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BULLFIGHT AT LAS VENTAS, MADRID
MADRID
SEVILLA
ROYAL PALACE-PRADO MUSEUM
WOMEN: BELTS, BOOTS, BODIES, LOVERS
FOR A GOOD GENERAL ACCOUNT OF WHAT THE BULLFIGHT IS ALL ABOUT CLICK HERE
LOUIS ESPLA, WRAPPING THE BULL AROUND HIS BODY WITH THE MULETA.
Hello to all: 

When I was in high school, an English teacher, “Buzz” Hand, occasionally took the time to describe to us the different elements of the bullfight, and referenced Hemingway’s book,
Death in the Afternoon.  I read the book, became interested in the “corrida” (a corrida lasts about three hours and presents the killing of 6 bulls).  In reading Hemingway, I was struck by his parting advice, in which he suggested that the bullfight was much like sex.  You could read about it and read about it, and imagine it, and think about it, but eventually, you needed to try it, to understand whether you liked it.  :-)

So, between the ages of 18-22, I had opportunity to see the corrida four different times, which as I recall, was more often than I had sex.  Trips like this meant that I worked in the butcher shop until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night, drove to San Diego, arriving about 2:00 a.m. and slept in the car. Then, I arose and drove into Tijuana where the bullfight began at 3:00 p.m.  It was over about 6:00 p.m., after which I drove back to Taft, arriving about 3:00 a.m. in the morning, slept for three hours, then arose and went to work in the butcher shop for the 10 hour day that always occurred on Mondays.

As I recollect, I did this two times and decided that it was not worth it…but I did do it two times.

I traveled once with my brother, Joseph. We slept on the ground at night with our .22 rifles at our side for protection…the police ran us off of the public property, without knowing that we had weapons.

I traveled a second time with friends Norman Stuckey, and Bob McLean and my cousin Larry Snyder. That was an unusually memorable visit blow the border.  All of us but Norman were arrested at the bullring, I for throwing cushions into the ring after the fight was over, and Larry and Bob each for asking the policeman why they were arresting me.  Long story, but the penalty was 19 days in jail and $500 fine.
 
This meant that I would miss all final exams, no doubt flunk out of school and be a wandering, homeless person. :-)  Fortunately, at the jailhouse, after a ride in the paddy wagon with some bad hombres, a kind sergeant, who spoke English, interceded on our behalf and got us released, muy pronto.

As we left the precinct station, Norman came driving up in the car;  we boarded and got out of Mexico.  Bob never returned.

But I went back again

I traveled there a third time with Mr. and Mrs.G.O. Hall and Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Dunn.  Taftians may remember that Johnny Dunn ran the Toppers Motel and Restaurant and he brought along for the trip, his beautiful, intelligent, heart-stopping daughter, Diana.  Mr. Hall was the father of my butcher shop boss, Garrold Hall, and Mr. Hall said one day that he would like to go see all of this, and so we went.

I could scarcely believe it then, and in remembering it, I can scarcely believe it still.  Why would these two couples go gallivanting down to Tijuana, Mexico with a 20 year old kid, star-struck over the 20 year old daughter?   I don’t know, but they did, and we took a leisurely, long day trip, and hey, I did get to kiss Diana Dunn.

Finally, I took Susan to the bullfight, and she found it all pretty much o.k., until after the bull was killed, and then she was pretty upset….so it did not become a part of our life together.

Forty years later, I thought that I would take a look at this Spanish/Mexican cultural event one more time, but this time I would go to Spain, the home of it all, and this time, I resolved to avoid getting involved with the police or any jail houses.  I had no fears about 20 year old women.

As I report elsewhere, Rosalie was a terrific companion, and while she did not necessarily enjoy the bullfight, she watched it, asked many questions and understood it a lot better than before we attended.  Without her support, I would have been a lonely man surrounded by a language I could not understand.  :-)   With her Las Ventas was a great venue for watching a powerful event. 

My photos and film clips show a few examples of poor matador work, but are mostly views of Louis Espla, and Louis Encabo, who performed the best of all nine matadors who fought over a three day period.   I will take you through the bullfight from beginning to end, including introductory pageantry, the work of the picadors, the bandarilleros, the matador using the small cape, and the killing of the bull, along with the work of the mules and handlers in dragging the bull out of the ring.  So, look if you wish, and if you are interested, go to Tijuana….or Madrid…or to Sevilla.  Just don't get stopped by the cops.   :-)
LAS VENTAS AT DUSK
TWENTY THREE MINUTES TO THE CALL
MATADOR
RELIEF SCULPTURE ON WALLS OF LAS VENTAS
DICK AND ROSALIE AT LAS VENTAS
T.V. CAMERAS CARRY FIGHT TO CITY
TODAY, THE BULLS OF DON VICTORINO MARTIN
KING JUAN CARLOS DID NOT ATTEND. TO LEFT OF HIS BOX, ABOVE BANNERS, IS EL PRESIDENTE, MAYOR OF MADRID
ALWAYS SIT IN THE SHADE
RIDERS ASK PRESIDENTE FOR PERMISSION TO LET BULLFIGHT BEGIN
CLICK HERE TO SEE HORSES DOING SIDEPASSES
MATADORS IN LEAD, FOLLOWED BY ASSISTANTS, FOLOWED BY PICADORS
MATADORS PRACTICING
PICADORS, NEVER POPULAR
THEY HAUL THE DEAD BULL AWAY
DONKEYS, HORSES, MEN ON FOOT, ONLY ONE CHARACTER IS MISSING
TORO.....THE BULL
FIGHTING BULLS ARE 2,000 POUNDS OF LETHAL ACCELERATION, AS MUCH LIKE OUR DOMESTIC BULL AS A WOLF IS TO OUR DOGS.
CLICK HERE, ANOTHER ENTRY BY TORO
CLICK HERE ANOTHER ENTRY BY TORO
CLICK HERE TO SEE TORO ENTER ARENA
VARIATION ON ENTRY...MATADOR KNEELS AT GATE AND IS THE FIRST THING THAT TORO SEES
IF ALL GOES WELL, TORO PASSES ON BY
A FEW PASSES WITH THE CAPE TO SEE HOW TORO REACTS TO MOVEMENT.
CAN HE SEE OUT OF BOTH EYES? DOES HE CHARGE STRAIGHT? DOES HE HOOK ONE WAY OR THE OTHER? WILL HE CHARGE WITHOUT DELAY?
NEITHER IS CLASSIC

NOTICE BENT KNEE AND MOVING FEET ON
LEFT

ON
RIGHT, MATADOR'S INSIDE TURN TOWARD BULL  IS BETTER, SEE BULL HOOKING TO LEFT AS HE PASSES BY
CLICK HERE TO SEE PASSES TO EVALUATE BULL
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF CAPE WORK
AFTER A FEW PASSES, THE TRUMPET SOUNDS AND THE PICADORS ENTER.
THEIR JOB IS TO WEAKEN THE HUMP MUSCLE OF THE BULL SO THAT AS HE TIRES, HE WILL LOWER HIS HEAD.  BULLS ARE JUDGED AS TO BRAVERY BY HOW VIGOROUSLY THEY CHARGE THE HORSE EVEN WITH THE PICADOR PUNISHING THEM.   BULLS OFTEN LIFT HORSES OFF THEIR FEET.
FOLLOWING THE PICADOR, ASSISTANTS TO THE MATADOR PLACE THREE PAIR OF BANDARILLAS INTO THE HUMP OF THE BULLS NECK.  THE HIGHER THEIR ARMS AND THE CLOSER THEY ARE TO THE BULL, THE BRAVER AND MORE SKILLED THEY ARE.
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF PICADOR AND A BRAVE BULL
UPPER RIGHT: ENCABO CALLS BULL FROM RAILING, LIMITING HIS ANGLE.
LOWER RIGHT, HE HAS PLACED THEM AND RELEASED AS BULL SEEKS TO TURN ON HIM, TOO LATE.

LEFT, ESPLA PLACES A WONDERFUL SET, VERY CLOSE TO THE BULL, HAS JUST SET THEM AND IS PUSHING OFF TO RELEASE
CLICK HERE TO SEE PLACEMENT OF BANDARILLIAS
MATADOR NOW USES THE SMALL CAPE, THE MULETA, TO PASS THE BULL ACROSS HIS BODY.  THE CLOSER HE WORKS, AND THE MORE HE POSES WITH FEET TOGETHER, AND DOES NOT MOVE HIS FEET, THE BETTER. 
WORSE PROBLEMS YET, HE IS BETWEEN THE MULETA AND THE BULL
GOOD EXAMPLE OF A BAD PASS
AWKWARD, MOVING, WITHOUT A POSE, AND FEET WIDESPREAD
LOUIS FRANCISCO ESPLA, MATADOR
HIS 'NATURAL' PASS
LEFT, ESPLA FINISHES HIS NATURAL WITH A LIFT OF CAPE AND BULL REACHES INTO THE SKY, A MANOLETINA PASS
BULLS ARE COLOR BLIND, AND CHARGE MOVEMENT, SEEKING SUBSTANCE.  THEY LEARN VERY QUICKLY.  BEFORE THEY DISCOVER THE MAN BEHIND THE CAPE, HE MUST KILL THE BULL. 
AS YOU WILL SEE ON THE VIDEO, MATADOR LINES THE BULL UP SO THAT HIS FORELEGS ARE SQUARE, LOWERS THE CAPE AND MOVES INTO THE BULL.  TORO LOWERS HIS HEAD TO GORE THE CAPE, ANDS THEN THE MATADOR MUST REACH OVER HIS HORNS TO PLACE THE SWORD, THEN SLIDE OUT ALONG THE SIDE OF THE BULL.  THIS IS THE MOMENT OF TRUTH.  IF THE BULL RAISES HIS HORNS, THE MATADOR SUFFERS SERIOUS INJURY, PERHAPS DEATH.
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF THE MOMENT OF TRUTH, NOTE CLOSELY THAT SWORD DOES NOT ENTER BULL, FLIES AWAY
SUCCESSFUL  KILL WITH QUICK EFFECTIVENESS, MATADOR BURIES SWORD IN BULL AND SLIDES PAST HORNS
ENCABO KILLS
SWORD IS NOW  BURIED BETWEEN THE SHOULDER BLADES OF THE BULL, AND ENCABO HAS MOVED ALREADY ALONG PAST THE HORNS
WHITE HANKIES ASK EL PRESIDENTE TO AWARD AN EAR
ENCABO ACCEPTS CHEERS OF CROWD, FLOWERS FROM LADIES, AND AN EAR FROM EL PRESIDENTE
CROWD WANTED ESPLA TO HAVE AN EAR FOR HIS PERFORMANCE, BUT HIS KILL WAS NOT SUCCESSFUL ON FIRST EFFORT.  SEE VIDEO ABOVE.  BUT HIS MULETA WORK WAS EXCEPTIONAL
LOUIS MIGUEL ENCABO
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THE BULLFIGHT IS NOT A SPORT.  THE OUTCOME IS CERTAIN.  IT IS A RITUAL, AND AT THE END, THE MULES HAVE THEIR ROLE TO PLAY.