Today I attended the PBR (that's Professional Bull Riders) competition at Madison Square Garden, where weirdly, I did not hear a note of country music all day. Instead, the sounds being pumped through the loudspeakers as gigantic animals attempted to catapult and then stomp on little, skinny (I swear, every competitor was under 5'10" and under 160 lbs.) rednecks and a surprising number of Australians and Brazilians were from the likes of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, ZZ Top (both '70s and early '80s) and that hip-hop song that samples steel drums. Heard that latter one three or four times. Oh, and the national anthem, for which they dropped the most ginormous fucking flag I've ever seen in my life from the rafters - seriously, you could drape my apartment building with this thing, Christo style, and it was loaded with glitter, too - was sung by the frontwoman for Lilith-fair-headliners-if-Lilith-Fair-still-existed Antigone Rising, a band on the Starbucks record label. Oh, and immediately before the national anthem, there was a prayer, something I have never experienced in Madison Square Garden before, though it might have livened up the Ozzy/Rob Zombie concert I saw there on 12/22.
The bull riding itself was awesome. A lot of the riders wore what looked like lacrosse helmets instead of cowboy hats, which I thought was kinda pussy until one bull caught one dude's helmet on its horn-tip and ripped it off his head and pretty much in half, at the same time launching the rider into the corner, where he flopped like a Raggedy Andy, then stood up after a few seconds with about half his face covered in blood. "He's fine, folks!" the announcer assured us, his only evidence for that assertion being that Mr. Cowboy was, for the moment, vertical. That was the only major injury, though - almost the only serious incident, too, except for one other guy whose spur got caught in the rope wrapped around the bull's midsection and was dragged through the dirt a little before the rodeo clown guys could haul him loose.
Attending this event was my wife's idea, which utterly baffled me at first, and inspired me to do a bit of scoffing, but I had a great time, would absolutely go again next year, and recommend it highly to anyone reading this.