wear and tear,” including dust. You had a legitimate case with the boxes. The bathroom would have been arguable. None of the other photos indicated any “damage” or excessive dirt that would have been considered neglectful on my part. These would not stand up in small claims court.

Relatedly, you seemed to think the boxes in the driveway were somehow something you could charge me for, on no grounds whatsoever. They were trash, as should have been patently obvious by the fact that they were sitting next to four full trash bins. They go out with those bins on the next trash day. There’s no legal basis to charge a tenant for something because you’re annoyed trash day happens after they turned in the keys.

Most importantly, I could take you to court solely on the basis of your email’s first line: “I assumed you decided to forego your deposit.” Again, I don’t know on what planet you think that’s legal or even reasonable. I gave you my forwarding address when I moved out, therefore within 30 days you had to either 1. return it to me or 2. provide me with an itemized list of why you were not. Those are your only options. You don’t get to decide to keep the deposit and not tell the tenant. That’s both incredibly slimy and ILLEGAL.

FURTHERMORE – and this is important – the only reason I’m forced to settle is because I contacted you yesterday, 7/26, instead of today, 7/27, which prompted you to send me your complaints. I have heard not a single word from you since I handed in my keys 30 days ago. Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. Read that again: Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. The only reason you get to keep ANY of my deposit is because I contacted you 24 hours too early.

I am kicking myself for that, but I am absolutely furious with you. You have failed to communicate with me at every stage. I thought you would have learned after you called me at the airport to yell at me for not being able to read your mind, but I was apparently mistaken. I wonder if you would have figured it out if you legally owed me the entire deposit because of your own neglect to contact me. You also seem to think you can charge a tenant because you’re annoyed at them, on no legal ground whatsoever. For your sake, I hope you get your act together before your next tenant has grounds to sue you. I am not optimistic. I am telling all my friends not to rent from you.

Good riddance.

Liz Remizowski

—————

Her name is Linda Wilson. Do not rent from her.

1 Comment

Filed under home sweet home, story time, this actually happened

let sleeping dragons lie Pt II, flashback

While we’re waiting for Landlord* to get her act together, I thought I’d share the airport incident referenced in Part I.

It was a Wednesday in early June. I had secured a place to live and was starting to pack. My neighbor was just about moved out from downstairs – we had been commiserating about the moving process for a few weeks. That morning, we met outside the apartment one last time. She said she had officially informed Landlord she was out, but Landlord told Neighbor to give me the keys and she’d pick them up. This seemed highly odd to me, and in retrospect should have been a red flag, but I took the key and wished her well. I sat it with my spare key on my bookshelf, figuring I’d be giving them back to Landlord all at the same time.

That afternoon, at 2:43, Landlord texts me.

Landlord: I am on my way over to get Neighbor’s key. Thanks
Me: (are you fucking serious? no notice? I’m literally on my way out the door to work.) I’ll be here another 5 mins, I have to leave for work
Landlord: Two minutes

I stood outside on the landing. Soon Landlord pulled in the driveway and I went down to hand her Neighbor’s key through her open passenger-side window. She gave me the most condescending smile I’ve ever seen and asked how the moving was going. I told her, “It’s going,” and when it became clear she had nothing else to say I turned around and got in my car. I was already angry with her at her unprofessionalism in handling this move and her condescension was not helping.

Meantime, I was also preparing to fly the next day to NY for a week to attend my cousin’s wedding and visit family. That night, I realized I would be gone for the only recyclable-pickup day left in June before I was scheduled to move out, so Thursday morning I shot Landlord a text:

Me: I’ll be out of state this afternoon returning 18 June- since Neighbor is gone, would it be possible for someone to put out the trash/recycle bins this Monday? Sorry about this, but it’s the last recycle day before I plan to move out
Landlord: Sure be glad to
Me: Thank you! I’ll let you know an official date as soon as I finalize with the movers
Landlord: [thumbs-up emoji, and another emoji my phone won’t process] (again with the unprofessionalism)

Good, got that taken care of. Now for my car. While Neighbor lived at our house, she had always parked in the narrow stone-walled driveway, and I in front of the house on the street. But since she had officially left I decided to park in the driveway while I was gone instead of paying for parking at the airport or leaving it on a side street.

I got a ride to CVG, got through TSA, and grabbed a table with an outlet in the food court. I finalized a date with the movers, then settled down with a podcast on my lappy and plenty of time to spare. After about half an hour, the phone rings. It’s not a number I recognize, but something tells me to answer. It’s Landlord.

Landlord: Hi, Liz?
Me: Yes?
Landlord: It’s Landlord.
Me: (I’ve got a bad feeling about this.) Hi, what’s up?
Landlord: Is that your car parked in the driveway?
Me: (oh no) Yes…
Landlord: Could you move it? I need access to the garage.
Me: (welp) Uh… I’m at the airport right now.
Landlord: (clearly not anticipating this answer) Oh…
Me: Yeah, I’m gonna be gone for a week. I told you that this morning.
Landlord: (getting angry) But you always park on the street!
Me: …because Neighbor parked in the driveway. That was our arrangement. Now that she’s gone, I parked there, since it is part of the property.
Landlord: (accusatory) You know I’m moving in downstairs, right?
Me: (don’t you dare with that tone) Sure, but you didn’t tell me when. I had no idea you were planning to move stuff in this week.
Landlord: I need access to the driveway for the moving truck!
Me: (and this is my problem, how?) You never said anything to me. We’ve spoken twice in the last 24 hours, I informed you I was going to be gone, you confirmed that you knew I’d be gone, and you never mentioned it. If you had told me, I could have moved it to a side street or to the airport. But you said nothing.
Landlord: (seeing this is her fault, grasping) Well… do you have a friend who has a key who can move it?
Me: No, I have the only key.
Landlord: (exasperated sigh) So you’re telling me I have to cancel the moving truck and rent storage space for my stuff for a week?
Me: (oh for fuck’s sake) I GUESS SO. I don’t know what you want me to tell you! You didn’t tell me you needed driveway access and now there’s nothing I can do. Maybe you should have communicated better.
Landlord: (at the end of her rope) I’m really frustrated!
Me: (at the end of MY rope) Yeah? Well frankly SO AM I. You call me up at the airport to yell at me for not reading your mind. You knew I was leaving for a week and you said nothing.
Landlord: I have to cancel the moving truck.
Me: (yep, you do) Again, I don’t know what you want me to do about it. You never mentioned it to me.
Landlord: Alright well… goodbye.

Un. Believable.

I was somewhat concerned she would try to move my car, since she obviously doesn’t think anything even halfway through. But she didn’t, either because she realized it would be several kinds of illegal or gave up because it would be too difficult. I thought this episode would teach her to communicate better, but as we can see from yesterday’s post, it did not. I did take some satisfaction (schadenfreude, admittedly) when she later informed me she couldn’t open the garage door anyway, because when RPM’s guys tried to fix it under the previous owner, they jammed it shut. There’s no way to open the garage door without destroying it.

*Oh yes, I’m releasing her full name in the next post. As soon as the check clears.

1 Comment

Filed under home sweet home, story time, this actually happened

let sleeping dragons lie Pt I

If we’ve met, you know it takes quite a bit to anger me. I am very understanding and pretty tolerant. Mistakes happen; rectify it and we’re good. However, every once in a while, someone or something crosses the line and rouses the dragon.

This is one of those times.

Relevant backstory: Landlord* bought our old house last year. I had hopes she would be a better landlord than Pete, but I soon discovered my hopes were ill-founded. Suddenly in late May, she decided to evict my neighbor and me so she and her husband could move in. We had until June 30. Profoundly annoying, but legal. (This saga deserves a entire series of its own posts. However, in the interest of brevity, this is the story in a nutshell.) Over the course of that month she declined to grant me a moving extension, then angrily called me while I was waiting for a flight at the airport berating me for leaving my car in the driveway while I was gone, because she needed access to the driveway but didn’t tell me because apparently I was supposed to read her mind. (This will be its very own post one day, oh yes it will.) When I returned from my trip she took a tour of the place to see what condition it was in and what repairs she’d have to make since she never walked through before she bought it, offered me an undefined extension four days before the movers came, informed me she eventually wanted to rent out my apartment to someone else, and bought my spare furniture from me so she could rent out the apartment furnished. But she didn’t think of this beforehand – she kept half my furniture but not me. And every time I spoke with her she was entirely condescending.

I moved out of my old place June 27. Handed Landlord my keys, gave her my forwarding address, didn’t swear at her, and drove off. I haven’t heard anything from her since.

I texted her this afternoon (the most reliable way of getting a response) asking if she sent out the security deposit yet. Three hours later, she replied: “I had to hire professional cleaners for 15 hours at $20 per hour. There were also some damages”

Furious. I am furious. It was clean, there was no damage, and WHO THE FUCK THINKS IT’S OKAY OR LEGAL TO EAT A TENANT’S SECURITY DEPOSIT WITHOUT TELLING THEM?

Fuming, I texted her back asking what exactly were the damages. Then I called her and (surprise!) left a voicemail. Then I looked up Ohio state code. AND GUESS WHAT! According to code, she had 30 days to give me written notification and an itemized list if she was keeping any part of it. So I sent her an email both linking and quoting the code:

“(B) … Any deduction from the security deposit shall be itemized and identified by the landlord in a written notice delivered to the tenant together with the amount due, within thirty days after termination of the rental agreement and delivery of possession. The tenant shall provide the landlord in writing with a forwarding address or new address to which the written notice and amount due from the landlord may be sent…

(C) If the landlord fails to comply with division (B) of this section, the tenant may recover the property and money due him, together with damages in an amount equal to the amount wrongfully withheld, and reasonable attorneys fees.”

and followed it up with:

“Since tomorrow is the 30th day since I turned in my key, and I have not received written notification of any kind since I moved out, including itemization with proof of damages in any form, as of tomorrow you are in violation of state law. If this is not rectified and I have not received my security deposit back by this Friday (July 29, 2016) I will contact the appropriate authorities.”

I then texted her, telling her to check that email account. I got no response. I don’t expect one.

Though she legally owes me my deposit by tomorrow, I will give her until Friday so to avoid legal issues, since clearly the law is on my side. Even if she were asked, she cannot prove any of the “damages” were caused by me (which they were not), and I am sure the old Property Management Company still has records on file from when I moved in four years ago. And even if I had all that against me, she has already abdicated her legal claim to my security deposit since she has provided me with absolutely no written communication whatsoever since I moved out 30 days ago.

I have been warned it will be an uphill battle to get my money back. To which I say: this is a battle I will not lose. This is illegal. She has been nothing but miserable, condescending, and uncommunicative to me. I have put up with her shit for that long, but this is a step too far. This is illegal.

You woke the dragon; I will raze your village.

Stay tuned for further developments. I am not optimistic but I am prepared for war.

*I am assigning her the moniker of “Landlord” for the time being in the interests of not being a jerk (even though I’d be completely justified). If this does not reach a peaceful resolution, I will give you her full name.

2 Comments

Filed under home sweet home, story time, this actually happened