In Liberty City, Obama Wants You to Buy Schlitz Malt Liquor and Newports
|Obama is so enthusiastic about these products he added an extra r to his first name.|
He's there on the side of Liberty City Elementary, next to the MLK portrait. He's painted on the walls of at least a couple of street-corner ministries.
And at NW 12th Avenue and 58th Terrace, Obama waves happily in front of an American flag, right over the words ICE COLD BEER WINE, a pack of Newport cigarettes, and a tall can of Schlitz Malt Liquor.
Crass commercial use of the president? No way, says the owner.
"We're both Africans, and Obama's African, so it's just about pride," says Tony Adefris.
The 28-year-old native of Ethiopia -- along with his partner, a Sudanese man who goes by Willy -- took over the small corner market a little more than a month ago. Adefris says he decided to reopen as the Obama Market to commemorate the first black president.
He found a local tattoo artist to paint Obama's portrait over the doorway and on the wall, and to dab the drop-shadow "Obama Market" name on top. The response has been positive, he says.
"People walk in all the time and say something. This is a black neighborhood and everyone loves Obama, so it's been great," he says.
Obama's popularity has spawned new products and stores nationwide, from an Obama beer in New York to an Illinois company that wanted to market dolls of his children (a plan the White House quickly squashed).
In Brooklyn, a firestorm erupted last month over a grease-slinger that changed its name to Obama Fried Chicken. Protests by black leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton, who say the name is offensive so far haven't succeeded in getting the name changed.
Riptide called the White House for comment on Liberty City's Obama Market, but surprisingly has not heard back from Dana Perino just yet.
The White House press office just emailed us back with this comment: "The White House has a longstanding policy of disapproving commercial uses of the president's image."
But what would Obama think about shilling for Schlitz?Adefris's eyes widen a bit, like he hadn't really considered the question before.
"It's not illegal, is it?" he asks.