I remember back when I did that baby internship at the Citypaper during my junior year of high school, JRC bought Montgomery Newspapers, CP's parent company, and it was like an anthrax scare. My boss, Frank Lewis, would tell someone "JRC just bought Montgomery," and they'd get this wide-eyed look of terror on their faces and scurry off to the bathroom to shit a white-hot coal of concern for their job security.
Oh, to be once again young and stupid, unconcerned with matters of the world apart from who would replenish my weed supply, and how I was going to lie my way into the next piece of ass. Shed a tear for days of malt liquor and yore, when cause-and-effect was just some vague idea, and time passed so slowly.
This feeds into my whole anti-Starbucks position. Now, it's not Starbucks specifically – it's more or less all chain restaurants (except Taco Bell – y'all lay the hell off the Bell) that overstep the limits of logical proliferation. Starbucks is the worst offender by a pretty long shot. You don't need that many. You hear about places in Manhattan, Seattle, whatever, where you can stand in the doorway of one Starbucks and see two more without craning your neck very far. That's absurd. Even in Philly, we've got more than we need. I don't like my landscape to be so uniform.
The distasteful epiphany, where the vague sense of unease I had felt for some time finally gelled into a real palpable Fear was when I was at some kind of daylight party (perhaps a pool party) at Tracy Schreiber's house sometime around age 17, out in Lansdale, PA. We were out walking her dogs, or going to get some ice cream, or some such thing, and I realized that, had I blacked out elsewhere and woken up there, I wouldn't have known where I was, at all. There were no regional signposts. It looked the exact same as my sister's subdivision in Roswell, GA. I guess I could have looked at the local flora, but I'm no botanist. In Georgia, you can look for kudzu and fire ant mounds, and the towering Waffle House signs will at least tell you that you're below the Mason-Dixon line (IHoP to the north). And I suppose I could have listened for the accents in Lansdale, which would have told me that I was somewhere in Southeastern PA, but like I said before, I was young and stupid. None of that occurred to me. I had to sit down, to take it all in. Knowing me, I probably didn't shut up about it for the next entire week.
And now you know one of my vague fears. The others are the usual, you know, drowning, centipedes, dying alone, etc.