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The controversy of the decade

Kate Silver

In the five years I was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly I delved into all kinds of potentially feather-ruffling pieces. But it wasn’t the aliens or cattle mutilations, the suicidal safe rooms, the cults, weirdos, political zealots or worm-farm schemes that generated hundreds and hundreds of angry letters.

It was the piece I wrote on scrapbooking.

In 2001 I was an occasionally snobbish reporter in my early 20s who thought it’d be fun to write a humor piece on the proliferation of scrapbookers. I noted that the scrapbooking business had tripled in the last few years, adding that there were “new scrapbook stores popping out like your grandmother’s gangly mole hair—unexpected, unattractive and overall mysterious—all across town.” I noted that there were myriad tacky mementos commonly associated with the industry, ranging from bubbly letters and fuzzy characters to creepy dolls. And—here’s the death knell—I made the mortal sin of wondering what would happen were we to remove the first letter from “scrapbooking.”

And with that I became a pariah. More than 400 hate mails came at me like a glue gun to a sequin. They threatened me with their scrapbooking tools, suggesting I change my name from “Kate Silver” to “Hate Livers” for the bile I spewed. They wished fire on my house and my non-flame-retardant-protected photos. They told me I should have never been born.

I developed a phobia of scrapbookers and their folk-art ways. Nearly two years later I addressed those fears. A scrapbooking convention came to town, and I went to cover it. Despite a mild panic attack inspired by the “Memories” Expo sign, I pushed through the fear. I looked around in part wonder, part horror at the hundreds of thousands of hole punches, beveled edges and embellishments. The vendors smiled at me and invited me to sit down at their “Make and Take” stations and craft in company.

I assented. It was our way of breaking bread (or would it be brads?). We’re friends now, the crafters and I. And while I still don’t “scrapbook” myself, I will never attempt to dismantle the word again.

Kate Silver was a Weekly staff writer from 2000-2005. She now freelances for local and national publications.

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