I was walking down a familiar avenue — looking up and admiring the 19th century gargoyles perched above New York City. I found some good ones, gargoyles that had escaped me on previous walks, including two flanking the recently cleaned and gleaming copper roof of a 1889 loft building on Broadway.
As I strolled downtown I began to wonder about new gargoyles. There are some wonderful Art Deco gargoyles uptown including the famous Chrysler Building (begun 1928, completed 1930). But new gargoyles all but disappeared in the later half of the 20th century. Now, in the second decade of the 21st, gargoyles are architectural antiques.
This got me pondering what new gargoyles would look like.
There are so many things to fear — global warming, terrorism, dirty bombs, chemical warfare, poverty, crime, deadly viruses, drug resistant bacteria, tsunami waves, super storm hurricanes, wild fires, avalanches, religious bigots, identity thieves, drunk drivers, predatory mortgage lenders, health insurance bureaucrats…. The list goes on and on.
Think about it. What creature would personify contemporary fears? What fearsome creature could ward off those terrifying events? I’m really not sure. As I walked along, I thought about a few choice U.S. political figures and international leaders of suspect note, posing for modern gargoyles. The head of (fill in the name of your least favorite political figure) on top of a loathsome winged rat with a barbed tail, pointy teeth and curved claws.
Pretty scary, ugh? I thought so. I have a few candidates in mind. They represent the worst of contemporary anxiety, but I haven’t come up with one that would protect us — only scare us more.
What kind of modern gargoyle would scare you?