I recently started a collection of lions. It started in Europe when I was in Brussels this spring. I found myself taking all these pictures of lions and then wondered, "why the hell am I taking all these pictures of lions?" But then I started noticing how different (and often quite funny) they are. I thought I'd share a few of the notable highlights.
For example, the noble lion of Bruges, Belgium:
How mighty his aspect, how proud his carriage. A fine specimen of feline manhood, of pride (er, he he...) in his species.
Contrast now with the beleaguered, yet well-fed mien of this Italian potentate, the Lion of Milano:
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him when he was not this hen-pecked creature, beset by an ungodly host of pigeons.
In Rome the lions stretch and growl, yawning like sleepy housecats, vestiges of an empire that felt entirely too confident of its supper. In Florence, however, the proud dukes of that city-state commissioned lions that stood literally with one paw resting heavily upon the globe. It turns out you can learn a lot about history from the way they make their lions.
But not just history -- also current events! In Venice, where the entire city center has given itself over to a Disney-esque Carnival of tourism, the lions are often confused for mechanical bulls. It turns out you don't have to work hard to find Texans the world over:
My favorite example of this "Lion as Commentary on Modern Times" is from Brussels, Belgium, current capital of the European Union. This fine specimen sits at the gates of a park that faces the great halls of government. I call him the Scardey Cat:
I know, I know. I've inspired you all to go out and start snapping photos of large carnivorous cats. But your enthusiasm is suddenly dampened by the realization that you can't afford a trip to Europe just now. Oh, no! you cry out. Now I'll never be able to start a nifty lion collection like Cheasty! What am I to do? (This outburst can be nicely complemented by placing the hand dramatically across the brow, palm facing outward, fingers curving delicately inward to indicate the absolute vulnerability of the emoting supplicant.)
Never fear, dear readers. We (shockingly enough) have lions in the USA, too. One only has to keep an open eye. Why, just this summer I've located two fine cats in unusual places. Providence, Rhode Island, it turns out, has scary lions:
I know it's small (they have to be to fit inside the state), but trust me. Those Rhodies are fierce.
And right here in Austin, Texas, as close to home as right next door, a squat little lion made of cement sits sentinel, dreaming of the day when his likeness will be rendered permanent in marble or granite and positioned atop the state capitol building. He might not have been real handy back in the land-grabbing, Indian-killing, pioneering good-old-days, but he sure is good at PR.
"That's right, you pansy sons'a bitches," he roars and snarls. "Don't mess with Texas."