‘The Return of Superfly’

Here’s hoping “American Gangster” is anywhere near as good as the Mark Jacobson article on which it is loosely based. Because the article is great:

Back in the early seventies, there were many “brands” of dope in Harlem. Tru Blu, Mean Machine, Could Be Fatal, Dick Down, Boody, Cooley High, Capone, Ding Dong, Fuck Me, Fuck You, Nice, Nice to Be Nice, Oh — Can’t Get Enough of That Funky Stuff, Tragic Magic, Gerber, The Judge, 32, 32-20, O.D., Correct, Official Correct, Past Due, Payback, Revenge, Green Tape, Red Tape, Rush, Swear to God, PraisePraisePraise, KillKillKill, Killer 1, Killer 2, KKK, Good Pussy, Taster’s Choice, Harlem Hijack, Joint, Insured for Life, and Insured for Death were only a few of the brand names rubber-stamped onto cellophane bags. But none sold like Frank Lucas’s Blue Magic.

“That’s because with Blue Magic, you could get 10 percent purity,” Lucas asserts. “Any other, if you got 5 percent, you were doing good. We put it out there at four in the afternoon, when the cops changed shifts. That gave you a couple of hours before those lazy bastards got down there. My buyers, though, you could set your watch by them. By four o’clock, we had enough niggers in the street to make a Tarzan movie. They had to reroute the bus on Eighth Avenue. Call the Transit Department if it’s not so. By nine o’clock, I ain’t got a fucking gram. Everything is gone. Sold . . . and I got myself a million dollars.”

The piece follows a vastly diminished 69-year-old Frank Lucas around Harlem and his violent memory, revealing one of the most charming villain personas you’ll ever encounter. I can’t get over the interview with Judge Sterling Johnson near the end.

As far as the earlier discussion of online magazine archives goes, here’s how I see it: Of course this article is in circulation now. But it shouldn’t take a $100-million film to keep an article this satisfying in circulation. And for all i know, the good people at New York magazine have offered this piece free since it’s publication; I just wish I came across more out-of-date/high-quality articles in my daily Internet travels.

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