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. in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s FOCUS series through May 17. can be cooked, so can wild hog meat:’ he says. Asked what he thinks about Miller’s bill, Denney sounds almost like a closet member of PETA. “I know they are a nuisance to many:’ he says, “but they are an animal, and I think they should be looked at and viewed in a humane manner.” Humanity isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you’re staring down a 130-pound wild hog, as the men in the heavyweight division of the hog catching contest are about to do. Earlier in the day, before the competition, hog master Black and Jodi Rihn, a female champion from two years ago, described what it’s like to share the ring with a hog. “My partner was crazed,” says Rihn, who wasn’t able to defend her belt buckle last year because she was pregnant. “She needed a Xanax or something.” “Your heart wants you to do it,” Black adds, “but your mind won’t let you.” God only knows what possesses a person. Perhaps it’s about testing limits, considering that the hog is one of the biggest, grisliest animals we can actually grapple and potentially contain with our own hands. Perhaps we subconsciously seek revenge against the animal that robbed us of our innocence, as wild hogs did when they gave rabies to Old Yeller. \(The Fred Gipson story on which the movie was based is set near Mason, it’s nothing more than a way to satiate the human hunger for adrenaline, which begins to boil in the registration line, where officials coax young men up from the middleweight to the heavyweight division. When it’s time for the heavyweights, Verstuyft’s comedy routine turns into a safety announcement. He issues warnings to the crowd gathered around the ring’s 5-foot fence, telling them to step back and keep an eye out for hogs leaping headfirst into the caging. “You get too close to the fence he says, “and you’re gonna lose some teeth.” Until that point, 16 pairs of ripped jeans and a twisted knee were the only casualties. That was about to change. One burly, black-haired monster with an extra-long snout had something more in store for one of its would-be catchers. After a few seconds of trying to usher the monster into its burlap sack, one of the guys quickly pulled back and grabbed his gashed forearm. He was bleeding like a stuck pig. Austin writer Michael Hoinski contributes articles to the Austin American-Statesman, Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. 31 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 17, 2009