No. No. Not Bob 2. Devo co-founder and punk guitar god Bob Casale’s death is a saddening reminder that Generation X’s role models are getting older faster than we realize. The band was a beacon for most of the nonconformists, nerds, geeks, freaks, Dungeons & Dragons gamers, Renaissance Festival street personalities and other such nonconformists I knew growing up in a small rural Kansas town outside Kansas City.

I remember when I was an alienated proto-intellectual during junior high school (possibly the unhappiest years of my life), when I heard Jim Ladd’s interview of Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale on the program Innerview, which incidentally was the first thing I’d ever heard that made me think that perhaps I might be interested in journalism if I couldn’t make it as something else, like a standup comedian, in-the-round actor, cartoonist or rock ‘n’ roll singer. I recorded it off the radio … on an eight-track tape/AM/FM radio/turntable about the size of one of those storage cubes that double as end tables.

The format of the show was introductions, plug for the band’s new album, a track or two off the new album, short interview segment asking about the inspiration for the new songs or plans for the coming tour to promote the album, some reminiscences about the beginnings of the band, and occasionally some controversial stuff.  Oh, how Mothersbaugh and Casale seemed to enjoy controversy.

Ladd played the song “Through Being Cool” off the new album, “New Traditionalists.” He asked about a character in a lyric, “Mr. Hinky-Dink,” in the lyric, “If you live in a big place, many factions underground, chase down Mr. Hinky-Dink, so no trace can be found.” And one of them (perhaps both finishing each other’s sentences) said (and this is rough, given I haven’t heard it in a couple of decades), “Mr. Hinky-Dink is Ronald Reagan, he’s the AMA. He’s the IRS. He’s everybody who tries to make you behave just like they do and tries to make you conform.”

The refrain went:

We’re through being cool!
We’re through being cool!
Spank the pank who try to drive you nuts!
If you live in a small town,
You might need a dozen or two
Young alien types who step out,
And dare to decleare:
We’re through being cool! 

That came to be sort of a nerdy anthem for my clique of weird and awkward 13- and 14-year-olds. I was indeed one of those young alien types. And I was through being cool, through with living in fear of being different and ready to love and embrace my difference, not just because conformity was boring, but also because denying my burgeoning strangeness would have led to a life less extraordinary than I desired.

“We’re through, being cool!” Hearing that wasn’t exactly a born-again moment. Yet examples like Devo helped us get over being afraid of being who we actually were and wanted to be (and what several of the meaner kids labeled us): nerds, geeks, nonconformists, cutups, four-eyes brainiacs with our noses buried in our books.

Bob 2 was low-key. Mark Mothersbaugh praised him as a solid musician and fantastic audio engineer. Add to his list of achievements that he was a pioneer of new wave and punk.

Yes, Bob 2, you were a role model. You were  just 61. It’s a shame you had to die this young. You and your bandmates provided a lot of joy and a lot of inspiration. Thank you.