Obama for Presidente
It's tough to drive through Liberty City without running into President Obama.
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 box of Newport cigarettes, and a tall can of Schlitz Malt Liquor.
Crass commercial use of the president? No way, the owner says.
"We're both Africans, and Obama is African, so it's just about pride," Tony Adefris says.
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 image 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 about Liberty City's Obama Market and received this emailed response from the press office: "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, as if he hadn't really considered the question before.
"It's not illegal, is it?" he asks.
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