I have mixed feelings about bullfighting. On the one hand: Man. Bull. Danger! Death! Beauty! Romance! Tradition! I can’t think of a more pure distillation of the whole concept of “sport.” On the other hand: gross. Taunting, tormenting, and provoking an enormous packet of sentient doom may produce a riveting cultural spectacle, but it also seems to violate some other definitions of “sport,” the idea that contests should, on some level, aspire to fairness. And, probably, not involve the death of one participant.
This ambivalence didn’t stop me from enjoying A. L. Kennedy’s agreeably weird book On Bullfighting, or, indeed, anything by Hemingway. So imagine my excitement when I discovered that we can attend actual bullfights right here in America; specifically, in rural California, where it seems that the existential drama of the bull ring has transformed into something of a team sport. The Cali bullfights are “bloodless," the bulls wear a velcro patch that into which the matadors stick their velcro-tipped javelins. So even if PETA wouldn’t exactly approve of this season’s rustic, West Coast take on Portuguese tradition, at least no spectators have to see a big, beautiful beast slaughtered before their eyes.
In any case, I dare you not to be enthralled by these snippets from this summer’s California toreador scene:
Kind of makes your softball team look pathetic, doesn’t it?