Neon Lure | Mark Lindsay

My grandfather had a collection of fishing lures in his basement. I remember the wall upon which he displayed it. I can see it in my mind as clearly as this computer monitor upon which I write. Shiny objects with big, nasty hooks, the lures seemed beautiful and barbaric all at the same time. I hated seeing fish with hooks sticking out of their gills. I hated even more the detachment that many fishermen had to the pain that the fish seemed to experience. "They're cold-blooded," a childhood friend once said. "They don't feel any pain." Delusional thinking.

I wonder about the lures of today's society. As I walk down the street of most any city I see flashing lures of commerce and instant gratification. I am particularly attracted to neon. The glow of neon is so seductive, so lovely to look at, I can hardly resist it. If I have a camera I nearly always photograph it. The magic of neon is so pure that I often forget to read the message. But, like the hook that hides behind the fishing lure, I'm sure it's there. How much have I absorbed over a lifetime of advertising? How much candy have I eaten because a cartoon character told me to do so? Did I "Buy" or "Sell" thanks to a flashing neon sign?

My grandfather had thousands of lures of all shapes and sizes. There was a big silver one, in the shape of a sardine that I liked the most. To a big fish, it must have been irresistible. Big fish eat little fish. And people eat big fish. The food chain can be brutal and delicious, all at the same time. And I guess that's true of contemporary culture. We live in an age of constant, relentless, and ruthless stimulation. If only the neon weren't so beautiful!