Solid Afternoon Opens Tijuana Season
Tijuana, B.C. Mexico – Casa Toreros opened the delayed 2014 Tijuana season with a tempting combination of three different generations; “Zotoluco” representing the long bridge between the stunted glory of the Armillita/Silveti/Arruza/Gutierrez generation and the present; Arturo Macias, the first of the new bloom of a new wave of hope in that long dormant arena, and Ricardo Frausto, a newly minted—and apparently very talented—member of the most promising crop of toreros since the mid-sixties of Manolo Martinez, Eloy Cavazos, and Curro Rivera. Equally promising—and perhaps more hopeful even than the new wave of toreros, was the encierro from the Zacatecan ranch of Pozo Hondo, a new-old ranch that is beginning to recapture the glory of one of the defining bases of Mexican toreo—the Llaguno line of brave fighting stock.
A very encouraging crowd of perhaps 9,000 welcomed the seasoned ministrations of Zotoluco in “his almost 30th” year (28, to be exact) of an exemplary career as worked with two very different animals. His first, “Aniversario” was a nicely cut, well armed grey that could barely stay upright. While he lasted, “Zotoluco” was able to extract several short series of quality muletazos on both right and left sides, although the abject weakness of the animal prevented any sort of enthusiasm from the audience.
Zotoluco’s second, the deliciously baptized “No Fue Penal”—took an initial series of veronica passes with the large cape well enough, but, strangely, spent the next several minutes in a confusing zig-zag from one torero to another, as if trying to identify the impostor among the group. Just as is appeared that all was lost, “Zotoluco’s” powerful muleta found the bull’s sweet spot and discovered an animal with a fierce desire to charge and charge again, lowering his head and following through from the beginning to the end of each of the four, or five, or even six passes of series to both left and right sides. A few mis-timed passes cooled the work off as “Penal” began to pull up short, and a flat half-sword left the bull dead on his hooves, but resistant. Several minutes passed, losing the otherwise well deserved ear for the venerable torero from Azcapotzalco.
Arturo Macias, once again, was able to make the most out of an uninspiring situation.
His first bull, the politely armed “Centurion” was nearly as weak as his late brother, and with a similar lack of celo—or the deep desire to pursue the lures presented to him.
Macias’ genius—since his painful sojourn to the motherland in 2010—has been the ability to find the exact moment in every appearance to strike the heroic/dramatic/picturesque pose that capitalizes on the dead moments of the fight and charms the neophyte. It’s not that he’s unable to torear—in fact, since being taken in by Fermin Espinosa, “Armillita”—the second son of the great Don Fermin Espinosa, “Armillita Chico”—he has refined his style and technique and, on occasion, achieved a depth and purity in his work that some would have thought impossible not long ago.
Such moments are rare, however, and Macias has managed to stave off irrelevance with a combination of boyish good looks, charisma, occasional toreo and an absolutely amazing sense of when to strike that pose. For all that, even Macias can’t overcome poor sword work or the mysteriously delayed effects of an apparently well placed sword, which ruined all the posing with “Centurion”. He was called to the center of the ring to acknowledge the crowd. He did cut a somewhat generous ear from the handsome “Abuelo”, run in 5th place, after a faena that began with serious intent but ended up in crowd pleasing effects as “Abuelo” lost steam and began offering half charges instead of following through each pass from beginning to end.
The best toreo of the day came from the youngest member of the card, the photogenic, eager to please Ricardo Frausto, who, like Macias, is from the Mexican taurine hotbed of Aguascalientes.
With both “Cocotero” run in third place, and “Oro Blanco” in sixth, Frausto accomplished what truly talented newcomers should: enthusiasm without pandering or exceeding the limits of his own, or the bull’s, abilities, reasonable crowd playing and most importantly, prolonged periods of toreo hondo; challenging the bulls far in front of his body, focusing them and bringing them through and behind his body and calling them back with deft movements of arm and wrist.
There were a few moments of clutter and confusion—he missed the bull completely with the sword on his second entrance to his last bull—but Frausto was always in control and, except for those unfortunate moments with the sword, where he clearly needs more practice, he almost surely would have cut at least one, and possibly two, more ears. As it was, he cut a completely justified ear from “Cocotero” and he leaves the Tijuana public wanting more.
Perhaps in the later events planned for August and September.
What can’t be quantified is his legitimate talent and apparent knowledge of bulls (he did draw the best lote of the day), and a mature desire not only to do good, but do well; a quality, to be sure, that separates the toreros from the figuras.