Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Sound of a Botched Lobotomy

So where's the vuvuzela concession?

I've wandered around Pebble Beach all week and haven't found find a single vuvuzela for sale.

This is a big sporting event, right? The U.S. Open is supposed to be the crown jewel of international golf, the ultimate test of sporting skill for determined athletes with steely dispositions and firm putters.

The Open oozes with significance.

All the greats and the potential greats of the game are here.

ESPN is here.

NBC is going all prime time on us on the East Coast.

Corporate tents line the fairways, creating what looks like Spangladesh on the ritziest real estate on earth.

Story lines abound.

So who do you have to know to find a vuvuzela around here?

On the other side of the world, another crown jewel of a sporting event is being played that also features determined athletes with steely dispositions. The difference is that the players in South Africa can't use their hands to grasp their putters (except during a free kick near the goal), and they can run around for hours before the whistle is blown and everyone seems satisfied that the match ended in a tie.

It's called the World Cup. The sport is soccer.

Or football. Or futbol.

Or whatever.

The best thing about the World Cup so far is that a guy named Tshabalala scored the first goal of this year's tournament, and I was happy to see that Tshabalala is making a comeback after Woodstock.

The next best thing about the World Cup is the open use of vuvuzelas.

Vuvuzelas are plastic horns which, when blown by 55,000 drunken soccer fans, sound like the swarm of 20 billion man-eating Marabunta ants that starred in the most excellent 1954 documentary called "The Naked Jungle," featuring Charlton Heston and a cast of sun-bleached skeletons.

In chorus, vuvuzelas sound like the aftermath of a botched lobotomy.

The best thing about vuvuzelas is that they drown out the World Cup television commentators, except for that guy on Spanish-language television who sounds like he swallowed an air raid siren every time some Tschabalala scores a goal.

If the fans at a big sporting event in South Africa can blow the vuvuzela, how come I can't find one at the Pebble Beach Golf Links?

I did manage to find U.S. Open hoodies, at a cost of $65, that I'll be able to find at Ross several weeks from now for $12.99.

I found an $8 sleeve of golf balls on sale for $14 because they've got the U.S. Open logo on them.

I found a Nike logo polo shirt selling for $90 because it also has the U.S. Open logo on it. And I found a Polo logo polo shirt with the U.S. Open logo that sells for $105.

I splurged and bought a $17 dork hat for $34 just because it has the U.S. Open logo on it.

According to news reports, the vuvuzelas in South Africa sell for only $7 each. And that's without the U.S. Open logo.

The USGA is missing a bet — and an agreeable markup — by failing to make vuvuzelas available at Pebble Beach.

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