He could have taken the elevator

He could have taken the elevator

This tableau with stuffed bears inside Bass Outdoor World is only one of its surreal features.  I visited one of these stores for the first time the other day and found it an assault on my gentle sensibilities.  A salesman proudly told me that the store contained $2 million worth of taxidermy.  Across the US, there are 51 similar stores, with plans for many more in the offing.

What is Bass Outdoor World?  It’s a colossal store selling gear for outdoor pastimes—camping and hiking, hunting and fishing.  The stores are often on the fringe of metropolitan areas, along the highways that affluent people use to reach their vacations.  The stores have huge parking lots, vast inventories.  They are extravagantly materialistic, while seeming to worship the natural world.

The Bass Outdoor shop in Portage Indiana is a cavernous two-story building, with a rough-hewn timbered look under fluorescent lighting.  It features a dizzying array of fishing gear, a showroom of expensive boats, and, upstairs, a hunters’ paradise with a sobering display of guns.

As the United States becomes more built up, our focus on the glories of outdoor life becomes more intense, too.  There is a vast commercial market for roughing it, a market where you can buy fancy sights and expensive comfortable chairs from which to shoot  deer.  With enough expenditure, campsite conveniences rivaling the comforts of domestic life can be had.

Have you ever been to Bass Outdoor World?

Powerful, seductive, deadly

Our lake is so beautiful and appealing that it’s easy to forget how dangerous it is.  Typically, it’s peaceful-like and seldom has dangerous-looking waves.

Yet tragically unnecessary deaths occur on the Lake each year.  Strollers drift off the concrete apron.  Distraught mothers drive off into it on frigid nights.  Inner-city kids looking to get cool plunge into it on hot summer days, never to be seen again.  Boozy sailors, taken off guard by a sudden weather change, find themselves in the drink. . . . The stories are many.

Every year, we see the emergency vehicles gathered on the beach, and we know what it means.

Click the image to enlarge.