Attila the Hon: A “Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!” Editorial

by William P. Tandy (“Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!”, 12/12/2010)

In the days since the Baltimore Messenger “broke” the story of Café Hon owner Denise Whiting’s trademarking of the word “hon”, the public backlash has been palpable. Everyone from regular citizens to the editorial department of the city’s paper of record, The Baltimore Sun, has tried and convicted her actions in the court of public opinion. Many have called for boycotts of Ms. Whiting’s establishments and events.

Which is fine. However, ask how many of us really frequented these things before the shit hit the fan; I, for one, can count the number of times I’ve been to Café Hon, Hon Bar and Honfest on one hand that’s missing a digit or two. Tough to take back business you never (or seldom) gave in the first place. But the motivation behind the idea is well-founded. After all, though it’s doubtful that Ms. Whiting enjoys being the subject of such scornful public mockery, indeed, as an entrepreneur, loss of business is her kryptonite. So by all means, shun those things if you’re so inclined. Moreover, encourage your family and friends – out of town, as well as locally – to follow suit.

A few, including Ms. Whiting herself, have claimed that the burgeoning outrage at her actions is born of “envy” (or, better still, stupidity that renders her opposition unable to comprehend her genius). Anyone who buys that is missing the point entirely. The collective, citywide anger over what many see as a brazen attempt to monopolize a facet of Baltimore’s identity says there’s much more to it than that. No, Ms. Whiting – they don’t envy you; rather, they are appalled that such a thing would have occurred to you in the first place.

It’s well-known that Baltimore’s favorite son, John Waters – who grew up in Lutherville, outside the city – has made a career of lampooning Baltimore’s character. The key difference between these two individuals, however, is celebration (Waters) and crass exploitation (Whiting). Indeed, Mr. Waters’ personality and creative body of work, as well as all those involved with it, are by far more responsible than all of Ms. Whiting’s faux-hives and trinkets for creating the popular image of Baltimore for which she has deluded herself into taking sole credit.

In the end, it comes down to money; she is only as powerful as the dollars that walk through her door. Hence, while ranting and railing are fine, if you really want to make a lasting point, take your wallet elsewhere. And tell your friends, family and out of town visitors to do the same. There is no dearth of fine Hampden-area establishments, new and old, that are worth patronizing: Golden West, Rocket to Venus, One World Café, Frazier’s, just to name a few. Need a tangible souvenir of your time in Charm City? Visit Atomic Books, which stocks items actually made in Baltimore by Baltimore artists. And while you’re at it, take a stroll down the 700 block of West 34th Street – a true Baltimore institution – for a taste of “real” Baltimore, the city that builds community through hard work and dedication, not “suing people’s pants off”…

William P. Tandy, Editor, Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!

This entry was posted in 2010s, Atomic Books, Hampden, Kitsch and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Attila the Hon: A “Smile, Hon, You’re in Baltimore!” Editorial

  1. Jennifer says:

    Very well said! This is all so ridiculous. No one should own HON and I won’t be giving her my business.

  2. Scott Hon Mogol says:

    I agree one HONdred percent.

  3. Willard says:

    Hello HON You can get great gifts and Souvenirs at Sandys on 36 street and she allways says thank you HON. And Fraziers have very good food and Tina is a great waitress HON . 2 of the best places in Hampden HON.

  4. gina watt says:

    WOW! How self centered!! To think she is the best thing since the “wheel”! Ms. Whiting contens there was not a “hampden “before she arrived! Just let me say,I’m 46 and the Hampden of old was a HONdred times better and more community friendly than now!! At least then we had somewhere affordable to shop and entertain ourselves! Not so much now!

  5. Sam Quint says:

    If we’re going to boycott Cafe Hon, then we gotta do it quick. That’ll bring back your tourists, put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant. I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks. I’ll stay in the suburbs for three, but I’ll live there, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s just too many captains on Hampden. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn hon.

  6. Pingback: Chop on the Spot: Alternatives to Cafe Hon | The Baltimore Chop

  7. Pingback: Trademark Controversy in Baltimore – Hon | alegalblog

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