RESURRECTION TO REQUIEM ?
Ric Polansky ©
This Golden Age of TOREROS with their many contrasting styles was bedazzled again when the summer's solstice arrived early in the form of the legendary JOSE TOMAS and his return to the toros following five years of self imposed exile.
Saint Tomas as His followers refer to Him is their most perfect Torero ever. His distracters (and ironically there are a few of them) disregard him as a reckless risk taker and a phoney with a suicide wish). But, it doesn't appear that way with the ardent aficionados that schemed and wrangled those impossible to obtain sacred "entradas" to his comeback. No one thought for a moment about the inconvenience of a cross country journey to witness Him perform.
The dismal and unfriendly Catalans have been rejecting the artistic bull spectacle over the years. Therefore, His second coming was strategically selected to brazenly confront the Anti's on their terrain; a plaza He liked too. Having the event take place in Barcelona in front of more than 17,000 true believers added pejorative insult to the insultees.
Jose Tomas is not just a superb torero but should also be regaled as one of the great personal marketing genius's of our times equated with the king himself, Elvis Presley, making well thought out staged comebacks and ingenious self promotion. It was Elvis who decided to dye his hair black and design his own show clothes …. cape and all. Jose Tomas isn't far away on the selection of bulls and plazas of performance. And like Elvis too, JT knows He is unique, special and totally different from all the rest.
Chicuelina with just a third of the cape.
I was in Murcia for his last appearance. The day He walked out. It is not a distant memory. During the corrida his entire "force of torerar" … quit. He didn't care anymore. To the packed crowd He was just another matador during a long jumilla wine soaked week. He responded: He threw the cape out in front spun into the bull and slammed a low sword then wheeled about and walked back to the callejon. I had never seen him so disdainful. If you had been besotted with Him as many of us were you knew telepathically something was up. But, no one guessed he would walk away. Give it all up. Go Mexico way.
His comeback thundered resoundingly around the entire taurine world. From Anchorage, Alaska to Zaragoza prayers had been answered; candles lit. It was an unforgettable gesture to return and face much more than the bulls, there were volatile and unforgiving critics gritting their teeth and hoping for His failure to enhance their own "noms de plume". It was a calculated gamble that that special and discerning taurine public who had hailed Him before would return and embrace Him once again.
"Why bother?" some must have said to him. However as true as water always seeking it's own level, a true singer must sing their songs … Jose Tomas is a matador de toros and had to perform for Himself and His public.
He triumphed. Thunderous applause beckoned him on, and on He marched. Following the reverberations of Barcelona everyone wanted to appreciate him. Stories had to be gathered for perpetuity. Vibrant tales needed to be garnered for future tertulias and drinks with friends.
They came in masses to see the miracles and fill the rings to the height of the flag pole. The "old ones" that could so nonchalantly denigrate this modern era of toros could now be confronted with a true icon for the ages.
When those handfuls of ancients spoke with such reverence and awe inspiring antics of Manolete "Jose Tomas" could be shouted as a new trump card. And just like times long past and almost forgotten, the street cry was shouted throughout the dominion: "sell the car, mortgage the house … it's Jose Tomas this Sunday!" The weekend frenzy started and sincere pilgrimages' were made. The SECOND COMING HAD ARRIVED.
Successful he was. In just sixteen corridas He amassed 32 ears toreando in only first and second degree plazas. Quite a statistical and remarkable average. Now, the world clamours for more. He now can name His price, His plazas, His toros and any other conditions He finds necessary. No TV for Madrid and even less interviews therefore massaging the growing public psychic and mythology.
2008 presents exciting thoughts to ponder and prognosticate. This coming year should be "the LIGHT" being diffused upon the entire bull kingdom" of Spain. This year when the maestro proves to one and all that there isn't anyone quite like him. (Nor has there ever been—I dare say). Even with his limited repertoire He can still mesmerize all by his seemingly unlimited variations of the same passes.
Low sweeping veronicas wherein the horns just scrape the dangling machos of the suit of lights and then the same lance pulled up into himself forcing the toro dangerously close. (See opening picture).
Yet, there is something dark and even more profound to deliberate: how long can He keep it up? the risks? the jeopardy? the peril? Being the Prophet? Constantly toreando not just the bulls and the critics but the dead certain probability of His self generated consequences. His "closeness" that makes Him who He religiously is and maintains.
His principles will be His own cross to bear! He has no way out of His own self styled querencia. Unless, unless he changes. And that would be for the worse for all-- but Him.
Watch the site
for predictions for 2008
and photographic accolades from 2007.