Bloody cops chasing broken-faced bandits. Treacherous drifters nursing a hangover. Downtown dons steeped in golden-toilet luxury.
These are the kinds of characters and tales that have made the St. Louis Evening Whirl a St. Louis institution since 1938. And ever since the iconic paper started (seriously) tweeting in February, it is what has made its Twitter feed one of the best 140-character reads on the Internet.
The Whirl's tweets are distilled samples of the pulp-fiction style that the paper is famous for. And Brian Ireland, the paper's managing editor and author of the tweets, uses the required brevity on Twitter to produce short scenes about fascinating urban crime characters for which is paper is famous.
Well-known gambler spotted in the 4 Seasons lobby leaning on ebony walking stick with the satyr's-head gold handle; dropped 5 g's on NCAAs— Evening Whirl (@thewhirlonline) March 24, 2014
Codeine has a baller leanin' on Jefferson as he gets gold with two bros thro'd off a mid-morning pitcher— Evening Whirl (@thewhirlonline) March 26, 2014
The scenes that Ireland writes about are mostly facts with a bit of fictional flourish. Sometimes they're observations of people he sees on the street or summaries of a stranger he made small talk with outside a convenience store. Other times they're the scraps of a story that couldn't be finished due to a subject reluctant to go on the record with a case still pending.
"At the very root it's a true thing, but it's colored in kind of a fictionalized writing, which is what the paper is," Ireland tells Daily RFT. "We're a weekly, and people don't really buy the paper for the latest news -- we would hope they buy it for the reason they buy, say, Flannery O'Connor or Mickey Spillane."
Wind wraps itself around a moan as SLPS teen trespassing on the N. Side comes upon a grisly cold headstone: "Boo Lewis Lived and died Alone"— Evening Whirl (@thewhirlonline) March 25, 2014
A long, dark colored Cadillac floats onto the old Spruill's lot. A curvy, butter-pecan tart steps out. She wobbles a little on high heels.— Evening Whirl (@thewhirlonline) April 1, 2014
Ireland says he tries to give the tweets that Southern Gothic feel -- a bleak but literary description of downtrodden life made famous by the likes of O'Connor and William Faulkner. But this is St. Louis, and Ireland uses the Whirl's Twitter feed to give a literary flair to the oft-ignored parts of the Arch City, so you can call it "Urban Midwestern Gothic" -- in under 140 characters.
A downtown don steeped in golden-toilet luxury tells the Whirl he's reflective and a little nervous this morning; fears fed intervention— Evening Whirl (@thewhirlonline) March 24, 2014
Mid-County crime vic in a long black veil laments to Whirl that "You don't know about sadness 'til you've faced life alone."— Evening Whirl (@thewhirlonline) March 13, 2014
A ten-year veteran of the Whirl, Ireland is a St. Louis native from Florissant and a Mizzou graduate. After college he went to law school in New York City for a while, but he didn't like the idea of being a lawyer all that much, and moved back to his hometown. And although he grew up in the area, Ireland wasn't familiar with the Whirl until he came back from law school and picked up a copy at a bookstore one day.
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