Letters: Big-Box Stores, Ellis Island, Rocky

Scott Simon dips into the e-mailbag. This week's subjects include big-box stores, photos of Ellis Island and Rocky Balboa.


Time now for you letters. Our interview last week with Virginia Postrel, who praised the virtues of chain stores, brought this letter from Marie McCraig in Ithaca, New York.

While it is often true that the big-box stores bring more item selection options to people of their hometowns, the number of choices can also stop you in your tracks. You might have better asked Virginia Postrel where the money goes after you've made your selection. In my hometown, and in many other towns and cities, I'm sure, we are fortunate to have a wonderful selection of locally owned and operated businesses. When I spend my money at those stores, I'm returning it to the circle of the local economy, not so at the chain stores. When I buy items there - and I do that on occasion - the profit flies out of town and state, adding nothing to my quality of life.

Now, last week we brought you a story about Ellis Island's abandoned hospital buildings. We talked with Steven Wilkes, who photographed what sometimes is called the sad side of Ellis Island that no one sees. William Pool listened to the story in San Francisco and wrote, What your Web site reveals is the extraordinary tension between the beauty that Wilkes discovers for us and the hard reality of the hospital's history. Of all the arts, photography is uniquely able to exploit this tension, and these images make clear that Wilkes is a master.

Finally, I leave you with Sylvester Stallone brought a flurry of e-mail corrections. I asked him the name of a particular street market in Philadelphia and we ended up blocks away. Felice Pace(ph) is a South Philly kid living among the northern California redwoods; he wrote, Yo, Scott, 30th Street is Philadelphia's main railroad station. Ninth Street is south Philly's famous Italian market.

Sorry, guess I was just transfixed by all the olives and cheeses. Thoristodes Pepitas(ph) in Winthrop, Washington, wrote, You refer to "Rocky" as the movie that introduced Sylvester Stallone as a new filmmaker. While it's true that "Rocky" was written by him, the director of this classic was John G. Avildsen, who won the Oscar for Best Picture.

Finally, Diane Robinson in Conrad, Arkansas says, Thanks so much for the interview with Sylvester Stallone. The "Rocky" theme music came on at about mile five of my seven-mile run this morning and it was just what I needed.

Well, for everyone listening, right now while you're on the run, push it.

(Soundbite of "Rocky" theme)

SIMON: Once you catch your breath, feel free to write us a letter. Just go to npr.org and click on Contact Us, and please, tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name. This is NPR News.

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