Some days, I miss St. Louis. It’s usually when I get a craving for a sandwich or a bar that sells a bucket of ice-cold longnecks for $10 at happy hour. Other times, though, like when my friends back home are turning on the A/C in early May or when I go online to compare the year-to-date homicide rates in the cities of my birth and current residence, I don’t miss it so much.
Other days I’m confused, and this usually happens when I log onto the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s web site and am reminded of a few things:
1. Correctly or not (ahem, not), people will always find St. Louis to be a quaint Midwestern city just brimming with aw-shucks-ness.
2. Partly because the web site for the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper looks like it was designed by a simpleton who flunked their graphic design classes but found their true calling selling advertising space and crashing servers.
3. I may have to read the New York Times for actual news, but nobody beats the Post-Dispatch and the city that feeds it in terms of (possibly?) unintentional hilarity in its headlines.
A sampling of headlines in today’s Post-Dispatch are as follows:
Man with tattoo fetish charged with groping women at Shop ’n Save in St. Ann
Missouri man charged with running over goose
Law school grad gets probation in Vegas bird death
St. Louis County officer arrests man who complains about his driving
Missouri pastor living in Vermont charged in arson
St. Charles County flare up over flare gun shooting
The most splendidly-written piece of the bunch is the one about the tattoo fetishist. I dare anyone to come up with a better opening line that is not actually a joke than “Earl Maxwell likes tattoos, police said. And legs.” Or a better closing line than this quote from the St. Ann police chief: ““People,” Jimenez said, “can feel safe now.””
Although St. Louis is not a small town, it is definitely Midwestern at heart, exemplified by the ability to spin nearly any story even remotely about the city or the state into news. Did you once live, work, or hang out in Missouri before moving on to fulfill your arsonist ambitions in another state? Congratulations, you’ll make the paper! Hit a goose? They’ve got your number, sir. (I don’t even know how to start with the law school grad/Vegas bird death issue or why the Post-Dispatch seems so concerned with birds to begin with, and I’m a little bit afraid that my brain might leak out if I get really in-depth with it.)
Lest anyone think that the (once venerable) Post-Dispatch is staffed completely by hillbilly monkeys, though, I would point them to the last headline on my list, and I doff my cap to the writer who is no doubt pretty proud of themselves for punning their way to a byline.
Oh, St. Louis. You stay classy.