IS A FOUR LETTER WORD
by Ben Weasel. 2002. 176 pages. Hope
and Nonthings Publishing.
This book is a collection of twenty-five columns, articles, and essays
written by Ben Weasel for various publications spanning 1991-2001. Most of
the columns are about Ben’s past experiences with jobs, touring with his
band, and teenage hyjinx. Also included is a piece written after the death
of MRR’s Tim Yohannan, and “Maximum Style,” which includes the
infamous “Punk Rock Dress Code.” The book concludes with a musicians
look at creative and business sides of being in a band.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this book. However, this should
come as no surprise as I love Ben Weasel’s now defunct band, Screeching
Weasel, and loved his first book “Like Hell.” Most of the stories are
funny and entertaining, especially if you enjoy cynicism. However, there
are a few long winded pieces that just ran on and on for too long, i.e.
“The Nanny and the Rock Star.”
Although these writings span about ten years, there is a theme
going on that makes me wonder if there is anything that Ben truly enjoys.
Even when he writes about stuff he likes, Ben always points out and
focuses on the negative aspects. Perhaps Ben enjoys the negative side of
things? My favorite piece, “The Runaway,” details the first time Ben,
at age fourteen, ran away with a friend of his and the trouble they
encountered. A number of stories detail Ben’s past work experience, all
of which never seemed to last that long. For reasons I can’t explain, I
love reading/hearing about people’s work experience. I find these
stories and memories most entertaining, and sometimes intriguing. Fans of
Mr. Weasel will undoubtedly enjoy this read. For those who don’t know
Mr. Weasel, therefore not knowing his attitude, you will ask yourself
“What the fuck is this guy’s problem?” But, in the end, even the
non-fans will most likely enjoy this book. – Denis Sheehan