The November issue of the Dave Eggers
-backed lit mag The Believer
devotes a huge bucket of ink to legendary St. Louis crime rag The Evening Whirl
. Written by Chicago Reader
scribe (and Washington University alum) Scott Eden, "Whirl" celebrates the life and times of the founder and longtime publisher/editor/writer of the weekly newspaper, Ben Thomas, whose florid prose and take-no-prisoners tone painted a vivid and shocking picture of the mean streets of St. Louis for nearly 60 years. Although the paper is now being published by Thomas' sons, Barry and Kevin, without the father's voice, the Whirl
is a shadow of its former self.
But in its heyday, The Evening Whirl, with its SCREAMING ALL-CAPS HEADLINES AND VIVID, CRAZY RHYMES "had the look and feel of a old, dark corner-saloon metamorphosed into a newspaper," writes Eden, author of last year's Touchdown Jesus: Faith and Fandom at Notre Dame. Describing Thomas as "a Wild West newsman, an X-rated Walter Winchell, a blues lyricist," Eden traces the history of the publisher and his creation, including some of the better poems:
Pearl there's one thing I want you to know,
You're nothing but a husband-stealing hoe;
Your ears may quiver and your hips may shiver,
If you have Max again I'll throw you in the river.
Eden also notes that despite Ben Thomas' prolific output -- nearly 3,000 editions -- much has, sadly, been lost to time. "Whirl" is available in its entirety here.