Friday, February 13, 2009

Click on the map to see the growth of certain retail company in flowing data. Clicking on the red plus or minus signs (that you'll see) let you zoom in to a certain area.

While some say we live in an world dominated by American-only interests, when I click on the "next blog" button I find:

I guess I could argue this idea either way. Blogger is an invention of an American company, and there are certainly a smattering of English words throughout, not only in the menu options, but also in the content. Yet, each blogger above writes and illustrates in their own style, perhaps influenced by their own culture or merely their own tastes.
That's why the green-dot map above is somewhat frightening, if it should continue on this pace worldwide. I don't mind the expansion neccessarily, knowing how Carrefours is doing the same thing all over Europe.

I'm more concerned with the reality that I may travel somewhere foreign and not find it so--that is, "foreign." I won't be able to have fresh melon and local prosciutto in Varenna, Italy, because they will have been taken over by Olive Garden or Pastariffico or some other chain-type store. I'll never again see someone eating grilled baby octopus on the streets of Shanghai because they'll have Stix restaurants on every corner. I won't be hot and sweaty and cranky and find blessed relief in the tall tower where Bergamo's bell tolls on the hour, because each plaza will be a cookie cutter of shops and experiences and eateries all too "same," all too American.

I know the Germans, who we knew when Dave was a young professor, loved coming to Southern Utah's red rock country because it was so different, so foreign to those rolling green hills where they lived. We loved Germany because it had rolling hills and quaint nutcrackers and carved figures and dirndls, so different than our lives here.

I'm the first to say hoorah for Western-style bathrooms, especially after the experience of the hole in the floor in Italy and Japan. I'm not such a rugged individualist that I didn't welcome the sight of a full grocery store and an open gas station after our touring through the newly liberated West Germany many years ago. But some of my best memories are when I had to come up against myself in a strange situation, try new foods (okay, not the octopus) and sleep on a bed that felt like a slab of marble (that would be Shanghai). I wonder if that feeling that penetrates you to the core and makes you long for home would be the same if you had a Wal-Mart/Carrefours on every corner and a McDonald's in every square.

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