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Lousy Grammar


Wall Street Journal: Spring 1997
By Kathryn Kranhold

Renting an apartment in this town can take more than just a security deposit and a couple of good references.

Landlord Dave Goldstein wants you to bare your soul as well. Before renting any of his upscale apartments in Hancock Park or Hollywood Hills, Mr. Goldstein wants prospective tenants to write an essay about themselves. “What they give me shows me who they are,” says Mr. Goldstein, who owns 160 units around the city. “A regular rental application doesn’t mean anything.”

Sondra Haley, a new Goldstein tenant, says she was stunned when she first heard about the requirement. “I wanted to say. ‘Are you crazy, l don’t have time for this,’ “says Ms. Haley, who moved here from New York to take a marketing job in January. Still, she gave in. “I was obsessed,” she says. “I wanted the apartment. When I tell my former colleagues in New York, they just stop and say, ‘Only in L.A.’ “

Many of those who turn in essays to Mr. Goldstein concentrate on why they want a particular apartment, and their prose sometimes borders on the obsequious. One prospective renter noted that the unit she saw would be “perfect” for “cocktails and low-key entertaining . . . not to mention that it is generally fabulous looking.”

But others get more personal. One would-be tenant compared her life to Mary Tyler Moore’s, quoting the song, “You’re going to make it after all.” She said the apartment was everything she needed to “become myself.” Many writers are in the entertainment business, “I have climbed the ladder of success very quickly,” one TV executive boasted. “I tell everyone I am going to be the next Aaron Spelling, but with better shows.”

Mr. Goldstein says that he never tells anybody what to write. However, he says he doesn’t like it when professional scriptwriters or others who have talent have clearly dashed off their essays in a hurry. When that happens, he says, “I make them rewrite.”

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