Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Of Bulls & Bullshit

By Paul "Farmboy" Levine

I'm not a member of PETA. I'm not an animal rights activist. But some actions toward animals are so patently offensive as to shock the conscience of any civilized society. I speak of bullfighting and the annual "running of the bulls" in Pamplona. If you're like me, you root for the bulls. (Nearly all these animals will shortly be executed in so-called bullfights.)

I cheer when some macho jerk gets gored. Or, when a clever bull takes out three guys at once, including kicking one cabron in the cojones.

The Spanish newspaper "Diario de Navarra" reports that two American brothers, Lawrence and Michael Lenahan, were gored simultaneously in the buttocks by the same bull! This overhead photo captures the moment quite nicely.


The injuries weren't serious. Here's Lawrence Lenahan, enjoying his celebrity in a Spanish hospital.

"YOU THINK THEY'LL PUT ME ON LARRY KING?" (Okay, I wrote that line of mock dialogue before learning that both brothers were interviewed live yesterday on NBC's TODAY show. Ah, celebrity in America now includes getting a bull's horn rammed up your ass).

I also cheer for the anti-bullfight group that holds its own event, the Running of the Nudes. (How could "Naked Authors" not like these folks?)

This animal-rights group is signing up runners for next year's event. I believe Jim Born has already booked his reservations.



Also, big congrats to the winners of the 2007 Thriller Awards. Best Novel: Joseph Finder's "Killer Instinct." Best First Novel: Nick Stone's "Mr. Clarinet." And a special hug for my pals Kris Montee and her sister Kelly Nichols, writing as P.J. Parrish. Their novel, "An Unquiet Grave," won Best Paperback Original, besting "The Deep Blue Alibi" and three others. "Grave" is also up for this year's Shamus award.


While Jim was frolicking at Thrillerfest and Patty was flogging "Short Change," which is on my short list to read, I attended the Kings County Fair in Hanford, CA. That's way up in the San Joaquin Valley (Slogan: "It's Hot & Dusty & There's Nothing To Do.")

I wanted to see the livestock exhibition and auction. Why? Can't tell you. Trade secret, for now.

But, to paraphrase Robert Duvall in "Apocalypse Now," I love the smell of manure in the morning.

No, not the bullshit coming from Washington. Not, We've got to fight them there, so we don't have to fight them here.

I'm talking about real cow manure, folks. I grew up in a little dairy farming town in central Pennsylvania, and during planting season, when the wind was right, the earthy smell would permeate the burg, from Main Street to the creek (pronounced "crick") at the end of town.


Can you distinguish a Holstein cow...

From a Brown Swiss cow...?

President Bush and Vice President Cheyney made surprise visits to the Fair...

More barnyard fun, later. Finally...


"I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that."
--June 27, 2007, regarding outgoing British P.M. Tony Blair

"I'm honored to be here with the eternal general of the United States, mi amigo Alberto Gonzales."
--May 4, 2007

"Suiciders are willing to kill innocent life in order to send the projection that this is an impossible mission."
--April 3, 2007


"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
--August 5, 2004

"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace."
--June 18, 2002

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."
--September 6, 2004


"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."
--September 13, 2001

Precisely six months later...

"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."
--March 12, 2002

By Paul


  1. I really appreciate your piece on the Running of the Nudes. I can always use a little, er, pick-me-up.

  2. Paulie, I'm glad I'm not the only hick on this team. I grew up in a small agricultural area, too. And we said "crick," as well. I loved going to the county fair in September. Local granges made burgers smothered in fried onions and green peppers. Yum. I once road the "Hammer" thirteen times in one evening. No wonder my brain is scrambled.

  3. Oh, Lord, even though I have read those Bush-apropisms time and time again, I just cringe and (sorry) call him by the first word that comes to mind, which this morning was "f***wit." I'm a well-mannered person and this is what has happened to me since GWB rode into Washington.

    And I, too, love those ripe old farmyard smells. Couple of years ago, I took my husband back to the area where I grew up. "Hmmm, smell that air - isn't it great?" said I, as we walked by one of the farms where I used to work as a kid. He looked at me in amazement. He's a Cleveland boy

    But we didn't have "cricks" - we had streams, which is really a creek, mind you, some creeks here would pass as rivers "over there."

    Oh, and count me in on the anti-bullfighting. I was so glad when it began to die a death in Spain, but now that famous matador has come out of retirement, they're all gung-ho about it, and there's now a lot of bullfighting in France. Sad, but true. And I don't care what they run in place of the bulls in Pamplona - anything will do, as long as it's something that can make a decision for itself -- and those nudes look like intelligent girls to me.

  4. Gee, Paulie, What cute cows.

    Serves the twits right for getting gored in the butt. AND they couldn't do it on their own, they had to be holding hands or something to be both gotten by the same bull at the same time. Gack, people will do anything for 3 seconds of 'fame'. God forbid they should do anything really talented that would be worthy of note.

    Cute running of the nudes - I'm sure there were a lot of appreciative audience members with jiggling head strain afterwards. :-)

    Bob and I spent a road trip that ended in rural Pennsylvania a few years back, while he connected with his childhood. It started at Woodstock, NY, and ended in Lancaster County PA. Dang, that was a brilliant road trip - just for the hell of it, with no work attached. Sigh.


  5. I am impressed. I don't even know who shot that photo.
    Michelle did, indeed, sit on a panel with me and despite her best efforts, I kept the relationship professional.

    I am composing a Thrillerfest post for Thursday. One problem is that I took no photos. At least of the conference. I have several of my wife and daughter. Maybe one of me and my editor. But no one else.

    If you have some photos you'd like posted let me know.


  6. Paul –

    With whatever apologies to Hemmingway are necessary, I couldn’t agree with you more about rooting for the bulls. Similar photos to the ones you posted made the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News yesterday, because one of the idiot brothers went to the University of Pennsylvania, still lives and works here in the Philadelphia area, and went to the run because he had just finished chemo treatments for his cancer and wanted to do something fun and exciting. What’s the matter, he didn’t know that the Phillies were in town for a four-game series against the Mets, going in only two game behind? (Never mind where the Phillies finished the series. That’s not so fun and exciting unless you’re a Mets fan.)

    Talk about getting drilled a new one.

    -- Bill Epstein

  7. Bill is right. A guy survives a bout of testicular cancer, he ought to go to a Phillies' game, or inhale a cheesesteak at Pat's, maybe go down to the shore for the weekend.

    No, this Hemingwayesque fool runs with the bulls and suffers an injury so severe doctors nearly amputated his leg.

    I guess he thought he and the bulls good have a "damned good time together." To which Heminway might have replied: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"
    Video here from Channel 3, Philadelphia.


  8. My husband and I just dashed this one off, especially for tonight - thought the Naked Authors might appreciate it.

    One, Two, Three O'Clock, Four O'Clock Talk;

    Five, Six, Seven O'Clock, Eight O'Clock Talk;

    Nine, Ten, Eleven O'Clock, Twelve O'Clock Talk;

    They're gonna Talk -About -Iraq- Tonight---

    When the clock strikes one, two and three, they'll give big props to Harry Reid
    They're gonna talk about Iraq tonight,
    They're gonna talk, talk, talk while they mock the Right,
    They're gonna talk, gonna talk about Iraq tonight.

    When the clock strikes three, four and five, they'll pretend Strohm Thurmond's still alive
    They're gonna talk about Iraq tonight
    They're gonna talk, talk talk while our soldiers fight
    They're gonna talk, gonna talk about Iraq tonight.

    When the clock strikes five, six and seven, they'll all throw down 'bout Carl Levin
    They're gonna talk about Iraq tonight
    They're gonna talk, talk, talk to spite the right
    They're gonna talk, gonna talk about Iraq tonight

    When the clock strikes seven, eight, and nine, listen to Republican nutjobs whine
    They're gonna talk about Iraq tonight
    They're gonna make Frank Capra proud tonight
    They're gonna talk, gonna talk about Iraq tonight

    When the clock strikes ten, eleven, twelve, you'll hear Halliburton yell for help
    They're gonna talk about Iraq tonight
    They're gonna finally grow a pair and fight
    They're gonna talk, gonna talk about Iraq tonight!