That’s all once upon a time. I still have lots of yo-yo’s. There’s even one sitting on my desk. But I don’t throw a yo-yo on a daily (or hourly) basis like I used to.
But my friend Adam does. He’s the one who taught me how to yo-yo and dragged me on stage as the other half of The King’s Yomen. A couple years ago I saw his face in Walgreens, plastered on a yo-yo and still spinning strong. He’s still at it today, cranking out how to yo-yo videos at YoTricks.com.
That’s right, you’ve just had a glimpse into the intricate world of yo-yo geekery.
I knew it existed it, I was neck deep in it once upon a time. We had $90 aluminum ball bearing yo-yo’s in my day (Look: Here’s my 15-year-old self playing with one), but they weren’t that good. And we didn’t produce them ourselves.
Now before you dismiss this as being too geeky and not worth your attention: Adam’s Kickstarter campaign has raised $4,700 and counting in less than three days. The geeks shall inherit the earth.
Adam has another 30 days to raise funds, so it’ll be fun to see where this goes. You can get his fancy new yo-yo for $75, but if that’s not quite your speed you can get a beginner yo-yo for $15 (and learn how to use it at YoTricks.com).
Check out their video and see some amazing tricks:
I love Kickstarter. Now I just have to decide how badly I need a $90 yo-yo.
More than just a resurgence of the yo-yo (can I claim to be ahead of the trend?), this is my old yo-yo buddy making it big (if you consider “big” to be featured on yo-yo packaging and in a video loop in an aisle of Walgreens stores across the country). Adam is the guy who taught me how to yo-yo when we were both Petra-loving, Christian T-shirt-wearing geeks. We had a yo-yo ministry in high school (that was even featured in the Detroit Free Press, complete with crazy cool photo). He taught me how to do street performing in Chicago, which made a crazy summer adventure even crazier. He was in my wedding and I was in his.
So you can understand why I think it’s pretty cool to see my friend on the packaging of a yo-yo. I think it’s so cool I bought four of ’em.
You can see more of Adam in action at YoTricks.com. And check out the yo-yos. $3.99 is dirt cheap for ball bearing yo-yos (back in the day we paid at least $20) and they work pretty good.
Fun fact: Adam and I had the chance to be yo-yo pros back in 1998. As I recall, the Yomega corporation offered us something like $20,000 to be their touring yo-yo pros. Being a freshman in college, that was the equivalent of a year’s tuition and not tempting enough to get us to drop out and become professional yo-yoers (besides, I don’t think I was ever that good). It’s cool to see Adam still chasing the dream.
For those who don’t know, I have a long history with yo-yo’s, going back to a high school yo-yo ministry. I also spent a summer as a yo-yoing street performer, which paid the bills (sort of) while I worked the unpaid internship that really started my career (a story explained on the little cards I included with the yo-yo’s). We even gave away yo-yo’s at our wedding. Needless to say, I’ve wanted to get Monkey Outta Nowhere yo-yo’s since I started the company. It’s a testament to my frugality that I waited this long.
Here’s how it works: Virgin Mobile set up Blank2Clothe.com where anyone can submit a video*. They approve the video and donate one article of clothing to one of the millions of homeless youth in America. That’s it.
But it gets better. Each time a video is watched five times, they’ll donate another article of clothing. So far 11 articles of clothing have been donated from my video and the site claims more than 100,000 donations so far.
This week Abby showed Lexi some old school Sesame Street clips on YouTube. Lexi loved them—especially the YipYipYipYipYip monsters. So I decided we’d try watching some Sesame Street when it was on PBS. I’m usually not big on watching TV with Lexi, but an hour of very educational TV has been better than I thought it’d be.
Though Sesame Street has changed a lot from when I was a kid (duh). Yesterday’s show was brought to you by the letter M and the number 20. And McDonalds, Beaches Resort, EverydayKidz.com (AstraZeneca), New Balance and Earth’s Best. Each sponsor (except for M and 20) had a 15 or 20 second commercial plug at the beginning and end of the show. I remember underwriters getting a logo and a mention, and that was it.
And while it has changed (and Elmo’s World is enough to drive anyone crazy), Sesame Street does still have classic moments:
Elmo: “What’s it like being a yo-yo?” Yo-yo: “Well, it has its ups and downs.” Yuck, yuck, yuck. Then as the yo-yo left: “I’ve got to go walk the dog.”
Then there was the sketch about Jack be nimble who couldn’t jump over the candlestick because he didn’t eat breakfast. So he calls out: “Mom be nimble, mom be quick, please give me breakfast on the quick!” I love breakfast time.
The Count watching his favorite TV show: 24. Each show is only 24 seconds long and consists of counting to 24. And yes, it did feature a puppet Jack Bauer.
It also kind of weirds me out that Muppet characters sound like Sesame Street characters. Kermit sounds just like Ernie, Miss Piggy sounds like Grover and Fozzie sounds like Bert. And yes, Jim Henson (and now Steve Whitmire) voices both Kermit and Ernie, and Frank Oz voices Miss Piggy, Grover, Fozzie and Bert. It’s strange that the kids never catch on—though you never see those characters together.
Once upon a time I thought I was a Yo-yo Man. I was half the yo-yo duo The King’s Yomen, I lived a summer off the string in Chicago, and at one time I was offered $25,000/year to yo-yo full time.
Apparently all that was mistaken, because I suck.
Watch this video of crazy Japanese yo-yo guys (link via kottke.org). You’ll probably need a broadband connection because the video is close to 10 minutes long. We’re talking two-handed psycho yo-yo action, and that’s just a warm-up. The video was taken from the 2003 Japan National Yo-yo Contest, and most of it appears to just be practicing and goofing off. Amazing.
Feel free to leave every dorky comment about too much free time I ever heard in the comments section.
When I was a freshman in high school, the yo-yo became my salvation. It wasn’t until the second semester that I finally brought the toy to school, but the day I did I became a new person.
I spent the first semester quiet, reserved, scared. I ate lunch with two guys I wasn’t very good friends with. They listened to Metallica, stayed up watching late night HBO and were about as popular as I was, which was the only reason I sat with them. They would take my hat during lunch—in itself a traumatizing moment—and mock me with it. Once they spit a jolly rancher in my hat, leaving a purple stain across the white mesh.
With one final flick of the wrist, with one last song, with one last walk, and with one last train ride my days as a street performer ended. For this summer anyway. The next coming weeks will bring chaos, as I move out of one dwelling and never really settle into another one until school starts. I’ll also be crisscrossing the nation, from Chicago to Detroit to Green Bay to Kansas—and back again, before finally settling in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Another day on the streets of Chicago, proof that life isn’t always easy. Today was a pretty rough day. My body ached, my bruised palm hurt, and my fingers bled. And you thought a yo-yo was a toy. Yesterday I was hustled by some kids, today I was robbed. Well, not really. They tried to. Four eight year old kids decided it would be fun to spend their Saturday running up and down Michigan Avenue harassing people. First they tried to use my spare yo-yo’s, against my will of course. Then they took off with the yo-yo’s. I trusted they’d come back, and they did. Next they tried to take off with my money. They grudgingly came back. For the next hour and a half they kept coming back and bugging me. Sometimes you just want to strangle kids.