by John Bishop
color, 12 min, 1978
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"Reach for the Moon," "Loop the Loop," and many more tricks in the familiar repertoir of yoyo virtosos were created by a group of professional demonstrators, mostly Filipino, hired by the Duncan Yoyo Company during the Depression. Nemo Concepcion was among the first such demonstrators, and the originator of many tricks. Filmmaker John Bishop describes his first encounter with a yoyo man:
"I fell under the yoyo's spell on the first really hot day of Spring in the endless year of fifth grade. A yoyo demonstrator appeared unheralded at the corner of the playground. 'Spinner,' he announced as the yoyo flew from his hand to sleep at his feet. 'Around the world,' it whizzed through a 360 degree arc. 'Walk the Dog,' and the yoyo bounced along the sidewalk as he minced behind it like a man walking a miniature poodle. This shopworn man of foreign mien brought magic to that hot and tired playground."
For Bishop the yoyo man "became a personal totem of an America just out of reach," of the experience of the Great Depression and World War Two. Twenty years later Bishop met Nemo Concepcion demonstrating the yoyo at the Smithsonian Institute Festival of American Folklife. This film was made when Nemo was 77, about his art, his tricks, his teaching, his reflections on his and the yoyo's Filipino origins, and his yoyo philosophy.
Also available on the John Bishop Short Films DVD
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