National team in the World Cup. W.
Favorite son Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. W.
Favorite son Alberto Contador in Tour de France. W.
Cue La marcha real.
Yet all is not copacetic in Catalonia. The provincial legislature has outlawed bullfighting to the death starting in 2011.
Not only is Ernest Hemingway turning over in his grave, but the traditionalists are aghast. This is as if the U.S. Congress declared the NFL a flag football league. Or, MLB being changing the national pastime to slow pitch.
Okay, not exactly. But, in many ways, bullfighting, as odd an endeavor as it may be, is the cultural face of Spain as much as flamenco dancing.
Understand that this ban by the Catalonian legislators is as much political as anything. You think there are separatists north of our border in Quebec, you ain’t seen nothin’ ’til you been to Barcelona. La Rambla is as full of political polemicists as it is mimes who want your turistic money. And don’t forget to pronounce that middle “c” in Barcelona as “th.”
So outlawing this old tradition is another shot across the bow to separate the province from the rest of the country more than an animal rights thing.
Still . . .
All of which allows me to tell of my one bullfight experience. Our hotel in Sevilla during a trip several years back was right around the corner from the bullring, which, if memory serves, somebody said was the oldest in Spain. The night of our arrival was bullfight night.
Getting tickets wasn’t difficult. The sport is in decline. And, even for our unschooled group, it was easy to discern this was the minor leagues. None of the matadors on the six fight card were able to slay their foes by themselves. In each match, the bull would finally wear out, fall to the ground still breathing. At which point, a second to the matador — a banderillero, perhaps, or, maybe a picador — stabbed the bull to death with a dagger that looked like it could cut steel.
Except for one bull the night we were there. This smart beast hadn’t a bit of fight in him. He would have nothing of the pomp, circumstance and ritualistic demise awaiting him. When he wouldn’t engage those who sought to slay him, they brought in the cows with bells on their necks to stir the bull’s ardor.
He’d have none of that either. At which point, most in the crowd laughed. Some shouted barbs, which I’m advised loosely translated as “faggot bull.”
So they trotted off the unwilling participant and replaced him with one more willing to engage in the action.
The bull they removed from the arena to the sound of guffaws, he had the last laugh. He’s grazing on some ranch somewhere. The others became beefsteak at the butcher shop.
– Seedy K