Friday, June 25, 2010

Our long, tireless — and successful! — search for a vuvuzela in Missoula

Posted By on Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 2:45 PM

The Indy newsroom is infected with World Cup fever and, seeking some way to channel that enthusiasm before tomorrow's big elimination match with Ghana, we went searching for the symbol of this year's tournament. It was harder than we thought.

We're talking, of course, about the vuvuzela — that ever-present, mildly annoying plastic horn that makes every World Cup match sound as if it's being played inside a bee hive. In South Africa, they're everywhere. In Missoula? Not so much.

First, we handed $10 to our new intern, Cameron Rasmusson, and asked him to do some good, old-fashioned, boots on the ground investigating and find a horn. (He does other work, honest.) After three hours he came back empty handed with this report:

Many sports fans might just die happy if they never saw another vuvuzela again. Yesterday, I experienced the opposite problem. My mission was to purchase a vuvuzela in Missoula—a simple enough goal with no clear means of accomplishing it.

Local wisdom suggests that when in doubt, start at Rockin Rudy’s. In this case, I did just that.

I rummaged with vigor at Rockin Rudy's. While the store by no means suffers a shortage of novelty items, they apparently shy away from tools of acoustic torture (insert your own snarky rejoinder against Nickleback or some other widely hated band here). A quick interrogation of the workers confirmed that I was out of luck and redirected me downtown.

Nothing. My constant inquiries about vuvuzelas yielded many blank stares, a few pronunciation corrections and no leads.

I hadn’t wanted to stoop to Craig’s List, but my own intuition had clearly proven impotent. A quick search pulled a single ad boasting, “We have one of the hottest items.” In the words of Hans Landa, that’s a bingo. I called the provided number.

It was disconnected.

Discouraged, I called Party America as a final effort. “Oh yeah, I think we have those,” the employee told me. And sweet, sweet hope, it returned.

I arrived at Party America to the tail end of a grim line. At the front, two middle-aged women were buying supplies in a bulk that suggested family reunion season at the polygamist commune. I waited for maybe a half-hour before my turn arrived. Approaching the till, I identified myself as the vuvuzela-seeker.

“Is this what you’re looking for?” the employee asked.

She presented to me a standard air horn. My vuvuzela ambitions crumbled irreparably.

I returned a disappointed man. But then, disappointment and the World Cup go hand-in-hand. English goalkeeper Robert Greene is disappointed that light and hope have decisively vacated his career. Americans are disappointed that a referee gaffe likely stole away a victory. For that matter, World Cup fans are disappointed that they have to appreciate the Mecca of soccer over such a din.

Maybe Missoula is better off without vuvuzelas after all.

But we weren't done. Someone had seen a mention of vuvuzelas on the Missoula Osprey Facebook page (home opener tonight, by the way), and we logged on to find a mention of the horn from a guy named Don Iarussi. A quick search through Don's facebook "Wall" showed he was selling vuvuzelas on eBay and right here in town. We pinged him on Facebook, and today met him in a gas station parking lot to make the deal.

Don says his vuvuzelas are authentic, and not the knock-offs being sold in New York City. He sold us ours for $7.99 (we let him keep the penny), but he says eBay bids have reached as high as $20. That said, they're a pain to ship and he prefers to sell them locally. So, if you want to annoy your co-workers and get into the spirit of the World Cup, feel free to contact Don at don (at), or call 241-8303. He says he can get as many as you need.

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