Monday, July 23, 2012
Saint Fermin isn't a patron of the arts. His cloak protects against close calls, and I have plenty of those. And look what he did for Hemingway. Maybe he'll be willing to help another Ernest write a novel.
Luckily, in this day and age, I don't have to actually go to Pamplona. The interwebs have provided ways for me to take in the the fiesta and still be there for my shift at my day job. I am a Walter Mitty of the Information Age.
PETA's pre-fiesta protests were disappointing again. Gone are the days when they were like the climax to surrealistic, sadomasochistic spaghetti westerns. They brought back exposed breasts, but kept the black loincloths. And I noticed fewer participants. I would be sad if this tradition faded away.
Crowds getting out of control caused the Riau-Riau, a march of Pamplona city officials, to be canceled due to a near riot triggered by orgiastic behavior – women riding on men's shoulders, breasts shown and touched – after the opening Tuxpinazo rocket launch: the Tuxpinazo begins a high that for many people will last the whole week, according to SanFermin.com.
Attempts to ban fountain jumping did not curtail the dangerous activity. Some traditions can't be stopped.
In the first encierro, a bull hooked a man's shirt and bandana, dragging him for 39 meters. It was like an old-fashioned men's adventure magazine story.
On the second day the bulls from Miura – infamous for killing matadors (one killed Manolete) – did a badass run, though there were no injuries. There were injuries during other encierros.
There were runners with cameras strapped to their heads, though I haven't seen any of their videos online yet. More women are running. And people of color. Also folks with gray and while hair. One guy had a red turban.
More and more, I see the aspects of a religious ritual: Some runners jump up and down like pogoing punk rockers while waiting for the bulls, while others sing to the effigy of Saint Fermin. There is a strong compulsion to touch the bulls, and run with a hand on the bulls back or holding a horn. Pagan bull worship is alive and well.
Some people cower in the awesome presence of the bulls. At the beginning of the encierro, you see them, hesitating, deciding not to run, or letting the bulls pass and running behind them. One guy with a camera strapped to his head froze, his mouth open, hands shaking beside his face as a horn cut by him. Others fell and curled into fetal position. Another crawled and tried to hide behind the legs of people who were frozen with terror, leaning against a wall.
I don't think any less of these folks. Here in the artificial environments of 21st century civilization, we lose touch with nature, forget what it can be like and how powerful it is. These people may have gotten scared, but they got face-to-face with the Beast. I congratulate them.
The final day was dominated by Juan José Padilla, back from having lost an eye when he was gored in the face. Now he wears an eyepatch. El Ciclón de Jerez now flies the skull and crossbones. He kills magnificently without binocular vision. The crowds treat him like a saint who was resurrected from the dead.
Gracias, San Fermín. I am inspired. The sci-fi/dystopian ideas are raging across my synapses.
It's all about crowd control. Which is mind control writ large. Which is what religion is all about. Politics, too.
That's dangerous territory. And that's where I need to be.
Friday, July 20, 2012
As part of the research of my bullfighting novel, in Chicanonautica at La Bloga, I'm asking Latinos what they think about bullfighting – though if anybody else has anything to add, come on down!
Unfortunately, most of the time when I bring up the subject, I get reactions like this:
Did you know that bloodless Portuguese bullfighting is legal in California? Here's how they do it in Thornton, to honor Our Lady of Fatima:
They also do Spanish-style bloodless bullfighting in South Texas:
And in Las Vegas:
Even though the bulls are not killed in the ring in bloodless bullfighting, after they get too smart and dangerous they are taken behind closed doors and slaughtered.
Like I've said, civilization is an unnatural act.
Monday, July 16, 2012
I've done another guest post at The Future Fire's editors' blog: Scifiista Rumblings in De-Colonializing Aztlán -- dealing with fascinating developments among Chicanos, Latinos and science and/or speculative fiction that spawned some interesting activity at La Bloga. Hopefully, this will make some connections between the two blogs and their audiences, and spawn some visions of the future unlike any that have come before. So check it out, and start doing customized sci-fi in your barrio.
Monday, July 9, 2012
I will probably never run with the bulls in Pamplona. I'm too old, and my knees and ankles tend to give out when I run. I'm more of hiker, “a mountain goat” as my wife puts it.
This being the 21st century, I'm a virtual bull runner. The Information Age has made bullfighting a global activity, and the FIesta de San Fermín hasn't had such a boost since the publication of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. I can go online and wallow in interweb coverage.
And I have in years past. Here are links to my San Fermín blogging:
Commercialized Paganism Online
I'll be writing more on the subject, too, but this year is going to be different: I'm doing research for my bullfighting novel. There's going to be a San Fermín sequence – maybe more than one.
Just as Las Vegas has developed far beyond Hunter S. Thompson's wildest hallucinations, San Fermín has now made what Hemingway shocked the world with look like a quiet tea party. Straight reportage of it comes off like far-out dystopian satire.
If you don't believe it, check out SanFermin.com, for multimedia coverage of not just the runs, but all the other craziness – for those of you who prefer to “watch the real beasts perform,” as Thompson said about the Kentucky Derby.
Those of you who prefer more artistic and reverent coverage can go to SanFerminEncerrio.com.
And the bullfights can be seen on Ferias Taurinas Online.
It'll be weird. I will be inspired.
Friday, July 6, 2012
This time at La Bloga, Chicanonautica attacks the cultural and language barriers that are keep science fiction in the Dark Ages, with links to some Spanish language ci-fi blogs, and a few others that will open portals into other worlds.
There was a time when science fiction from across the border were like these movies with the incredible Lorena Velazquez:
But times have changed, and Mexican sf is having it's own New Wave:
And of course, Guillermo Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra have been chasing sci-fi realities across assorted borders for some time now:
We may need to look to the Tamalli Space Charros Collective for clues to what we may soon be facing, not to mention what to eat on the new frontier:
Monday, July 2, 2012
Flash! My wife has a new ebook out. Her novel Belarus. It's available through both Amazon,and Smashwords and has a sensational cover by Elinor Mavor.
For a limited time, get this ebook free from Smashwords! Just apply coupon # RN55L when checking out.
This would have been a simple, short and sweet announcement, but as usual in this Disinformation Age, there are complications . . .
Belarus was originally published under the pseudonym of Lee Hogan. The publisher thought it would sell more to the readers of military space opera if it the author's name was androgynous – and maybe they were right. The problem is, now Amazon doesn't want to link their Lee Hogan Belarus page – with all it's great reviews – with the Emily Devenport Belarus page, even though they linked the Maggy Thomas Broken Time page with the Emily Devenport Broken Time page.
Yeah, it's complicated and confusing, and if I've learned one thing over the years in the writer biz, it's that these corporate entities have a tendency to go HAL 9000 on you.
What you the reader can do is write reviews of Belarus and post them on the Emily Devenport page, so more folks will buy it -- and maybe Em and I will have more time to write books rather than explaining the bizarre complexities of the transmorgrifying publishing world.
So please help. Besides, it's one helluva good book!