Sunday, July 5, 2009


I’m not much of a sports fan, though I actually sold an archeological sports article a long time ago. The whole modern concept of sports doesn’t appeal to me. Give me the Roman arena, bullfighting, and Lucha Libre. The athletic event isn’t enough, I need the mythic element. Put in a bit of the Medieval morality play, some genuine ritual – yes, some sacrifice, and of course blood.

Blood makes it more than real. Without blood, ritual is merely routine. And isn’t it amazing that no matter how well you know that red liquid is not blood, we can’t help but react to it as if it’s the real thing?

That’s why the World Series and the Superbowl don’t interest me, but La Fiesta De San Fermin holds my soul captive. It takes place in July in Pamplona, Spain. It’s best know for its running of the bulls. Hemingway made it famous in The Sun also Rises. It’s a very interesting feature, but just a sideshow.

There’s more to La Fiesta than the tourist spectacle. More than even bullfighting. This goes back to some forgotten basics about what it is to be human, things that Western Civilization has some serious problems with.

A good week before it, some PETA held a pseudo-nude protest against it in New York. I say pseudo-nude because they followed the new trend of wearing underwear (in this case skin-tight black things). What hypocrisy! If you aren’t exposing regions that could bring the law after you, and risking that probability, it ain’t no nude protest. At best it’s open-air topless cabaret.

And they were hiding their nipples with their protest signs. What next? Pasties?

But I do like the idea of naked protesters. They would make a great addition to the festival and ritual. They could dance around like professional mourners, smeared in fake blood, bristling with fake banderillas. Maybe they could shed a real tear or two.

One of things I discovered im my research was that some young women are confusing Pamplona during La Fiesta De San Fermin with New Orleans during Mardi Gras: the ritual exposing of breasts is spreading like a virus.

I thought my coverage would be simple commentary on websites of the Pamplona newspapers, but a bit of digging on the Web revealed a thriving subculture that’s rapidly transcending national borders fueled by today’s information technology. The more I investigate, the more complex – and interesting -- it becomes.

I’ll be blogging about this more extensively then I planned.

Another expedition into bizarre territory.

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