I Fired Devo's Nephew

He was supposed to get me some original Mark Mothersbaugh artwork, but he dropped the ball at work before I could grab 'em.

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Aug 29 2012, 6:30pm

Devo is one of my all time favorite bands, so this week, on the 34th anniversary of their debut LP, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo LP, it's only natural for me to find a reason to blab about them.

I've been a "Devotee" since I was fairly young, but my most serious Devo phase wasn't until a bit after the fact, in and around 2002-2005. At that time I really started to catch up on the better end of their vinyl catalog and got a more comprehensive grasp on songs I'd previously overlooked. About a year or so after that phase began to die out, I was hired as a branding and design specialist for a sports outfitting company in rural New Jersey. After a little time with that company, I was able to brush up my design skills to the point where I was promoted to Art Director. As Art Director, the need to grow my staff eventually presented itself, and I held several interviews which resulted in me meeting a kid named "Randy." Randy was in his early twenties, with shaggy hair and an overall laid back look. His interview went really well and I ended up hiring him as my assistant.

A couple months into Randy's employment I noticed that his productivity began to dip and his hair was starting to grow to new lengths. I continued to provide him with a daily workload but would eventually have to keep a closer eye on him. One day, from over his cubicle, I heard his muffled voice say "Hey Jeff. You're pretty into music, huh?" I stood up and came out of my office and into his work area and responded "yeah why, what's up?" "Oh I don't know, you ever hear of the band Deebo?" he asked as he twisted around toward me in his chair. "Dee-bo?" I responded, confused. "Yeah, they used to wear those weird hats and had that song about cracking a whip."

"Oh. Devo." I said. "Of course. They're great. Why?"

"Oh my uncle Mark was in the band. I think they got pretty famous a while back." He responded casually.

"Dude, your uncle is Mark Mothersbaugh?" I asked, now completely interested and intrigued.

Randy didn't respond, but he reached over to his phone. He dialed a few numbers and eventually got someone. "Hey mommy," he said, it's Randy. Does Grandma still have all those paintings and drawings down in the basement? The ones that uncle Mark did? OK... And what band was he in back when I was little? OK... Thanks mommy, I love you." He hung up, turned to me, and said "it's him."

I was convinced. The kid I hired not only had one of my favorite musicians as an uncle, but he also had access to some potentially unseen artwork.

I needed it. "How much you want for those drawings?" I greedily asked. "Uhh. I dunno, but I'm definitely gonna go out there pretty soon." He said. "I'll grab you some."

Over the next few weeks, Randy's plans to visit his grandma were continuously postponed. Alongside of this drawn out failed plan to illegitimately nab Mothersbaugh's artwork, was Randy's nose-diving performance at work. Unimaginably, his hair was growing longer yet, and his response time to simple work-related questions was increasing painfully. One Friday, my boss pulled me aside twice to tell me that Randy had recently made numerous errors and that he was concerned about him. I assured my boss that everything was fine, took ownership for the department's mistakes, and promised to fix the issues (all the while dreaming of the psychedelic Mothersbaugh crayon drawings that were UNDOUBTEDLY in my future).


Above, an image of what I imagine Randy's weekend must have been like.

The following Monday, Randy told me he was 99% sure that he'd be visiting his grandmother that week and he'd definitely grab me something. I was so stoked at this point, and so seemed Randy who now had made a complete transformation from a shaggy-haired frat boy to a long haired, bearded fellow who appeared to have completely stopped giving a shit about everything and anything. I spent that entire day online searching images of Mark's artwork and giddily wondering what could possibly be coming my way. That's when my daydreams were abruptly interrupted - my boss asked us to come to his office to have a talk.

"Randy, do you have any idea how much money you cost me again?" he asked. "Not only did you have 200 shirts printed with the wrong color ink, your design actually got us a cease and desist from the university you ripped the logo off of. So you basically lost us deal and got us sued at the same time. Pretty smooth one Randy."

"Oh man. Uhhh. I'm sorry?" said Randy.

"Let me ask you a question, Randy" the boss said. "What do you see in your near future?"

"Well. My friends and I bought a boat!".

"Oh yeah? What are you guys gonna take it down the river or something?" asked the boss.

"Well no… we're gonna take it in the ocean…and dock it down in Virginia."

"And when do you plan on doing this, Randy?"

"Umm. I dunno. Next weekend?" he replied.

"OK. And how long are you planning to stay down there? A little weekend getaway?"

"No, we're gonna dock the boat and find a place in Virginia."

"Well that's one hell of a commute, Randy!" our boss yelled. Suddenly the room fell silent. "So Jeff, your main man here decided to buy a fucking boat and sail it down to Virginia indefinitely. Wow. What should we do about this?" he asked me. I looked over and Randy and all I could see was the opportunity to own some of Mark Mothersbaugh's artwork fading away. "Good luck Randy, be safe." I said as I shook his hand and watched him leave the office and head for the front door. That was the last I ever saw of him. And I never got that Devo artwork.

Previously - This Is What Happens When Politicians Steal Music

If you live in New York, you can go bother Jeff at Black Gold Records in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. You can also follow his (mostly) music-related thoughts at @jeffogiba.