Criticism

Ouch.

I posted a comment on http://www.Evanston.Patch.com about a local business with a website called http://www.fleebags.com.  Here’s the article I wrote:  http://evanston.patch.com/articles/flophouses-and-worthless-racehorces#c:

Photos (3)

I have some advice for the owners of a van I saw parked this week on Davis Street with their website, www.fleebags.com,  clearly emblazoned on the vehicle.

While their products are adorable, I’m struggling with the product name.

Clearly, their marketing assumption is literal:  women will use the company’s oilcloth bags when they “flee” (or fly) around, doing whatever it is they do.

With that logic, they’ve already lost me.

First of all, I don’t “flee.”

I zip.  I race.  I lug.  I schlep.  But, I most definitely do not flee or fly around like an Evanston fairy, landing softly on all the delicate anchorages of my daily to-do list.  I’m frequently storming through my day to get things done. I’m more of a blitzer.  A stormer.  An attacker.

I visited the www.fleebags.com website, where they provide definitions:

flee v; to run away, escape, fly, take flight, make off, bolt

fleebags; fun and functional oilcloth products for busy women “on the fly”

Then, for kicks, I visited http://www.dictionary.com, and typed in “fleebags”.  The result?

“No results found for fleebags: Did you mean fleabags?”

Why yes, I suppose so.

flea·bag

/ˈfliˌbæg/ [flee-bag]  –noun Slang

1. a cheap, run-down hotel or rooming house.

2. any shabby or low-grade public establishment.

3. a worthless racehorse.

4. a dog, esp. one that is flea-ridden.

5. a bed.

6. a sleeping bag. 


Origin:
1825–35; flea + bag 

Additionally, the site offers a slang dictionary:

fleabag definition [ˈflibæg] 

  1. n.
    a cheap hotel; a flophouse. : Rocko never stays in fleabags. He’s too proud. Sam doesn’t care.

Woops.  This is a little awkward.  So … how about those Wildcats?

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new store at 1106 Davis Street is on Nov. 20.  The Mayor of Evanston will be there.

I’m guessing I won’t be invited.  That’s okay.   I’ll be storming Around Town, doing some other things.

————————-

Clearly, I did not give the business a “thumbs up” in the website name category.

After 95 posts to Patch.com, I got my first “attack” from a reader:

While I usually find Christine’s articles to be helpful regarding ongoings and such in Evanston, I certainly don’t understand her seemingly uncalled for attack on a new business opening here in Evanston. We want to encourage small businesses to find a home in Evanston, not rip them apart before they’ve opened their doors because they might have a cutesy or whimsical name. But since she did call the products adorable, the rest of the article is justified, correct? So in keeping with the theme, while the author looks adorable, I have a hard time with her name. Definition of Christine: Christine is a feminine name of Greek or Latin origin. It is derived from the word Christ, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”. Definition of wolf (wlf) n. pl. wolves (wlvz)
1.
a. Either of two carnivorous mammals of the family Canidae, especially the gray wolf of northern regions, that typically live and hunt in hierarchical packs and prey on livestock and game animals.
b. The fur of such an animal.
c. Any of various similar or related mammals, such as the hyena.
2. The destructive larva of any of various moths, beetles, or flies.
3. One that is regarded as predatory, rapacious, and fierce.
4. Slang A man given to paying unwanted sexual attention to women.

Maybe we should call the author a destructive larva messiah? After all, she races, zips, charges, attacks, blitzes and storms around Town. But that wouldn’t be nice, accurate or fair, would it.

So.

Here I am.  In my kitchen.  Reading this reply. Wondering (with a smile) if this is sort of like what a Vanity Fair correspondent feels after writing a scathing review of Lindsay Lohan’s behavior, only to be admonished by a teenage fan for degrading LiLo.

I’m not sure if I should respond to the writer.  I’d like to see other responses.  I don’t feel defensive.  I actually feel justified in my critique (not criticism) of the business owner’s choice of names.  As a former advertising exec (and English minor in college), I can’t believe someone would choose to name their website http://www.fleebags.com and NOT expect some raised eyebrows.  Maybe that’s the point.

And perhaps this bru-ha-ha is all part of his/her marketing genius.

All I know is, this is my first dose of “negative” feedback from a reader.  I’m not hurt, but I’m genuinely intrigued by the back-and-forth of communication.  I live for it.  And I so appreciate the reader’s clever response.

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9 responses to “Criticism

  1. “destructive larva messiah”…has a nice ring to it 😉 I’m going to start calling you DLM for short…

  2. Hi
    I read your review of Fleebags and while it was unflattering to the company name (which I found a total stretch as to what they were selling), you were dissing the name, not the company. I found the negative reply rather weird–to compare your name, over which you had no control (your parents named you, after all) to a company choosing its name, after what should have been lots and lots of forethought.

    So some bug (metamorphosed from a “destructive larva,” no doubt) must have been buzzing around some uncomfortable places for the negative responder to have taken such umbrage at your column. (Maybe a “Messiah” is needed to “save” the writer from such bugs). After all, the job of a columnist is not to just be “nice,” but honest in her opinions. Trying to diss you for your name as if it were equal to taking issue with the CHOSEN name of a company is a diss-connect in thinking.

  3. Names are hard, and I’m totally with you on this one — especially given the recent bedbug infestation. I get itchy just thinking about it. You are a generous spirit and a true writer to be able to accept criticism with such equanimity. Good job, on both the article and your response here. I would leave it at that and let your readers fight it out.

  4. This made me smile. Absolutely awesome, Christine. Agreed on all points!
    (You go, marketing background!)

  5. I so appreciate your responses to my post.
    Sincerely,
    DLM (Destructive Larva Messiah)

  6. DLM would be a great Twitter handle.

  7. I see that the editor has taken it down. Any comment on that course of action?

  8. I think this was a case of needing to fill up space on a website hungry for any sort of local content. That said, I think that space could have been filled by something better. Just my 2 cents.

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