Two years ago the portion of Baltimore that lives online was preoccupied with a brouhaha over a word.
The word was hon, on which Denise Whiting, proprietress of Cafe Hon, had filed trademark papers for business purposes.* Several persons, given a megaphone by the Internet, took this to be an effort to co-opt Baltimore's cultural heritage for sordid commercial purposes, and attacks on Denise Whiting raged online and in local publications for weeks. Perhaps the high point was a Sunday morning protest rally across the street from her restaurant, which did not appear to have any effect on the customers.
Bruce Goldfarb, a local journalist who writes at the blog Welcome to Baltimore, Hon! and who was a principal figure in what quickly came to be called the "hontroversy," has written an account of the kerfuffle. Though his passion for the cause is evident, he provides a thorough and generally even-handed account of the protests, the legal issues, the involvement of Gordon Ramsey, Ms. Whiting's attempts at damage control, and his disagreements with another local blogger.
I am that other local blogger. Mr. Goldfarb still seems to be mildly puzzled that I found the whole hontroversy overwrought and overblown, comic in its emotional disproportion. The perspective of two years and Mr. Goldfarb's account, which he thoughtfully posted to my Facebook page, have done nothing to alter this view.
But you can see for yourself. If you click on the link above, you can read Mr. Goldfarb's account in its entirety. It includes links to the posts on my blog with which he disagreed, so you can weigh the two views against each other and determine which is the more persuasive. I direct your attention particularly to the comments on my posts, which reflect the intemperate tone of the whole argle-bargle more clearly than Mr. Goldfarb's retrospection.
*For the auslander: Cafe Hon is an eatery in the Hampden neighborhood that serves reliably mediocre food, though the blueberry pancakes are far above average. Denise Whiting is an energetic entrepreneur whose personality inspires neither admiration nor affection. Hon, although the word is in wide use, especially in diners, throughout the United States, has in recent years come to be particularly identified with working-class Baltimore. This identification has happened in no small part because of Ms. Whiting's efforts; she sponsors Hampden's annual Honfest.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun