Spike Lee, Speaking in Denton Tonight, is Drawing Fire for His Taste in Liquor

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Spike Lee's at the University of North Texas tonight, and fellow Brooklynite Amaya Santos, 17, knows what she'd like to ask the filmmaker.

"Spike Lee, what's going on here?" was Santos' first thought when she counted up 28 ads for Lee's Absolut Brooklyn in the Utica Avenue subway station. Santos is a member of a neighborhood survey group that last week shared its concerns about Lee's liquor endorsement deal with the New York Daily News.

"Do you understand what you're doing ... that you're putting up an ad for liquor and you know there's an alcoholism problem here?" 19-year-old Frank Moore told the paper. "My thing with Spike Lee is you should use your prestige and position of power to help the problem, not add on to it."

And students aren't the only ones complaining about the ubiquitous ads: Clay Risen chimed in yesterday on The Atlantic's food blog, calling out the perennial pitchman for bestowing street cred on an international conglomerate.

"Lee likes to portray himself as an enemy of gentrification and a defender of the traditional, Brooklyn vernacular," Risen concluded his call for Lee to collaborate with a Brooklyn-based distillery. "Instead, he's become a tool in the borough's commodification and the worst enemy of everything he once stood for."

Risen writes he wasn't bothered by Lee potentially sacrificing his artistic reputation to choose vodka flavors - ginger and apple - or his bringing images of booze to the hood. On that last issue, Lee's been silent. According to the Daily News, "Lee did not return a call left at his office and hung up on a reporter who reached him on his cell phone. A spokeswoman for Absolut had no immediate comment."

So, City of Ate readers, if you get a turn at the mike tonight, consider asking a vodka question. A borough's awaiting Lee's response.

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