Monday, July 7, 2008

The Bull Diaries

The Stockyard Queen's note: A few weeks ago, I finally got around to e-mailing the link to “Turn Him Out!” to our friend Jay, who lives in Southern California, damned near at the jumping-off place. Jay and Montana Barn Cat have been friends for nearly as long as they have both been alive, and among his other exploits, Jay was best man at our wedding, an event that included a broken zipper in the bride’s dress, my Spanish (now ex) sister-in-law, a Fulbright scholar at Cal Arts (I swear I’m not making this up), calmly sewing me into said dress, and the baker forgetting us entirely, so the cheesecake was still hot and runny when it was delivered to the reception. It also featured Montana Barn Cat looking absolutely gorgeous in a black tailcoat and white tie, stunningly beautiful weather, and hummingbirds hovering above us as we said our vows on the deck in my new father-in-law’s back yard. In short, it was one of the most perfect days of my life, right down to the champagne and cigars.

I don’t know why I had not thought to send Jay the link before, because among his other attributes, Jay is a remarkable writer and one of the few people I know who still sends off LETTERS to his friends. I always get a thrill when I pull an envelope from him, addressed to Barn Cat, out of the mailbox because I know it’s going to contain something entertaining. I thought (hoped) he might find some of my observations interesting as well.

Now, I have to admit that when it comes to literature, Jay and I have our differences. For one thing, he worships at the altar of Charles Bukowski far too much to suit me. (As a matter of fact, Jay even sort of looks like Bukowski, though more like C.B. might have looked if he’d drunk responsibly and hadn’t been afflicted with the worst case of acne ever described in American letters. If you want to be truly grossed out on that subject, see Ham on Rye for all the gory details). As far as I’m concerned, the only good use for a Bukowski novel is to throw it at bugs on the wall, or at someone who has offended your sensibilities beyond bearing, which is killing two birds with one stone, don’t you think? Since his books tend to be pretty small, you’re far less likely to dent your drywall or your man’s head than if you were throwing the Oxford English Dictionary.

So I sent Jay the link, and he replied enthusiastically, so enthusiastically, in fact, that we are now thinking of dragging him and the stylish and regal Pamela along with us when we hook up with our new virtual friend Shannon to see the PBR event in Anaheim next season. Jay is already planning his outfit, which will include a denim vest with a picture of Scene of the Crash silk-screened on the back. I told him that was fine, but he had to wear a shirt with it, to which he replied that wearing a vest without a shirt was just “so New Jersey.” As it happens, my BBF Elisabeth grew up in New Jersey, so I guess it’s a good thing that Jay didn’t voice that opinion at our wedding, since Elisabeth was my best woman. She might have thrown the Oxford English Dictionary at him, or at least held him under in the koi pond for a few hours.

Since I think it’s good, from time to time, to offer up a different point of view on “Turn Him Out!,” I invited Jay to write some guest posts. He most magnanimously agreed. Thus I am proud to present his first observations. I hope you find them as enlightening as I do.

by Jay Windsor

Episode 1: A Neophyte Is Introduced

I guess it was about a year or so ago when I asked Barnyard Cat, “So, except for the usual nonsense, what are you up to?” He offered two words: “Bull riding.” A short yet poignant discussion followed. I made a mental note, afterward, which went something like this: “Bull riding?”

But after hanging up the phone, related stuff came flooding into my head. Rodeos I’d attended as a kid in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. The sights and the sounds and the smells: Beautiful cowgirls on horseback, riding into the arena holding a large, American flag. The fragrance of barbecued meat, and corn dogs, and hay, and animal doody poop, and my father’s breath, on his second beer. I still think the funniest thing I’ve EVER seen was from back then, when a series of (mostly, but not exclusively!) boys no more than 7 or 8 were plopped on top of a sheep, told to “Hang on!,” then set out into the arena with a slap on the sheep’s rear. . . .

Well, given Barnyard Cat’s sensibilities about the more interesting things in life—which I knew fairly well and appreciated in large measure—I began to think about bull riding in earnest. (Which is a fancy way of saying, “Hey, maybe the knucklehead is up to something good.”) And so it was that I investigated what I could watch, or see, or experience, or quickly learn. My preliminary examinations of the sport had me utterly fascinated, and yearning for more. . . .

Thin is the thread, and bitter the necessity.—Teilhard Chardin

A dispatch was sent soon thereafter to Bozeman. “Damn! I don’t get the ‘Versus’ channel via my basic cable service, and there ain’t a rodeo scheduled nearby, near as I can tell. I think I have the fever. What do I do?”

Utilizing deft intelligence, Barnyard Cat turned me over to the Stockyard Queen. “Dear Rookie,” she wrote. “Please stop your whining. If nothing else, you can go to the PBR’s website and view film clips of recent rides, not to mention all manner of other things that you might find interesting. The link is attached.”

Well, she saved my ass. The link is, to date, my lifeline. Since then, several things have come to mind:

  • Bull riding is akin to Good versus Evil. This goes back to Greek and Roman mythology, I think. (Not to mention the film series called Star Wars.) I dare say that it is Shakespearean, in its poetic, dramatic attractions. And long may that be so.
  • The natural thing to do, as a human being with a bad back and a bad attitude, is to root for the cowboy. And I always do, initially. But sometimes I find myself rooting for the bull. I don’t know why, but I suspect it’s similar to the nascent wish that some folks feel when they watch Godzilla stomping on New York City?
  • As a spectator, this is an amazing spectacle. To a professional bull rider, this is very, very serious shit.

In time, I suppose, I will become aware of and maybe be fortunate enough to SEE the finer nuances of the sport, the pursuit, the brave foray into dangerous realms, in person. Until then, I wish every bull rider health, and every single bull a seriously bad attitude.



FlashOBlue said...

Jay, Just wait until you see a live PBR event. You'll be amazed at the crowd and even more amazed by the bulls. Each bull has his unique personality and man, do I love the ones who come to show off, then stand with head held high looking to the audience for accolades.

Thanks for blogging. I enjoy your writing and wit and look forward to more!

The Stockyard Queen is magnificent, too, and now we know what brilliant friends she has! (As well as BC)

Jean said...

Ahh Jay, but which is good and which is evil? My husband and I mainly root for the bulls. In those cases we want the bull to dump that evil cowboy on his pockets, preferably with an impressive bit of air time (would you like a complimentary packet of peanuts?). I get an inordinate amount of glee from watching three cowboys in particular get slung to the four winds in under 8 seconds.

I break with my tradition of cheering on the bulls only for Team Brazil, Mike White (how can I not back someone who sustained that many concussions in one season) and Cord McCoy (it's that happy grin).

My husband and I started watching because we had 800 and something channels and nothing was on. We couldn't believe anyone would do something like that while sober. We're still not too sure they're sober, but we're hooked now.

There are quite a few bull riding DVDs. We've found 4 or 5 at Fry's Electronics and

Good to meet you!

shannon said...

Thanks for blogging, Jay. That was fun!

I've been to three live PBR events (7 if you count each day of an event separately) and it was such a different experience. There are advantages to seeing it on tv and different advantages to seeing it live. I enjoy them both. I hope you do get out to the Anaheim one next year.

Like Jean, there are a couple of cowboys that I enjoy seeing hit the ground before that 8 second mark, but more often than not, I'm backing the riders. However, having just come back from IA, where I just saw my very first rodeo, I must say that I was cheering for the calves in the roping event. Some of those little guys gave the cowboys some serious fights and a couple of them even won. It was very entertaining and was almost worth the price of admission itself!

Jay said...

My cup runneth over…

Flashoblue: Thanks for your very kind comments. Yeah, I can’t wait to see it all live! And yes, S.Q. is magnificent. (Not perfect. But certainly magnificent! And ain’t that the truth about us all?)

Jean: So happy to hear that someone else cheers, at least occasionally, for the bulls! I thought that Team Brazil mostly had to do with soccer, but I will pay new attention to their Bull Riders. Like you seem to have thought, I also wonder why anyone would do such a thing, sober. In fact, I wonder about why the very first guy, ever, thought to himself, “Hmmm. I wonder if we could RIDE one of those bulls?”

Shannon: TV vs. Live is…different, eh?! I hear ya. I also appreciate the lovely chaos, that you briefly described, when cowboys attempt to rope calves, moo-cows, or any other critter with a rope. (Like so many things in life, one thinks that the object is gonna go one way, but then it goes another. Ha!) Me and mine do hope and intend to join S.Q. and the Montana Barn Cat in Anaheim, for a full dip into professional Bull...

Loveys to all, - Jay