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The Lowlife Guide to St. Louis

Tourists bound for St. Louis have almost nowhere to turn for guidance. Your Fodor's and your Frommer's devote a page or two to St. Louis in their bigger guides to the whole U.S. of A. but offer little more than outdated, uninspiring tepidities about Laclede's Landing. Lonely Planet's Web site ignores St. Louis in favor of such cultural meccas as Cincinnati, Baltimore and Phoenix. Whatever the song says, it seems the lights are indeed shining anywhere but here. Jeff "Kopper" Kopp would disagree. The KDHX (FM 88.1) DJ maintains an exhaustive Web site, the Lowlife Guide to St. Louis (www.garagepunk.com/lowlifeguide), inspired by his love of the weirder side of the city (as well as a similar site that some Memphis scenesters launched to showcase their town). The Lowlife Guide makes much of Kopp's greaser-centric worldview -- "This page is basically for the countercultural/punk/rock'n'roll travelers....If you want to find the 4- or 5-star joints look somewhere else!" -- but any visitor with an ounce of interest in the real St. Louis should start here. "A lot of people don't realize the diversity that's here," Kopp says. "They think it's like an overgrown cow town. I try to touch on stuff people may not be aware of." The Lowlife Guide is big on the city's rich blues and R&B heritage, its architecture, its native junk food and classic neighborhoods like the Hill and old north St. Louis. Even the most intrepid, open-minded St. Louis native will find something new in its pages. So where would Kopp take a visitor for a look at his St. Louis? True to his garage-rockin' form, he cites the circuit of south side bars like CBGB, Frederick's, the Black Thorn and the Way Out Club: "Anybody can come in, have a drink, and get a really good feel for the St. Louis underground. They're great places to rub elbows with lots of St. Louis freaks." Spoken like a true lowlife.

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