Friday, September 17, 2010

Black Boots Goes to Greenville

Folks, a lot has been going on with the PBR in the past week, as you all know, but I have been holding off commenting for the moment because the divine Black Boots made the trip to Greenville and offered to send me her observations on the experience. I think you are going to find this very enlightening. Thanks, Black Boots, for showing us what it was like on the ground.

The good, the bad, the bad, and the good of Greenville

First, a confession: I stole the title of my review straight from the adorable lips of Kiefer Sutherland in the movie Cowboy Up. In it, he plays Hank Braxton, a struggling stock contractor for the newly birthed PBR. Late in the film, he has a conversation with another character (played by Molly Ringwald in a less perky phase) who asks how he’s been doing since his no-count brother, a bull rider, ran off with Hank’s unrequited love, the barrel-racing hussy Celia Jones (played by fish-girl Darryl Hannah).

“Well,” Hank sighs. “Good. And bad. And bad. And good.”

That’s how I feel about Greenville.

Let me set the scene. I’ve never traveled to an event before. Since Greenville is only an hour and change away, the intrepid E and I decided to go, and we brought two brand-new PBR fans with us who were all up for a weekend away from our darling husbands. And Greenville is gorgeous. It’s got the most fabulously planned and resurrected historic district I’ve ever seen (and which was attached to the PBR’s hotel) and spectacular public green spaces. It is a center for arts and culture in that corner of the Carolinas. In other words, Greenville is an urbane town, as urbane as it’ll get this close to Bob Jones University. This will become more significant later.

The good

We couldn’t attend both nights, so we went on Saturday night because of the bulls. One of the arena announcers said, “They call this the BEAST Coast” and they weren’t kidding. Thanks to our proximity to Teague, Robinson, Waggoner, and other contractors’ HQs, we had Bones, Uncle Buck, Major Payne, the front-running Voodoo Child, and that sweet, magnificent baby Chicken on a Chain for the short go, and bulls like Skyhawk Cut-a-Rug, MacNett’s Pinball Wizard, and Super Hou in the second round. We are spoiled rotten for bulls, and they did not disappoint. You all know JB’s ride on Voodoo was spectacular (especially when Voodoo launched him in the dismount like a slingshot), but to be in the audience? Bedlam. It still gives me chills. By the way, he made the 8 seconds, case closed. It was a magnificent ride and well deserved the score. Chicken caught more air than I’d ever seen him catch, but Paulo Lima matched him jump for jump. Two most excellent athletes!

Bulls to watch? Keep an eye on that dadgum Fire Ant. On Saturday, he bucked like a maniac that couldn’t get enough (ask Travis Briscoe.) I was also impressed with the punch-and-go of Monty the Bull with JB, Pinball Wizard with Brendon Clark, and Hot Tamale with Travis Sellers. And had his best out ever (which didn’t end well for Guilherme, dammit.) Were there riders I hadn’t noticed before last Saturday? Hmm, maybe Travis Sellers. He has excellent balance. And it was great to be in the arena when Paulo Lima caught fire. That out with Chicken is going to boost his confidence. Watch for him to stay on more tough bulls.

and bad. And bad . . .

After listening to the Friday Night Fracas on the event center, E and I knew there might be some tense faces in the hotel Saturday afternoon. In fact, the faces weren’t tense. There was a noticeable absence of faces. Except for Guilherme and a cluster of the younger Brazilians, no one was eating lunch or signing autographs. What was present—at least to me—was a sense of important things being discussed behind closed doors. (Note: JB did do a signing at his t-shirt concession—I got one for my daughter—and was mannerly as always.) We availed ourselves of the aforementioned historic district and then got all flossed up for the event.

The arena was only two city blocks from the hotel, so we walked. We had to wait outside for our other friends, so we squatted on some steps and watched the crowd go in. I observed that the arena staff was waving electronic scanner wands over almost everyone in line, and then the staffer at the end of the line called out, “If you have guns or knives, please do not bring them into the arena. Please take them back to your vehicle.” He repeated this phrase over and over again. At first it was funny, and then I thought, oh, god. Is this because of Renato’s callout?

Now you might say, “BB, it’s the South. Isn’t that part of the uniform?” To which I’d have to say, “For Greenville? No way.” It’s a PBR event with lots of kids and families in attendance. It’s not the kind of place the most, um, armed folks would carry their hardware. So why were they wanding everyone (including me?) Why even make that announcement repeatedly if it’s a family event? My deduction (and you’re welcome to agree or disagree) was that there was some concern there would be retaliation against Renato’s callout on McConnell’s slap. You see, I’d had time to read the sickening comments on the PBR’s thread. I knew what kind of craziness was transpiring, and it made me good and mad. And wary.

Because of my new wariness, I jumped like a scalded cat every time fireworks went off in the intro. Renato’s big climactic introduction was not met with boos, but much less applause than the world’s number one bull rider should receive. Afterward, there was so much smoke and fog in the arena that I felt like we were on Alcatraz on a winter morning. It was a jumpy event—not that our friends noticed it, they were entranced with everything—but it felt more jarring and uncertain, even, than events I’ve been to in the past. Not only that, I think we got out of there in record time. Why the bum’s rush?

There was a lot of buzz about Friday night’s drama in the stands. I’d say it was 50/50 as to whether or not Renato should have pushed the button. My opinion? The judging has been erratic and downright racist ever since I’ve watched the PBR. I’ve railed privately in my living room about the men who can’t let go of their personal prejudices or preferences and couldn’t believe that NO ONE in the PBR PTB ever stood up and called out that big pink elephant in the arena. Renato is the only person who has had the guts to point out that elephant. I am in awe of his actions; I also believe that Ryan’s initial reaction was an adrenaline-fueled outburst, and I’m happy with the way he’s calmed down and handled the situation. There was nothing overtly tense behind the chutes on Saturday, so I’m sure the riders felt like it had been resolved. It broke my heart in Leah’s interview with Renato on Sunday’s telecast when he said, “Maybe I just go back to Brazil.” I know his head was nowhere near where it needed to be to ride his bull that night, and we had to see him go down. I don’t know how long it’ll be before he’s turning backflips again; I fervently hope that he can find a way to put this behind him and go back to setting his jaw for a world championship. As always, YMMV. Note: We never saw him at the hotel.

. . . and good.

When we were leaving the arena, the folks who were handing out samples of BBQ sauce foisted an entire case of sample packets on me. My husband is a champeen smoker/griller type, so I knew he’d be happy with me. I tried to give a lot of it away, but took home a big enough supply that my dear hub was indeed tickled.

We did meet a few riders Saturday night after the event at the hotel. I came away with a good impression of Brendon Clark—very yakkity, friendly, and curious. I rode the elevator with Ross Coleman (he assured me that the sauce was good, heh), but he looked utterly exhausted. I remembered that he’d probably flown across the country to get to Greenville, and with jet lag gotten on bulls less than 48 hours after arrival, and then would get back on a 5+ hour flight. No wonder. Adriano blew past us a couple of times at the hotel—E did get a hug from him while I was out doing something else—but he was deep in conversation every time I saw him, I imagine about everything that was going on. JB and Austin have their jaws set and their game faces on, even though they’re cordial. They mean “bidness.” It’s going to be an interesting battle to Vegas.

And in my *squee* fangirl moment of the weekend, I would like to submit that Guilherme’s eyes are the color of dark cinnamon. He’s also every bit as nice as I imagined him to be. *Squee!* Okay, got that out of my system.

And one rider completely irked me. No dude, I was not trying to take a picture of your feeble chin spinach; in fact, if you hadn’t been so busy acting like a “D” list bit player, I might have told you that I applaud your decision to wear a helmet. Instead? Don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out of the Top 40.

The very best thing about the weekend? The elevators. They smelled like eau de bull. How I love those four-legged athletes!

And now I’m going to watch Cowboy Up (minus the ending I hate) for about the eleventy millionth time.


shannon said...

Thanks, Black Boots! That was great.

Did you ask others if they waved the wands on everyone the night before? We all get that in Anaheim every year, so it might just be stadium policy.

I can't imagine what it was like in the hotel or behind the chutes the night after the drama. I want to give Renato a hug.

And now you have me curious about the irksome rider. I'm going through my memory banks to see who has chin hair who recently started wearing a helmet. Hrmm.....

Stockyard Queen said...

I'm sure I'm in the minority, but facial hair of any sort is a huge turn-off to me, and wispy little chin hair is just the last straw. I'm always reminded of Scarlett O'Hara's comment that men with wispy whiskers weren't men enough to grow full beards.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, BB! Great story—the good, the bad, and the ugly…
Two of my friends were in Greenville also. Both JB fans and one about as crazy for Adriano, or maybe even a little crazier than me. The second friend was a staunch Justin McB fan back in the day, but readily gave Adriano some slack when she met, realized how handsome he was and what beautiful skin he has (she didn’t mention if his eyes were the color of cinnamon, though). She had him sign a "Brazilian Republic" shirt another friend found in a thrift store and gave me when we all met-up in Archdale the week before. To them, Adriano was as accessible as always—they came away with a carload of pictures (!) and JB was his smiling, "Yes, ma’am. Thank you very much” style. They were sitting a row behind a judge when Ryan slapped the bull that was seen around the world. They screamed, “He slapped, he slapped!” Maybe Renato heard it and agreed!
As for the suspended judges—well, well, well, is all I can say. But deep inside I wonder why four judges would miss the slap—I could better understand had it been JB running away with the lead. But, Ryan?
I hope you’ll blog about this, SQ. Something BIG just doesn’t sit right with me…

Black Boots said...

Hey Shannon--that's a good idea and no, I didn't ask anyone about security measures on Friday. It just struck me that it was an extreme measure to be wanding everyone that was entering the arena. Including kids!

I want to give Renato a hug, too.

When you have time, e-mail me at (that goes for anyone else, too.)

Hi Shelia--check back on my story--Guilherme's the one with the cinnamon peepers. (squee! sorry.)
And please don't think that I'm dissing Adriano or any of the other riders for not stopping to talk. The two times I saw him he was a. moving fast & on the phone and b. moving fast and talking to Dr. Tandy. In both circumstances I would have been uncomfortable interrupting him. I'm sure with all the tumult of the previous night, a lot of folks were seeking his counsel. I would have loved to have gone to the Ariat booth to meet him but my friends were running late and I had to wait for them outside the arena (hence my extended viewing of the wanding down of 5-year-olds in cowboy hats.) One day I'd like to tell him how much I enjoy his Twitter feed. Something tells me I'll get that chance ;-).

Shawk said...

Thanks for the view from the ground! It's curious to see how differently things can appear on television. The part about the weapons search is frightening; as much as that shouldn't have to be standard procedure anywhere, I hope it was in this case. The hatefulness and racism directed at Renato online was horrifying (and maddening) enough.

What to even say about the judging? The PBR better start putting that house in order, because it's looking worse and worse and a total lack if credibility doesn't tend to impress fans or sponsors.

I have yet to meet Guilherme. Jealous. ;)

Anonymous said...

Posted by Shelia:
Yes, I know you were talking about Guilherme's eyes. I was just noting that my friend didn't talk about the color of Adriano's and I don't remember the color--just wondering if he had cinnamon eyes, too! Ha!

Black Boots said...

Well milady, as "painful" as it sounds, you just might have to go do some more research on his eyes! We need a report, stat!

Shawk said...

I thought a left a comment on this, but perhaps I was dreaming! Anyway, really scary about the weapons and possible threat to Renato -- I really feel for the guy. The anti-Brazilian sentiment that runs through a number of fans gets me riled faster than anything else in this sport.

Jealous that you got to meet Guilherme!

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