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Monday, November 23, 2009

The Amazing Spinning Sign Samurai Wows Fourth Street

No, we have not sped up or in any way enhanced this footage.

In the world of mind-numbingly boring jobs, swinging a sign to advertise mattress sales or open houses along Bay Area roadways ranks pretty high. The sign dudes usually look completely dejected, drugged, or like they're desperately trying to pretend they're somewhere else. Who wouldn't?

So as I walked down Fourth Street by Moscone Center this morning, you can imagine my excitement to see this dude, who had taken his sign job to a higher realm -- a freakin' signage samurai. Talk about flair! We weren't alone in our amazement. Motorists waiting at the stoplight took him in with their mouths hanging open; commuters passing with iPod buds in their ears smiled at the completely unexpected skills of this maven. Spinning the sign like a basketball on his finger, slashing it around him back like a mad baton twirler, stopping it in mid-air to head-bang for a bit.

Taking his headphones off to talk with us for a second, the sign samurai handed us a card out of his wallet: "Matthew Kermode -- AArrow Sign Spinner, Spinstructor." (Yes, "AArrow.") He said he's been doing this for 10 years now, translating his martial arts work to a more marketable skill. Kermode mostly works in the East Bay for the Martinez-based AArrow, spinning signs for housing developers. As far as who today's client Jigsaw is, "I'm not 100-percent sure."

Kermode tried to be modest, saying he's not the most talented spinner in the company. "We have a team of 15 guys right now and they all have talent. Different degrees of skill, but they all have talent." He couldn't have gotten the title "Spinstructor" for nothing.

What music inspires the spin samurai's frenzy? "Mostly rock. Right now, Tenacious D. A lot of the guys listen to techno, but I'm a rocker."