Right about this same time last year (it's 70th anniversary) I found an incredible paragon of throw-down urban journalism resting on the counter of my local 7/11 store. To say The St. Louis Metro Evening Whirl is unlike any newspaper printed and distributed in the United States would be giving it so little credit it's not even funny.
Headline templates and the stories to which they belong in the Sun-Times', Journal-Stars and Plain-Dealers are so prosaic and unimaginative it makes you wonder why there aren't more print machine operators filing workers comp claims over their hands just getting hacked off because they fell asleep reading the template cuts. The Whirl busts out headlines--and lead paragraphs--fully intended to cause anyone within ten feet of you to shield their faces because you're getting ready to puke all over them from laughing.
But more so, Founder/President-CEO respectively, Benjamin and Barry Thomas, and their editing staff don't write for just anybody. The headlines and stories are written for readers who've grown up on the hardened South City and North St. Louis neighborhoods by people who've grown up in those neighborhoods. The style to which they want to communicate to their faithful reaches out like a handshake and a chat between neighbors walking outside to fetch the paper. You're not getting articles or headlines from some bullshit IP conference brainstorming session. The Whirl, in every sense of the word, keeps it real. Priceless, but real.
Story-wide humor is for whatever reason taking a back seat as menu special in this week's edition (March 3-10) to the lead paragraph. This lead-in (and, again, ya gotta love the trademark rhyme scheme) is from the front page headlined "Two Men Whacked On Vacant Lot":
KINGSWAY WEST--Goons would rather smile in your face and stick a knife in your back than see your family doin' well and your pockets gettin' fat. That's why folks are G'd up every goddamned day and homicide investigators are steady getting called. Matter of fact, they were out last Tuesday morning after the bodies of two men were found on a vacant lot.
We now flip over to the "LAWlessness & disORDER" section on Page 7A under the headline (that probably should've read "Horny Hack J.C. Clay Has Sex With Bad Girl" instead of "Horny Hack Has Sex With Bad Girl J.C. Clay"--oops):
KINLOCH: A horndog who worked at the Kinloch city jail got so turned on by one of the sassy bad girls who was locked up there that he banged her!
And now, the coup de grace. This is not Lead Paragraph of the Week--this is Lead Paragraph of the YEAR!:
ST. LOUIS--As the weather warms up thugs are taking back the streets and, judging by last week, they'll have the Lou locked like the penitentiary in no time.
So get you a fat sack and a pint of Hennessey and try not to get caught by a stray bullet.
I personally can't stand Hennessey, but I'll raise my bottle of Schlafly's No. 15 Wheat Ale to another 70 years!