1. Tuesday, September 10, 2002

    on days like today 

    when i have to show up to work in a suit and tie, because i have to go to court, or because i have to go deep undercover, or because i have to lurk in the shadows, or stake out someone in beverly hills, or drive a fancy car, or drink in the corners of a swanky cafe, or pick up a debutante’s mamma and flirt with the chamber maid, or fly the friendly skies first classe, or eat crepes, or beat the shit out of a badfella in the mens room of santa anita, before i head out to the greater los angeles metropolis i make sure to get my shoes shined, a task lost on the nike generation, but one that i appreciate for it slows us down on our quick step through life.

    being black i like to have my shoes polished by a white man but i talk to the black man.

    “your girl just won in china,” he says to me. i tip them both $5 and a cuban cigar, before the shine.

    try it.

    “what girl is that?” i ask.

    “anna coppacabana.” he says and flashes a gold incisor.

    “ah, yes,” i say, “she won easily 6-1, 6-4 over Mireille Dittmann,” i tell my friends.

    the white guy does his magic. he overworks himself, but its all part of the show. there will be no streaks, no marks, no flaws. but i’ll take care of that.

    “Dittmann,” my brotha asks me, “German?”

    “Australian.” i correct.

    “doesn’t sound Australian, but if you say so. he knows these things,” he tells the white guy.

    me and the Black shoe shine guy are both sitting on the tall chairs. i have a uniform on, he has a uniform on. both our shoes look great. both our hairdos look great. both our wallets are fat. both our guns are loaded.

    “why is she playing in China anyway?” he asks me after whistling a little dixieland riff.

    “she’s making a comeback.” i say. “she’ll play anywhere she can right now.”

    “Bejing?” he asks. i shake him off.

    “Hong Kong?” he asks. i frown.

    “Shanghai,” he asks and i smile.

    i get up. i dont look at my shoes. these men are pros. im on no power trip. within an hour i will have fucked up the shine in one way or another. might even do it by getting out of the flying car. it’s warm outside in los angeles, again, today.

    i think about taking off my bulletproof vest before i head out.

    and remember i have that plane ticket that all you all hooked me up with

    so i leave it on.

    emmanuelle has audio and photographic evidence of the famed baby shower of lil Kobe.

    sara educates us on the sadness of bazooms.

    and this just in: greg has Video of ken and matt singing the baby tune! ah, technology.