Animal Writes
© sm
2 May 1999 Issue

Jack Kerouac at a Bullfight in Mexico

In his collection of prose works, Lonesome Traveler, acclaimed Beat genera-
tion author Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) writes of a harrowing experience at a
bullfight in Mexico. His typical unflinching attention to detail brings to life the
horrific suffering of the bull under the indifferent eyes of those accustomed to
and calloused by this blood ritual.

A few weeks later I got to see my first bullfight, which I must confess is a
nouvillera, a novice fight, and not the real thing they show in the winter which
is supposed to be so artistic. Inside it is a perfect round bowl with a neat
circle of round dirt being harrowed and raked by expert loving rakers like the
man who rakes second base in Yankee Stadium only this is Bite-the Dust-
Stadium.--When I sat down the bull had just come in and the orchestra was
sitting down again.--Fine embroidered clothes tightly fitted to boys behind a
fence.--Solemn they were, as a big beautiful shiny black bull rushed out
gallumphing from a corner I hadnít looked, where heíd been apparently
mooing for help, black nostrils and big white eyes and outspread horns, all
chest no belly, stove polish thin legs seeking to drive the earth down with all
that locomotive weight above--some people sniggered--bull galloped and
flashed, you saw the riddled up muscle holes in his perfect prize skin.
--Matador stepped out and invited and the bull charged and slammed in,
matador sneered his cape, let pass the horns by his loins a foot or two, got
the bull revolved around the cape, and walked away like a Grandee--and stood
his back to the dumb perfect bull who didnít charge like in "Blood and Sand"
and lift Senor Grandee into the upper deck.

Then business got underway. Out comes the old pirate horse with patch on
eye, picador KNIGHT aboard with a lance, to come and a few slivers of steel
in the bullís shoulderblade who responds by trying to lift the horse but the
horse is mailed (thank God)--historical and crazy scene except suddenly you
realize the picador has started the bull on his interminable bleeding. The
blinding of the poor bull in mindless vertigo is committed by the brave bowlegged
little dartman carrying two darts with a ribbon, here he comes head-on at the
bull, the bull head-on for him, wham, no head-on crash for the dart man has
stung with dart and darted away before you can say boo (& I did say boo),
because a bull is hard to dodge? Good enough, but the darts now have the
bull streaming with blood like Marloweís Christ in the heavens.--An old matador
comes out and tests the bull with a few capesí turn then another set of darts,
a battleflag now shining down the living breathing suffering bullís side and
everybody glad.

--And now the bullís charge is just a stagger and so now the serious hero
matador comes out for the kill as the orchestra goes one boom-lick on bass
drum, its gets quiet like a cloud passing over the sun, you hear a drunkardís
bottle smash a mile away in the cruel Spanish green aromatic countryside--
children pause over tortas--the bull stands in the sun head-bowed, panting
for life, his sides actually flapping against his ribs, his shoulders barbed like
San Sebastian.--The careful footed matador youth, brave enough in his own
right, approached and curses and the bull rolls around and comes stoggling
on wobbly feet at the red cape, dives in with blood streaming everywhichway
and the boy just accommodates him through the he imaginary hoop and
circles and hangs on tiptoe knock-kneed. And Lord, I didn't want to see his
smooth tight belly ranted by no horn.--He rippled his cape again at the bull
who just stood there thinking "Oh why canít I go home?" and the matador
moved closer and now the animal bunched tired legs to run but one leg
slipped throwing up a cloud of dust.--But he dove in and flounced off to rest.
--The matador draped his sword and called the humbled bull with glazed eyes.
--The bull pricked his ears and didnít move.--The matadorís whole body
stiffened like a board that shakes under the trample of many feet--a muscle
showed in his stocking.--Bull plunged a feeble three feet and turned in dust
and the matador arched his back in front of him like a man leaning over a hot
stove to reach for something on the other side and flipped his sword a yard
deep into the bullís shoulderblade separation.--Matador walked one way, bull
the other with sword to hilt and staggered, started to run looked up with human
surprise at the sky & sun, and then gargled--O go see it folks!--He threw up
ten gallons of blood in the air and it splashed all over--he fell on his knees
choking on his own blood and spewed and twisted his neck around and
suddenly got floppy doll and his head blammed flat.--He still wasnít dead, an
extra idiot rushed out and knifed him with a wren-like dagger in the neck nerve
and still the bull dug the sides of his poor mouth in the sand and chewed old
blood.--His eyes! O his eyes!--Idiots sniggered because the dagger did this,
as though it would not.--A team of hysterical horses were rushed out to chain
and rag the bull away, they galloped off but the chain broke and the bull slid
in dust like a dead fly kicked unconsciously with a foot.--Off, off with him!
--Heís gone, white eyes staring the last thing you see.--Next bull!--First the
old boys shovel blood in a wheelbarrow and rush off with it. The quiet raker
returns with his rake--"Ole!," girls throwing flowers at the animal-murder in
the fine britches.--And I saw how everybody dies and nobodyís going to
care, I felt how awful it is to live just so you can die like a bull trapped in a
screaming human ring.--

Jai Alai, Mexico, Jai Alai!

For More Information Contact

Animal Emancipation, Inc.
5632 Van Nuys Boulevard, Suite 50
Van Nuys, California 91401-4602
(805) 655-5735/(310) 358-5974
E-Mail: [email protected] 

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