High Times Greats: Devo

Expounded and explored: the politics, economics, ethics and aesthetics of de-evolution.
High Times Greats: Devo
High Times

Let’s go back to November, 1982 as we prepared to enter the 21st century, tame technology, defame E.T. and get a peek at the boys inside the jump suits in a rare interview between Devo and Vale (portions of which had previously appeared in Search and Destroy magazine). In honor of the anniversary of the release of Devo’s premier studio album Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! on August 28, 1978, we’re republishing the interview below.

Devo, along with Elvis Costello, are the originators of “nerd new wave.” They solidly established themselves in the history of rock music with their blockbuster hit “Whip It,” which, besides attracting the last of the preteens baby-boom market, crossed over into the denizens of black disco. Their new LP, Oh no! it’s DEVO!, is rocketing up the charts. Devo’s appeal is based on a curious combination of romper-room rebellion, kitsch parodying of polyester consumer society, choreography based on man as machine and their own philosophy of “de-evolution”: In the Beginning Was the End—evolution proceeds toward lower or less specialized life forms. Entropy with a backbeat. Just as their short songs reveal a mocking articulate wit, their promotional video cassette, “The Men Who Make the Music,” demonstrates a sophisticated grasp of cinematic technique, as yet denied full feature-length expression. If Devo ever get to make their film Masterwork, those critics who’ve been demanding they live up to their theories of socio-political satire may yet have to eat their words. Devo’s philosophy of de-evolution is periodically updated for official press consumption, but High Times’ West Coast wunderkind Vale caught Devo’s Jerry Casale off guard in this informal conversation in an interzone beyond the prepared Devo image (with occasional parenthetical asides from the Booji Boy himself, Mark Mothersbaugh).

High Times: Ohio’s been described as very industrial and bleak—flat empty planes—

Devo: That’s exactly the atmosphere that allowed Devo to exist!

High Times: You’ve been together for ten years?

Devo: Yeah, the first four years we played about six jobs. We had a lot of time in the garage, a lot of time to reflect, after the vodka and beer bottles came at us, after we were threatened by greasers in jacked-up Chevys and hippie goons—soft-core fascists with granola coming out of their ears, hiding swastikas under fringe jackets.

High Times: Were you friends before the band?

Devo: We were. Since we’re based on self-debasement we started out with each other—we started out in de basement! We had to take in a lot of diverse elements before we could move out of that limbo of the Midwest. I think a lot of good comes from there but it can’t stay there.

The cities are the major source of information—they are devolving at a faster rate than the rest of the country—but they represent the trend always. They’re ready for it. I think we are a relief from the oppression of their daily existences, that’s all. We’re peddling insanity and purposelessness because they need it! We weren’t stupid enough to be businessmen and we weren’t pretty enough to be David Bowie, we’re just following out genetic imperative.

People have a bad misunderstanding of what rights are. They think they have the right to be stupid, to make themselves fat, to foist off their own paranoias and insecurities on other people. That’s how rights are—how they get interpreted. It’s an outmoded concept—like Democrats and Republicans, there’s no difference between them.

All that talk about recombo DNA and people choosing to evolve in certain ways—that’s why we chose De-evolution—taking apart all the assumptions of the past decade and synthesizing them, mutating them, putting them back together with a new attitude. De-evolution is simply a collective idea that’s gained momentum. In politics and economics the concept of de-evolution is being thrown around a lot, as a kind of catchall for a laissez-faire policy-letting things (like cities) fall apart as being the best way to deal with situations. It’s like a nonpolicy that’s considered the most benevolent policy. It essentially has to do with the nature of energy itself: things degenerating from complex to simple, with entropy being the gradual winding down of the universe, the slowing down of all particles. Degeneration, de-evolution, things to come.

People can indulge themselves and believe they chose their lives, but let’s face it, they’re following some sort of genetic imperative and they do what they can, and at any point there’s a number of possibilities. They’re all pretty equal and it’s all pretty random. This interviewer asked us, “Well, aren’t you proud to be American, since this allowed you to be Devo?” It’s that kind of thought we want to erase—”Don’t you love your parents, they’re the ones who brought you into the world!”—like it was all planned out or something—it’s all random! A fluke, a joke, but people can t accept that. They have to make meaning out of it, to salve themselves.

Oscar Kissmaerth III, a Czechoslovakian anthropologist who is now living as a Buddhist monk in Tibet, wrote a book called In the Beginning Was the End— knowledge can be eaten!—in which he explains all humanity by a strain of cannibalistic apes who start to crave the taste of brain—it increases their sex drive and the size of the brain faster than the capacity of the cranium itself, causing bizarre mutations, and causing them to go insane. And essentially, we are descendants of those apes and all society is based on our imbalanced sex drive. That’s his theory. Very nice quack stuff.

High Times: Where did you first see the word “de-evolution?”

Devo: There’s a picture of a devil with de-evolution written on his chest, and stairs starting off with, like, “world war, taxes, white slavery, cockfighting.” The last one said “punk rock!” Anyhow, that was printed in 1926 by just a quack antievolutionary from Ohio. Someone sent that to us that had never seen our band before. The name of the pamphlet was “Jocko Homo— Heavenbound King of the Zoo.” We used that as the basis for the song “Jocko Homo.”

High Times: Why wasn’t de-evolution publicized years ago?

Devo: Everybody’s had bits and pieces, but until now nobody’s been able to put it together. To start, I think you have to go around the ’60s!

High Times: That really was a big smokescreen in diverting a lot of people into mystical or artsy-craftsy dead ends—

Devo: It really is unfortunate, because a lot of potentially innocent, passive people got sidetracked. It reduced their mobility, which is exactly what a good capitalist society wants to do to its members—to increase consumerism, frustration and need. If men and women hate each other and the system, then they’re constantly moving into more apartments, and they need more refrigerators and more cars are being sold. It works! Plus the whole psychotic quest for happiness—making it an absolutely obsessive drive so that people go nuts!

High Times: Also the fact that the ’60s were brought to us by the war in Vietnam—

Devo: You pick up a ’60s Time magazine—it’s really frightening and grotesque. You see Timothy Leary walking out of a club in New York tripping on LSD and you see Vietnam! It’s like everything went wacko!

High Times: Do you believe in those Paul Krassner kind of paranoias about, say, Manson being the result of a Rand Corporation computer simulation?

Devo: Krassner’s typical of the kind of people who have it half together, and then they leave themselves open because they actually are lame enough to approach it on that level, as if it really matters whether or not you can find empirical validation for that kind of paranoia. Just the fact that you can think it is all that counts! Like science-fiction movies in the ’50s, they could imagine monsters from other planets always invading us, when it was just an internal paranoid fantasy projected and personified in monsters. It’s all mythology. It’s stupid to try to make that real—to find proof. It’s just another sidetrack, another goon approach to reality. Like the Kennedy assassination—just the fact that people can think about another gunman is all that counts. That starts the thought and—I can’t believe all the people who can pursue it. Everything’s based on inconsistency, there’s a basic hypocrisy. People are self-contradictory at the center—they love what they hate, they hate themselves, they’re not sure. Meanwhile, there’s flowers on all the Kleenex boxes. We had a good commercial worked out for cheek-to-cheek anal deodorant on a New York subway—you can imagine it!

High Times: Do you have certain people picked out as devo?

Devo: The list grows every day! Devo is like a polymorphous perverse term—it can be the absolutely most pejorative, debasing term and it can be the highest praise, and it can be both! That’s the idea. There’s high devo (hi-de-do) and low devo. Devoted, devoid, devolved, devotee. John Kennedy’s devo. There’s a lot of people who are devo, you know—we’re not like them. Wink Martindale. You can make devo, you can be devo. J. Edgar Hoover was devo, there’s no doubt about it. You put him next to a picture of a bulldog or a schnauzer: two head shots.

High Times: What were some of your artistic influences?

Devo: I get a lot from Duchamp’s piece, The Large Glass and The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even. He kind of defined the twentieth century—laid it all out there with one big shot.

High Times: It was cracked in shipping.

Devo: That completed it, didn’t it? That’s what he dealt with—the soul separated from the motor-driving mechanism, the libido. The bride becomes mechanical lure for these men whose minds have been removed and they are magnetized by the machine—like quality of the bride. I just think he predicted the de-evolution of the twentieth century. Right at the turn of the century he more or less defines what’s about to happen.

High Times: You seem to have also been influenced by Oriental culture.

Devo: No one mentions China much, though. It’s very superficial in our own interpretation but we really fantasize a lot on what China seems to represent in terms of possibilities for an orientation toward future existence, and we love their kind of graphics. I know that they are right for the wrong reasons, but they’re so appealing.

High Times: Yeah, but there’s no freedom for artists there, really. Unless it’s poli art.

Devo: But what’s art going to be? What’s art?

High Times: Well, their art is mostly propaganda and costume nostalgia—

Devo: But [sinister tone] what do you think rock ‘n’ roll is in America, besides Propaganda for Corporate Capitalist Life?

High Times: You’re speaking of air-play rock music?

Devo: Well, that’s what’s happening, isn’t it? There’s not much freedom for art in America either, is there? There’s freedom for just lots of proliferation of endless imitation kitsch. Stupidity is rewarded in this system—big contracts! The whole society may be an art form. Art only springs up when things have already gone haywire. It is some kind of valve—a freeway exit—but you eventually get back on and everybody understands what it’s for, and anybody who takes it too far is quickly stopped, and it just becomes a problem of knowing what’s too far. Because it has all to do with pacing—the whole system obviously is a dynamic, liquid system that keeps changing.

Most rock musicians, they’re no more than clerks or auto mechanics, you know, from a middle-class Republican political bent, and if they’re lucky, if they’re successful, they’ll settle into a kind of Alice Cooper type of existence, with the golf clubs. They’re just another bunch of shits in another business—it’s all show biz, like the rock awards.

The Beatles were special. I’m surprised they didn’t go for TV and beer sooner than they did. You would expect a person from that industrial town background, soon as he makes the money, to do all the obvious, foolish, crass things. But there is that possibility with humans—they are capable of some kind of, like, Imp of the Perverse-making a noncausal leap. It’s foolish to even deal with it in terms of a dichotomy. That’s what I get from the Chinese orientation toward life. They’ve surpassed Aristotelian dichotomies in terms of thinking about reality—you know, where you set up a debate in language that’s really a false representation of what’s going on: good and bad, Republican and Democrat, purpose or no purpose. That’s the kind of stuff Burroughs talks about too, because essentially he’s into linguistics—

High Times: Linguistics and photography. Do you watch a lot of TV?

Devo: No! It doesn’t do anything for me. It’s about the same thing as pot. I started off being a pothead, and for the same reason I started I quit. I started because I liked it and I quit because I didn’t. All it did was put me to sleep—turned your brain into Swiss cheese with big holes that weren’t functional at all. It didn’t, like, reconnect up any information in a good way. It just stopped!—couldn’t jump the hole. But I think it’s more in the national interest to have a bunch of potheads rather than cigarette smokers. Ultimately, it’s better for consumer society to have a bunch of people that are zombied out but still essentially healthy physically—able to work, to give their bodies over to labor and the capitalist system, and to buy products because they’ve ruined their imagination—than it is to have people in hospitals being treated for lung cancer! I think that’s a good reason to go from ciggies to pot. (Then you can have like a fascist reversal: “You don’t smoke pot—what’s the matter with you?”) I’ve had people come up to me and whisper: “Hey, come on (snigger), let’s do some coke” —”Uh, I don’t really feel like that”—then it’s like they’re truly offended, you know! I haven’t really found a drug I like. I wish it’d find me! What I’m trying to do is just expand my receptivity to what drugs could be. Food is drug—like the Food and Drug Administration probably has the best idea of what drugs are. Hippie culture or any other kind of pop suburban thing is like genital sexuality. You can only get off on a four-inch-square area around the penis, you know, whereas a baby—rub it anywhere and it starts to come. Anyway, I’m just trying to do that with me, publicly, in the environment, where all kinds of things are drugs, because then I’ve got an advantage—there are more things available—cheap!

High Times Greats: Devo
Devo by Martin Benjamin

High Times: What’s Devo’s attitude toward dreams?

Devo: Total indulgence on our part.

High Times: Do you consciously try to record them?

Devo: No, but nobody feels guilty about their dreams. No one in Devo would bother spending any time on an analyst’s couch because they fucked their mother in a dream. The obvious bottom line would be: Well, was it a good fuck? Yeah!

High Times: Well, for Burroughs, most of his characters and actual dialogues come out of dreams.

Devo: That still separates dreams from real life. If they are just allowed to blend together to an irresponsible point where you’re increasing the time you indulge in that kind of dream state—say you’re in a restaurant and you’re doing it in real time to the people around you and listening to what they say—it’s like never knowing where the dream stops—that’s really us!

High Times: How is Devo’s music de-evolutionary?

Devo: The more technology you have the more primitive you can be. With synthesizers you can express guttural sounds, bird noises, brain waves, blood flow. It’s like putting more immediate information into the music; keep destroying the stylization for content.

High Times: Where do you find all the raw materials for Devo’s collages?

Devo: Important sources that are often overlooked. Feminine Libido Sexualis, a book compiled by some crazy German about thirty years ago. All he does is compare body types of women around the world, but in a very scientific vein, with pictures of every African tribe, in-depth breast, buttock and pelvis studies. He tries to be serious about it, but every now and then he throws in information about which ones are the most erotic to your average Joe. Also, outdated medical books. You can get them real cheap at junk stores in Ohio. I have books on World War I and World War II warfare wounds.

High Times: Are there big differences?

Devo: Yeah, World War I had mustard gas, World War II the atomic bomb and different kinds of bayonets—different punctures and slashes. Lotta good wounds in World War II.

High Times: I’d like to hear more about your early experiments.

Devo: We did record a bowling ball rolling down an alley, and did use machine guns on a repeating loop. When we first started writing together we used windshield wipers and washing machines for our rhythm instruments. Or, like, jamming with the telephone busy signal. We realized that was getting too artsy after a while. It was impractical to do that in front of an audience—we picked up a drummer when we got our first job. For the most part we used a regular acoustic or synthesized drum set, although we did do a lot of songs with electronic percussion—even songs where the rhythm track was maybe a sneeze or a belch on a loop—it made a pattern that kept coming around, in a nice, perverted way. Although that was an interesting direction, we weren’t matching up with the public. It was staying real private and just beat off. At a certain point we said, “Well, okay, we’ve been Devo long enough, we understand the aesthetic ourselves and we know what we’re trying to do. Now, what would be the most challenging thing to do would be to make it commercially palatable to people—to do that and still keep it Devo, to let people in on it so it wasn’t a private joke.” And that’s when we picked up a drummer who had real drums.

High Times: How did you develop the Booji Boy voice and persona?

Devo: Booji Boy came around back when Jerry and I didn’t have any jobs and we’d sit around wearing masks and just assuming the personality that we were, for a whole day maybe. There would be days where, if you had a camera, you would see both of us with chimpanzee masks on for the whole day, assuming Afro-American dialects and, during one visit to mask shops, we came across some Booji Boy masks and some ”China” specs—glasses.

So we made this demo tape in Akron with seven hot tunes on it, including “All of Us,” “Shimmy Shake,” “A Plan fer You,” “Be Still,” “Rope Song.” We got into our little car and drove to—we knew one person who was in the music business who was successful, from Ohio; we had gone to see him when he had played local clubs, and he had gone from being a real person to being a—uh, teenage idol—so we were real excited. We said, “This guy, although he doesn’t play our kind of music exactly, I know when he hears it he’ll realize it’s great stuff and he’ll help us out!” We were certain of it—”It’s going to be the big time soon!” And we’re hitting each other on the shoulder, pack a little bag full of clothes, and we get our rubber masks and drive out to California, and on the way out there I wore the Booji Boy mask and Jerry wore the China specs and he was the all-knowing Chinaman and I was Booji Boy representing innocence, naïveté, and so we invented these characters on the way out to California. And we got out there and went to the residence of the man who was going to make us—

High Times: Who was he?

Devo: Joe Walsh. And he goes, “Hey, boys, hey-y-y-y-y-y!” and put his arms around us. We went stiff, you know, because we were anything but hippies (loose, natural, y’know)—so we go sit down in his living room, he puts on the tape and in the middle of the second song he runs out to his kitchen and starts rolling J’s real fast and gets himself smoked up real high, along with the other people in the kitchen. We look in and they’re all going, “Hyuh-hyuh,” and there’s this guy with really long hair down to here and bell bottoms pointing to us, and we go, “Uh-oh.” And Joe Walsh comes back and politely lets the tape finish and goes, “Well, guys, you’re either above me, or, uh, below me, or somewhere else! All I can say is, You almost got it together, and when you finally do, I want you guys to come back and see me.” That was in 1975.

We thought, “We’re gonna show ’em that there’s alternative realities: Ideas still exist!” So we adopted these “personalities” to use onstage—we were certain people would be relieved just to see something new for once. But it turned out quite the opposite.

One place we played where we ended up getting paid to leave, some guy who had been yelling “Aerosmith!” all night finally ran up and grabbed my face with the Booji Boy mask and just, scruueeeaah—

High Times: He wrecked the mask—

Devo: Yeah. I have three Booji Boy masks, and the oldest one has stitches that go up along the side of the head like Frankenstein. And he said, through clenched teeth, “I said Aerosmith, goddamn it!” as he ripped it up. So that’s what we had to contend with in Ohio.

High Times: When did you first decide to wear jump suits?

Devo: We first got those blue firemen’s jump suits and we wore those masks that took your face away, ’cause we decided that what we hated about rock ‘n’ roll was stars. We watched Roxy Music, a band we liked, slowly become Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music. If you got a band that’s good, you bust it up and sell three times as many records. Take the Beatles, for instance. The magic was in the combination—nothing that any single Beatle did after that matches up.

High Times: How would you describe the music scene now?

Devo: Confused, wishy-washy, dopo stuff, except—what isn’t, these days? I mean, we’re in it, we’re in it full—this might as well be Eisenhower! The little twits that buy Orange Juice and Haircut 100—I mean, they’re more disgusting than their parents! I mean, the world’s been taken over by anal deodorant spray! It’s been taken over by these bloodless goons—techno-brats—who can’t put enough quarters in video games, who are more conservative and fascist than their parents—cleanness, conformity, adherence to major trends. It’s really happening. That’s why they love patterns, that’s why they love video games: because there’s absolute safety and control in patterns. A culture that leaves its active phase always resorts to just multiple patterns, tracing back on itself. It’s real safe. You put the quarters in the Pac-Man game—

High Times: That’s almost an ultimate consumer metaphor.

Devo: Because you can’t win. And even if you win, all you win is that you’re being chased by and you’re chasing all these things longer! You don’t win a goddamn thing—you put more money in! It’s amazing—you’re being eaten by capitalism, and when you get your break and the men turn blue you better have them all lined up so you can chop ’em down!

Anyway, it’s too big! You can’t even fight it. People just think you’re sick if you say a bad word about E.T. or Tron. And they’re two of the sickest movies ever made! They’re like—if Walt Disney were alive today he’d be Steven Spielberg! I mean, man, he did nothing but a Sound of Music with an outer-space mutant. Unbelievable. You know the culture’s in trouble when great big stupid Republican jocks go into a theater and after fifteen minutes of E.T. they’re sobbing like babies. Because it’s so flawlessly done—it’s as good as Triumph of the Will.

High Times: And it’s got the old safety valve of fake rebellion—

Devo: You got it. But you know what they’re rebelling against is a warped, stereotyped view of science and information. It’s like all it really is is Reagan propaganda for Follow Your Feelings—your own instincts—you know, innocence, the Cult of Innocence. And it’s real archconservatism masquerading as liberation—total bullshit. The adults are cartoons shot from the waist down, the scientists are—

High Times: —faceless goons in lab coats jingling S&M keys—

Devo: It’s part of the American tradition to put down ideas—they’re skeptical of people with ideas, don’t kid yourself. It’s like—Reagan should have hired Spielberg to make that film—it shouldn’t have been funded by a studio; it should have been funded by the White House!

High Times: When they covered that house in plastic, they evoked that womb-suffocation trauma—

Devo: Oh, yeah.

High Times: I mean, there are deep-seated reasons why that film is so successful.

Devo: Not the least of which is that it’s a Jesus story on a Jewish perception: E.T. is Jesus. They’ve even got poses in there like when he comes out of the back of the van covered with a sheet and extends his arms—there’s the apostles! And they’re besieged by the Philistines. It’s too good. Spielberg didn’t even try to hide the details that he got from Michelangelo’s Creation. It’s heavy! The whole thing’s a Christ myth. He even dies and is reborn: the Resurrection. It’s the biggest piece of propaganda since Ben Hur and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Oh, well, you can’t tell anybody what you think—it’s sour grapes. How could you not have a good time?

What really freaks me out is the few short years it took to completely shift society since 1978—at every level how much more the whole Devo parody of corporate society is absolutely true. Like Tron is more important to the stock market than how much it pulls—it didn’t generate that much. The film cost almost fifty million bucks—by the time you count ads you need a hundred million to break even—but they won’t lose a point because Tron was presold to Atari or somebody and they’ll make ten times as much off the royalties from the video game Tron. That’s how they sold it. Art? It’s just like when rich religious patrons controlled all the art.

High Times: And then they all said, ”Paint me!”

Devo: And show it to all of them and have them all come and pay five or six bucks. Reminds me of left-wing types telling the workers they’re being ripped off by the boss—they try to tell people what’s happening, who tell them to get lost, and beat the shit out of ’em.

High Times: So, how’s 1982 been so far?

Devo: We went and toured really hard. The last record, New Traditionalists, didn’t get air play. We toured a long time to keep our noses above water, because oddly enough, people thought Devo were worth seeing live—without air play we sold more seats than ever before. We did an extensive tour of Australia—the album was successful there.

High Times: Did you get air play there?

Devo: Oh, yeah, total—”Beautiful World” was a hit.

High Times: I liked the video of that.

Devo: I worked on that; I did all of that myself except the actual physical editing.

High Times: It had an edge to it.

Devo: Well, that was the problem with the album, I think; it was pretty caustic, with not exactly up lyrics. It came at a time when everybody decided that Haircut 100—Haircut 100’s about two degrees away from Barry Manilow—”Boy Meets Girl”—shit, who are they kidding? I like Heaven 17 sometimes—I really liked Fascist Groove Thang and Let’s All Make a Bomb—that stuff’s good. But of course it’s the Human League that makes it—they’ve got nice sappy synthesizers—the same old formula, sappy, direct, but with synthesizers. If people would play those same songs, but with guitars, all the hip people that love them would go, “Ugh…they stink!”

High Times: P.T. Barnum is still right—So what’s next for Devo?

Devo: We’re planning another tour and a movie. The title is Animal Farm.

High Times: I remember reading that book in grade school.

Devo: It’s still applicable.

High Times: I didn’t see the animated version of it—

Devo: It stunk. This has nothing literal to do with the novel Animal Farm. Animal Farm’s an obvious political fable—you can break it down into a three-act play. First there’s the rebellion, and the idealist, communist animals win and they take over from Jones, the animal oppressor. In the second part they have to establish their order and learn how to survive. They’re corrupted, and in the third part they’re as bad as Jones, indistinguishable. So evil, regressive impulses win out over virtue. That’s just how it is!—perfectly right for Devo—talking about de-evolution, the regressive side of human nature, the self-destructive programming—Animal Farm! The plot just very vaguely follows those three acts—even though it’s not that fine, that’s what happens. Except that with the Devo twist, I think that audiences will totally identify with the pigs. But anybody with brains will be horrified to watch them cheering just like they do when Booji Boy puts a fork into the toaster! That’s what they love the most: killing the future. The characters that an intelligent person would know represent hideous ideas would be the ones that the kids love! It would be aimed that way purposely.

High Times: Film’s the territory you were always headed for—

Devo: It gives me a new lease on life; that’s the goal I need to feel good.

High Times: I heard that you might wind up collaborating with Burroughs.

Devo: Burroughs sent me some song lyrics! Here’s one; it’s called “Pick Up Your Stick.” I wish we could use it, but we just couldn’t find anything to put it in, not that we wouldn’t ever do it. “Stick” was an underworld expression dating back to the ’20s that referred to criminals providing themselves with a legitimate trade or profession that they could fall back on or look good at, so that they wouldn’t get thrown in the slammer. Burroughs wrote me, “Short-order cook is a common stick. Safecrackers will be welders or locksmiths. Some have a farm tucked away. Con men make good salesmen, up to a point. Truck drivers, waiters, parking-lot attendants, longshoremen—all God’s children got sticks. The best sticks are those you can pick up anywhere—you may have to move fast and keep moving. That’s why there are so many short-order cooks.”

And this is just a letter. I mean—the whole thing sounds like a rap out of his book with Clem Snide! Anyway, he wrote me that letter and sent me this song called “Pick Up Sticks”:

When you’re old and sick,
lean on your stick,
you’re hot as a rivet,
stink like a civet,

—stuff like that, you know:

grab that stick,
“a simple swineherd officer”
oink, oink, oink
your luck’s going sour, you’re losin’
the power,
don’t push it son, that jailhouse isn’t fun,
grab that stick, before you get a lick, from someone else’s stick. . .

You know, I mean the guy is tremendous —he probably knocked that out in five minutes.

We were talking about drugs—he said, “Oh, you just gotta get over the hump. You gotta do enough so you change your system over—it’s the middle ground that’s bad.

High Times: But most don’t survive that. He’s one of the damned few that have.

Devo: He’s special.

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