May 16, 2008

Bullfight World
By Lyn A. Sherwood

First Bullfight of 2008 Season is May 25

Following all kinds of speculation regarding the Tijuana summer bullfight season and the continuing problems in border cities, Impresario Pepe López Hurtado has announced that the first corrida de toros of the 2008 season will be celebrated May 25 in Plaza Monumental de Tijuana, the “beautiful bullring by the sea”.

The tentative card—I say “tentative”, because nothing ever happens in Mexico, until it happens—is headed by South American Leonardo Benitez, with Urial Moreno “El Zapapata” and José Mauricio. They will face a herd of bulls from Los Encinos.

Does this mark the first of a full season in Tijuana? Who knows? The trouble in border cities, caused by competing drug cartels, has brought out the Mexican militia. There have been many cases of kidnappings, murders, and shoot-outs. One might conclude that these events are having a major impact on tourism to Mexico.

This first corrida de toros may be only a test case, to see if it inspires any problems. If it isn’t the drug gangsters, it’s the anti-bullfight nuts. Attending a bullfight in Mexico has become a crap shoot.

Bullfight World recommends that California aficionados park on the American side of the border and take one of the buses to and from the plaza. Such certainly cuts down on long waits to cross the border in a car, and it affords a certain amount of security for those who wish to attend a bullfight.

The following was written by Ric Polansky.

To really understand Toros in Spain it is ESSENTIAL to do all the fairs at least once or twice to get a feeling for how each sector of the country deports themselves. How well they understand—what you might not.

The fair in Jerez has always been just such a recalcitrant animal...needing to be roped in. Then, when it was announced that Jose Tomas would perform—recession or not— it was a must.

  I even bought the tickets early and as usual got messed about AGAIN by TauroEntrada. No matter what you book and pay for, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you’ll get in the DHL surprise package they send you. In truth it’s like a messy box of chocolates wherein you paid for sombra but were rewarded for using them:  low down SOL.

  JEREZ- The fame, deep gypsy magic, the “Duende” of that renown plaza excited me for days proceeding. MAY FIRST was the opening corrida and having become a Spaniard I hadn’t planned on the traffic, six million cars moving that day! We arrived late and rushed. The plaza de Toros is not an attractive place. From the outside it appeared as a large warehouse with the occasional rogue arch. Once seated I was even more disappointed. I suppose I expected a fairy-tale castle-plaza out of Disney animated cartoon and got nothing less than a train station from northern Africa; dirty, dusty and without any endearing accompaniment. I sat bewildered wondering how I could have been fooled for so long.

  The Torero was distinct. No doubts were left from the opening lances that any torero granted the honour of strutting his stuff in Jerez would show his best. All sought GLORY. The ranch was a very unimpressive Juan Pedro Domecq “lights”. A far cry from the fearsome ranch I had purchased toros from back in 1971.

MAY SECOND, in the shade. Taxis still on strike and the Plaza an uphill trudge for a mile. Ice cold sherry upon arrival. Heaven in a glass. None of the tickets have any correct references to the puertas nor tendidos. Confusion ruled and those working the plaza knew even less. Yet, it was all good natured.

A perfect “chow mien” of contrasting styles: Juli, Fandi and Talavante. Juli walked out and gave a lesson: tauromaqui 101. He cut two ears. Damn he knows bulls and just what to do with them. With just the slight flick of his wrist he changed the entire charge of the bull (as he can do). Dominant and poderoso.

Fandi was obligated to “click his show up a few notches” and did. The guy next to me hated Fandi, “it isn’t bullfighting” he sneered. “Do you know any other torero as competent with the banderillas?” I asked. He quit speaking to me; I had joined his hate list. Fandi is improving and does want to be more than just “a whirl wind sensation”.

Talavante has his black days but this wasn’t one of them. He made a “Jerezian effort” for the crowd but couldn’t kill well. He still got an ear for a faena in which the cape didn’t move more than six inches on any one pass (Sherry makes me exaggerate).

MAY THIRD: was the day, the real reason to visit Jerez wasn’t the bodegas. Everyone was talking about nothing else. No tickets anywhere. Naturally Tauroentrada did have them (even though they had promised them).

Lunch that day was at the horse fair in the caseta of JJ Padilla. I chatted with his folks and friends. They all expected great things but it wasn’t to be. His bulls were the worst of the lot and just didn’t want to play. On the second bull I just had to inform all around me that JJ had no other recourse than to advance to the toriles and go for a Peurta Gayola. I didn’t want to be dumb forever. Thankfully JJ did just that.

Finally relief. Gabriel blasted his trumpets and they blared in the arrival of Saint Tomas’ first bull. I will say no more. You’ve probably read about it in the press. It was the largest, longest and most thunderous petition I have seen for a tail (not granted).

The day wasn’t over. In the shadows emerged a very talented, brave and intelligent youngster: Caro Gil. He is managed by a good friend and hails from Jerez: He just knocked me out— again. Yes, he took chances, but then again, it was his home. I have seen him before and every time he is better, stronger and more intelligent. CARO GIL, remember the name. You won’t be disappointed.

MAY 4th had to be a psychological downer—it was. Nevertheless, I went for Perera and it was worth it. The plaza was half empty for Fran Ordonez but half full for Finito. I noticed the Duchess of Alba follows Cayetano and not Fran. The Parlades were bothersome. Perera is on the move. Upward and reaching to join the top toreros competing just under the Living Legends.

Everything else is good about Jerez, the people, bodegas, horse fair, ice cold sherry, girls in the traje flaemenco, the carriages all decked out and even the Indians who by now have moved on to Madrid.

I read last night that all the corridas I wanted to attend in San Isidro AND the new mini anniversary fair have been all sold out! I suppose I am going to learn to speak Navaho, Cherokee or Kiowa before getting in. Got to go back to work so I can make lots of money and this time not for the tax man.

“Hello Tonto! What tickets do you have for me today?”

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