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?

Turning the calendars

"April" in the Rifle Paper Press's "Cities" calendar

I still buy old-fashioned paper calendars for my home and office, ending up this year with three lovely ones, all designed by small US companies.  Yesterday I turned their pages to the new month.

At the office, I have a ‘cities’ calendar from the Rifle Paper Co..  Paris is, of course, the city of the month.

Snow & Graham desk calendar for 2013

For my desk at home, I use a small calendar made by Snow & Graham, which is a wonderful Chicago-based firm.  Besides calendars, they make all sorts of beautiful letter-press stationery and cards.  Stylized flowers are one of their specialties.  I’m always surprised at how much pleasure their calendars give me.

2013 Linnea Graphic Wall Calendar (March)

My favorite calendar is a loose-leaf graphic calendar that is meant to be displayed in a frame.  It’s from a firm called Linnea Design.  Each page is a work of art, evocative of the month and the joys of nature.

2013 Linnea Graphic Art Calendar (April)

You do have to take the frame down from the wall every month to change the picture, but afterward you have a 12 beautiful pieces of graphic art that you can use to decorate a bathroom or something.  I was pretty old before I realized that there are only 14 variations in the perpetual calendar, so that you can save and reuse your calendars if you really like them.

Thanks to Paper Source, which stocks all these calendars; otherwise, they might be pretty hard to obtain.