Looking for Obama-themed merchandise, the reporter stops in at 52nd Street’s own Urban Unity (52nd and Walnut). Turns out, Obama merchandise is pretty good for the local economy!
PHILADELPHIA – Malik Onley was standing behind a table filled with hip-hop CDs on a West Philadelphia sidewalk, fondly recalling the weeks this spring when he quickly sold out of 150 copies of a $5 mix tape featuring Jay-Z’s raps interspersed with Barack Obama’s speeches, when the candidate’s logo caught his eye.
It was barely the size of a dime, prominently featured on the cover of a new “One Hood Promo TV” DVD of music videos curated by Jim Jones, a New York hip-hop impresario. Onley picked up the case and skimmed its contents.
“There’s nothing with Obama on there,” Onley said, shrugging as he gestured back at the logo. “That just says it’s cool.”
“They’ll sell Obama anything,” said Gregory Muhammad, a photographer and friend of Onley’s.
The Obama cargo cult is vast, stretching from quirky online precincts, where action figures in his senatorial likeness and replicas of his Number 23 high-school basketball jersey are readily available, to the outskirts of high style. Paparazzi last year caught actress Halle Berry in a $46 “Obama for Change” shirt, and these days fashion-forward Tokyo teenagers promenade past an Obama shirt hanging prominently in a shop window in the trendy Harajuku neighborhood.
But nowhere has the presumptive Democratic nominee’s unusual persistence in consumer culture been felt as strongly as in the informal urban economy, where his candidacy is delivering an unexpected summertime jolt.
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