Monday, May 4, 2009
yo-yo #42: diss kings bare bones
at the end of 2005, i had the fever, bad. not like the cholera or anything, but i guess what i suffered from can be just as damaging in the long run. i had the gimmies, like the berenstain bears. i had the gimmies for yo-yo's. specifically, i desired with every fiber of my being, a new... FANCY yo-yo. i had a ton of non-fancy yo-yo's; old proyo and yomega stuff carried over from the boom, my renegade, a TON of fh2's and 201's from what i will term "the great target purge" of 2005 (when in the late summer, those yo-yo's could be had for $1.33), plus plenty of other stuff.
somewhere in 2005 though, yo-yoing had become impregnated with a kind of couture. a "New Fanciness" had swept over the boards. as has been mentioned previously, metal yo-yo's were not even remotely "new", but suddenly, they were the objects of much greater fervor and longing. yo-yo's like the anti-yo fluchs were just flipping gorgeous, whatever their inherent flaws. and when, in the 2nd half of the year, hspin introduced their upcoming "pyro", one could actually hear a thousand sad geeks salivating by merely listening to the wind.
i wanted it; i wanted them all. i am not proud of it. metal yo-yo's are pretty nifty, and obviously shiny, and even today folks are convinced that they UNIVERSALLY MUST MAKE YOU A BETTER PLAYER, which is pure horseshit. what makes anyone a "better player" is playing more yo-yo. if having an expensive metal one cons you into that, then ok, but having a lot of expensive crap in and of itself just makes you someone with a lot of expensive crap.
the pyro was probably the yo-yo that most catalyzed my desire for metal, but it didn't end up the one i most adored. for xmas that year, unasked for (probably because i was too embarrassed to ask my parents/santa for a metal yo-yo - i WAS an adult after all), i scored 3 incredible yo-yo's: an hspin pyro, an hspin G&E2, and a dif-e-yo bare bones. to this day, i suspect that my wife stacy generated a list from my viewed internet history and gave it to my parents, but maybe they were just resourceful. in any case, by 12/26/05, my cup runnethed over with rad yo-yo metal.
i'm amused to admit that, though i was infinitely more impressed by the hspins at the outset, i ended up trading them both over the following years. although i see the pyro as a transformative piece in yo-yo history, by exposure to which hordes of otherwise intelligent yo-yo kids became metal-obsessed zombies, i didn't actually love to play it. and the G&E2 was just a little heavy and unwieldy for me. a few months after receiving it, the unassuming, raw bare bones was the object of my most frequent attentions.
its rawness was a source if irritation to me. as someone who was brought up with plastic yo-yo's, i've always wanted them to look like toys. raw metal ones always just look too alien and austere for my tastes. i like shiny stuff, but the bare bones just looked nude, and the more i played it, the more folks would come up to me and ask about my "magic space yo-yo". (though they've been around since the turn of the LAST century, people are always shocked by a metal yo-yo, and they're very willing to assume that IT is the reason "all those crazy tricks" are possible.)
around this time, the diss kings were on everyone's lips... probably literally in the case of jack ringca, who at nc states 07 received at least one marriage proposal (via a post-it stuck to his windshield) by a hot photographer with whom he had spoken for 5 minutes. jack and his pal, josh root were two well-known yo-yoers who had elevated the internet-diss to an art form. they weren't just dicks, mind you (although they both have a proven capacity for dickishness); they really did give a crap about "yo-yo quality". jack (modsrule) and josh (photogeek) sought out posts they found to be worthless, baseless, or of-weak-grammatic-structure and pointed out (in no uncertain terms) why the poster should either get some sense or walk off an overland bridge. mostly, their posts were in good fun, but they also seemed to concern themselves with "policing" the ignorance that abounds on all messageboards.
a lot of people get really excited and angry about bad vibes on the internet; as though the yo-yo community should be all nice guys and hugs and candy-for-everybody. i say b.s... as a surfer, i know that if there's a total kook in the water, it can be downright dangerous for everyone else in the lineup. if someone, out of selfishness or ignorance, drops in on another, they need to be policed; maybe with a good stinkeye, maybe with a forceful calling out, maybe even with a confrontation on the beach. even if no one's getting "hurt", if you care about an art form retaining its high quality, you can't be "o.k." with misinformation, scamming, trolling or even simple ignorance. you have to remember that it's still yo-yoing, and you can't beat anyone up over the internet... but you do have to take care of it. and if someone's on their soapbox, screaming something that's harmful to the art form, it's not altogether wrong to tell them where to stick it. you just have to make sure you're right before you do (which is where most idiots seem to mess up).
the painter n.c. wyeth was once asked whether he was afraid that the intensely rote, classical methods he used to instruct his son in painting would end up "killing his artistic spirit". i still love his reply, "if it kills it, it wasn't worth much to begin with." in the dojo, if someone comes in looking to shove people around and feel tough, they inevitably get their asses kicked. a lot. sometimes they realize "hey, i was being a jerk, and these guys are legit. i can learn from them." and sometimes they just leave in a huff. regardless, you can't always allow (and enable) people to be ignorant dicks. no one knows the whole truth, but the people with experience need to step up sometimes and call out the pretenders. the issues with that are twofold: a.) it's a big pain in the ass, and b.) pretty much everyone believes they're experienced and knowledgeable. it's a fine line that separates standing up for truth and justice and just being an douche, and many would say that the diss kings have trodden on both sides of it. but i have to wonder that if someone with real cred and experience were out there handling the dumbasses with a bit more force, would the forums look the way they do today?
along with dissing, josh was (and i have to assume still is) really good at powder coating yo-yo's. unlike anodizing, which is a process by which the aluminum itself is "electro-chemically dyed" and hardened, powder coating envelops the metal in a softer, tackier, paintlike shell and when "baked", becomes very durable. the issue with powder coating a precision yo-yo is that the dimensions are all slightly changed, and the medium is inherently variable. a crap job will result in a poorly-playing yo-yo, period. josh had a reputation for coating yo-yo's that ended up looking fabulous without sacrificing play. at some point in late 05, he posted a picture of a translucent purple-coated phi 1.618. i was absoutely smitten with the image, and shortly after scoring the bare bones, i decided to send it away in the hopes that it would come back looking half as good.
$40 seemed a ridiculously low price for the work involved, and i had no issues with forking it over. it took a matter of a few weeks for him to get to it (he had developed quite a queue), but when it returned to my mailbox, i was duly amazed. some time later, i bought a red powder coated bare bones that had been produced by a popular storefront. while gorgeous to look upon, the thing wobbled like a drunkard and died after the briefest spin. whoever had done the coating knew how to make metal look beautiful, but they hadn't known yo-yo's. they had coated right over the bearing seat, which produced enormous vibration and positively decimated spin. josh's work took the bearing seat and response into account, and my purple bare bones played as beautifully as it looked. the color was so deep and rich, it's pretty much recalibrated my "concept of purple". in the sun, you can still make out the dif satin-finish, eternally frozen beneath the coating. a lot of people say "powder coating kills grinds", but who cares? do i need to grind with every yo-yo? (and for the record, you can put any grind-happy finish on top of a powder coat - i just see no need). i've had him do other work as well; the cold fusion gt i described awhile back and an "ecto-green" phi i've since lost track of.
josh has since gotten married, become a dad, and for all intents and purposes, left the community to its own devices. i still see him on the boards sometimes, and i hope he's ok. jack's obviously the leader of the duncan crew now, and a good friend. neither of those guys ever really railed on me, and i kind of wonder if i missed out a bit there. the diss kings are a sort of ageless entity, but they're not really so much of a "thing" anymore. however, this remains among those few yo-yo's i would never sell or trade away for any reason.