While the mainstream press has always focused its hot glare on crimes committed against white people (preferring beautiful young white women as either culprit or victim), one publication in particular has for decades done just the opposite and in a particularly feisty fashion. The journal is the St. Louis Metro Evening Whirl, which focuses primarily on crimes in the black neighborhoods of St. Louis. It was founded in 1938 by crime poet Ben Thomas, who at age 94 passed away last week (click on the link and search for Evening Whirl).
And what a legacy he leaves for true crime aficionados. Generally ignoring rules of grammar, Thomas used rhymes, street slang, and wordplay to broadcast crime news about and to St. Louis. The Evening Whirl is considered the "best down-and-dirty crime rag" (Riverfront Times) and the tradition is carried on today by current publisher Anthony Sanders.
The Evening Whirl has a website but no archives on the internet. (Maybe if I ask sweetly, they'd let me spend a glorious afternoon, or four or five, perusing their archives, collecting the most cleverly written pieces, and anthologizing them?) Thanks to some feature stories on the internet about the weekly, one can get a sense of its saucy brand of crime journalism.
A 1983 article:
George Lowery, 42, of the 3900 block of Blair committed a crime that wasn't so rare, and for him it was a terrible affair, and police caught him there. The crime master turned out to be his own disaster.
The finale of an article on a man arrested for heroin distribution:
He will begin his term very soon, where he cannot watch the moon but he can sing a prison tune: Oh ho, I'm so low, and I'll never have a chance to grow; I will sit and lick my toes, and blow snot from my nose; where I'll end up in life only God knows.
And from a story about a domestic violence conviction:
Just because a woman has children by you does not mean you own her. Let her get on with her life with the new man. Or thug as the case may be. Michael O. Foster couldn't do that and is now behind bars for 30 years on two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.
And a rape story with a perspective you're not ever going to find in another publication:
Here's the perils of drinking before your time. A young 15-year-old high school student drank until she passed out and woke up with a penis in her vagina.
You can get a subscription to the paper via Amazon. Enjoy!