Sunday, August 9, 2009

Style Is The Bait, Put Your Hand In Your Pocket

A Cassin's Sparrow from Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, back in Texas. Oddly, one of the commonest birds there.

Yesterday I made my first foray into West Virginia, to go to Cabela's outfitting store....for those unacquainted, its like REI, except geared more towards hunters. My relatively brief experience there encapsulated, I think, the essence of a certain of Amerika that a lot of us get brief glimpses of, but are never fully immersed in.....for good or ill.

Let me set the scene for you. Cabela's has a giant, sprawling parking lot with different lettered sections, much like an amusement park or supermall. Once you are parked and approaching The Store, the first thing you see out front is a giant bronze scuplture of a grizzly bear mother and her cub fighting two bald eagles in the air. Basically.....its fucking awesome. Not only is it an insane and completely unrealistic piece of work, it's also really detailed and accurate if this scene were actually to occur. When I saw this, I knew I was in for more than I had bargained for (which were a new pair of hiking boots).

Entering that store was like stepping into a new world. On one side, racks of fishing rods and a giant freshwater aquarium. On the other, racks of firearms, enough to supply a small redneck army. Directly ahead was a gigantic fake mountain covered in taxidermied bighorn sheep, mountain goats, buffalo, moose, bobcats, bears and mountain lions. Tucked in a corner was a whole room devoted to dead African wildlife.....I liked the unidentified kingfisher the best.

So the first question people actually like this stuff? The bullshit I mean, not the gear. How many people in that store, other than myself, were walking around with a strange smirk on their face the whole time? I dont't know for sure....but I think most of the denizens of the store took it at face value. It seems that a keen sense of irony is lacking in this part of the country......

Besides the setting, the people in there were striking. I've heard a couple people mumble to me that the United States is becoming one big, homogonous monoculture......but this is clearly not the case. Hell, compare Orange County and San Francisco and Humboldt County and Fresno.....not a whole lot in common, and thats just California. Well stretch that all the way to West Virginia....Cabela's was filled with really fat people, dudes with voluminous beer guts, mossy oak camoflagueing everybody, and a few token dudes who appeared to have made their annual venture out of the woods to stock up on ammo. Women wore ugly, haggard bangs and cellulite, smoking cigarettes while tugging their toddlers along. While looking at boots, a small child walked up to me and started shooting an imaginary pump-action shotgun into the air (I know it was a pump because he kept reloading and reloading). It was awful. It was an absurd place that did nothing but send shivers up my spine and rekindle my interest in purchasing firearms.

Obviously, I should have brought my camera for this anthropological expedition, but I will let my vivid details do the talking. So have fun looking at Cassin's Sparrows instead.

Another Cassin's Sparrow on its way to stuff its chickies full of bug protein.

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