Monday, November 04, 2013

Kitty Kultists

My girlfriend Amy and I are still unpacking boxes from our September move into a new house. We packed a lot of junk, of course, that we are having second thoughts about holding onto in our new, smaller digs. But there are also some legitimate treasures buried in all those Home Depot and Extra Space Storage boxes. Like Amy's 1984 diary/journal in which she saved a City Paper clipping that mentioned her and her former husband, the late musical legend Mark Harp (1957-2004), as "Kitty kultists" talking about their Hello Kitty collections.

Amy was very excited to find this clipping, pasted in between her exemplary cursive handwritting (a beautiful thing to observe, if you're a Cursive Cultist!).

Amy is vaclempt after finding her name published in the "City Paper."

"Wow," I said, scratching my head. "That sounds like something I would have written up back in my days at the City Paper. I remember I did a story on Hello Kitty back in the '80s."

Amy pulled out her journal, and lo and behold, it was written by me! I recall I went down to the big East Coast Sanrio outlet in Tysons Corner, Va., to research the story and I have a vague memory of  visiting Mark and Amy's Charles Village apartment at some point (it may have been during a party) and being impressed by their Sanrio collection. Amy doesn't remember that, but then again this was almost 30 years ago and we are now AARP members with sometimes faulty memories. (Like, we've been together eight years, but we only vaguely knew each other back in the day as acquaintances because we were part of the same Punk-New Wave social scene that frequented clubs like the Marble Bar and Galaxy Ballroom. Then we didn't see each other for decades until we ran into each other at a musical tribute-wake for Mark Harp in January 2005.)

It may seem trite today to see a story about the Hello Kitty phenomenon - after all Sanrio products are seemingly available everywhere one looks and for every imaginable use (from stickers and pens to TVs and even vibrators) -  but the first Sanrio shop in America didn't open until 1976 (and that was in San Francisco), so Kitty curios were still a relatively new thing in 1984.

The full article, called "Hello, Good Buy: Pet Peeves," appears below. (Naturally there were factual errors, which fact-checking proofreader extraordinaire Amy clarifed in her cursive script comments; to wit, she was asked how old her kids were at a Highlandtown store selling Hello Kitty items, not in Tysons Corner. Geeze, everyone's a critic! Did I mention I was a hack writer, Ames?)

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