Whiting the Hun

For the past couple months, I’ve been following “Hon-gate” closely.

Denise Whiting, owner of Baltimore’s Café Hon and founder of HonFest, got into trouble recently for trademarking and defending her ‘ownership’ of the word Hon.

And yes, this is ridiculous. Sure, she should have some say over those phrases related to her business: (Café Hon, HonFest, and her store, Hon Town … ), but the word itself? That’s like trying to trademark ‘Dear’ or ‘Sweetie’ or “Luv.’

The Texas Monthly recently awarded a Bum Steer Award to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas who filed an (ultimately unsuccessful) application to trademark the term “The Alamo.”

Baltimore should take note and set up the Bum Boh or Bum Blue Crab Awards for those who try to curtail what little character Maryland offers to America’s pop culture scene.

Whiting has since apologized, but not backed off her trademark. For my part, I’m going to get a T-Shirt and some iron-on letters that say:



Avian Ethics

“He’s in our nest, so he must be ours,” said Mr. Bird. “His mouth is open. That means he’s hungry. When your baby is hungry, you feed him.”

— Mr. Bird to Mrs. Bird upon finding a baby alligator hatching from an oversized egg  in Flap Your Wings by P.D. Eastman.


Two gray pigeons flapping back and forth
inside Washington’s Union Station
skimming the heads of Amtrak passengers bound for Baltimore or Boston.
Interlopers landing, pausing, stepping, and bobbing,
searching with tiny orange eyes for scraps and crumbs
unconcerned about finding the way out.

A woman with spikey hair and black-penciled eyes paces back and forth,
face contorted, barking into a cell phone.
Suddenly, she drops her bag and falls to her knees.
“I can’t go through this again!” she shouts.
“Were the hell is my fucking ticket?”
Anxiety fosters chaos sparks anxiety.
“Oh my god!! WHERE IS MY TICKET???
Rummaging. Rummaging. Rummaging.
“Yes!” she shouts, to no one in particular, to all the people quietly waiting for the train.
None listen, yet can’t help but hear.

Holy Subterranean Library!

On a glass-front bookshelf in a church basement hall:

The Wine Bible
Murder in Little Egypt
Patricia Cromwell’s Cruel and Unusual
Sue Grafton’s T is for Trespass

Tattered paperbacks and faded hardcovers. Upright or askew. Donated or abandoned. Murder on Safari, The Cream Puff Murder, and dozens of others residing in an unlocked subterranean purgatory of books.

To be read under exactly what circumstances?

Overheard Quotable

Phillip Lopate, literary god of the essay, at the AWP writers’ conference in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 3 (Note: punctuation mine):

“The personal essay will continue. Not thrive, but persist. Like bed bugs: hard to see, harder to kill, sucking at the blood of the larger culture.”