the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Perfect Post to Be Syndicated by the Washington Post


Sophia called me up and said she was hungry. I suggested our usual lunch place in Redono Beach.

“Not that place again,” she said. “Can’t we ever do anything different?”

I’ve heard this said to me many times in the bedroom, but never about my choices of where to eat lunch.

But then inspiration hit me.

“Oh, I know where I’ll take you. I found a place where they have really good gyros!”

“Great” said Sophia, turned-on by my surprising show of spontaneity. 

But things quickly changed as we pulled into the parking lot of Dave’s Burgers. I could see Sophia was incredulous.

“We’re going here?” she said, emphasis on HERE.

I reminded Sophia that some of the best hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, even GYROS are created like masterpieces in the dumpiest of take-out joints.

Inside Dave’s Burgers, it was like Formica Heaven. The Menu board was as long as “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” (pretentious literary reference to impress). There was Mexican food, Italian food, Greek food, and an assortment of burgers, with or without chili on top.

“This Gyro is like a sandwich with shaved meat in a pita, right” asked Sophia.


“You know I don’t like sandwiches too much.”

Before I could spell “high maintenance,” I found a solution.

“Look,” I said, pointing towards the vast menu board, “They have a gyro platter for two dollars more. And it comes with a salad and a drink.”

Ten minutes later, we were sitting at at an uncomfortable plastic table while Sophia stared down at her plate glistening with fat, reconstituted meat slices.

“Aren’t they supposed to use real meat?” she asked.

Maybe I was so deluded by WANTING to find a good gyro sandwich in Redondo Beach, that I imagined it as tasty the first time. Or maybe when you order a sandwich rather than the platter, and you get it wrapped up in paper, you just don’t see what the meat actually looks like (or see it dripping with oil).

The “salad” was 1/6 lettuce, 1/6 french fries, and 2/3 greasy onion rings. We ended up tossing our food away.

“I hope the guys who work here don’t eat this crap every day,” said Sophia. “They’re gonna drop dead.”

Note to Editors of the Washington Post:

OK, let me take a little pause in this story for some literary self-criticism.

I understand that if I want my posts to be picked up by your illustrious newspaper, I must start telling “true” stories. That means no fudging the facts or using exaggeration. After all, imagine what would happen to my budding career if I start making up the story like Jayson Blair did with the Times.

The problem I have with most true life stories is that the endings are usually lame. Most real-life incidents don’t come with a ready punch-line. That said — THIS true-life “gyro” story does have a good ending. But the final twist is so forced and obvious that you are not going to believe that this really happened. It just seems like hack work. But it did happen. I swear. I swear on the names of your gods, Woodward and Bernstein.


Quick recap:

Sophia says, “I hope the guys who work here don’t eat this crap every day. They’re gonna drop dead.”

As we leave Dave’s Burgers, three fire engines, an ambulance, and two paramedics zoom into the parking lot. One of the chefs collapsed in the kitchen after eating his own lunch, and is carried out on a stretcher.


  1. bookfraud

    if the snotlockers at the wp don’t pick up on this, it would be oh so wrong. of course it’s true — the talking penis said so.

  2. Neil

    Bookfraud — took the penis line out, along with several ‘blogging’ references. When your own wife tells you that you’re “jumping the shark,” you know you’re in trouble.

  3. better safe than sorry

    love it!!!
    if you had taken my son, he would have gone up for seconds, to bad you had to pretend you couldn’t eat it.

  4. Dagny

    Ooo. I must go to this place the next time I am in SoCal. I love food that clogs my arteries. And Sophia should be applauded. If I had taken my mom somewhere like that, she would have sniffed and declared that she smelled grease and told me that we would have to leave immediately. At least you got to order.

  5. Rabbit

    That is a good ending. Well, unless you’re the chef.

  6. Kevin

    That’s exactly what we need… a site dedicated to bloggers who have jumped the shark. Who wants to start it up?

  7. bookfraud

    so the tp jumps the shark — i guess that’s what happens when you beat something to death.

  8. Alissa

    I’m not sure I believe you…

  9. V-Grrrl

    Consider this: it’s legal to use reconstituted meat in gyros, sell “fruit beverages” that don’t contain fruit juice, allow Cool Whip to pass for whipped cream, and call Velveeta “cheese food.” With all the petroleum byproducts passing for food in the grocery store, the veracity of blog punchlines is the least of our worries.

    America, home of the faux and the brave.

  10. jackt

    Ouch. That sucks. Poor guy.

    The best shawarma platters (gyros) in LA, btw, are in the jewelry district Downtown. Try St Vincent Deli in the alley off 7th street between Hill and Broadway. They make it fresh. The meat’s not rubbery.

  11. Painterbeachgirl

    She should read fortunes…or maybe that was just common sense. Finding a good gyro must be like me on the east coast (coming from southern california) looking for good Mexican food. What a nightmare. Finding a restaurant that doesnt use Velveeta Cheese and call it Mexican food is difficult.

  12. Paris Parfait

    You’re so clever – that ending was perfect! (if it really happened, said she, the skeptical journalist).

  13. Thérèse

    Wow. The most amazingly incredible things happen around you, Neil.

    Not that I don’t find them credible, cause I completely do. *solemn nod*

  14. Scarlet

    Best of luck with getting picked up;)

    I’ve never had a gyro because I get paranoid about how to pronounce it.

  15. Neil

    Scarlet — You sound like me in French restaurants. “I’ll have THIS.”

    I grew up calling it a GEAR-O, but I think real Greeks call it a GI-RO.

  16. Edgy Mama

    What is wrong with those editors at the Washington Post?

    Now I want a gyro.

  17. Elizabeth


    the gyros in the Adirondacks KILL– seriously–

    I think there’ll be good views there– but will it be as good as New Hamp-shuh?

    Hmmm, they’ve got more money, but we’ve got less people– tough call.

    Hope it’s a great vacation!

  18. Neil

    Elizabeth — Actually, Queens is Gyro-central.

  19. Mari

    hahaha! That’s a fantastic story.

    Did You Know:

    In Engerland or Angle Land or Land of Angles/Angels, there is a difference linguistically speaking in the term ‘Gyro’ with L.A., USA, usage of the word.

    Gyro, spelled Giro means ‘the dole’ or, I think, it means ‘social security payments’ (what unemployed people get paid by the state, yes?). See the song “killamangiro” by wasted-rocker-who-found-god-in-Portugal, “Peter Doherty” with the lyrics “He killed a man for his giro today” (post-relevant lyrics!).

    Oh, and for your reference, Gyros are called Kebabs in the UK- and a rather tasteless slang reference for a woman’s ‘under-bits’, very much a street term and not to be used with anyone you hope will respect you unless you are in a position to do so is “badly-packed kebab” (Never thought I’d be writing those words down, but there you go).

  20. Neil

    In the states, if you ask for a kebab, you get a skewer of meat help together with a wood or metal stick. And the pieces of meat are thicker. I always thought a gyro was specifically the thinly shave meat off of the rotating thing-a-ma-jig.

    Google, here I come!

  21. 2nd Pearl at the Post

    Good food is so hard to find.

  22. Mari

    Yes, in England they differentiate the species of skewer kebabs from the pitta packed kebabs- the first one is called Shish Kebab, and the other Donner Kebab, the latter of which are often consumed after vast amounts of alcohol, as they do seem tastier at that time. A guy who writes a magazine column made a pun of the fact that Donner sounds like Donna, so when he didn’t manage to pick up a lady on their way home from the pub, they went home with Donna. Donna Kebab. Hohoho.

    Okey okey it isn’t that funny but it’s because I didn’t tell it right.

    Question- how do you say ‘chatting up?’ in US English? Or ‘pulling?’ (chatting up is when a guy aproaches a girl and talks to her to pick her up, and pulling is when he ‘scores’, he ‘gets in’, erm, you know what I mean).

  23. anne arkham

    You should have gone to Olive Garden.

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