by Megan Combs
“What am I going to wear?” That was my dad’s reaction the day he learned he was going to meet Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale, founding members of the 80s band Devo.
It was supposed to be a surprise, but it was blown after we attended a SmART Studio Mark Mothersbaugh painting party at the Akron Art Museum. They had fliers for the event everywhere.
Before I bought the tickets, I asked my dad if he was “Mark Mothersbaugh’ed out.” We had already attended his lecture when the Myopia exhibit opened, then his exhibit and the painting party. He told me too much Mark Mothersbaugh was impossible, so I bought the tickets. I knew it would blow his hair back.
You would think my dad would have dressed to impress, but when the day finally came, he showed up in a nice polo and jeans. Going for the Joe Cool approach, I guess. Heck, even I was more dressed up!
After an introduction of Mothersbaugh and Casale,we watched a selection of 15 films, most of which were Devo music videos and TV commercials, almost all directly by Casale. Local historian Dave Lieberth, our moderator for the evening, opened up the Q&A, which led to the musicians explaining their process and the credit Devo still gets for pioneering the music video as we know it. Hearing how much work went into each video — and the not-so-subtle subtexts of the plots — made me appreciate their art more. There was also some general lamenting about how easy kids have it these days with their iPads and iPhones.
After the Q&A, my dad and I were fourth in line for autographs. While he will deny it, my dad was all jitters. He couldn’t stand still. The guys in front of us brought seemingly everything Mothersbaugh had ever worked on, including “Rugrats” posters. We stood there with our Myopia albums, eagerly awaiting our turn.
Dad let me go first. I had Casale sign my event program, and of course Mothersbaugh sign my album. No one said we weren’t allowed to take pictures with him, so I asked, and we were permitted to take a quick snap. As you can see in the picture, my dad’s face when Mothersbaugh was signing his album was sheer joy. Just look at it. Then he practically skipped over to him for a picture. What he said to Mothersbaugh is their secret, but the man crossed his eyes on purpose in my dad’s picture. Hilarious.
So that was the day my dad met Mark Mothersbaugh, and it actually wasn’t his first time. He met him in the peak of Devo’s career, and now he’s come full circle. What a special moment.
Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.
Megan grew up listening to Devo and was just as excited to meet Mothersbaugh. Not gonna lie.