A mob of tourists has once again descended on the Spanish city of Pamplona.
They have come to watch several thousand drunken halfwits attempt to outrun a half-dozen angry 1,300-pound bulls that could easily gore, maim or stomp the life out of them.
As I read about this annual idiocy, a thought came to mind: Why can’t Spokane have an exciting event like this?
Nobody would care much about Pamplona were it not for this bovine stampede that writer Ernest Hemingway immortalized in his 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises.”
Thanks to the bulls, the Pamplona hotels prosper, the Pamplona restaurants prosper, the Pamplona taverns prosper, the Pamplona ambulance workers prosper, the Pamplona hospitals prosper, the Pamplona blood banks prosper, the Pamplona undertakers prosper …
It’s a win-win for everyone!
Well, everyone except the luckless guy with the yard-long bullhorn penetrating his posterior. But what a small price to pay for prosperity.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking … “Doug, have you lost your mind? Spokane has way too many potholes to even think about holding a running of the bulls.”
Well, of course I know this.
It would be a public relations disaster if, say, a behemoth bull pulled its tenderloin stumbling into one of our civic sinkholes. Unlike the cruel Spaniards, we Americans are highly sensitive about the treatment of animals before we eat them.
So this bull-running thing is out.
Besides, we don’t want to be accused of copying the Pamplonites.
What we need is our own equally dumb and dangerous event that will attract the world but won’t get us picketed by PETA.
And that’s when this burst of genius hit me: Why not merge two things already integral to life in Spokane?
2. Bad driving.
A red light to a Spokane driver is as meaningless as a watch on a preacher.
One of the first columns I wrote for the paper years ago was about spending a day counting red light runners at various intersections. I think I counted a few dozen in the span of several hours.
And though Bloomsday is still billed as the planet’s largest 12-kilometer run, it really hasn’t pulled the same interest since 1996, the year it peaked.
Here’s how to put Bloomsday back in the chips: We 86 all the barricades and let our bad drivers onto the course as if it were any other day in Spokane.
Vroom-and-Bloomsday, we could call it.
Now that would be something to watch.
ANNOUNCER – “Looks like that runner from Kenya is making a break for the lead, and …”
COLOR MAN – “Whoa. He never saw that Mazda, did he?”
ANNOUNCER – “Nope. But he’s up and shaking it off. Now he’s beating the driver with his Nike. The right one, I think. Man, you’ve gotta love the spunk in that guy.”
We could line the entire course with bleachers and charge big bucks for a seat.
No more shaky local TV coverage, either.
Our new “Frogger” format would yield national TV contracts and major endorsement deals with health insurers, fracture clinics and, of course, body and fender repair joints.
Those finishing the race wouldn’t have to settle for a lousy T-shirt anymore.
No sir. Each runner would come away with bragging rights, like how they narrowly escaped becoming a hood ornament on some inattentive jerk’s Ford Taurus.
Another change would be in those cups of water that they used to hand runners along the Bloomsday route.
Not anymore. From now on it’s out with the water, and martinis for all.
As Hemingway discovered back in Pamplona, some races just shouldn’t be run sober.