Life is pretty stressful at times. When I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, I like to find a comfortable couch, close my eyes and listen to a relaxing sound. And no sounds are more soothing to me than the rhythmic sound of ocean waves crashing into the shore or the gentle gurgling of a babbling brook or the soothing hum of 35,000 rabid South African soccer fanatics at the FIFA World Cup, blowing their lungs out with their plastic 4 dollar and 95 cent vuvuzelas. If you still haven’t heard of a vuvuzela (pronounced “Voo-Voo-ZAY-Lah), it can mean only one thing: You’re an American.

Surely by now you must have seen and heard a vuvuzela. Click here to listen to its soothing sound. Now, wasn’t that relaxing? Now just imagine that soothing humming sound TIMES 35 THOUSAND …. for an hour and a half….. non-stop…. without commercial interruption. Originally used to summon distant African tribal villagers to attend community gatherings, the vuvuzela has become synonymous with the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, with its distinctive nonstop, deafening, monotone buzzing sound. The vuvuzela may come in 275 different colors, but they all come in just one note: B flat.

The origin of the word “vuvuzela” is not known but it is believed to be a South African tribal word that loosely translates to “stop making that fucking noise, or I swear to God I will break that bloody horn in two over your cracked skull.”

To be fair, some decidedly anti-social researchers have concluded that the noise of the vuvu horns in the average soccer stadium has reached “dangerously high levels,” averaging between 131 and 144 decibels. They claim that at these levels, permanent damage can be done in as little as 15 minutes. The average soccer match runs an hour-and-a-half, so just slightly over 15 minutes. For comparison, a jet airplane on an airport runway, a pounding jackhammer, or a crashing cymbal all generate roughly 120 decibels of noise. Score a win for the vuvu.

Personally, I can’t get enough of the sounds of 35,000 vuvuzelas in unison creating a deafening, droning buzz that sounds like a cross between a herd of elephants in heat, a swarm of pissed off hornets and a Newfoundland fog horn. But a tiny handful of Negative Nellies just don’t like others to have any fun. These whiners have formed a Face Book Page called FIFA, BAN THE ANNOYING VUVUZELA (HORN) FROM THE SOUTH AFRICA WORLD CUP! Its fan count has grown slightly in recent weeks from 173 members on May 27th to 314,000 members a month later.

I am thrilled that the vuvu appears to be catching on everywhere – from protesters in Hong Kong using them in their rallies to fight for better working conditions to kids’ birthday parties in Paris. And the joyous sound is now starting to make its way over the pond to America like a happy invasion of love-starved locusts. Last weekend, the Florida Marlins baseball team gave out vuvuzelas to the first 15,000 fans who came to the ball game. The next 30,000 received free ear plugs. Nothing like 15,000 fans blasting their vuvuzelas to screw with the opposing pitchers’ curve ball. Smart marketing. Even smarter baseball strategy. The Marlins won 3 to 1.

Apple has a new iphone app that plays the lovely vuvu sound. Perfect for when you just want to kick back and chill out and wake up mom and dad at 5am. Not to be outdone by Apple, YouTube has added a new soccer-ball shaped VUVU BUTTON to its web site (see below):

Now with the simple click of the soccer ball icon, you can enhance your enjoyment of that YouTube video of the fat, drunken guy with the exposed butt crack, falling into the wedding cake, by adding the sound of 30,000 buzzing vuvu horns. Make any video more engaging with the press of a vuvu button. And people say America doesn’t invent anything worthwhile anymore. Answer: the vuvu button. The Defense rests.

World demand for vuvuzelas is exploding. So I figured there is a business opportunity here for VFTB. That’s why today, I am pleased to announce that View from the Bleachers is now offering vuvuzela music lessons. The perfect gift for the family that lives in a cramped urban apartment with thin walls. For just $500, you’ll receive 10 one-hour lessons. (Vuvu horn and ear plugs not included.) In just a matter of weeks, you’ll be performing songs like “Somewhere over the Rainbow” or “New York, New York” to the delight of your cubicle co-workers. For an extra $500, take the advanced course, and before you know it, you’ll be playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or Rachmaninoff’s Third in ways they never could have imagined they might be performed. One tiny catch: Lessons have to be arranged for when my wife is out of the house. She usually does grocery shopping on Thursday afternoons between 4 and 6, so come by then, okay?

Hey, what do you think of my new advertising sign? (Left) That should get some customers. Think of the fun you and your family will have with your new vuvu horns. Bring your vuvu everywhere. Perfect for high school graduation ceremonies when your son’s name is surprisingly called out in the roll call of graduates. Or when your 5th grader aces her piano recital. Ideal for when your minister delivers a boffo sermon. Show your approval of Reverend Taylor in a way sure to make you the talk of the congregation.

Your own vuvu is perfect for just about any occasion:

  • When the Rabbi says “you can kiss the bride”, what better time to pull out your vuvu?
  • At the annual stockholder’s meeting when the CEO announces profits have fallen by only 20%, celebrate the great news by joyously playing with your vuvu till the security guards invite you to leave.
  • When your 17-year old daughter introduces you to her new boyfriend for the first time, make her new beau feel at home as you shake his hand and blast him in the face with a warm vuvu welcome.
  • Just finished your performance review at work and you still have a job? Time to celebrate by making some happy noise in the employee cafeteria. I tell you, the possibilities are endless.

While the World Cup continues, kids’ lessons are half price. Here at View from the Bleachers, we’ll even throw in a free set of bleachers with the purchase of 100 vuvu horns. Act now. Supplies are limited. Pay no attention to the fine-print disclaimer below. Our attorneys told us we have to include it but I am pretty sure it doesn’t apply to you.

Legal Disclaimer:

  • This offer not valid in states ending in the letters “a”, “I” or “o” but IS valid in any state ending in the letters “b”, “r”, “w” and “q” (Iraq is not a state).
  • Offer not valid with any other offer – or, for that matter, with this offer.
  • Vuvuzelas have been clinically proven to scare the shit out of house cats.
  • Never say in mixed company: “I’ll show you my vuvu if you show me your zela.”
  • Do not confuse Vuvuzela with Venezuela. One is a loud plastic horn. The other is a Latin American country with lots of oil, run by a narcissistic whack job dictator who happens to like loud plastic horns.
  • Safety counts. If using vuvuzela in England, Australia, Bermuda or the Falkland Islands, remember to hold horn with left arm instead of right.
  • Consult a physician if the ringing sound lasts more than 4 days.
  • Don’t use vuvuzela while drinking and driving (while driving is fine, just not drinking and driving).
  • The use of vuvuzelas may impair sexual performance. Just take our word on this.
  • Do not use vuvuzela within 30 feet of an operating room where open heart surgery is being performed without prior approval from a physician.
  • Do not use vuvuzela when attending the opera, symphony or ballet – unless you feel the performance is really lame, and you conclude it could use something to spice it up.
  • The Surgeon General has determined vuvuzela use at soccer matches can be habit-forming On the other hand, the Surgeon General also concludes it’s great for building up lung capacity.
  • The use of vuvuzelas on fox hunts in the British countryside with the Earl of Windermere is frowned upon.
  • There is no truth to the rumor that upon discovering America Columbus’s sailors celebrated by getting drunk and blowing into vuvuzelas. Alcohol was prohibited on the Niña, Pinta and the Santa Maria – except in officer’s quarters.
  • Blowing loudly into a vuvuzela does not make you the next Wynton Marsalis or Louis Armstrong – although with practice it might make you the next Bugle Boy of Company C.
  • Vuvuzela is not the stupidest-sounding name there is for a musical instrument. That honor goes to the Australian aboriginal instrument, the Didgeridoo. But heck of a try, vuvuzela.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base. (Go ahead and click on the preceding link. You’ll be glad you did.)

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011


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