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Friday, September 19, 2008

Outsider Media for the Ages

posted by on September 19 at 10:16 AM

Outsider Art earns the splashy reference books, but Outsider Media is where it’s at.

Case in point: The St. Louis Evening Whirl, a weekly newspaper I first became acquainted with in the summer of 1990, when my parents were living in Missourri. The nearest local equivalent is The Facts, Seattle’s primarily African-American newspaper, but the Evening Whirl exists on a planet of its own.

What initially drew me in was the weekly column Wife Beaters and Sweetheart Mistreaters (all linked PDFs drawn from the Tuesday, June 12, 1990 issue of the Whirl I’ve been toting around for the past 18 years). Along with the dazzling title, the column featured an awesome tagline-in-dialogue (“Oh Daddy Don’t”/”Be Good and I Won’t”) and, of course, the Whirl’s signature brand of reporting:

Terry [REDACTED], 37, of 5513 [REDACTED], was at home with his beloved Miss [REDACTED], 28, who is his live-in mama and sex alarmer. He struck Miss [REDACTED] about her head, arms and body and also her “fanny” early in the morning before the break of day with a baseball bat. Do you call that love or hatred? Just think! ‘Twas the hour when they should have been making love with the blanket rising and falling with concerted movements. But no! A slave driver and woman beater although Terry was arrested.

The redacted names are my doing—the Whirl regularly published the full names and home addresses of alleged criminals, and news stories typically kicked off with a rhyming couplet. Even short items boasted amazing headlines. And then there was my favorite ongoing column, the crytpic yet explicit WHO?:


Much to my delight, this morning I stumbled across a 2006 Believer article profiling the Whirl and its founder Ben Thomas. But nothing compares with reading the instigating material. As the Whirl’s boasted in its pages for decades, “Missing an issue of the Whirl is worse than missing a meal.”

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Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Billy the Cid | September 19, 2008 10:51 AM

Here to the original Jonny Rotten.

Posted by dankieneker | September 19, 2008 11:15 AM

Once a million years ago I was home in St. Louis on vacation from college, and had heard that my ex-highschool-sweetheart had beat a check at a restaurant, and that someone had tipped off the cops, who went to his house. So I wrote the Whirl this note, mindful of the format, and starting out "WHO saw [redacted!] sneak out of Cicero's [etc.]..." and then promptly forgot I did it, only to hear, several years later, that this dine-n-dash story was in the Whirl. My proudest moment ever.

Posted by Phoebe | September 20, 2008 5:59 AM

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