Friday, April 8, 2011

Why I'm Here for the Duration

Let’s face it, folks—it’s been one tough season for devout PBR fans. We’ve seen sudden, inexplicable, and completely unexplained changes to the broadcast, the addition of a ridiculous short-go at the end of each round that basically just guarantees that any rider who is on a (even momentary) tear will move from front runner to unstoppable, and apparent changes in the leadership of the PBR—I say “apparent,” because despite multiple reports of such goings-on, we have yet to hear one word from the organization itself about whether Jeffrey Pollack is still working in Pueblo. We’ve seen changes to the live events that range from amusing to excruciating, while of course the crap that NEEDS to be changed is piously being preserved, like dead bugs in amber. Since the first crack out of the box back in January, it’s just been one damned thing after another.

Consequently, Montana Barn Cat and I debated long and hard about whether we were, in fact, going to venture to Albuquerque for the Ty Murray Invitational at the end of March. What finally convinced us to go was 1) we had made the arrangements months ago, and of course not one, but BOTH of us, would have had to suffer traumatic amputation of all four limbs (and possibly our heads, too) before the airline would consider refunding our money, and 2) we have good friends there, and had invited yet more good friends to join us there, and we are not ones to miss a party, particularly not when we promised we’d throw it.

After many high jinks and dubious adventures, our crew (Pearl de Vere, Montana Barn Cat, a gay bullrider from San Francisco and her escort, two friends who had yet to be inducted into the mysteries of bull riding, and myself) all gathered on Saturday at our hotel, from whence the very cute shuttle driver (my BFF Elisabeth would have dubbed him a “cocktail frank” on the spot) trundled us down to The Pit. Even though he was driving a minivan, it still took two trips. We reassembled at our seats just before the lights went out and the WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! IF YOU ARE PRONE TO SEIZURES, GET THE HELL OF HERE THIS MINUTE BEFORE WE START SHOOTING OFF FIREWORKS AND FLASHING LIGHTS! crap commenced.

But finally the foolishness was over, and the bulls started bucking, and I was, as my drama queen friend Sandy used to say, in my glory. The bulls were absolutely at their best all weekend long. I don’t see much point in rehashing the rides verbatim when the illustrious Pearl has kindly offered to share with me what she modestly calls her Buck-off Gallery, and we all know how loudly a picture speaks. Some of these photos are from Saturday night and some are from Sunday afternoon, when she, Montana Barn Cat, and I (the diehards) returned for our second helping, but I have no shame—I will cheerfully mix them all together and revel in every dusty second of it.

You all know that I certainly don’t want to see any cowboy get hurt, but I most certainly want to see ALL of them hit the dirt, so the short round on Sunday was pretty much heaven for me. Ten up, ten down—I can't recall ever having seen that, but I am grateful I got to see it once, live and in person.

Weren’t they just irresistible, those long-horned, short-horned, muley, black, white, black-and-white, brown, red, and speckled babies? Weren’t they just poetry in motion—Flip Side, Wild and Out, Lincoln Electric’s Bring It, I’m a Gangster, Palm Springs and Too Tall and Slim’s Ghost and all his brother clones?

The one who epitomized my ongoing love affair with the sport, though, had to be Insaniac. He’s a 1,500-pound five-year old bull who’s been on the tour for two years now. His riding percentage is too high for my taste—66.7%—and on Friday night, Ryan McConnell had ridden him for 87.50 points. But apparently somebody forgot to send him the memo about how he was all washed up, because on Saturday night he promptly threw Anderson Viana Alemcar for a loop, and then took a victory lap around the arena, lifting up his feet, tossing his head, snorting and pawing the dirt, daring anyone to tell him he wasn’t the rankest bull in the pen.

That, right there, is why I’m here: the bulls just keep getting better, and the best of them never doubt for one second that they belong in the big leagues. They don’t get star-struck and fall to their knees before Bushwhacker’s pen. They pay no mind to bright lights and loud noises. They don’t waste one second thinking about whether the cowboys on their backs are newcomers or world champions. They are there to put the cowboys on the ground, and they glory in every leaping, belly-rolling, high-kicking second of it. The new ones are as brash and confident as the seasoned ones, and there is no shortage of new ones waiting in the wings. As long as the bulls keep showing up and bringing it, so will I.


shannon said...

Glad to hear you're in it for the long haul, SQ. I wonder if we'll see some of this year's new ideas go away next year, just like the "first to fail" format did when they tried it a few seasons ago. Time will tell.

Sounds like a fun group of people you joined in Albuquerque. I'm glad you had a good time. Thanks for the write up!

Shawk said...

Love that last shot -- looks like something from one of those athletic Bob Fosse numbers. Like the levitating Austin Meier, also. Thanks for posting!

I hope the new Short Go goes away. It's just making things lopsided and paving the way for more injuries at the top, which, if they want us to focus on the top 10 guys, is counter to their aim in the first place.

Stockyard Queen said...

Yes, I owe Pearl a great debt of thanks. The woman is a genius with a camera. I love the first one of Cody Nance helicoptering off Palm Springs. It's pretty much perfect.

Pearl de Vere said...

Why thank you, SQ. The venue certainly helped by having great lighting and tiered seating. Too bad that lady's hair is in half my Sunday shots, but what can you do?

Stockyard Queen said...

Well, we could have, as Ruby would say, snatched her bald-headed, but doubtless that would have gotten us escorted out of the Pit.