Martha’s Vineyard prepares for Barack Obama/Scott Feschuk bromance

Our columnist predicts that he and the president will totally hit it off this week

Yes, I am away again. On holiday, man. Living la vida pantless on Martha’s Vineyard, vacation playground of many, many famous celebrities such as Michael J. Fox, Spike Lee and Meg Ryan, and also the ones we’ve actually seen, such as the guy who played Mr. Bentley on The Jeffersons. Also, two years ago my car got rear-ended here by Walter Cronkite IV. Does that count?

Barack Obama arrives here Sunday for a one-week vacation, and I’m finding it difficult to envision a scenario that doesn’t end with the President and me meeting by chance and totally hitting it off. I’m talking movie-montage-worthy male bonding, complete with awkward half-hugs, non-sexual shirtlessness and the requisite sharing of nuclear launch codes. Don’t say I didn’t predict it. In fact, look for me and Mr. Bentley to fill out the foursome when Obama plays golf next week with Tiger Woods, which is supposed to be a big secret, so shhh…

In the meantime, I’ve been fascinated by the traditional American welcome that’s being prepared for the Obamas: dozens of different novelty T-shirts bearing the President’s name and image. This is U.S. capitalism at its most made-in-Chinaness! Here’s a quick photographic tour through the shop windows and souvenir stands of Martha’s Vineyard (mostly the town of Oak Bluffs, the island’s traditional African-American enclave).


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

The T-shirt itself is unremarkable, but this cardboard cutout of Joe Biden actually improves on the original by flashing the same smile but without the hassle and aggravation of possessing vocal cords. (Also, no matter what you think of Biden, you simply can’t pass up getting a second Vice-President at half price. That’s just common sense.)


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

Hey, look, it’s America’s first couple – and my Dad! This is not only a cutline for this photograph, it’s the full content of my next sitcom pitch to CBC.

cap and shirt

(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

Two common themes here – the invocation of the term “Summer White House” (on the cap) and the reworking of Obama’s campaign symbol, this time to place Martha’s Vineyard at its centre. A third common theme – the belief that tourists will buy anything. (Full disclosure: I am a tourist and I will buy anything.)


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

This shop has the early lead in the sweepstakes to determine who can make the President look most like Brainiac’s half-brother.


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

Here’s a tip: when making a T-shirt that depicts the image of your President, try to make the image look at least something like your President. To judge from this design, it’s 1965 and Martha’s Vineyard is about to visited by Sammy Davis Jr.

vacationed with

(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

This is the shirt that seems to be the biggest seller on the island right now. A lot of people are wearing it. These people are all liars.


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

Bill Clinton was here earlier this week for a round of golf and an ice cream cone. I seriously considered buying the Hillary mask and following him around, shouting, “This man is NOT the Secretary of State! I AM THE SECRETARY OF STATE!!”


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

If this works, tell me the insurance companies won’t feel dumb for having spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising and lobbying to fight health care reform.


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

There’s something I enjoy about the display in this shop window: Obama merchandise, Obama merchandise, Obama, Obama, more Obama merchandise, additional Obama merchandise, Obama, Obama and a starfish for some reason.


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

It wouldn’t be America if you couldn’t enjoy your President in food form.


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

Not a bad shirt at all. I kind of like it. But – and I guess I’m just curious here – was it completely necessary to make the President look quite so stoned?


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

A T-shirt not enough for you? Could I interest you in a watch that looks so flimsy that the words “lifetime warranty” should appear in quotes? Also, I had no idea the “Seal of the President of the United States” was a photograph of a black man standing with his arms folded. That must have been somewhat contentious back in the 1800s.


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

My to-do list looks similar to this, but includes an afternoon nap with Mr. Bentley.


(Photo by Scott Feschuk)

Not many stores here catering to the anti-Obama crowd. If I were braver, and bigger, and unable to perceive potential consequences to my actions, I would throw on one of these and stroll up and down the main street of Oak Bluffs, just to see what would happen. By the way: Can you read the words through the reflection in the glass? It’s Sarah Palin saying, “I can see Martha’s Vineyard from my house.” Now THAT is a T-shirt I would buy.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.