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Horn Guy talks vuvuzelas


Not Horn Guy. (AP photos.)


The first time I saw a vuvuzela, my thoughts immediately turned to the 400 level of Verizon Center, and a certain celebrity Caps fan who sits therein. No, not Pat Sajak.

"Wait a second," went my thoughts. "Is Horn Guy really...Vuvuzela Guy?"

"No, I'm not," Sam Wolk told me. "I'm a dork with a plastic horn. Say it in American."

Needless to say, I'm not the only person who's asked him about the V word this month. As the World Cup has morphed into a month-long vuvuzelabration of plastic horns, they've shown up everywhere in pop culture. Vuvuzeligs, if you will.

Much of the publicity, needless to say, has not been positive for the plastic horn industry. It's a tough development for someone like Wolk, who has spent more than a decade harnessing his own plastic horn for periodic good, rather than persistent aural harm.

"There's a lot of haters," he acknowledged. "I'm actually a little concerned that there's gonna be this vuvuzela mania at Verizon Center. Some people are afraid that they'll start banning them. I don't know, if I can't bring 'em in any more it would suck, but it's not like it would be unexpected with the attention that this little plastic horn is getting."

If you don't know Wolk's story by now, I'll provide the highlights. He bought his original horn when he was just a 14-year old kid attending the elder George Bush's inauguration. That one was smashed by Penguins fans, and a fellow celebrity fan provided its replacement. To ensure he had proper backups, Wolk later went to a D.C. United game and bought a handful from a street vendor. Since then, appreciative fans have brought him more.

And as the team's popularity has skyrocketed, so has Wolk's. He's been featured repeatedly on the video board, been interviewed by bloggers, local TV stations and glossy magazines, and is constantly stopped by admirers on the concourse. There have been frequent imitators inside the arena whose tone is often lower; Wolk and his friends refer to this as "brown noise," for reasons that would not be appropriate in a family blog item.

The World Cup drone, to Wolk, sounds like brown noise writ large.

"Like a swarm of locusts," he said. "It sounded like a stadium full of people doing the brown noise, like a constant humming. I can imagine it must be annoying for the people on the field."

He's read how the standard vuvuzela note is a B flat, and he's almost sure his horn produces something higher, although he's able to make about five different tones based on his airflow and embouchure.

Both his original horn and its replacement were technically called "Poly-Trumpets" and came from Evansville; the knock-offs tend to have misshapen mouthpieces and thinner plastic, resulting in a less-robust timbre. But are they vuvuzelas? Wolk says it doesn't matter.

"People can call it whatever they want," he said. "When I started seeing all the press come out, vuvuzela this and vuvuzela that, I was like, 'Wow, I guess what I have is not really a horn, it's a vuvuzela.' A rose by any other name, yada yada."


By Dan Steinberg  |  July 2, 2010; 9:11 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

I understand his popularity, and I can respect that. The guy has many fans and he gets the crowd excited. That's what his intentions are, and that's admirable. These same fans are also people that like the Capstronaut and the guy with the glowing orbs and cape.

As for me, I find the horn extremely annoying (much like the World Cup horns) both on TV and in person. I have the sound muted when I'm watching home games at home. The only time I hear Joe B. and Locker is when they're on the road. If I ever do go to a game at Verizon Center, I try to sit on the same side the horn guy is sitting, but at the opposite end. That way the sound is not pointed at me. I find it is not as annoying over there.

That's just my opinion. Bash me if you want. I'm not asking him to stop doing what he's doing. He's obviously popular, and I would never go against a majority rule. I'm just stating how I feel about the horn guy.

Posted by: RojoJohnson | July 2, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm OK with horn guy doing his thing as long as he picks his spots carefully. Too much can be irritating. My major issue at Caps games is the constant, unending, eardrum-shattering, headache-inducing NOISE from the VC speaker system (including the PA guy's shrieking voice). There's never a break from the din unless you go out to the concourse. I only go to a half dozen or so games a year, but by the end I'm literally sick from the noise.

Posted by: capsfan77 | July 2, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Some REAL musicians from Berlin have decided to try their hand at the vuvuzela. This is actually pretty darn cool.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wf2P8SnOwLo&feature=player_embedded


For as tepid a hockey fan as I am, I will say this: I used to go to the Phone Booth when the Caps were pretty underwhelming, and Horn Guy was there, tooting away. Respect.

Posted by: ouij | July 2, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Dan, coming from a guy who has perfect pitch, hornguy's horn is an A flat. once I listen to a world cup game not on mute I'll confirm what the pitch of the vuvuzelas and what the difference is.

Posted by: shwrtzify | July 4, 2010 3:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm very good friends with Sam and just want to say that most of his friends DONT like the Capstonaut and Trevor the Wizard.

Posted by: colezig37 | July 4, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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