the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

My First Attempt at Looting


Today, the lights went out in Los Angeles.  There was a major power outage.  It affected more than 1/2 the city.  Everything went off, including Dreamhost, my web host.  That’s why my website was down half the day.  I was at home on my computer when it happened.  With no internet access or TV, I needed something to occupy my mind.  I figured that this was a good opportunity to try my hand at looting.

I shaved, put on a new shirt I bought on Saturday at Nordstrom, and ran into the street excitedly.  I ran to Wilshire Boulevard, but was disappointed when I didn’t see any other looters.  Frankly I was hoping for more of a “social” event.  And here I was wearing a new shirt for nothing.

I was going to back down from the looting experience, but then I told myself, “Sometimes you just gotta do things by yourself.”

My first decision:  What to loot?

I noticed that I was standing in front of a Cingular store.   I became indecisive about whether it was worth the effort.  I’m already with Cingular and their service is terrible.  Do I really want the hassle of looting the place just to get another Cingular-only compatible phone?

I ran across the street to IHOP.  I love their Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity signature breakfast (although I usually substitue tomatoes for the sausages).   But today I was less interested in food than I was of their Coca-Cola dispenser.  Imagine how cool it would be to have one during a party in your house. 

“Hello, Neil” said the waitress in front. 

Damn it.  It was Sheryl, the cute waitress I always flirt with when I order my breakfast special.  How can I ever ask her out on a date if she knows I’m a looter?

“Nice shirt.  Is it new?”  she asked me.

“Uh… I have to go.  I left my wallet at home.”  I said, as I ran out embarrassed.

I decided to go to a place where no one knows me.  I ran up the block — to Staples.  I love all sorts of pens and notebooks.  I could even use a new stapler.  But then I noticed that they were building a flashy new Office Depot right across the street. 

“That’s mean of Office Depot,” I thought.  “That’s really going to hurt Staples’ business.”

I decided against Staples, feeling guilty about their sudden competition.

Next up — Starbucks.  Finally, a place I hate.  A place that deserves to be looted by me.  After all, how much money have I’ve wasted there on lattes?  I ran into Starbucks #342334 and immediately went to that side display where they sell their wares.

“Putamayo World Music CDs?  Have one already.  Coffee mug for the car?  The one I have is fine.  The board game “Cranium?”  Played it once and it was terribly boring.   I’d steal some coffee beans, but then I’d have to make the stuff at home and I’m just too lazy to do that.  It’s so much easier just to come to Starbucks and buy a cup of coffee.”

Just then, the lights went on.  That’s it.  I missed my oppoortunity.  Just like always.  I bought a cappuccino and sat down to read the Los Angeles Times Calendar section.   


  1. Pearl

    Neil, love that “sneer” on the looter’s face.

    You definitely stole something: THE SPOTLIGHT.

    You’re zany, you’re funny, you’re g…o…o…d! And if I wasn’t already happily married, I might’ve also said that you stole my heart 😉

  2. ms. sizzle

    you played cranium once and it was terribly boring? i think you might have been playing with the wrong peeps and not drinking enough. . . cuz when my crew plays that, it’s one hell of a night.

  3. Nicole

    wow, you really suck at looting! (whew!)

  4. M.A.

    Why aren’t you syndicated? You just made my evening. Seriously. Funniest. post. ever.

  5. Pearl

    Neil, something is definitely ferkakt with your blog (maybe due to the blackout?); I was not the first with a comment — there had been 3 ahead of mine when I looked, but suddenly I hit “Say It!” and I was right up there.

  6. Neil

    My web server, Dreamhost is located in Los Angeles. Everyone’s site was down for hours. “Ferkakt” is exactly what the customer service guy at Dreamhost said on the phone when I asked him what was wrong. I’m just not sure how this guy in India knew his Yiddish.

  7. Modigli

    You never fail to amuse me and make me smile. Even on my worst of days! I needed a fun post like that. Thank you!

    Glad the lights are back on! 🙂

  8. Susan

    Cranium? Boring? Gasp! You must not have been playing it right…

  9. deb

    Ah-HA! That’s why my also Dreamhost-ed site was down for a while. Being the pinnacle of maturity and clearheadedness that I am, I immediately shot off a blaming email to someone working tinkering on my site.

    This probably goes without saying, but I’d have looted Williams Sonoma. How things have changed from the NYC blackout, where I spent the evening on the roof my high rise with strangers, finishing all of the beer in our refridgerators.

  10. Neil

    OK, I’ll try Cranium again at my next “game night.” Anything other than “Pictionary.”

  11. Bama Girl

    Where do you think up this stuff? You are a good writer. Maybe you should do that for a living. Oh yeah, you do! Good for you!!

  12. cookiebitch

    Two words buddy … LIQUOR STORE. Call me … I’ll bring the ski masks.

  13. Sophia

    M.A. said
    “Why aren’t you syndicated? ”

    I agree. I’ve been asking that same question for a long time now. Maybe we should help introduce Neil to the mass media so I can finally get that Clydesdale horse he promised me? Any suggestions?

  14. Josia

    What wimpy behaviour! Come over here to Israel – we need to put you in the army for a couple of months and let you hold a rifle and stuff … there’s special programs for guys your age …

  15. Neil

    Josia, are you suggesting that I should have looted?

  16. Bill

    Your looter looks like he belongs in a band from the eighties. Maybe XTC? What band is this guy from? He has such a look.

  17. Megan

    Syndicate this baby! But, before you do, let me get your autograph so it’ll be worth a whole 25 cents one day. You’ll make me rich! 😉

  18. xtessa

    ROFL!!! hilarious, neil… what a pity, you’re all prepare to loot and there’s nothing out there.;)

  19. Anne-Marie

    Hmmm the looter looks like something out of a mcdonalds ad from the 80’s. Maybe the new shirt wasn’t such a great purchace!

  20. Nancy French

    Finally, some one else sees the coma-inducing characteristics of Crainium… the game designed orignally as a cure for insomnia…

  21. ashbloem

    Cranium is the best game ever invented. Well. After poker and Scrabble.

  22. The Moviequill

    great stuff…I always wondered if there is looting during convention season, cause you just know everyone will forget to take off the name tags

  23. Jack

    I see that you got your mask at the Pleasurechest, the Lone Ranger mask is a good tool for many things, but looting is not one of them. 😉

  24. jaymarie

    so funny. thanks for the laugh.

    (i ended up with a huge bruise and abrasion on my knee from a sunday night cranium game. those charades are dangerous! well, they are if you are wearing heels on a wood floor. did i mention the wounded ego? yeah, there was that too.)

  25. Josia

    I’m suggesting that the real Neil – the real all of us – wouldn’t think twice about it …. what we actually play out in this world doesn’t really matter – this is all just an illusion … only people who know how to work with the light are living life in the fast lane.

  26. Megarita

    That blackout was easily the lamest crisis ever. I heard the news on the ride home, completely panicked on behalf of the entire west coast, got home and found out that some yokel cut the wrong cable. I ask you. Culture of fear!!!! Working well!!!! Good for you trying to make the best of it.

  27. amanda

    whew…hahaha…too funny…
    i laughed (shirt from nordstroms) cried (poor staples), better than “cats”.

  28. maribeth

    You could have looted an extra newspaper from the paper box.

  29. Jason W.

    How boring…I was in El Segundo all day and never had so much as a light flicker.

  30. Colleen

    Wait—there’s a new Office Depot opening up on Wilshire?!?!

  31. Jewels

    I am so glad that you are back. I missed you yesterday!

    Good luck with the looting thing next time….I am sure you will get it figured out!

  32. Neil

    Colleen — actually it’s a half a block away from the Staples. I said it was across the street as part of my “artistic license” in telling the story. I hope that doesn’t put me a notch lower in your eyes. It’s still pretty “cold” of Office Depot to do that. What ever happened to corporate “respect?”

  33. Pants

    I wish you had thrown a brick through the Cingular storefront. One of their “customer service” technicians literally left me in tears.

  34. mysterygirl!

    Hilarious. You’re never gonna be a successful looter if you keep analyzing everything, though. 🙂

  35. ekramer

    I’m glad you didn’t loot. I didn’t bring you up to be a looter. Unless it was Loehmann’s.

  36. Neil

    Mom, didn’t see ya. No, I wouldn’t loot unless there was a sale at Loehmann’s. Are you going to buy a pair of those low-cut pants for Dad?

  37. cruisin-mom

    Mom Kramer…you’re hysterical!

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