Wednesday, March 4, 2009

yo-yo #'s 31 & 32: extreme spin fhz's

once upon a time, i saw the yo-yo world as existing primarily within 3 big store-owned forums.

the biggest and most popular was certainly, which had been active since 1997 and, despite a single-page format seemed to feature the liveliest debates from the brightest of yo-yoing's luminaries. next in size and scope came the skilltoys forum. run by david hall, and now a historical fact, this multifaceted jewel sported perks like a cool photo gallery, shoutbox, and multiple forums, but always seemed plagued by a plethora of aggro yo-yoers (which is about as natural as an oral bowel movement) who seemed to go out of their way to lower the average IQ of the board by 30 (it wasn't all that bad, and i kinda miss it).

the third was extreme spin.

now before you interject and remind me about theyo or yoyonation, this is about how I saw the yo-yo world... i went to theyo like twice when i was just sorting out the forums, and i just wasn't impressed. it didn't seem like anyone was saying anything interesting, so i ceased to check it. it did not exist in my world-view, and to this day i view the folks who came up exclusively within theyo as a kind of interdimensional anomoly... like bizzaro-superman or something. and yoyonation didn't even exist. it's always funny when the yyn guys get all misty, saying "i remember the good ol' days before all the acid-tounged noobs came with there negativity"... that was like a year ago! the yyn board has really only been fully (or at least mostly) toxic now for a matter of months! the turnover on that board is incredible.

anyway, extreme spin was an actual store when i joined the board (in may 05?), run by rich rains in the chicago area. the forum was positively miniscule in comparison with the others, but with its small size came a pleasant side-effect. it was like a family. a lot of the guys knew each other through the extreme spin team (on of the few teams you could "apply for") or from the store's illinois environs. as a random nc yo-yo player, i kind of felt as though i had wandered into a biker bar where i didn't belong... except since the bikers were all actually yo-yo nerds, big deal.

people were friendly. the posts seemed meaningful. tommy gun, the admin (rich virtually never posted), ran a tight ship with cool mods, but the general population didn't seem to need a lot of censorship. it was just a pleasant place to discuss yo-yoing, and i was always amazed by the degree to which it was overlooked. it had its share of idiots for sure, but most of said idiots ended up leaving because they were policed by the board's more sensible population, as opposed to being banned.

around this time, rich commissioned two subsequent "extreme spin edition" duncan freehand zeros. the zero was (and arguably still is) one of the coolest, most popular yo-yo's on the planet. the es zeros were nifty because they sported a "bionic" silver body. i'm not an expert (and correct me if i'm wrong), but i'm pretty sure these were the only bionic zeros (es i know there were bionic fh1's).

anyway, i hated them. so although i kept the cool black-on-silver caps, i traded the stock silver body for a recessed black one at va states 06, and i was happy... till i tried to put said caps on a red zero and i blasted the axle straight through one. it was too bad, too, because although one of the caps said "extreme spin", the other one just had a silver "duncan" logo, which was unique... and that of course was the one i busted. i may have actually broken the other one in rage.

anyway, a few years passed, and yyn came on the scene in a HUGE way. everyone who was anyone was taking their conversations there, and pat really made it feel like something special was happening; like a revolution without the inconvenience of an actual revolution. rich and the es store took a giant hit (as did skilltoys and i assume, yoyoguy). rich ended up closing the store indefinitely, without any explanation to the board (or from what i understand, the team). i assumed that es was dead and buried right there, but tommy decided to keep the board open on his own. it had become tight-knit; a dedicated core of friends surrounded by a small envelope of the standard evolving come-and-go crowd that typifies any yo-yo board.

the es board is cool, in part because it sports a few features most yo-yo boards don't possess. for one, there's a highly evolved "rep" system that allows you to congratulate members on insightful or constructive posts and chastise them for dumbassery. you're not supposed to sign your rep (it's supposed to be anonymous), but a lot of people do.

additionally, es features "categories" that members can be filed into. when steve brown posts there (hasn't in like a ear i'm sure), he does so as an "industry pro" with a cute little orange banner under his name. guys like seth peterson or nate weddle get a little "company rep" banner. it's neat because it offers one more way for new folks to get a sense for who they're talking to. the first time i ever saw the green "trusted" banner, it was takeshi. everyone loves takeshi, and why shouldn't they? there are plenty of national yo-yo masters now, but takeshi's the one dude i think could get elected "national yo-yo saint". the first time i saw him post on es, it was to give away a recessed mosquito to the 1st person to correctly guess his hair length in inches (36'). sometime in 07, the mods decided to give a ton of the old posters the "trusted" banner. it was meaningless really, but it was kinda cool, too. and i liked the color green.

at some point, i was approached about being a "supermod". although i didn't really have a sense for what this entailed, i kind of rejected it out of hand. one of my aikido sensei's used to tell me that his highest ambition in aikido was to reach blue belt (a low-middle rank you get after a few years). when i asked him why, he said "you know enough to have fun, but not so much that anyone really expects anything out of you. you can still surprise people with your skill). he's a good instructor, so i'm glad that didn't work out for him (he's a 4th degree black belt now). i sort of felt like that about being a mod. i liked being trusted, because it seemed to give people the sense that i wasn't a total waste, but i had no pesky responsibility. so i refused.

and they made me one anyway, which was strange.

i know a lot of people probably felt like i shouldn't have been made a mod; that there were better choices, and i don't really disagree. on the other side of it though, i kind of dig it, and not for the expected "power-tripping" reasons. since i've had some responsibility for the es community thrust upon me (albeit unwanted), i actually feel more invested in it than ever. i don't want it to go away. over the past few weeks, i actually sought out and acquired a pair of es zeros (well one es zero and one set of caps). due to nostalgia, i don't find the bionic all that atrocious anymore. and it plays pretty well stock, which is how i think i'll keep it. from my pal mike, i also scored one of the worlds 07 transitional zeros (dual sticker-recessed). i was super-amped because it's one of the "sword of destiny" ones that sports a fiery "blade" at one of the injection sites in the plastic. i snapped my spare es caps in there and have been rocking it daily.

i think i've probably only used my newfound supermod powers a handful of times at this point, but it's pretty irrelevant (and indicative of how well-balanced the group is anyway). it's made me appreciate how kind, bizarre, and fascinating the core group at that forum has always been. because it's so small and friendly, it's easy to forget that pretty much none of these people have anything much in common... but for the little "retro-winding double-knob toy" that we all seem to love...

and that's quite enough.

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