The other night at the little hole in the wall bar across the street from my apartment, one of the TVs was turned to professional bull riding, opposite Will Smith chatting with Oprah. After I ordered my drink I found myself standing in the middle of the place gawking up at the television. Bulls are so ferocious and otherworldly looking and really handsome (if terrifying) animals. But what really captured me was the jarring contrast between the crazy drama of the bulls as they violently thrashed and the jaunty cartoonishness of the riders. Their costumes are a wacky synthesis of modern branded sport paraphernalia and the classic western costume. They wear what look like bullet proof vests over western shirts, and enormous tasseled chaps. Somewhere between Lefty Frizzell and Starship Troopers.


The whole event is so heavily aestheticized, I can imagine gay subculture really taking the look in new and exciting places (the SS leather daddy thing is pretty tired).

Weirdest of all are the rodeo clowns, scurrying around dressed like some hold overs from the days of minstrelsy and medicine shows. Albeit, there's a strange nobility in putting oneself in serious danger while looking like a total douche.

I think you have to grow up in Real America for any of it to make sense. But as bar spectacle it was all pretty wonderful.

Lefty Frizzell - Look What Thoughts Will Do
Lefty Frizzell - I Love You a Thousand Ways
Lefty Frizzell - If You've Got the Money (I've Got the Time)

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