As big a fan as I am of Josh Alan Friedman, I always sort of dread writing about him--just listing his credentials takes longer than writing the full text of most blog entries. Anyway, Friedman (DOMA-winning acoustic blues man, Dallas Observer contributor, Tales of Times Square author, Al Goldstein biographer, Terry Southern collaborator, and my junior high guitar teacher, to name a few bullet points) just published a brand new "autobiographical novel based in fact," Black Cracker, which chronicles life as the only white kid to attend the last segregated school in New York.
The bildungsroman is only available in Amazon's Kindle format. But if you don't have an e-book reader or an iPhone, you can get a healthy dose of Friedman's gritty, funny, unflinching take on race at his MySpace page. There, he's posted a sample chapter about learning the shoeshine trade from a friend. It's every bit as P.C. as you'd expect from the man who recorded an album called Blacks 'N' Jews and is the subject of A Life Obsessed With Negroes.
After the jump, a brief passage...
Mumsy and I ordered hot dogs and orange drinks at the counter, and felt welcomed by the smiling counterman. The hot dogs were fantastic, served on thin cardboard trays.
Though sooty with decades of city grime, the roof made the three-story cathedral look like some sort of heaven streaming down through the iron girders. So that people upon entering might feel godlike themselves. Everyone arriving in New York would feel something important. Everyone, perhaps, but the shoeshine men.
But even they acted like they kept the world shiny in the grand scheme of things. The main shop in Penn Station was Shine King, where men as black as the shoe polish they buffed labored full-time in doo-rags. Commuters sat upon thrones with their Herald Tribune, Journal-American or Times, snap-folding the pages into place as only New Yorkers do, like the way they folded their pizza slices. Ashtray stands were provided for cigars. Rare was the lady customer. Women just didn't look appropriate with their legs hoisted over shoe stirrups at face level with hard-looking Negroes stooping at their feet.
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You think that's something? Wait till the Black Muslims show up.