Shouldn't Houston's Official Animal Be Gritty, Unstoppable & Annoying?
These are not the birds you might envision in a sculpture, but they are certainly very Houston.
Photo by Adam Baker
Sometimes we question the sanity of certain members of City Council. A few weeks back, we told you about how they were holding up payment to a local artist for a sculpture he was creating for the lobby of the George R. Brown Convention Center because it didn't fit the city's marketing plan...or something. Poor Ed Wilson probably wished he had never submitted the bid for the project in the first place.
Fortunately, the city did finally green-light paying the man, but it got us to thinking. Maybe the problem was that Wilson was using the wrong animals. Frankly, despite the lovely design of the statue, we have to admit to finding the types of birds a little suspect. They appear far too graceful and beautiful for a city that isn't exactly known for its soaring beauty. So, maybe for his next project, he might consider some of these animals, instead, that cut a little closer to the character of the city.
We have nothing against birds. We love them. In fact, Galveston is one of the hottest bird-watching destinations in the country. But, in Houston, it's less about graceful ocean birds than it is the cackling grackles that cover power lines and inhabit urban trees (see photo above), occasionally taking on the form of a menacing, Hitchcock-ian horde perched to take out screaming throngs of people just trying to get from work to the car. Now THAT is a sculpture idea.
Sweet Charlie was a feral cat in the Heights.
Photo by Jeff Balke
7. Feral Cats
Let's be honest, anyone who lives in an inner-city neighborhood sees them and probably feeds them. There are entire programs dedicated to catch and release of feral cats for the purpose of spaying and neutering. We like to imagine them as a miniature society of furry Houstonians with their own rules and hierarchy. At the very least, they kill off the rats.
They've occasionally been spotted in area bayous and can be downright terrifying around Clear Lake and in Brazos Bend State Park, but these prehistoric reptiles would also make an amazing sculpture, hopefully with their mouths agape and terrified parents scooping up their children and small pets running for their lives. We may have a terror art fetish.
Once, many years ago, we decided to feed a squirrel on the University of Houston campus. Before we realized it, we were surrounded by an ever-growing pack of hungry rodents hell-bent on domination and peanut butter crackers — all we had at the time. We threw our remaining bounty to the ground and made a break for it. Luckily, we survived to tell the tale with only our dignity damaged. With so many of these cute but ferocious little critters running around, it only makes sense to memorialize them in statue form.
The face of a killer or a dog about to eat this sofa...you decide.
Photo by Jeff Balke
4. Rescued Pit Bulls
You see them, the friendly couple in the park trying desperately to hold onto their new shelter pup, who is dragging them across fields and down walking paths with reckless abandon. Across from them, scared parents are yanking their children from what they imagine to be harm's way and giving extremely wide berth to these demons. These are the rescue pit bulls. They are more likely to lick than bite your face off, but so many have heard the stories that they live in fear. All but the daring rescuers who never realized how many times one dog could destroy a sofa in a six-month period.
If you are unfamiliar with these water rats, imagine those cuddly otters floating on their backs, babies lying on their mamas' bellies. Cute, right? Now, picture their dirty, recently paroled cousins with neck tattoos and a penchant for lighting things on fire. Naturally, those are the nutria that call Houston home. You think you see something cute in the lake at Hermann Park, then you realize it's smoking a cigarette and winking at your daughter.
We have so many of these and they are so nasty, it's almost as if, collectively, they are one giant organism, which sounds like a horror film until you go outside in August without at least three coats of DEET covering every square inch of bare flesh. And don't even get us started about all the diseases they carry. Sure, you're more likely to catch swine flu from French-kissing a pig, but it won't stop us from employing all manner of defense against these Satan spawn.
In our lives, we have known many people who, despite the fact they don't bite or really do any serious harm to humans, are deathly afraid of roaches — in the case of Houston, it's more likely the flying palmetto bug that has people jumpy. They are big, they fly at your head and they make an extremely creepy sound if all is quiet enough in your house to hear the scratch scurrying. To be honest, it might be more appropriate to just make a sculpture of an exterminator.