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Re: Dave Wielenga's "The Starbucks Solution" (Feature, June 11):

I love businesses of any size that for years take advantage of a captive customer base and, only when forced, re-evaluate why they may face extinction. For years, a very loyal Polly's Gourmet Coffee patron had been encouraging me to try their coffee, muffins and overall experience. I was reluctant for many reasons. Once I learned Starbucks was opening a second location so close to Polly's, I thought it was time to put my best consumer foot forward and support the incumbent. Much to my surprise, at a time when I would expect nothing but exceptional service, I was not even able to get in the front door at Polly's. I arrived five minutes past a posted opening time and was greeted by a locked door and employees hanging around inside listening to loud music. I was more than happy to walk a few steps to be greeted by a smile and experience a formula that works well for obvious reasons.

Why do the mom and pops of the world always cry loudest and change only when they are forced to? I am happy Polly's has been able to survive in spite of the huge corporate gorilla that has clung to her back, but honestly, when you're burned by poor service early in the morning in a highly competitive environment . . . forget it.

—Lance Castro, Long Beach EAR CANDY

As an Aliso Viejo resident who watched those first two 747s fly overhead just a few seconds before Anthony Pignataro did, I'd like to thank him for a great article ("Noise, Noise, Noise," June 11). Every paragraph contained in-depth, between-the-lines information that I have not seen in any other article on the flights. I only regret you could not be under the takeoffs, landings and in the tower all at the same time.

—John Santora, Aliso Viejo

Pignataro was downright poetic in his rip of the county's noise-demonstration flights. I mean . . . Laguna Hills residents enjoying the "cool breeze that blows almost constantly from the coast" and the "screen of pine trees" that muffles Lake Forest Boulevard noise so that "the loudest sound is often a chirping bird." Wow! The only trouble is, as anyone who has ever lived in Saddleback Valley knows, those Laguna Hills can be hot as an oven in the summertime. And as any acoustician can tell you, screens of trees don't muffle noise. Which makes me wonder if Pignataro didn't use similar poetic license in his description of the terrible noise of the demonstration planes.

I live in Irvine, and the planes didn't bother me. I have friends who live in San Clemente, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Orange and Anaheim Hills; they were undisturbed by the demonstration flights.

While Pignataro and his South County Not-in-My-Back-Yard cohorts deplore the noise, pollution, traffic and safety problems they see in an international airport at El Toro, they are strangely silent about how their own air-travel and air-cargo demands will contribute to the problems they deplore. They seem to be willing to export these demands to some other, more distant airport that is not protected by an 18,000-acre, compatible-use zone like El Toro is. That's not fair.

Several years ago, when John Wayne Airport was the bone of contention, the county Board of Supervisors sought—unsuccessfully—to promote Ontario International Airport as the terminal of choice for Orange County's air travelers. At a meeting on the board's plan, a gentleman who lived near the Ontario airport rose to say: "Go home, you Orange County people. Solve your air-transportation problems in your own back yard!" He was, of course, exactly right. Instead of wasting millions of taxpayer dollars trying to kill OCX, South County politicos should be working with the county board to make it the useful, compatible airport it can be.

—Norm Ewers, Irvine Anthony Pignataro responds:Norm is right. My writing is powerful, so potent that I not only conjured up the noise, but I also invented the airplanes, the noise engineers, the county officials and the hundreds of interested onlookers. It was kind of likeThe Truman Show in print. SHELDON GAME

Lou Correa deserved Matt Coker's dissing (A Clockwork Orange, June 11). However, Coker shouldn't let Lou Sheldon take all of the credit for making a real "Lou-Lou" out of Correa and the rest of the Democrats who refused to support gay citizens in their quest for equality. Sheldon has turned gay-bashing into an art form. He has been so good at it that through the Traditional Values Coalition, he has established the Sheldon Family Full Employment Plan to keep him, his wife and several of their kids out of some church's soup line.

Don't forget Scott Lively's contribution to Lou-Lou's demasculization. Lively is a Holocaust revisionist who, in his book, The Pink Swastika, blames the entire Holocaust on homosexuals. Yep, that's right: no homos, no Holocaust!

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