September 7, 2007

Bullfight World
By Lyn Sherwood

Vick Case Plays Well For Animal Rightists

No matter how you may feel about the Michael Vick affair, its timing couldn’t have been more perfect for animal rightists who would like nothing better than to have bullfighting banned, throughout the world.

Today, the bulls; tomorrow, the chickens.

Ever since the Vick affair broke headlines, the world press has become embroiled in still another heated debate over the morality of bullfighting. Spanish State TV has dropped its live coverage of bullfights, in favor of late night highlights, for it considers the live spectacle to be too gory to be exposed to children, sitting in the comforts of their parents’ homes. Similar moves are pending in France, where the country’s Society for the Protection of Animals has unfurled banners over more than 600 miles of southern French coastline and over the bull breeding cities of Nimes, Arles, and Dax.

Yet, the first program that the Spanish public broadcaster transmitted, back in 1948, was a bullfight.

In Northern Spain, bullfighting has been virtually outlawed by some, applauded by others. The days of Barcelona being a bullfight capitol are gone, at least until the diverse political organizations who are responsible for running Catalán can eventually make up their minds. Politics are politics are politics.

This, in spite of the reality that the bullfights are a primary tourist attraction, in Spain, France, South Ameri-ca, Mexico, and now, even the USA. The bullfighting industry on the Iberian Peninsula is bigger than ever. Last year, in Spain, 65 million bullfight tickets were sold. And, there are plenty of other television networks that will gladly pick up the viewers that had watched bullfights on Spanish State TV, the equivalent of PBS in the U.S. And, of course, Pay TV is anxiously standing by to charge big Euros for broadcasting particularly attractive cards. They have already proven that it’s a very profitable venture.

Yet, the battle continues.

Print and broadcast media from Pasadena to Madrid, and all points in between, have picked up on the debate, carrying pro- and anti-bullfight stories and features.

And, how are those who are responsible for presenting bullfights; the bullfighters, themselves; bull breeders; ranchers; and all of the other people for whom bullfighting represents not only a cultural tradition, but an elegant lifestyle, accepting all of this? They’re laughing, all of the way to the bank. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

* * *

Sunday, Sept. 2 was a hot, muggy afternoon in the Hurtado brothers’ “Beautiful Bullring by The Sea” in Tijuana. With the exception of Fermin Rivera, cousin of the late Curro, the only thing that wasn’t especially hot was the toreros, who just seemed to go through the motions with six bulls from Tenexac.

Uriel Moreno “El Zapata”, Jeronimo, and Rivera entertained the small crowd, but trophies were at a premium. Gary Sloan reviews the action.

With his first bull, “Techati” (450 kilos), El Zapata opened the afternoon with a set of Veronicas, climaxed with a nice media Veronica. After one pic, Uriel offered a set of Chicuelinas. He was applauded for his placements of banderillas, the first pair al violin and the next two pairs al cuarteo.

His faena was honest and correct, but not aesthetic. After missing the first sword, a half thrust completed the action and the matador was applauded.

His second toro, “Necutic” (500 kilos), El Zapata again opened with Veronicas and the media for applause. His faena de muleta was far better than had been his first, with good series on both sides. After one sword thrust, he was awarded an ear.

His second bull, “Pixahui” (where did they dig up those names?), the very athletic Jeronimo opened with grand Veronicas and a tight, crisp media Veronica. In the faena, all was going well, until the supreme moment, which he screwed up in spades. Four sword entries and one descabello thrust resulted in no rewards.

He allowed his second toro, “Metzonalotf” (465 kilos) to be heavily over-pic’ed, ruining it for the third act, which had little to recommend. Again, his sword failed him. He heard two warning avisos. By that time, the crowd had turned cold.

There was great anticipation over the debut of Fermin Rivera, who was limited to horn-to-horn work to open things with his first bull, “Teconallati” (475 kilos). His faena contained no real highlights.

But, he saved the day with the last bull of the day, “Huilotl” (470 kilos). His opening cape work was on the light side, but he did offer a great set of Chicuelinas at the takeaway.

His faena was the best of the day, as Rivera worked well with the rather small animal. After a perfect sword, the bull dropped and Rivera was awarded a pair of ears.

* * *

A couple of issues ago, Bullfight World reported that Spanish Matador José Tomás, who had been scheduled to perform in Tijuana, would probably not be contracted, due to a financial dispute with the Hurtado Brothers, owners of “The Bullring by The Sea”.

Although that fact hasn’t been confirmed by the managers of the matador, a bull took over the duty of announcing that Tomás will not be coming to Tijuana.

Last week, in Linares, Tomás received a grave goring that will probably keep him out of the rings through the balance of the Spanish season. Ten thousand spectators looked on, as Tomás dealt with the bull, which delivered a two trajectory goring to the inside of the torero’s right leg. The matador was able to dispatch the bull, before allowing himself to be spirited to the infirmary.

Although Tomás insists that he will be back, performing, in only two weeks, contracts that had been signed a month in advance have been postponed until later dates.

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