Art Buchwald Runs The Bulls with Matt Carney and David Pierce

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Photo from the 1958 World's Fair in Brussels, the Spanish Pavillion: 'PAMPLONA - Encierro de toros'

Photo from the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, the Spanish Pavillion: ‘PAMPLONA – Encierro de toros’

Larry Belcher, Joe Distler & The Editor in Le Select, Paris, 2016

Larry Belcher, Joe Distler & The Editor in Le Select, Paris, 2016

The Pamplona Post has moved its presses to Paris, to the old apartment of the legendary bull-runner Matt Carney in Montparnasse (with thanks to his daughter Deirdre.)

While there The Editor – me – became involved in setting up a course of classes applying the (so-called) ‘Method’ acting techniques I learned at the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York to writing – see here.

I’ll write more about Paris and what I was doing there over at ‘The Last Arena’ shortly, but what I wanted to put here was something that came up in my research about the late 1950s, when a crowd of Americans coalesced on the Left Bank of the River Seine.

1977 file photo of Art Buchwald for obit. No info on back of photo as to source, but ran in LATimes in 1977.

Art Buchwald (Courtesy of his L.A. Times obituary in 1977)

Mainly veterans of World War II who had come out to ‘study’ on the G. I. Bill, they visited Pamplona after the Franco-Spanish border reopened in ’48, and in doing this mirrored a previous generation of veterans of World War I that included Ernest Hemingway and the characters of his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. The group included former U.S. Marines Art Buchwald and Matt Carney and the Canadian known as ‘Big’ Dave Pierce who sadly passed away in Paris within days of my reading about him in the article below.

Both Pierce and Carney feature in the piece, by Buchwald, coming from his days writing the ‘Paris Nights’ column for The New York Herald Tribune which went on to become the most syndicated column in history. I particularly like the fact that my own father, Clive, would have been selling this edition of The Trib in Le Select when it was first published in July ’58.

They were the Great Pamplonians, “the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown” as the good book has it.

The Editor
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Art Throws Bull, Flees Same

The most important event during the Fiesta of San Fermin is El Encierro, the running of the bulls through the streets of Pamplona at seven o’clock in the morning. This traditional fertility rite is considered to be one of the most dangerous methods of proving one’s manhood. Those who have rode the cresta at St. Mortiz, driven in the 24-hour race at Le Mans, and hunted lion in Africa shudder when Encierro is mentioned.

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The official program on El Encierro states and we quote, “This masculine and emotional act, full of showiness and braveness, consists in driving the bulls to the ring, the same bulls which are to be fighted [sic.] in the afternoon. They pass at great speed at a mad race, full of risk and danger, through the old streets of the city, filled with valiant boys [mozos] who try to avoid the horns and hooves of the murderous animals.

“The ideal suit for this rite whose braveness, dramatisme and horror paralizes the hearts of the onlookers in white shirt and trousers, hemp sandals, a read handkerchief around the neck, and the more lightness that is possible in the feet and calm in the head of the runners.”

We had no intention of running in the Encierro until a group of students came up to us and said,

“We have a message from Jim Hagerty. He says if you don’t run with the bulls you’re chicken.”

$_35[This was an in-joke for readers of The Trib.: Buchwald had made his name by impersonating Hagerty – the chief of press for President Eisenhower – in a column which was so accurate in its satire that Hagerty went public to deny its truth, making the then unknown Buchwald famous. In consequence Buchwald made things up about him whenever he could.]

*           *          *

We couldn’t believe Mr. Hagerty would say this, but there was no way of checking it, and it was a challenge which couldn’t be ignored. We promised we would run the following morning.

The best way to prepare for the Encierro is to sit at a sidewalk cafe starting at midnight and drink cognac and wine until morning. If you miss one round of drinks you’re liable to lose your nerve. The students sat up with us to keep us company and to give us what few hints they could.

We were fortunate to be introduced to Dave Pierce, a six foot three Canadian, who ran package tours for new encierro runners. For 50 pesetas Mr. Pierce would coach you, light a candle for you, and if anything happened he would let us use his Blue Cross card.

A group of about eight of us sat up all night. Every half hour Pierce would massage our legs and arms. Matt Carney, another runner shared his bota (wine skin) with us. Bottles of cognac kept being emptied as the group spun tales of other bull runnings, gorings, and tramplings. As dawn approached it became obvious, from the conversation, that no one had ever survived an encierro.

The church clock struck six, and bands stated coming out on the streets playing weird music that calls the men of Pamplona out into the streets to run. The streets were jammed with people going to the bull ring to see the carnage. other people lined up by the barricades along the route the runners and bulls would take.

Pierce gave us the last minute instructions. “There are three types of runner in this race. The suicideros, who actually try to provoke the bulls, the drunkards, who don’t really care what happens, and the cowards, who care very much. We’ll run with the drunkards.”
We sobered up immediately. “The hell we will. We’ll run with the cowards. Spain is a free country and I can run with any group I want to.”

*           *          *

The Streets of Pamplona in 1958

The Streets of Pamplona in 1958

It was our fifty pesetas so he couldn’t very well argue.

Pierce continued: “There are two rockets. The first goes off at seven a.m. and is for us. The second, thirty seconds later, is for THEM. I’m going to light a candle for you now. For ten pesetas more I’ll stay for mass.”

We gave him the ten pesetas.

At 6:45 a.m. they carried us to the starting point in front of the town hall.

We immediately recognized the cowards as they the ones nearest the start and most of them were retching. There was nothing else to do so we stood and retched with them.

Ten minutes before seven all the cowards pushed through police lines that were supposed to keep the runners from taking added starts. We decided we entitled to a handicap – fifty yards for being married, fifty yards for each child (three), 300 yards for being an American, and 75 yards for being a journalist.

At exactly seven the first rocket went off and we started to sprint. Pierce was supposed to pace, but he couldn’t keep up with us. The second rocket went off and somewhere behind us we knew the bulls had started to run. The crowds in the apartment houses cheered and the ones behind the barricades screamed. “Faster,” shouted Pierce, “faster.” And off in the distance the steady sounds of hoofs could be heard.

“Could Hagerty have really said we were chicken?” we asked ourselves. But it was no time for daydreaming. The last hundred yards is the hardest.  You must run through the tunnel into the bull fight ring and there is always a jam-up at the tunnel where you to fight your way through. Pierce lifted us over the jam and with 20 seconds to spare we were in the ring where 15,000 people were waiting to cheer. The bulls rushed by and the Encierro was over. We joined the cowards by a barrera and we all began retching again.

*           *          *

We can’t deny there is a sense of achievement, a feeling of accomplishment for having run with the bulls and we would probably be hard to live with now except for the fact there was a long editorial in the “El Encierro”, a bullfight newspaper the next morning. It said “The Encierro is degenerating into something without taste of appreciation.

“It is lacking in purity and it is a disgrace to the mothers and daughter and fiancees who have come to believe in this deep Navarre spectacle. If it is to be kept pure a board must be set up and only cultivated spirits should be allowed to run.

The whole editorial sounded to us like a lot of bull.

(For more on Alexander Fiske-Harrison’s ‘Method’ writing classes click here.)

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THE LAST ARENA: Noel Chandler, Prince of Pamplona: A Tribute

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From the bullfighting blog ‘The Last Arena’.

Ed.

Noel Chandler and Alexander Fiske-Harrison, Pamplona, July 2013 (Photo: David Penton)

Noel Chandler and Alexander Fiske-Harrison, Pamplona, July 2013 (Photo: David Penton)

It seems it is my season for tributes to dead friends: I lost a near-sister on September 14th, and a true friend one month later on October 14th. Noel Chandler, though, was a few weeks shy of his 80th birthday, where Antonia Francis died just before her 40th. There is quite a difference.

The Spanish newspapers have been suitably effusive – for example his Pamplona local Diario de Navarra headlined with Welshman Noel Chandler dies, illustrious visitor to the feria of San Fermín’. However, they all seem to have propagated certain errors, starting with his age. Noel died at 79 not 76.

For that reason among others I am pleased not only to include my own memories of Noel, interspersed with a little journalistic research (about, for example, his service in the army), but also an interview he did with the secretary of the Club Taurino of London, David Penton, for their magazine La Divisa in 2013 which I suggested someone should do before it was all forgotten. However, nothing will ever capture the man in full. As even David noted when he forwarded the piece:

I promised to send you… the Lunch with Noel article which you prompted me to do. I hope you think it does him justice. Sadly he asked me to take a number of things out – mostly related to his generosity.

I’ll raise a glass to that.

AFH

Noel John Chandler

On his way to the great encierro (Photo: Jim Hollander, 1981)

On his way to the great encierro (Photo: Jim Hollander, 1981)

15 November 1935, Newport, Wales – 14 October 2015, Madrid Spain

B.A. (Hons.) Law, University of Bristol, 1958.

Lieutenant, Middlesex Regiment (Duke of Cambridge’s Own), 1961.

Managing Director, ICL Singapore Pte Ltd. 1994.

 

After the corrida on the final day of my first feria de San Fermín – July 14th, 2009 – a few hours before pobre de mí– when I was… (ahem)… tired and emotional having run with bulls that morning and drunk whatever was handed to me during the day until I had seen them killed very badly that evening, I bumped into a pretty young woman called Ivy Mix – a good name for such a famous bartender – who led me to a bar called Al Capone where in the doorway was standing Noel Chandler.

I had heard of Noel, of course, but in my research for my book Into The Arena: The World Of The Spanish Bullfight I had courteously avoided British and American aficionados as I did not want to inherit non-native prejudices or to see Spain second-hand. (The only reason I had gone to Pamplona was because my first teacher of toreo, Juan José Padilla said he would run with me and his bulls.)

Miss Mix introduced me to Noel saying I was writing a book on the world of the bulls. Noel looked into my eyes – which were a little blurry on the third day of my first Pamplona fiesta – through his own – which were… well, he was ten days into his forty-eighth fiesta – and said:

“What the fuck do you know about bulls?”

To read on, click the logo below…

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The Dangerous Summer: Editor’s article In The Telegraph

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Alexander Fiske-Harrison running the bulls in Cuéllar on morning described (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison running the bulls in Cuéllar on the morning described in the article (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

My article on the extraordinary fatality rate in the encierros, ‘bull-runs’, and other ‘popular’ taurine events this year, and why we continue to participate in them, is in The Telegraph today (online here.)

A more detailed breakdown of the figures about these “minor festivals” with bulls are in the post by the Deputy Editor on this blog here. A detailed breakdown of the figures about “major festivals”, i.e. what we call ‘bullfights’, including those with novice matadors or from horseback, are on The Last Arena, my bullfighting blog, here. All figures are from Spain’s Ministry of Culture and show that the mundo taurino, the ‘taurine world’ of Spain, is growing once again.

Alexander Fiske-Harrison, circled, with the bull which killed a 66-year-old man on the morning in question in Cuéllar. Note the colour of the horn (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison, circled, with the bull which killed a 66-year-old man later on the morning described in the article. Note the colour of the horn. On the right is the chief pastor in the green polo shirt, Enrique Bayón Brandi (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

Over the next few days I will be writing my annual thank you letter to the town of Cuéllar to be published in El Norte de Castilla after consulting various aficionados, toreros, runners and breeders of fighting bulls. Some of what I will write about, especially what was discussed at and after my dinner with the matador Manuel Escribano, is online here.

My dangerous summer is over due to my broken ribs, but to those who are still in the streets: suerte.

The Editor

Alexander Fiske-Harrison, striped jacket, discussing the run with local runners and Larry Belcher, with whom the article behins (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison, striped jacket, discussing the run with local runners and Larry Belcher, with whom the article behins (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

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An embarrassment of an injury

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Fighting bulls from the ranch of Luis Terron are herded by hundred of horse riders down a slope leading to the town of Cuellar, in the second 'encierro' or running-with-the-bulls in this town's fiesta. Horsemen and women herd the bulls through forests and open fields into the town where runners then test their bravery in a stampede to the bullring on the town's paved streets. The 'encierro' in Cuellar is the oldest in Spain. (Photo: Jim Hollander / EPA)

Fighting bulls from the ranch of Luis Terron are herded by hundreds of horse riders down a slope leading to the town of Cuellar, in the second ‘encierro’ or running-with-the-bulls in this town’s fiesta. Horsemen and women herd the bulls through forests and open fields into the town where runners then test their bravery in a stampede to the bullring on the town’s paved streets. The ‘encierro’ in Cuellar is the oldest in Spain. (Photo: Jim Hollander / EPA)

So the encierros of Cuéllar in Castille and Leon have continued with their usual ancient spirit of wildness although I have had to stop running with the bulls. On Monday afternoon there was an encierro chico, a bull-run for children involving vaquillas, horned two-year old females of the Spanish fighting bull breed. This is the way the next generation of runners and recortadores (see previous post) are trained. However, one of these wily young beasts managed to find a breach in the fences which lines the route that, although too small for a bull to pass through, was just the right size for the vaquilla. So, with a wriggle and a push, she got through the fence and into the bar terrace I was sitting on with some fellow ‘Anglo-Saxon’ runners (technically better described as Celts, being Scottish and Welsh, but that’s not how the Spanish see us.)

After the initial moment of reaction – everyone leaping over walls, chairs and tables upturned – we all seem to have simultaneously realised that this was the very thing all our years of running with bulls had trained us for. So, as the vaca sped down the hill, we pursued it at a flat sprint as women and children darted to either side of the fleeing beast. However, myself and another runner had a collision, I went down with an agonising crunch on the tarmac, and came up with a couple of cracked ribs. I hear the animal made it to the next town where it gored someone twice before it was captured once again.

However, the most frustrating thing of all is that I had planned to ride a horse in the 5km ‘encierro del campo’ spectacular which precedes the bull-run in the streets of the town. (Photographed top.) I had cheekily used my annual thank you letter to the town in the regional newspaper, El Norte de Castilla (online here, in English here) to request a horse to ride in it, and my friend, the great cuellarano sculptor, Dyango Velasco managed to arrange it. However, that is now impossible. Oh well, maybe next year. The irony and the sheer bathos of being gored by a female calf at a bull-run is not lost on me.

The matador Manuel Escribano and Alexander Fiske-Harrison (on heavy meds for his broken ribs) at dinner last night (Photo: Lore Monnig)

The matador Manuel Escribano and Alexander Fiske-Harrison (on heavy meds for his broken ribs) at dinner last night (Photo: Lore Monnig)

Now I must head to the bullfight of Manuel Escribano, who is replacing the badly gored matador Saúl Jiménez Fortes in the plaza de toros this evening (alongside Javier Herrero, a local matador whom I saw last year and mentioned in the above article.) I met Manuel at dinner last night and so have promised to right this corrida up for my bullfighting blog, The Last Arena.  I wish him suerte, ‘luck’. He will need it.

Alexander Fiske-Harrison
@fiskeharrison

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2015 Edition of Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona

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The updated 2015 Edition of Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona is out now.

For Amazon (US), click here.
For Amazon UK, click here.
For Amazon Australia, click here.
For Amazon Canada, click here.
And similarly for Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, China, Japan, India

This is the only official guide in the English language – the foreword from the Mayor of Pamplona is reprinted below – Continue reading

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A lethal summer with the bulls

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Alexander Fiske-Harrison, striped jacket, discussing the run with local runners and Larry Belcher, former Texan rodeo champion (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison, striped jacket, discussing the run with local runners and Larry Belcher, former Texan rodeo champion (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

So I am out in Cuéllar again at the end of my season of bull-running and what a dark year it has been. Someone was killed just a few days before I went to Pamplona to run – I wrote about it in the preface to the 2015 edition of Fiesta: How To Survive The Bulls Of Pamplona. Despite 16,000 runners, 42 hospitalisations, and 10 gorings, no one died there at least (no one has since the year I first ran in 2009.) However, while I was running bulls in Tafalla and then down the mountain in Falces four people died on other runs in that single weekend.

Now, after running the bulls in San Sebastián de los Reyes, a suburb of Madrid, I have returned here to Cuéllar, in Old Castille, which has the most ancient bull-runs on Earth (they have a letter from a Pope banning priests from participating dated 1215 A.D.) I first came here in 2012 (which I wrote up for the Financial Times) and have been here every year since and even write a thank you letter to the town in the regional newspaper, El Norte de Castilla.

Alexander Fiske-Harrison running the bulls in Cuéllar this morning (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison running the bulls in Cuéllar this morning (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

However, for the first time that I know of, indeed the first time anyone can remember, a 66-year-old man was killed at the beginning of the first of the five annual bull-runs (ending Thursday.) I saw that same bull come up the street to me, its horn worryingly red, and I assisted along with tall the other runners and the heroic pastores, ‘herdsman’, in leading it to the plaza de toros where recortadores will dodge it and saltadores will leap over it. However, no matadores will be involved. This bull will not die today. (Like all cattle, fighting bulls or not, it will end up in the food chain one day.)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison, circled, with the bull which killed a 66-year-old man this morning in Cuéllar, his blood still on its horn (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison, circled, with the bull which killed a 66-year-old man this morning in Cuéllar. Note the colour of its left horn. The man with the green ‘Pastores’ t-shirt is Enrique Bayón Brandi (Photo © Antonio Tanarro / El Norte de Castilla)

I will write more in my forthcoming article on this summer for the Telegraph, but meanwhile I must prepare myself for tomorrow’s run (not least as I am recording it for the BBC.) Obviously, my prayers are with his family, but, as for those who seek to use this as an argument against festivals involving bulls, all of us here know the risks. It is, in no small part, why we are here.

P.S. You can see the inheritors of the Minoan bull-leaping tradition in Crete 4,000 years ago at bloodless work in the plaza de toros in my photo from that night below.

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Recortador in action (Photo: Alexander Fiske-Harrison)

Recortador in action (Photo: Alexander Fiske-Harrison)

Saltador in action (Photo: Alexander Fiske-Harrison)

Saltador in action (Photo: Alexander Fiske-Harrison)

Alexander Fiske-Harrison

@fiskeharrison

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THE LAST ARENA: Love of animals or hatred of man?

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El País, Spain's equivalent of The Guardian (The Guardian ran the story here.)

El País, Spain’s equivalent of The Guardian (The Guardian ran the story here.)

Francisco Rivera Ordóñez, born to fame… and to pain

was the headline of the article by Antonio Lorca, bullfighting critic, in the culture section of El País, Spain’s left of centre national newspaper. Francisco is, along with his brother the matador Cayetano, heir to the greatest dynasty in the history of bullfighting.

Their father was Francisco Rivera Peréz, ‘Paquirri’, killed by a bull in 1984, a death made all the more famous since it was televised, as were his final moments on the surgeon’s table, telling the panicking medical staff that it didn’t matter, to remain calm. The effect of this death on his youngest son, my friend the matador Cayetano, I quoted in my previous post. I am sure Francisco felt similarly.

How Cayetano feels today I dare not ask: Francisco, who had also taken his father’s nom de guerre Paquirri, was gored by a bull in Huesca in Aragon in north-eastern Spain, and horn entering his abdominal cavity to a depth of 25cm – or a foot – hitting everything from his spine to his aorta in its visceral trajectory. As an admirer who has always found him charm itself in person, I wish him a swift and complete recovery.

In fact, let me rephrase that, as a human being of good conscience, I wish him a swift and complete recovery. Even were I to think that the method of killing bulls used in the bullrings of Spain morally inferior to that in our abattoirs I would not wish my fellow man anything else. Yes, the bullfight – as we wrongly translated the word corrida – is a twenty-minute long staged ‘combat’ from the bull’s perspective (t is a dance from the man’s hence it is reviewed as such in the culture section), which some might think worse than queuing for hours with the stench of death in the abattoir, despite the average fighting bull dying at 5 years old and reared wild in forests while the average meat cow being reared in a corral or pen and dying at 18 months but that arguable ethical stance wouldn’t make me wish death on the practitioners of the art and craft of toreo. N.B. All of the carcases end up in the food chain.

Francisco is carried wounded from the ring. Although not toreando, 'fighting', that day, the matador Juan José Padilla ran in unarmed to help save his injured friend. He was my first teacher in the ring, and I wrote the sotry of his comeback after he lost his eye for GQ here.

El Mundo, Spain’s equivalent of The Times. (My interview with Francisco’s brother Cayetano for the Sunday Times magazine is here. The man with an eyepatch carrying him is my friend the matador Juan José Padilla. My account of his comeback after losing his eye to a bull is in GQ magazine here.

Police asked to act against ‘death threats to Fran Rivera on Twitter

However, in some cases an apparent, and loudly asserted love of animals is actually a device to justify and conceal a deep hatred of humanity, especially of any variations of difference in it, anything that disagrees with your world view: the mask of overt and virtuous love soon slips to reveal skull of snarling, spitting hate beneath. Such as we see in the headline above. Much the same, I suspect, was true in the case of the unfortunate old lion, who people insist on calling Cecil as though he would have come if called, who was illegally shot in Zimbabwe. (I wrote about it in some detail on my personal blog here.)

This article continues at The Last Arena here…

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