“for when He crows they quiver and when He comes they flee”
-- Ishmael Reed, “The Black Cock"
The local roosters are time-warped by this unnatural environment. They crow at all hours. I don’t blame them, this place scrambles my cycles, too.
There may be cockfighting going on, even though it’s been illegal in Arizona since 1998. People need to make money one way or another. And in carnicerías and liquor stores all over town, I’ve seen cockfighting DVDs for sale.
Most Americans see cockfighting as sleazier than pornography, but it’s a natural phenomenon. Roosters are kamikaze sperm-delivery systems. They’d take on velociraptors, if they met any. Their philosophy is “Live fast, die young, leave a mutilated corpse.” We had chickens in West Covina when I was a kid, and I witnessed a string of roosters live and die bloodily without ever being in a staged fight.
I wonder, if bullfighting has developed an online culture, could cockfighting be alive and well and living in cyberspace?
After a few taps and clicks, I found that, yes, it certainly is.
Not only are their sites that promote the breeding of fighting cocks, and the fights themselves, across the globe, but there are videos of birds in action. I won’t embed any here, out of respect for some of my more sensitive readers. Those who are curious, search on YouTube, try keywords in Spanish and English.
A big surprise for the Anglo-American sensibility is that cockfighting overlaps into other parts of Latino culture.
It is the theme of a lot of songs.
Adela “La Gallera” Fernandez has made a career of them.
And Lucha Villa can’t seem to sing a song without somebody setting up a cockfight nearby.
Yes, that was from a movie. There is a Mexican “gallero” genre. It’s very much like the Western, except instead of the traditional shoot-out, there are cockfights, and also songs. Music makes everything seems more civilized.
A classic of the genre is La Muerte de un Gallero, (that’s “The Death of a Cockfighter” for the Spanish-impaired), starring legendary singer/actor Antonio Aguilar. Here we see a spaghetti-Western influence, and songs. (Note: No roosters are hurt in this clip -- and the human blood is fake).
Like bullfighting, swordfighting, kung fu, and car crashes, cockfights are cinematic. These beautiful creatures fighting to the death is pure drama, and closest any of us will come to seeing what it must have been like when real dinosaurs fought -- if there were any around people would pay to watch them fight.
Not many other works of art out of the English-speaking world have been inspired by cockfighting. One exception is the hard-to-find novel Cockfighter by the hardboiled genius Charles Willeford, that was made into one of the few unprofitable movies by Roger Corman.
And as the world grow smaller, roosters, and artists are warped by it, who knows what savage inspirations we’ll see . . .