50!!!! WOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (ok, who cares.)
this yo-yo will make me a bit of a hypocrite. i'm always going on about how "yo-yo's are meant to be played!" or "what indeed, dear friends, is the ultimate value of a yo-yo kept in its box?" or something similarly flowery, idealistic, and patronizing.
i um... i'm keeping this yo-yo in the box.
i took it out to take a picture. i've even thrown it once, last summer. i actually had forgotten it existed before it returned to me in the mail yesterday.
in the spring of 08, the yo-yo world was atwitter (though this was before "twitter" was so big) about "the green triangle project". this was to be an epic feature film collaboration between west coast yo-yo legends spencer berry and paul escolar. so huge were the expectations surrounding it that the "atlas" of yo-yo forums, yoyonation, set up its own special board for the project. within said board, a secret mini-forum emerged, invisible but to a pretty random group of invitees. private forums are such interesting entities, in general. they're obviously exclusive, and this breeds a certain degree of egomania among some of the participants, and it rubs some of the excluded the wrong way that people are "talking yo-yo" in secret. but they're not inherently "bad" at all, and in my experience they represent the most casual and sincere internet forums, and very rarely pertain to yo-yo's at all (which is part of their appeal). anyway, before said venue fizzled due to its redundancy, a really cool plan was hatched there.
i had talked to brad countryman, and to my own shock, was able to acquire the LAST stock of clean machine no-jives on the planet (or so i was told). i received some 23 of them for what basically amounted to a pittance, given their rarity. meanwhile, drew "fro" tetz and brandon "bohacklés" jackson began working on cool laserable "gtp" side-art for the yo-yo's, which interested peeps could buy for $12. although they came up with KILLER logos, i could find no way to have them engraved on the cheap, so they sat for awhile (to the chagrin of those that bought em).
then, last august, i drove up to nyc for the "iyyo" with some pals (mike "sausalito" salcito, samm "i'm driving with you AGAIN?" scott, brandon "bojackpsychoschematixgrayscale" jackson, and adam "i expose my belly to i-95 traffic just like kierkegaard did" brewster. while up there, i visited the millenium hotel room of stu brown and his "werrd" team (very posh, though with a grim view of ground zero). whilst there, stu showed off his newest and most fantastic laser-engraved and pad-printed yo-yo's. they looked ridiculously good and i told him so. later in the week, we discussed lasering further, and stu offered to do the clean machines up for free!
after i got home, i shipped the box off to australia. a few people weren't interested in the graphics and just wanted the yo-yo's, so they got theirs right away. due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, however, stu wasn't able to do the yo-yo's... and again they sat... for nearly a year (to the continued chagrin of those that bought em).
stu sent them back to me this week. they're still unengraved (clean, as it were), but since the green triangle project has been dormant and the aforementioned private board silent for going on a year, it hardly seems to matter. i'm actually pretty happy with the way it worked out, since clean machines are beautiful, special, and rare in themselves. so at worlds this year, i'll be able to distribute the last 16 of the LAST clean machines on the planet to their rightful owners. awesome.
THIS particular yo-yo is one of three in the group with a WEIRD aberration. i've seen a lot of no jives. i HAVE a lot of no jives (3oish?). but i've never seen another one like these. traditionally, tom kuhn's wooden yo-yo's are cut with the wood's grain passing through the diameter of the yo-yo. on these 3 (and the one depicted here, which i claimed for my own as soon as i saw it last may, cause i'm a jerk), the grain goes around the circumference, so instead of lines going through the diameter, you have a really clean, eliptical pattern around the hex-nut area. (see the pic, with a comparison to my other "normal" clean machine on top.) this would seem like no big deal to the casual observer, but aside from its uniqueness, it's really cool for 2 reasons: a.) it's considerably harder [or so i'm told] to cleanly cut wood that way. and b.) since the grain goes around the outside evenly, the density of the wood is more evenly distributed around the yo-yo. the grain is ALWAYS "lined up", which makes a huge component of "tuning" these no jives totally irrelevant and unnecessary. as such, mine is ultra-smooth, which, it must be said... most clean machines are. it occurs to me that i do have an eric wolff yo-yo that's cut in this way, but i've never seen it in a "production" wood yo-yo.
as i said before, i'm keeping it in its original clear box for now. i'm not entirely positive as to why. i mean, clearly no jive yo-yo's are super-special to me, and i already have more than i can throw regularly. and i do think that having one with a characteristic i've never really seen is pretty nifty. however, i think i'm also doing so with the knowledge that i won't be able to keep it safe from the world forever. one day, this yo-yo will be tarnished, broken, dismantled, and sitting unloved in a trash heap someplace... just like essentially every yo-yo (and on some level, every person). i DO feel that the primary value in a yo-yo is what can be DONE with it, and for this yo-yo to sit aside is, to me, a violation of one aspect of its nature. it's a bit like withholding a part of my SELF from the world, which on the one hand feels dishonest, but is also unavoidable, even to the most sincere. maybe one day, i'll break it out, and it will reveal a state of play that's only ever been obscure to me. maybe i'll pass it on to my daughter or son, or to one of their kids (knock on wood - PUN!). regardless, i'm not quite ready to play it. and for all my hypocirsy, it makes me feel good that this tiny anomaly, this strange little particle of the world sits like a gift, ready and waiting to be opened.