Homeschool Vibe Still Brainy Counterculture Good for America

13 08 2009

Yo-yo unschool types are world class again! No, not competing, lending their theatre tech expertise to help run the show. 🙂

Yoyo world 2009_logo

Last August I blogged Favorite Daughter and lots of your wonderful, smart, free-spirit kids too, as Yo-yo’s Brainy Counterculture Vibe Good for Homeschooling and America. Today I’m reposting it because it fits the political — and educational, see Lynn’s current conversation! — climate more than ever.

And this event itself is current again, as are the summer political contests and staged trick demonstrations I still connect with it as power of story. Favorite Daughter came back from Europe, spent a couple of days buying books for fall term, got a haircut and some sleep, then repacked her Tom Bihn Aeronaut wonderbag and took off again, for this year’s World Yo-yo Contest. She’s there working as a roadie right now; her boyfriend is running the live feed if you have kids who might enjoy it . . .

*******

Have you got this vibe going in your family? We do!

Evolved home education and most all forms of “alternative education” just go hand-in-hand with this vibe. (Anti-intellectual church-driven school-at-home excepted, of course.)

I’ll bet your kids exude it too — Colleen’s long-haired Jerry, Not June Cleaver’s skateboarders, Nance’s two quintessential unschoolers, Doc’s quirky country fair quartet, Daryl’s dancers, COD’s fencer and equestrian. Heck, I was a brainy counterculture fencer myself, once upon a time. (The True Vibe can’t be contained, even in regular public school!)

Always unschooled Favorite Daughter and her mostly-schooled boyfriend were part of The World Yo-Yo Contest in Orlando. For five thrilling days, they were organizer Greg Cohen’s trusted roadies and grips and security behind the scenes, technical crew supporting and marveling at these brainy counterculture young boys and what they could do.

The contest from July 31 to Aug. 2 drew 196 competitors from 20 countries, mostly teenage boys, who exuded an unthreatening and brainy counterculture vibe. They looked like skateboarders stuck inside on a rainy day.

Many admitted to not quite fitting in back home, where no one seems to take the yo-yo as seriously as they do. Most dressed in black T-shirts and wore their hair long. They had callused middle fingers and forearms scarred by string marks, and often carried backpacks or hard cases filled with yo-yos, some costing hundreds of dollars.

The younger competitors were chaperoned by proud parents or grandparents, willing to keep their distance . . .

Passing guests invariably watched in wonder.

When she got home that Sunday night, FavD didn’t stop talking for hours. She planned to blog it all, when she could process it into power of story she could corral and tame. So far that hasn’t happened, but maybe it will. If it doesn’t, that won’t mean it’s any less real. Maybe it means it’s MORE real than the same old standard stories. 🙂

Today Barack Obama is in Orlando (although not literally with yo-yos, AFAIK.) Right now he is saying to the veterans’ group that “I believe the American people are better than that”, that our performance now must include “acting tough AND smart” to clean up the “calamity left behind” from the past eight years of George Bush and John McCain.

What I love about Obama is that he has the brainy counterculture yo-yo vibe going on. It’s like he’s speaking a whole new language as he explains the great new moves he’s working up to show us. We’re all invited to join in and be part of something magical.

But just copying old tricks like churches and schools do, is not merely inadequate. It’s a loser move and everybody knows it, which means it’s downright embarrassing! Makes the audience uncomfortable even as they try to be polite and respectful. Yes, John McCain, I’m talking to YOU.

“It’s kind of looked down on to straight-out copy a trick,” said Jon Martin, 20, of Tampa, Fla. “So you just add on, which adds to the counterculture aspect. You create your own style.”

The only limits are in the imagination. The 10 standard tricks from the old contests are as dated as quill pens.

“If you do the same routine as the year before, you’ll probably finish 5 or 10 places lower, just because the level of play is improving so quickly,” said Fash, the chandelier-hooking yo-yoer.

And there comes a time when your time is over. So make the most of your youth and do what you love, and then encourage youth in the young to surpass you. Don’t try to hang onto it for yourself. In this brainy third-millennium counterculture, 67-year-olds not only are too old for competition, but have the grace to retire from judging as well, and just watch in wonder, glad they’ve lived long enough to see it.

At the World Yo-Yo Contest, six judges tracked it all, mostly with their hands hidden under the table, each holding a counter. One thumb added points for great moves. The other thumb subtracted for mistakes.

De Boisblanc, the head judge, oversaw the crew. At 67, he no longer officiates individual events.

“I can’t keep up with all the tricks,” he said.

Yes John McCain, that’s right, he’s young enough to be your kid brother. Your eighth decade is underway and your ossification is nearly complete. Show some grace under fire and retire yourself, before the young, brainy and innovative leaders of the world yo-yo rings around you, making a mockery of America’s former youth culture leadership. . . you remember that, back in the Sixties when I was actually young and you were already over 30?

I do want my kids to grow up tough and smart, and that’s my greatest hope for the whole next generation. Tough enough to face what’s wrong, smart enough to make it right. Passionate enough to do it because that’s who they really are, and we love them for it.

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3 responses

13 08 2009
JJ

Wonder why the logo is Mister Steroid though? 😉

President Obama is hardly musclebound physically, just intellectually. This is more world-class body-building, more governor of California-conservative. Hmmm, maybe it’s meant as graphic metaphor?

13 08 2009
JJ

I mentioned her backpack-bag because it fits this individualized non-standard power of story as free enterprise, too:

“The Aeronaut is handmade at Tom Bihn’s Seattle factory. What difference does that make? I’m guessing a lot. When the owner/designer pays his workers a living wage, can walk through the factory and call his employees by name, can inspect the materials as they come in and the products as they go out – that has to make a huge difference in quality. And quality of construction and material is evident when you handle the Aeronaut.”

6 07 2011
JJ

To all our snook friends, this introduction to unschooling sensibilities must be expanded! The famous visionary of the world yo-yo champs is also famous as of today’s New York Times, as the singular, smart, trail-blazing, genre-bending visionary of our very own world-class local soda fountain and game shop, called Lofty Pursuits.

I am in fact stopping by there with Young Son this afternoon after French, probably for a “Sparker Sundae” but who knows what we might choose?

Here’s how quirky we are!

Fount of Soda Knowledge: When I was researching the history of the American soda fountain for my story this week, all roads led to Gregory Cohen, probably the country’s leading expert on the institution.

Mr. Cohen, 43, grew up in Midwood in Brooklyn, frequenting Chodosh’s corner store and soda fountain (long closed, it was a fount of egg creams and memories that now has its own Facebook page. If you grew up drinking ginger yips, he knows that you are probably from Georgia, and on top of that he will mix you one at his soda fountain, Lofty Pursuits, in Tallahassee, Fla. (It’s a combination of ginger syrup, soda water, and vanilla ice cream.)

His masterwork is a complete taxonomy of soda fountain drinks, compiled from a lifetime of interviews and research in antique manuals like “Ice Cream at the Soda Fountain,” a two-volume set published by the United States Department of Commerce soon after Prohibition went into effect. To learn the precise difference between a milkshake and a malted, an ice cream soda and a French soda, an ade and a fizz, follow the “flow chart.”

Soda Fountain Flow Chart Extraordinaire

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