The Fish
for 2 April 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
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[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
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Terry Colon
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Joey Anuff
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Horse Sense

You wrote that "[w]hether it is more courageous to kill a bull ... or to ride it while it wants to kill you is a matter for greater scholars than ourselves to take up."

Perhaps some far-sighted rodeo entrepreneur could bring back the ancient Minoan sport of bull jumping — where the player stands in the path of an enraged bull and, just before being gored, grabs a horn in each hand and jumps over the bull.

[:-),

Jim Cook
<jimcook@panix.com>

I'm pretty sure I saw Jackie Chan perform a similar move in one of his Hong Kong pictures. I can't remember what the original title was, but I think it was released here as "Danger Detective" or "Police Fighter Macho" or something like that.

If the PRCA is going after the NASCAR audience, making rodeo as life-threatening as possible would certainly seem to be a good idea.

Alice the Camel

 
[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]
 

Dear Ben,

I wanted to let you know how much your article made me think. I'm an Idaho native, went to college in LA, and live in DC right now, so the divisions from Salon's election-night map are pretty much the same as the seams in the fabric of my dementia.

Rodeo pretty much is the only sport constructed around a lifestyle, but the lifestyle always had an emptiness at its heart. For both men and women, ranching was often about how to survive and do your work in the face of long days and nights with no one to talk to. The work, and the essential loneliness of that work, predicated forms of entertainment that were ostensibly about ranch skills, but were also about connecting with others in a way most people didn't get to do more than once or twice a year.

If rodeo seems overwrought, maudlin, and occasionally cruel and offensive in its attempts to capture the fickle American attention span, remember it grew up without needing to work so hard. The loneliness people bring to the rodeo now is entirely different: every day on TV and in magazines they see images of celebrities who are happy, rich, and connected. Most live incredibly far away in coastal cities where everyone patronizes, or worse, ignores, ordinary folks in the red parts of the election-night map. Rodeo spectators are turning to a form of entertainment that self-consciously celebrates ordinary people while adding the glamour of arena lights: you're not alone, and in fact, you're fabulous. In that, it is very much like NASCAR, so the T-shirt overlap is no surprise.

My once-again single mother is headed for the National Finals Rodeo again this year, if she can scrape enough cash together, and if her rodeo-fan ex-husband doesn't get his guns back from the sheriff and do something stupid. I'm stuck in DC hoping she can get her life back together. If rodeo makes her feel less alone, maybe she won't go back to the son of a bitch. Then again maybe the cowboys-n-cowgals stand-by-your-man horseshit she heard at the arena made it possible to stay as long as she did. It's hard to separate out where the community of sports fans ends and her essential feeling of emptiness start. But then, I think that's the case with all good obsessions.

Write on.

Christina Caldwell
<Christina.Caldwell@mercermc.com>

Christina,

There is an uncomfortable duality to rodeo. It's hard to know whether to celebrate it as one of the last real traditions of American frontier culture or simply cringe at what an absurd spectacle it can be.

Your take on the historical role of loneliness in rodeo is a very interesting one. Even today, rodeo devotees take great pride in their role as outsiders — outside an urban culture they see as poisonous and unwholesome.

It's easy to see why this world of old fashioned chivalry, church going and general warm fuzziness appeals to so many people. Who hasn't considered the advantages of life on the Ponderosa? In fact, many people are probably quite happy with some variation of this ideal. But modern rodeo employs all the bells and whistles of urban culture to display the Western Lifestyle, and as a result, cowpeople end up looking ridiculous.

Best wishes to you and your mom.

Alice the Camel

 
[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]
 

Great Rodeo Article in Today's Suck. As far as I'm concerned, any activity whose National Championship is held in Las Vegas automatically goes on my list of Good Things.

Not pooping in the arena

Darin H.
<Zoner39847@aol.com>

Darin,

Before you make such sweeping statements, you may want to check where the National Feces Juggling Championships are held.

Alice the Camel

 
[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]
 

The Elvisification of Marshall Mathers or From Marshall to Jerry

My problem is that he's a mediocre rapper and an asshole. He's what every sensible black guy fears — the stupid peckerwood who hangs around, won't go away, and is constantly trying to prove how "down" he is. The biggest slap in the face how Andre "Dr Dre" Young is parading the little idiot around. Don't you have brothers you should be hooking up? Embarrassing. The only solace I take is that he's destined for Vanilla Iceism.

Cisco
<ciscov@avaya.com>

He's headed for something, that's for sure. Perhaps Dre knew something you didn't. In terms of pop-rap, it strikes me that Eminem is pretty darn talented, actually. Which doesn't mean his future won't be as embarrassing as all the rest of ours.

Eugen von Bohm Bawerk

 
[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]
 

If you ignore them, they will go away.

Well, usually.

But then you can always gank 'em with your nine.

Or something like that. Yo.

Albert
<albert@groupm7.com>

Alas, our very mentioning of Eminem continues his reign of terror. I actually quite like his music, myself.

Best,

Eugen von Bohm Bawerk

 
[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]
 



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Physical Strength and How to Obtain It, by Eugen Sandow
Bamboozled, A Spectacular New Film by Mr. Spike Lee
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William Demarest, Sultan of Snarl, in The Lady Eve (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
George Wallace: Settin' The Woods On Fire, directed by Daniel McCabe and Paul Stekler
1995
Bobby Darin, Darin at the Copa (Atlantic)
Shinji-San in the floating world of indeterminate duration, by Peter Richardson
American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation, by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor
Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1996, Merge)
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