As much as it warms my heart to hear of Roberta Rubin’s fight against the superhuge mega-giant book chains [January 29], more and more it seems a lost cause. Maybe I humor myself, but it seems there was a time when Chicagoans actually treasured that which most defines our city–neighborhoods with individual character and charm. The independent versus giant chain battle is being waged across the board, but bookstores are the perfect metaphor for the entire retail industry. In newer cities, like Phoenix and Las Vegas, every few miles it’s the same–a strip mall with several vaguely ethnic restaurants, a Mailboxes Etc., and a few more of the usual suspects: chain bagels, coffee, etc. Chain stores are like wild dogs–they travel in packs. And if the sterility of large chains doesn’t scare people, the economic bullying they practice should. Starbucks is beyond predatory–they make Bill Gates seem downright docile in comparison. The idea that there are those who wouldn’t give a rat’s #$@ whether the whole of Chicago gets homogenized doesn’t surprise me, but their (apparently) growing percentage of our population is saddening. True, Borders has everything, but gee, isn’t that the problem? The “path of least resistance” approach to shopping is going to doom us all to a Schaumburg-ish hell.

James Garrison

S. Morgan