Monday, April 14, 2008

Ole! Let's Get Gored!

Having just finished reading Motley Crue's The Dirt, sadly, I don't seem to have gotten enough disturbing images in my system.

When I saw this article in Men's Vogue on Spanish bullfighter (and model) Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez's penchant for drama and goring, I was intrigued.

You think football players or MMA fighters are tough? Want to see the definition of "balls"?
Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez is using a ballpoint pen to explain how it feels to have a half-ton bull bury a horn in you.
"If someone comes up to you with this now and sticks it into your leg all the way up to here, then that is going to hurt a lot," the Spanish bullfighter says, measuring out several inches. "But if it happens at a moment when the adrenaline is flowing, when you are fighting, then it is just not the same."

This is Rivera's way of explaining his reaction when a bull sank six inches of horn into his right thigh in September. On that occasion, Rivera took off his bullfighter's black necktie and wrapped it tightly above the wound to make a tourniquet. He then went back to confront the bull.
Ariel and I spent our honeymoon on the southern coast of Spain, and while we unfortunately were there a week void of any bullfights, it nonetheless piqued my interest in the "sport" and, as such, our house is adorned by toro paraphernalia.

It seemed every city we visited, rich in culture and history, contained one of two landmarks - a cathedral and a plaza de toros.

The bell tower in the Cathedral of Seville (which houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus), provides a birds eye view of the sprawling Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla.

My favorite town however, Ronda, is home of Plaza de toros de Ronda, among the oldest venues in the world and setting for the latest book I've cracked, Hemmingway's The Dangerous Summer, chronicling the historic 1959 season and the rivalry between Luis Miguel Dominguín and his brother in law Antonio Ordóñez - Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez's great-uncle and grandfather.

While opponents of bullfighting argue its validity sprung from the alleged cruelty to the animals, the sport is a part of the Spanish culture, and frankly fascinating.

To say I know little about the bullfighting is an understatement. I anticipate that Hemmingway's piece will give me a firmer understanding of not just the spectacle, but the history and culture behind the sport. With a little online research, hopefully I will be able to relay information on the current season, whereas generally US interest is limited to viewing it as a grotesque sideshow, a political animal-rights argument and a Vin di Bona wet dream when someone gets a horn shoved where the sun don't shine.

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