Runnin Bulls

(Estamos aqui para REPRESENTAR a nuestra clase.)

The Running of the Bulls is a long running tradition in a few places, nearly all these places are in Spain. In my culture, we have no real equivalent. There are stockshows, rodeos, moshpits, and livestock are still herded through urban environments in a few midwestern towns, but those events don’t have the same communal festive feel and shared excitement as this exciting and dangerous event.

It was interesting to hear that the bull running crosses from Basque regions. I’m very curios about the Basque, because it seems impossible that there could be a large group in Western Europe with no cultural or linguistic etymology. Pamplona sounds like a lot of fun. Eight days of city-wide, communal partying is another thing sorely lacking in our culture.

The incredibly talented presenter did a good job of sharing her love of Spanish culture, and was able to inspire similar interest in nearly all present. I’m sure many people have talked about the festival and shared pictures, but I had never heard about the history of how it started before. That was interesting. The term “toro suerto” sounds like an invitation to “suerte mal” to me. The term “divine ones”, and facetious term “brave ones” made me laugh. Hearing about the methods of raising Toros Bravos was interesting too. It sounds like it requires a lot of empty space. It’s surprising to me that the bulls follow steer in the event without harming them, I always imagined that they would be driven by people on horseback or something. I was also surprised that more bulls aren’t injured. They don’t have clipped or capped horns, and they are running close together while scared and continually pestered. It must be very scary for the bulls. The flippant attitude that bull runners show toward human injury and possible cruelty toward the bulls makes me a little uncomfortable.

Despite the discomfort I felt about this archaic and arguably cruel tradition, I couldn’t help thinking that it looks like good fun. Could we have something similar here? Would it be appropriate? My old rural lake home of Tum Tum (just West of Spokane) was small, but there was a real sense of community, there was livestock, and an abundance of wild deer and moose. It would be great to have something like Los Encierro there. Maybe we could run elk across Scotts Valley on dirtbikes, while imbibing dangerous amounts of PBR. I personally avoid unprotected confrontations with large, dangerous animals but my dogs would love it. If animal cruelty and public safety considerations make it impossible to have any similar traditions here, maybe that’s for the best.

Watching the men run in front of the bulls made me think of this natural tendency most men have of stupidly seeking out scary danger. I would harshly critisize this masculine tendency, but that would be very hypocritical. I get the feeling that these behaviors are more widely accepted in Spanish culture, and can be excersised publicly without embarrasment.

In the interest of public safety and international goodwill, I think it would be a good idea to export American Rodeo Clowns to Pamplona. The testicular fortitude of a good rodeo clown is unmatched, even by the best matadors. Whenever someone goes down and faces a high probablity of being injured by a bull, rodeo clowns intervene. They distract the bull’s attention and sometimes become expert at tangling with a bull while avoiding the horns. In the popular rodeoclown game “Cowboy Poker”, the object is to remain motionless at the card table while the bull (usually a Brahmin mix of some kind) charges and kicks at the players. The last person to remain seated wins the prize money. Even at these events, where injury is expected, other rodeo clowns stand by ready to keep a bull from severely mauling someone who has gone down. In the Encierro videos, every time someone fell I hoped for a rodeo clown to show up. I’m sure the shepards do their job well, but I didn’t see any rushing to put themselves between the bulls and a fallen runner.

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