Best Place to Gauge How the Puffy Aesthetic Has Overtaken Black America (2008)

Harlem USA

The block-long minimall Harlem USA, developed for almost a decade beneath the aegis of Apollo owner Percy Sutton's crew, rather demonstrates the glitzy, Uptown-centric, consumption-driven, postgangsta zeitgeist. Basically, it's just a Rubik's Cube hunk of glass, housing the same Disney and Gap shops you can frequent at 34th and 42nd streets. The sole boon is the Magic Johnson cinema. And the key distinction is that HMV features "black" genres like rap, Latin, and house throughout the first floor, and the DJs aren't comatose, while rock and (still!) jazz are ghettoized upstairs in a tiny corner. If the racist idea is to keep the roughnecks, et al., Uptown instead of sullying Giuliani's shiny Midtown, the mall fails, lacking a food court or any interior space for hanging, dialoguing, or macking, as we Africans love to do. Game over.


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