May 5, 2000
In the first corrida of the 2,000 summer season in Tijuana, it became obvious that the villamelones have become kings of La Fiesta Brava in that frontier plaza.
This reporter was not present, but the fine aficionado, Gene Mathews, described the afternoon as a "funeral" for Tijuana aficionados. Gene wrote:
"Presiding at the ceremony was Rafael Ortega, assisted by César Castañeda and a practically unknown Antonio Barrera. In deference to the solemnity of the occasion, the three men spent most of the afternoon on their knees, much to the delight of the crowd. Plaza Judge Jaime Gonzalez, who has become a bread and circuses judge, handed out ears as if they were candy. If the bulls had had five ears apiece, there is no telling what the trophy count would have been.
"Empresario Lic. Portugal hastened the demise of the long moribund patient and his not-too-distant relative, Plaza Monumental de Tijuana when he oversaw the raising of ticket prices to make up for the lack of box office toreros. First row seats were $42!
"The funeral services were attended by an unseemly boisterous crowd of villamelones who watched the bulls hip-hop out of the toril like Easter bunnies. Aficionado Art Diaz observed that, had they been another year older, they might have been nice novillos.
"The original announcement of 14 corridas in the season is now questionable. There is talk of perhaps one a month, although they have announced a May 14 event that will have three men in trajes de luces and something resembling horned creatures."
On the brighter side, and in a plaza that is respected for its integrity, Uriel Moreno "El Zapata" won the golden ear trophy as the triunfador of the Feria Nacional de San Marcos, April 30. El Zapata won one ear and heard petition for the second.
Fernando Ochoa also won an ear from a herd of five from Xajay and one from El Col-menar.
The other matadores on the card were Luis Fernando Sánchez and Hector de Gra-nada, neither of whom was able to register a triumph.
Popular Spanish matador Morante de la Puebla suffered a grave goring Saturday during the spring feria in the Maestranza of Sevilla. He is expected to be out of action at least a month, following surgery to the inside of his right leg, a wound that left several long trajectories.
Meanwhile, in Zaragoza, novillero Luis Gaspar "Paulita" suffered a similar goring and will be hospitalized several weeks.
A 33-year-old Russian novillero, Roman Karpookhine, who bills himself as "Finito de Moscu," made his debut in suit of lights, two weeks ago, in Barcelona. He didn't register anything resembling a triumph.
But he is not the first Russian to give bullfighting a go. In 1952, in Tarragona, Igor Son-sonoff performed and many years ago, still another Russian performed in Spain as a rejo-neador.
We wonder if either of the Russian novilleros wore fur monteras.