Vuvuzelas make a lasting impression | The Latte Guy | July 16

It’s been less than a week since the last game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and I already miss the sound of my new favorite monotonic wind instrument, the vuvuzela.

I’ve tried to find alternatives, such as sitting in the car while it’s parked in the driveway and leaning on the horn for the three or four hours it takes to drain the battery, but it’s just not the same. It’s difficult to recreate that distinctive, B-flat-below-middle-C, sonorous atonality of the vuvuzela at home.

Although the sound of the vuvuzela is not music to all human ears, I understand from a reliable source (in this case, a guy I met in the restroom at Fados during half time of the Portugal-Brazil match) that a properly played vuvuzela in South Africa can be heard by blue whales in Hawaii, Indian elephants in Kunni, and certain species of sea slugs (but not nudibranches) off the coast of Iceland.

I was surprised to learn that not everyone found the incessant blaring of the ubiquitous cheap plastic horns to be an enjoyable auditory experience, and even fewer people found it an easy instrument to dance to.

In fact, it turns out that, largely in reaction to their incessant, indiscriminate and controversial use at the recently concluded World Cup, vuvuzelas have now been banned from Wimbledon, the Melbourne Cricket Grounds, the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the 2012 London Olympics, and Yankee Stadium.

I can understand the ban from tennis and cricket matches, and maybe from the Olympics, but the Rugby World Cup and Yankee Stadium? I thought rugby players and fans were tougher than that. And I think I speak for most of us when I say I’d rather have vuvuzelas blasting away at each of my ears than have to actually listen to anything a Yankee fan might have to say.

While we’re on the subject, I for one would like to see the use of vuvuzelas at sporting events expanded rather than contracted. I mean, Tiger Woods is a fabulous golfer and all, but let’s see him line up and sink a tricky 10-foot putt on the 18th hole at Augusta for all the marbles with a couple of hundred surly, sun-burned Southern sports fans hopped up on Red Bull and warm vodka honking away at him from just off the edge of the green.

And why restrict ourselves to sporting events? What wedding wouldn’t be more festive if the audience stood up and serenaded the newly hitched couple on their walk down the aisle with a full-throated blast from the Devil’s Own Horn?

Make a safe landing after a long flight? Why not signal your relief and gratitude by honking out a serenade to your flight crew on a compact travel vuvuzela? Enjoyed a good movie lately? Why clap when you can vuvuzela your appreciation?

Getting back to soccer for a moment, or as the rest of the world says, “soccer,” I didn’t do too well in my World Cup brackets this year. In keeping with what appears to an emerging soccer trend, I’m blaming the referees.

It didn’t help that I also put all my World Cup eggs into the North Korean basket, which, coincidentally, was exactly what it looked like the North Korean team was attempting to kick around out there on the pitch. In hindsight, it appears that my selection of the North Koreans as the World Cup Champions looks no better than it appeared in foresight when I made the bold selection.

Again, I blame the referees, both for the lapse in my personal soccer prognostication acumen, and for not invoking the mercy rule in the Brazilians' 9 to 1 shellacking of the NoKos. I fear their poor showing at the World Cup may have done irreparable harm to the North Korean psyche, and it may be many years before the world again enjoys the warm and welcoming embrace of the North Korean people.

I’m not sure I can wait four years until the next World Cup before I get another sweet earful of a vuvuzela symphony. Fortunately, the woman who is my wife and both of our kids have birthdays coming up this year, and nothing says big time birthday fun like matching vuvuzelas.

And for my own birthday, I’ll be buying myself a pair of earphones. A really nice pair of earphones.

Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of "Skeletons From Our Closet," a collection of writings on the island's latte scene.

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