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Entry date: 5-22-2024 – Plenty – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


I’m not a glass is half empty kind of guy. I thought about adding “most of the time” to the preceding sentence because as I get older, I am sometimes a glass is half empty dude, too. Some days just seem like they are missing something.


More and more, I see things from a perspective I haven’t had in the past. I used to worry a lot, secretly, about all the things I didn’t have. I compared my life to that of the people around me, sometimes even people I didn’t know very well. It is a terrible habit. 


Now, more often than not, I recognize how fortunate I have been in my life without ever really having had an abundance of money. There has always been plenty, though, even in the bleakest of times. I have always gotten by and once children came into my life, there was never an excuse not to do so. Life has certainly knocked me down plenty of times, but I did my best to make sure no one really knew about it.


The idea of “plenty,” though, is important. What is enough? What do we really need to be happy? That’s where I like to focus. I love stuff and nice things (like new shoes, for example, and new records) but I also don’t need’em. I have plenty.


Just a thought for a Wednesday as I steel my mind to be without people I love for a while.




Day 186 of the school year was yesterday. As the day wore on, I realized that most of the students could easily be erased from my mind at the end of the day and I wouldn’t care. They are done with me, and I am done with them. If you’ve seen Severance, you know what I mean.


Oh Lordy, though… the concept of Severance for teachers would be one of Dante’s nine levels of hell. I’m not thinking about it again.


They know they have turned me against them, and they are punishing me for it. If they only knew how little I cared at this point. Our hard work and our good work are done. I got what I needed out of them. I feel pretty good about the fact that they got what they needed out of me. They are ready for fifth grade, and I am ready to not think about lessons for a bit.




Waking up alone sucks.




I had just turned 13 when Oh, No! It’s Devo came out. This one has a special place in my heart because it was kind of a perfect record at the perfect time for me. I was in 8th grade and while I had no idea about punk or post-punk except that I liked a few things here and there, I knew about Devo and liked them a lot. I could embrace this record and talk about it freely.


My cousin Ben has this excellent uncle, Paul, who I’m super fond of. He gave me permission years ago to just call him Uncle Paul, too, so I do. Anyway, Uncle Paul used to live in New York in the 1970s and had a pretty cool rock and roll life going on. He even played in Jim Carroll’s band for a while and appeared on the Dry Dreams record.


Uncle Paul would send music back to Phoenix for his younger brother, Phillip John, to check out. At some point when Ben and I were around 9 or 10, maybe a little older, we found some Devo stuff that Uncle Paul had sent out and really liked it. It was the early film with Booji Boy and we thought we had stumbled onto something amazing. We also liked the music.


So, Devo was a band that I liked a lot from before I knew much about them or that they had a bunch of records out. MTV was playing “Whip It” a lot and by the time Oh, No! It’s Devo came out, I was more than ready for it. I played this cassette all the time.


When CDs became a thing, I got this record pretty early on because of my love for it, so I have owned it in three formats. I suppose an 8-track might be out there somewhere, but I don’t care about that. I don’t have a way to play it.


Early on, “Peek-a-Boo!” and “That’s Good” were probably my favorite songs off this one, but I also really liked the lyrics to “Speed Racer.” The part where Mark Mothersbaugh sings, “I’m a Barbie Doll but I’ve got brains/I’ve got brains and I like Sex!” really hit my teenage brain hard. It seemed dirty and wrong, and I loved it.


I just read about how Wall of Voodoo was the opening act for this tour, too. Oh lord. My brain would have exploded. I wish I had been hip enough to have gone to see it. I’m sure they came to Phoenix. Another reason for time travel to be here sooner than later.



The second side starts off with a great, weird riff in “Patterns.” I started to gravitate to this side of Devo after getting this record on cassette and it makes a lot of sense now when I think about the types of riffs I write sometimes. Devo was a bigger influence than I thought they were. During The Father Figures years, I realized just how big their influence had been, but I’ve been doing Devo covers for the last 20 years, I think.


“Big Mess” is another one that I’ve loved for well over 40 years now. I can still sing along with most of it, too. Devo is kinda like that, right? Once they worm their way into your brain, they’ve won.


One of the things I also love about Devo is that they are kind of like the Simpsons. There are levels of humor there for everyone. My 13-year-old brain was very pleased with the songs on Oh, No! It’s Devo and my 54-year-old brain appreciates them in a different way. Not a lot of bands can pull that off.


Oh, No! It’s Devo is definitely not the band’s most popular record and I get it. To be honest, I like several of their other records more for different reasons, but this one really cemented my love for them first. I will definitely be writing about a few more Devo records before the year is out.


There is a lot to love about Oh, No! It’s Devo, though, if you give it another chance. “I Desire” is such a great time capsule of the early 80s. It’s very “new wave” in the greatest sense of the expression, yet it is still Devo. To me, Devo represents the best of true subversive music. There are other bands that had that subversive thing going on, too, but Devo set the bar really high. When you start thinking about how they did what they did, it’s pretty rad.


Listen to Devo today.




See you tomorrow.

Clearly AI loves DEVO...

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