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It’s trademarked, Hon

I’m a native Coloradan, transplanted eight years ago to Charles Village, and re-transplanted this past spring to Hampden. My wife and I were sad to leave our beloved Charles Village—we still miss our regular walking route, the vitality imported in each fall by the Hopkins’ kids (and the accompanying relief every summer when we export ...

6 comments

  1. Although you participate in community affairs more than most natives, you’re from someplace else. To paraphrase Governor O’Malley, a “New Baltimorean.” (Quick, without Googling, why would no true Baltimoron hire Mayflower vans to move?) That makes the community reaction tougher to understand on a visceral level.

    Like you, I understand Ms. Whiting’s business reasons. In her shoes, I’d probably do what she did. But since she loves to tout her Baltimore roots, she should have forseen that this wouldn’t go over too well with a lot of people. I mean, she didn’t invent the idea (a fair amount of credit should go to John Waters, Barry Levinson and generations of B-more hausfraus), she just hung it on a store and a million bumperstickers. It’s understandable why some people feel that she is just cashing in on something that belongs to everyone.

    And another cornerstone of Baltimore culture is believing that we are being conspired against. So the protests are totally in-character.

  2. Hampden doesn’t have a “death-grip on its 1950s-1970s persona.” The whole HON phenomenon is a contrived, fictional “branding” of a neighborhood introduced by Whiting. If you ask Hampdenites you’ll probably find that most have no attachment to the HON concept or the demeaning, historically inaccurate stereotypes Whiting hypes. I suspect much of the backlash against her branding is based upon people getting tired of her suggestions that she and her contrived cartoon “hons” somehow represents the neighborhood or Baltimore culture in general. They don’t. And the fact that the MTA and other organizations feel they need her blessing to use the word hon and certain iconographic hairstyles or fashions (beehive hairdos and the like) is absurd. She can have her logo with HON in it trademarked—I don’t think anyone has an issue with that. But anyone can use the word hon if they want, even for an organization or on a product for sale, and unless it’s a replica of her damned oval, she should have no legal recourse to stop them.

  3. Except it was really John Waters that marketed, through his films, the “hon” concept. When people, not from Baltimore, reference pink flamingos and beehives, funny accents and too much lipstick, it’s because of his movies, not her cafe.

  4. I think you are missing some facts. Several years ago everyone said “hon”. It wasn’t until the process of gentrification began that those blue collar people were forced out (my family being part of that group). Although you are correct that Hampden is hard work and and friendly smiles hon.

  5. It’s rare to see a columnist acknowledge no background in, or understanding of, a subject, but all too common to see him pontificate on the subject anyway. Good luck on this one. Those are real bees, and now they’re your neighbors.

  6. @John Bratt–non-native that I am, even I know of the local distaste for the Colts and their departure from our great state.
    @Pushkin: I simply acknowledged that I have no knowledge of the legal issues surrounding the trademark. But, as my law professors told me, being a lawyer means we wear many hats–advocate, therapist, sounding-board, etc. Put another way, and stated best by the Federation President, “Just because we CAN do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we MUST do that thing.” And, the blog is not me telling the world the way things are. It’s a conversation. I like my Hampden neighbors, I’m just trying to understand more about my new home.

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