Friday, December 19, 2008
yo-yo #'s 16 and 17: "fake" Mg's
at worlds '05, during his 5a freestyle, my pal jack ringca tossed a dull silver yo-yo out into the crowd. when it was examined after being fought for by the masses, it was discovered to be one of the rare and highly-prized silver mg's... and when it was further examined, it was discovered to ACTUALLY be a well-doctored freehand zero with mg caps. when i heard this story, i thought it was absolutely hilarious. the visual image of people clambering over each other to get to what they believed was a $400 yo-yo, only to discover it to be a facsimilie is at once super-funny AND pretty telling with regard to "the human condition".
at the risk of offending dear friends, yo-yoing is chock-full of teenage boy-types (some are actual boys and others just pretend to be). many (though not all) of these yo-yo boy-types have ingested that most western (and most human) of philosophies; that more is better. more yo-yo's, more expensive, more rare (my favorite). if a magnesium yo-yo sold for $38, no one would assume it to be any sort of "holy grail", no matter how it played. they might trample each other to get to it, on account of it being tossed by jack, but not with the same fervor as they would thinking it was actually "worth" something. things that are "worth something" are so popular on the boards, but they're really only attractive if your spirit is "worth less". i'm guilty too. i have a lot of yo-yo's, some of which i've "wanted". i'm working on that.
anyway, a considerable chunk of the commentary on the boards relates to "yo-yo appraisal". a good-playing (or looking) yo-yo begets hype, which begets cash value, which begets the widespread belief that it's a good-playing yo-yo... which begets more hype. in our present climate, a good player can do almost anything with a stock $20 yo-yo. a great player could win worlds and shift paradigms with less, and yet our fixation on market value remains, as if it represents anything more than an illusion.
the evolution of my own take on this has been interesting. when i first heard about the mg, my response was "am i really going to have $398 more fun with that than with a profly?" i thought the mg was frivolous and decadent. lately, however, when anyone brings up the popular view (almost invariably expressed by the embittered and resentful) that "an mg plays just like a zero", i feel compelled to step in and contradict them. my inclination to defend the mg was probably born right around the time i first played one, whereupon i realized something like, "whoa...this isn't bullshit, at all." in truth, it's not that i care a great deal about its monetary value, but the real mg IS a great player, and, whatever your preferences, it feels DIFFERENT from a zero. but don't be fooled: people who claim to own or desire an mg because it's BETTER than a zero are just as full of crap as the people who say it plays just the same. i'll come back to that point in a bit.
i put these two "fake mg's" (just freehand zeros) together out of happenstance, really. i got both the red (recessed kentaro) and the black (recessed silicone) in a casual trade. i always detested the "new mg" caps, so when i received an mg with them firmly fixed onto it, i drilled through them and pulled them off immediately. (as the aforementioned jack ringca showed me, strategic drilling into the side of a cap makes for a nice whistler.) i stuck em on the black zero, and when i got tired of the whistling eventually, i plugged up the hole. more recently, john higby sent me a pair of "o.g. mg" caps along with his lovely dinosaur art feautred earlier. i had the red fhz sitting around, so i figured why not make a matched set of "frauds".
although the real red mg is much darker than a red fhz, the fact that it's a blatant rip-off makes it, i think, all the more charming. i satined the black one though, and it's actually a passable facsimile in texture. the initiated would immediately notice the difference: (a real mg is delightfully cold every time you pick it up).
i realized later that the best part about them is neither their striking looks nor the "statement" i guess i'm trying to make about yo-yo's and value. what i love about these yo-yo's is that they play incredibly well. not "like" my real mg, but certainly just as "well". these aren't "fake yo-yo's". they're really, really good yo-yo's. i can do all the same stuff with them as i can with my mg, and my tricks and my spirit are "worth" the same no matter what i'm playing.
it occurs to me that when a yo-yo is spinning; when it's in play, no one really cares or even easily identifies its make, model, or value. it's only when we gaze at yo-yo's that are sitting still on a shelf, in a case, or on a web page that we start to salivate about value. when they're in play, the value is in their utility: i can use this to make art, engage others, experience life, win, or whatever.
i think often of the following quote, usually associated with chinese buddhist monks. "tattered, threadbare robes are nothing to be ashamed of; neither are they anything to be proud of."
i think it's important to keep in mind that yo-yoing is only ever yo-yoing, no matter what you're throwing. if all you have in the world is a beat up zero, the value of your yo-yoing is not decreased. and if you're sitting on caseloads of mg's, catch 22's, painted peaks, and bvm's, your yo-yoing is not worth any more. you can't forever hide from yourself behind a lot of toys. i have many yo-yo's (my wife would say "too many"), and some of them are downright fancy. however, the having of them, itself, is less than nothing. i'm blogging about them, but at the same time, i'm not very attached to them. sometimes it's harder than others, because i might connect with the people and experiences that the toys signify to me. but the stuff is just stuff; wood and plastic and a little magnesium. sometimes i catch myself glorying in my collection, but there's no glory to be had there. ever. likewise, no one's any better for subsisting with just one beater of a yo-yo. pride derived from having nothing is no better than pride derived from having a great deal. it's only by walking that middle way, without any attachment, that you can ignore the illusory value of an object and recognize the value of your self.