This is about revenge.

Before I was a playwright, I was a property manager. I was the Section Chief of the Property Management Unit in the FDIC Houston Consolidated Office. Which means I ramrodded the unit that handled all the foreclosure properties for the failed banks we took over in East Texas. We did the appraising, inspecting, leasing, evicting. We paid the taxes, collected the rents, cut the grass, unstopped the toilets, you name it.

biz card

ore prop mgt

And with all that, the one thing I know is, when a tenant vacates the property in good condition, you refund him his security deposit. It's not law. But it's custom. It's what decent people do. Decent people who live by the Golden Rule.

Fast forward ten years. Imagine my surprise when I got a measly sixty buck refund on my $1,300 security deposit. I thought this must be a mistake, a big snafu. But no. It was real, And the more I looked into it, the more I understood that my sixty dollar refund was just one small cog in a huge machine the sole purpose of which was to make George Argyros a billionaire.

So who the fuck is George Argyros? Well, for one, he's a billionaire Orange Countian. That's bad. What is worse, he's a billionaire Orange Countian whose principal obsession is erecting monuments to himself. Here's one of them. An interior view of the Argyros Forum on the Chapman University campus.

argyros forum stairs

He's also a slumlord. Which is how he made his billions. According to the Orange County Register, he owns about 4,500 rental units in the OC, including the apartment I lived in in 2000 - 2001. 4,500 is a bunch.

He's a bad slumlord (are there good slumlords?). Bad enough his tenants sued him for ripping them off, but the Powers That Be gave him a slap on the wrist. That's another thing about George. He's politically connected. A few years back, he was your Ambassador to Spain, mainly because he raised $30 Million for George W. Bush. Whatever. Here's the news article about the settlement of the tenants suit along with a suggestion that George's political clout may have weakened the plantiffs' case.


Back in the day, when you were getting ready to move out, you cleaned the house. You vacuumed, scrubbed, buffed, scoured and burnished. Because you wanted a nice reference from your landlord ("Oh yes, they were ideal tenants. Everything was neat as a pin.") and because you wanted your deposit back. But with George, that went by the board. It didn't matter how you left the unit. He had this team of illegals working at below-Burger King wages who'd go in after you left and hold a white tornado (That's military talk for "major cleanup"). All so he could manufacture a cleaning bill that mysteriously amounted to 95% of your security deposit, leaving you with sixty dollars in chump change and a note not to spend it all in one place. As a former property manager, I looked at this, gave a low whistle, and said, "Motherfuck, you are good!" Then, of course, I resolved to get even.


A great philosopher once said, "If you stick it up their ass, they's the ones gettin' their hands dirty pullin' it out." Well, I'm not that aggressive. I live by the maxim, every dog has his day. So, like a good ole Jeff Foxworthy redneck coondog, I parked my carcass and waited with one ear cocked until George erected another Argyros monument. And soon enough, there it was. The Julianne Argyros Stage at the South Coast Repertory Theatre.

Question. Should a theatre be in the business of accepting gifts from a slumlord? Thus did the fact of the Julianne Argyros Stage present the SCR with its gravest moral dilemma of the early 21st century. The SCR Board pondered the question for maybe three minutes, tops. It took the local OC lefties another four minutes to come around. Joel Beers in the OC Weekly wondered aloud whether the South Coast Rep was selling its soul to the devil for the price of a new stage. After two paragraphs of obligatory PC blathering, he guessed not. But that wasn't the end of it. No siree. In the words of Brother Bluto, nothing is over until we decide it is.

Here is my Letter to the Editor....

argyros letter to the editor

Like the taxi driver in the Seinfeld episode says, "Revenge is very good."

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1 comment:

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