Olé, Olé, Olé
Yukon Blade Grinders!
By Puss in Boots
"We knew we had a chance to take a break together...so why not Spain?
We just had to do this. It was in the cards and it was epic!"
How it came to be
The Running of the Bulls, held in the small basque city of Pamplona, Spain, is one of the world's longest standing traditions. The festival, which may date back to the Middle Ages, has been celebrated annually since 1592. A litterbox of humanity I call it. Today, visitors from around the corner and around the world gather in Spain to witness the event and take part in the week-long fiesta. This year, new visitors from Canada are in attendance, and rocking the Spanish world with their presence. With a surprise concert opening the festival, all Pamplona is buzzing. Currently enjoying critical acclaim and packed houses across the US, they are masters of their domain, playing where and when they want. This moment in time takes them across the ocean. So nice for them to visit us on a short break during a tour, yes? I think yes. Don't agree? Come tempt my blade.
The week-long Pamplona festival was originally held in October to honor the Patron Saint, San Fermín. A good tomcat. The origin of the religious celebration may date as far back as to the Middle Ages. Over time, the sanfermines began to add elements to the religious ceremonies such as "trade fairs, music, dance, giants, tournaments, acrobats, puppet shows, bull runs and bullfights." Despite evidence that the basis of the San Fermín celebrations began in the 13th century, old city documents report the Running of the Bulls has been celebrated annually since 1592 — a century after the Spanish reconquest and Columbus discovered America. In 1592, the festival was moved from October 10 to July to avoid the shaky October weather and coincide with the annual fair already held in July. It has has since remained a hallmark of the Spanish Summer. However this year a surprise concert in de Plaza de Toros de Pamplona to open the festival featuring the golden boys of Canada. Read on Blade Grinders...this story is loco!
Pamplona 2015--No Bull
The Running of the Bulls is a huge tourist attraction and a celebratory week-long occasion for both Spaniards and international travelers. We make major dinero. Nonetheless, the festival emerged for its practical purpose. According to an ancient tablet found while spelunking here in the hills in 2001 by Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, the bull run started because it served as a way to transport the bulls from Pamplona's corral, to its bullfighting ring, where public spectacles were to be held throughout the fighting season. Says Alex in his recent book, Taking Spain by the Balls: "Fascinating how the people actually want to agitate the bulls to tork them off...kinda nuts. People getting gored, maimed, rammed. As a band we decided to try it, a bucket list kinda thing. We've already been to Bangkok, Nepal, and Florida. So we had to do this just once. It's all good fun right?". Truer words have never been spoken Lerxt.
Until someone gets hurt, that is.
The Running of the Bulls has a well earned reputation as a dangerous and violent festival-- and this popular conception is not unfounded. It's cold reality. The prospect of danger lurks in many festivals and sporting events: the inner-city olympics of Detroit. Bat day at Yankee Stadium, and the Annual Numismatic Coin Flipping Carnival of Leipzig. The latter, notable for the tragic "eye poking incident" of 1935, where 22 contestants engaged in conduct detrimental to the carnival, forcing police to control crowds using harsh language and threats of violence. Well, they shrivel in the shadow of this giant. At least 13 spectators and participants have died from injuries related to the bull run in the last century alone. The last death was that of a 22-year-old American tourist in 1995. It may come as a surprise, however, that the most dangerous aspect of the festival is not the bull run itself, but the week-long party flowing with traditional sangria that takes place around the feature event. According to the locals, "far more festival-goers have been impaired from over consumption of alcohol" than from bull-related injuries. A likely story. This year, a prime festival sponsor is the band's wine label Bacchus Chateau, with it's wildy popular jailhouse fare, La Villa SanGriato. However, on the label of the new phenomenon is the warning "one cup and you're effed up!" Test for echo--pace yourselves amigos--it's a long week!
His cats are now out of the bag
Ernest Hemingway popularized Pamploma's Running of the Bulls festival when he published his famous novel The Sun Also Rises in 1926. Hemingway's novel takes place against the backdrop of the wild Spanish fiesta and bull run, and the author relies on the ceremony to symbolize larger themes in his work such as the lost generation and the quest to reclaim masculinity in the post-war world. Masculinity? Bah says this Yukon Blade Grinder reporter. This event used to be akin to attending a Rush concert in terms of gender participation, but no more. As evidenced by more and more concerts crawling with chicks, women love this kind of entertainment as well!
This classic American novel helped transform the Running of the Bulls into an international spectacle. Band frontman Geddy Lee speaks about the band's experience with the novel, "When we first started touring Neil would bring all these books on the RV. I'm OK You're OK. The Stand. The Joy of Cooking. The Sun Also Rises was one of them. Neil would sometimes read it outloud to help us stay awake as we drove. It actually put us to sleep, but don't mention that to him--Canadians don't complain--we pout!" No worries Geddy--your secret is safe with the Yukon Blade Grinder. As Hemingway's protagonist, Jake, declares in The Sun Also Rises, “Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.” Geddy admits the band wants to experience that adrenaline high as well. Ok Amigos. Arriba, Arriba! Andale, Andale!
You must be swift...like a gazelle--Nacho LibreThe bull runners, known as mozos, wear traditional white uniforms with red trimming. According to the ancient tablet, there are two contested origins of the uniform: on the one hand, the red and white colors might honor the martyred Saint Fermín while others claim the uniforms represent the butchers who began the running of the bulls tradition.
It is a common mistake to believe that Spanish matadors and mozos dawn the color red in order to anger the bulls. In fact, according to band drummer Neil Peart, the color is not what drives bulls to attack because "bulls don't seem to have any color preference at all. Bulls instinctively follow movement, so they will charge whichever object is moving quickest. Therefore, the bulls chase the runners because of their speed, not the color of their uniforms. At least, that's the way it was on the farm at St. Catherines. Spanish bulls may be different though." As usual, Pratt has all the answers. Sharp is the word and quick is the action.
Each individual race takes just three minutes on average and terminates just minutes after it begins at 8 a.m., according to the locals. After the race comes the food, and we know this band can eat. Their new nutritionist, Ken Jeong, is owner and operator of the Rocky Mountain Oyster Palace located in the war torn Jane and Finch district of Toronto. He's along for the ride this year to sample the local fare and run his ass off. As always, Jeong is looking to improve his product, and sometimes traveling the globe is a must to find that special recipe to elevate your product. When asked about the quality of spanish calf fries, he wasn't leaving anything on the table. "Ahhh the smell of calf fries in the morning. Smells like victory! I got secret sauce, and you don't bitches! You gotta taste my nuts". Thank you gilipollas--thank you.
For the rest of the day, attendees visit the traditional livestock fair (rumored to smell like bullshit) and take part in the crazy celebrations, which last all through the night. Plenty of boobs. Plenty of calf fries. My kinda party. The festival ends at midnight on July 14 when all who remain in Pamplona gather before the City Hall and sing the song "Pobre de Mi" (Poor me, the Fiesta de San Fermin has ended). However this year, the festival will end with the Canadian band's magnum opus Anagram played over the loudspeakers in the city square...because there is no safe seat at this feast. So with that I bid you farewell, in the finest of Spanish traditions:
Ole Blade Grinders
Arriba, Arriba! Andale, Andale!
Edited by Tombstone Mountain, 07 July 2015 - 10:49 PM.