Muslims say Cupcake’s being Discriminated Against

harry writes: Both the Daily Progress and NBC 29 carried stories recently involving Muslims rising to the defense of “Cupcake”, the Downtown Mall street vendor. What neither news source was able to provide was exactly what sort of discrimination was being alleged.

26 thoughts on “Muslims say Cupcake’s being Discriminated Against”

  1. Monday night, between 9 and 9:30, there was perimeter of well-dressed black men surrounding a large group that included Cupcake (in a suit), a video crew, and a fellow in camo fatigues. First thing I thought was Five Percenters; I wish I had asked one of the (presumably) bodyguard what the deal was.

    As a mall resident, my biggest complaint with vendors comes when they drive on the mall, whether it’s Cupcake’s van or that green Jeep Cherokee or Thomas Kinkaide’s bus of crappy paintings. I wish they’d padlock the blockades at the ends of the street and only give keys to service and rescue vehicles.

  2. Cupcake’s a rather rotund African-American vendor who sells tee-shirts and hats on the Downtown Mall, right out in front of the Paramount Theatre. For some reason I suspect that the owners of various logos (mostly professional sports teams) that decorate his fine merchandise aren’t collecting the royalties that they should be getting when somebody else profits from their trademark.

  3. But how is he being discriminated against, and by whom? He gets up damn early in the morning to set up shop out in the same place every day, stays late, packs up, and does it again the next day. I admire that.

  4. Last night, on WVIR, scary Muslim guys alleged that he may be discriminated against because he’s Muslim.

    He’s Muslim? How would anybody know? Did I miss the “Kiss me, I’m Muslim” button that he wears?

  5. i thought that he was with the nation of islam?

    most of the rest of the worlds muslims dont even consider them real muslims. just a black power group that coopted the prophet.

  6. One thing for sure is that the guy can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Parking his stall across the entry to the Paramount. Blocking it off like he owns the place. And driving his van all over the mall.

    I could care less if he’s Islamic or Raelian. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever witnessed any kind of discrimination against Muslims around here. They’re generally pretty good people to have around. They usually work hard and make a good effort at educating themselves. Much like the Mexicans we’ve been getting for the last few years. We could use some more of both groups around here.

    In fact, I’d be far more likely to discriminate against a Jehova’s Witness than a Muslim. No Muslim (or Mexican) ever woke me up at 9 am on a Saturday to bitch about the apocalypse and drop litter in my yard.


  7. And all this time I thought that his smorgasboard of Hilfiger/Fubu/Polo clothing was legit. Boy, do *I* feel dumb. I thought I had tricked everyone into thinking I was rich (what with all the fancy name-brand clothing I bought from Cupcake on the cheap), but now they’re all gonna know I’m a big fake. Man, it’s HARD maintaing this lifestyle.

  8. Maybe that’s what he’s talking about. I don’t know the first thing about his suppliers, his market, his lifestyle. He sells goods that people (those so often excluded from the Mall in its journey towards Beaubourg-esque hyper-mal) want. That’s all I can say for sure.

  9. If that’s the case, then it’s hard to harbor much sympathy for him. Having checked out his goods, they sure don’t seem to be authorized by the various trademark holders, and philosophical arguments aside, that’s still illegal in these parts. Trademark owners who bring such complaints rarely lose.

    I have no doubt that if he were selling unauthorized DMB recordings instead of New York Yankees hats, people who may be inclined to otherwise defend him for trying to make a living (wage) would be among the first in line to report him to the intellectual property police.

    As for his prime location, it’s my understanding that he actually pays the Paramount Guild for the space, which is why he gets it every day, so it has nothing to do with his being an early bird. But you gotta give him credit for cutting the deal – for a street vendor, as with any retailer, it’s location, location, location.

    If you’ve ever spent any time in just about any major city in the US, these sorts of vendors of bootleg merchandise are literally everywhere. Every once in a while, the authorities will crack down and conduct a sweep at the behest of the legitimate trademark owners, and within a few days the vendors are back at it again. I’ve never heard anybody there attribute such crackdowns to religious or racial intolerance, however.

    Humorous sidebar: a couple of weeks ago my stepson was in NYC, and just had to buy a copy of a current theatrical release from a street vendor. If you’ve never seen one of these, they are shot with a camcorder in a theater – the picture and sound are both pretty crappy. You can actually see people walking in front of the camera to go get popcorn. Anyway, the FBI copyright warning is printed on the bogus tape case, which is pretty ironic when you think about it.

  10. A lesson in rumor creation:

    One person writes, “For some reason I suspect that the owners of various logos (mostly professional sports teams) that decorate his fine merchandise aren’t collecting the royalties that they should be getting when somebody else profits from their trademark.”

    Another person reads this, and interpreting it as a statement of fact writes, “And all this time I thought that his smorgasboard of Hilfiger/Fubu/Polo clothing was legit.”

    Maybe this page should be called

    Kevin Cox

  11. Actually, I (the Polo/Fubu guy) was referring to the brandnames that I had seen there with my own eyes. I haven’t been around for a few months, however, so things may have changed.

    Anyway, I’m gonna beat you all to registering the page. Brilliant! :)

  12. Harry wrote, “For some reason I suspect that the owners of various logos (mostly professional sports teams) that decorate his fine merchandise aren’t collecting the royalties that they should be getting when somebody else profits from their trademark.”

    What reason do you suspect James Muhammed? Do you know his suppliers? Do you know him? You have made a very serious accusation that others will interpret as fact. Now prove it or retract it.

    Kevin Cox

    Kevin Cox

  13. you know, you’re kind of a blowhard kevin.

    you forget that i have the power of reason, and know a fact from a grapefruit. but you gotta admit…it does look kinda shady. and i think we all agree, his driving is a nuisance.

    jack toronado

  14. What about James “looks kinda shady”? You and the others who are so quick to make assumptions about James need to think about what you’re saying about the man and be prepared to prove it before you make accusations or even imply wrongdoing. I don’t agree with you about his driving either. He doesn’t bother me at all.

    Kevin Cox

  15. I won’t prove it and I won’t retract it. I’m “suspecting”, not convicting. That’s not my job.

    I don’t know him, but I’ve seen his goods and the relatively inferior quality of the material and cheap prices leads me to believe that royalties aren’t factored into the equation. If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize. But, I don’t care enough to conduct the investigation.

    While we’re at it, I also suspect that the vendor of CDs that sets up on the Mall is selling pirated merchandise. Maybe others will want to conduct an investigation and let me know if my hunch is right.

  16. Putting your “suspicions” on this page amounts to an accusation. I don’t know if he is selling bootleg goods or not and neither do you. You only have your own shallow suspicions and you don’t even have the courage to back them up with your full name. If you’re going to accuse someone take responsibilty for it. I’ve seen his Kangol caps and I saw no difference between them and ones I’ve seen in shops. James didn’t have black in my size so I bought mine from The Mens and Boys Shop. Also, your apology won’t mean anything if you were wrong and cost him business.

  17. Yeah, you’re right. The more I think about it, the more certain I am that everything is on the up and up. I was wrong.

    I don’t want to mess with these Nation of Islam guys. I don’t want to cause any offense or have them upset with me in any way. Remember what happened to Malcom X.

  18. About 5 years ago, I remember that Cupcake was selling sunglasses labeled ‘Oakley’, but they were packaged in simple clear plastic rather than the official packaging. A friend of mine bought a pair for $20. Withing 2 weeks, the white Oakley logo had rubbed off, as had part of the reflective layer on the front of the lenses. They were fake.

  19. What you say may be true but the way you posted it is nothing but anonymous hearsay.

    Also, it is quite possible that James himself purchased the sunglasses with no knowledge that the merchandise was fake.

    Kevin Cox

  20. Yeah, the CD guy has a ton of illegal copies. While we’re on the subject, CDs For Less is probably the flagrent in town about selling illegally pirated goods. You can look right at that stuff and tell. A band like U2 does not make their inserts with a laser printer. They are also unlikely to misspell the names of their own songs.

    Pretty much any ‘live album’ recorded and printed in Italy is an unauthorised, bootlegged show.


  21. Sorry, I did not intend to post that anonymously.

    Nah, you’d have to be a complete idiot to not know that those things were fake. It was obvious even before they became worn out. James does not strike me as a stupid man. Of course, everybody buying them knew that they were fake, too. So at least it’s not like he was ripping off his customers. And a half dozen faux pairs of Razor Blades are not exactly going to break Oakley’s back. So I’m not up in arms about it or anything.

    All this discussion and we still don’t know exactly how the man is supposedly being discriminated against.

  22. Right, James probably didn’t know. That would mean that he’s not dishonest – just stupid.

  23. Look, I didn’t say the stuff he was selling is real or fake. The Kangol caps looked real to me but I didn’t even look at the other stuff. What I am saying is this: If you’re going to accuse him of something than you should take resposibility for it and be prepared to prove it. That’s a seperate issue. Have some kind of integrity and don’t just shoot off your mouth and make accusations.

    Kevin Cox

  24. I do know that last Christmas all the vendors, including the Tibetans, the African art vendor and James, who were not selling handmade craft type stuff they had made themselves were not allowed to set up in the Central Place. It was reserved for the City Market folks. The regular vendors were pretty upset about it. One vendor told me that it is cheaper to be part of the City Market than it is to pay the regular vendors fee. If this is discrimination then the other vendors were victims too. I am pretty sure that the woman who runs the City Market then took James’ space. There’s probably more to it than I know. Maybe a real journalist from one of the local papers will do some research and enlighten us.

    Kevin Cox

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