Before Game Two of the St. Louis World Series actor and comedian Denis Leary was brought in to give his insight. His take was basically to say Boston is a tough and blue-collar city and the Red Sox represent that and St. Louis is a wholesome clean-cut non grimey city and the Cardinals represent that.
Bullshit. Leary doesn’t know what the fuck he is talking about. St. Louis is WAY more grimey and working-class than Boston. Now if Leary is judging St. Louis by some rich West County in-the-closet daddies boy cornball like Joe Buck that is one thing. But Buck doesn’t represent St. Louis.
The crime, murder and poverty rates of St. Louis are way higher than St. Louis. It’s not even close. St. Louis is always either first or in the top-five of murder and crime. Boston is never even on the list. Roxbury, Matapan, and Dorchester seem like solid middle-class suburbs compared to North St. Louis, Dutchtown, East St. Louis, Kinloch, Wellston, etc. .
As far as blue-collar is concerned Boston also doesn’t compete. St. Louis was second only to Detroit in auto-manufacturing jobs ( both my father and grandfather are UAW Local 2250). Where I grew up in North County the entire economy was based on the blue-collar industrial-economy. The only people I ever met with college degrees were preachers or teachers. A St. Louis hoosier is a working-class grimey white guy sneered at by West County pussies like Joe Buck and yuppie assholes like Leary.
Southie, Charlestown, and the like are nowhere near as grimey as parts of North County, Hyde Park-Old North, deep South City, Lemay, etc. . Whitey Bulger would have been Buster Workman’s towelboy in the joint.
Someone also told me Leary has something to do with “stuff white people like” website. For those not familiar Stuff White People Like is basically a funny list of stuff white yuppies like. I don’t know very many white people in St. Louis that are into any of that shit. Definitely nobody I grew up with. I do know Boston, even Southie now, is full of latte sippin, expensive-cheese eatin, gerbil in the ass dippin, European beer toasting, Prius driver coasting yuppie assholes. Go to Fenway Park half the crowd not even from New England.
What Boston has is being on the East Coast which gives it the advantage of media and Hollywood bias. Dennis Lehane writes good stories: but there are the same stories and more in St. Louis where we have a heroin and Lean epidemic followed by years of a crack epidemic. You got some celebrites from Boston who make good movies I actually like : but given a shot we have that same kinda talent in St. Louis. Four world heavyweight boxing champions from St. Louis and plenty of other tough guys. Moral of the story? Fuck Boston. BTW, a buddy of mine still has the tooth of a Boston cop he knocked out during the 2004 World Series.
In other matters enough with the fear-mongering. No terrorist gives a fuck about St. Louis. Boston Marathon Bombing? Whoopty freakin do. 3 dead. We got 3 killed in St. Louis on a regular basis. So enough with the Boston Strong bullshit pimping of a tragedy and the fear-mongering by local St. Louis media.
I thought you might be interested in this story: Video of St. Louis drug arrest stirs controversy
Local cops planting drugs on suspects has been going on a long time. Seldom anything is done about it because there is never any evidence. This video is a blessing in that it exposes this practice. The Drug War is an absurd immoral war no more successful than Prohibition. It only accomplishes two things: feeding the prison-industrial complex and transforming the police from being protectors of the community to an army of occupation. Let me briefly look at some of the hypocries in local St Louis drug policy.
St. Louis City Class Issue
If you are a poor white hoosier in south city, the north side or out in the county there are complex buy-bust and surveillance operations dedicated to sending you to jail. This is often for amounts of drugs worth as little as $10 and $20 for which people can get felony convictions. Some go to prison costing the taxpayers a lot of money. If you are black and living in “hood” areas of the city and North County the police basically exist as an invading army dedicated to small drug-busts.
Meanwhile if you have money ( and are white) drugs are virtually legal. Sometime the difference is right across the street.
Downtown bars serving loft-dwellers, college students, Central West Enders, and West County folk are flush with coke, Mollys, and other pills. The club that is most notorious for drugs has a full time off-duty police presensce in uniform outside. Just a few blocks north in Carr Square and O’Fallon Place police are coming down hard for less amounts of crack, heroin and pills.
The Grove, a neighborhood popular with gays and hipsters, is also flush with drugs (and the underage prostitution of young black males but that’s another discussion). Again this is an area heavily protected by police, mostly white, and slighlty affluent for St. Louis standards. In the same area black remnants of the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood are heavily policed for drugs.
I recently had a discussion with a white hipster dealer in The Grove and he said something I have known for years: ” the city is really desperate to get young white kids from the county to move in so they turn a blind eye to a lot of shit”. He even said cops periodically check up on him to make sure he is OK. Politically we also know The Grove has become very crucial to local politics so maybe some don’t wanna ruffle feathers.
I think with drugs and drunk-driving that is the policy in the city and county. If you are poor or working-class they come down hard. If you are white and have money you get a free pass. Dealers in West County, the CWE, downtown, certain south side hoods and The Grove are selling major weight yet you never hear of any busts. Why is that? While at the same time local jails are full of small-time offenders.
Drugs and Race
We all know that a lot of this hypocricy has to do with race. However, I will just share two personal experiences.
A couple of years ago I had a group of black friends over to my northside home to watch a basketball game. After the game I stood outside and talked to the brothers and gave one a few dollars for some work he had did for me. Out of nowhere a car came speeding up to us with a clean-cut white guy poor excuse for an undercover cop asking for drugs.
“Punk motherfucker we not into drugs so drive off before I snatch out of your car and beat your ass”. I said.
My friends drove off and the guy followed them all the way to the gas station on Salisbury and 70. That was a race thing pure and simple. White guy in a black neighborhood attracts heat and it was inconceivable to this dumb south side hoosier cop that we were friends. Have had the police mess with me many times over the years for the exact same thing.
It reminds me of an incident years ago when my sister was thoroughly violated by Ferguson cops under similar circumstances.
Do you know that while people are casually selling thousands of dollars worth of drugs at the bars I described above people are getting felony convictions and prison time for one or two prescription pills? Can anyone honestly say this is just? Or wise?
Prosecution Instead of Treatment
wouldn’t tax dollars better be spent on treatment?
The Real Gateway Drugs
The real gateway drugs are alcohol and cigarettes. There may be no bigger group of lushes than cops and prosecutors. I don’t blame them they have a hard job. Just sayin. I think with weed, even in a conservative area like St. Louis, we are heading in the direction of legalization. People see the hypocrisy of people going to jail for weed when alcohol is legal.
Four Muslim brothers in St. Louis form a bond of brotherhood while hustling in the “milk game”. When one of the brothers, a young refugee from Somalia, commits a brutal murder in the Shaw Neighborhood on the South Side, the other brothers have to help and cover it up. A tale of brotherhood, race, the streets of St. Louis, city cops and Islam.
Available at the Amazon Kindle store here for just 99 cents.
I spent last weekend in Chicago. Only a four to five hour drive and cheap bus and train ride from St. Louis it is a city I have been to many times. My first trip to Chicago I was maybe 18 and travelled there with a taabliqui jamaat. Later I would come to visit MCC on Elston and Pulaski and sit with Amir Ali (R.I.P.) at the Reading Room with Ismail Royer.
Ismail dreamed of going to study at the University of Chicago. When he was not accepted he was really sad until he was accepted at American University in DC.
A lot of St. Louis kids move to Chicago. It’s bigger, more vibrant, more opportunity, close to home and maybe far enough away from exes, family drama and undisclosed baggage.
I see Chicago as being better than St. Louis in many ways and in other ways lacking. Here are the pluses:
Muslim Community: There is really no comparison between the Muslim community of St. Louis and Chicago. While indigenous Sunni Islam in Chicago has lagged behind the East Coast Sunni Muslim pioneers it has excelled in other ways and is decades more advanced than St. Louis.
In St. Louis the reality of indigenous Islam is you have masjids of old and dying WDers, a small Salafi Madkhali prison gang masjid, and a masjid of mostly heroin-addicts, the homeless, and crackheads. There are also the indigenous beggars who frequent the immigrant masjids. Mixed in are a small sprinkling of educated professionals and guys like me just barely holding on and not that active.
The immigrant Muslim community in the city is heavily made up of students, just trying to get their education, and refugees just trying to establish themselves. No real community life outside of their ethnicities. In the suburbs the Muslim community is rapidly growing and there is a lot of progress. Similar to 1980′s Chicago or 1970′s Brooklyn in terms of development.
In Chicago you have a variety of indigenous masjids on the south and west sides. IMAN with it’s pioneering mission. I may have got a little pissed when Rami Nashishibi taught his American-Muslim history class and didn’t give the pioneers in NYC and Philly their just due (the Dar al Islam, Islamic Party, MIB, MOA, Hanafis, Imam Jamil, etc.): but there is no doubt he has helped to establish a good and much needed thing. IMAN is the only organization I know of that can bring disaffected second-gen immigrant Muslim youth together with indigenous Muslims for dialouge and community engagement.
Ubaydullah Evans to me the best young man in Muslim America. Now because he is black (and cant pass a paper bag test) he wont get that much push from the major organizations who are looking for white,beige and brown faces to promote. Nonetheless he is in Chicago and if you are there you can benefit from his knowledge.
My brother Abu Noor Ryan, another one of the most brilliant minds of Islam in America, is now the chaplain at DePaul and basically rewriting the book and taking Muslim campus life to the next level.
There is also the American Islamic College, Usama Cannon coming in for Taleef talks, and the legacy of Imam Mohammed. From indigenous perspective there is just not comparing the two. (Let’s also keep in mind the study and practice of traditional Sunni Islam is only 20 years old in St. Louis. Only beginning with the return of Mukhtar Abdul-Malik from the East Coast in 1992 and Mujaheed Abdul-Qadeer aq-Menepta and Sheikh Abdul-Rahman al-Baseer teaching at Masjid at-Taqwa wa-Jihad and later Geraldine in 1993.)
From an immigrant Muslim standpoint Chicago is also way more advanced. Muslim schools, Muslim boarding schools, loads of masjids, a second-gen Muslim culture and lingo, it’s just more advanced due to sheer numbers and the time they have been there. Personally I don’t want to go to any of these masjids just saying their existence adds to the life.
Not that I am a strict halal eater anymore (I’ve gone Saudi): but a simple visit to Zabihah will show you Chicago is a great city to live in for a halal eater. St. Louis is making a lot of progress though but will probably never catch up due to low demand.
Diversity: St. Louis is still a black-white city. Blacks and blondes. I grew up in a racially-polarized segregated city and VERY little has changed in my lifetime. People who say race-relations are good in St. Louis are normally white people who don’t know shit, clueless folks, or people who seldom see or interact with people outside of their race. They are NEVER people like me from a racially-mixed family or who grew up in North County.
The brightest Muslim brothers left St. Louis. They felt unfulfilled. We have a big black “brain drain”. St. Louis has one of the smallest Latino populations in the country. Without an infusion of refugees fleeing war and ethnic-cleansing we wouldn’t have the small level of diversity we have now in south city. I have been saying for a while this city needs massive immigration to survive. Many agree. It just isn’t there yet.
Chicago reminds me of living in NYC and DC. Latino kids listening to hip-hop their mothers speaking to them in Spanish them answering in English. Desi kids in Bears jerseys. Hijabs, beards, turbans, kippahs, all common sites. Not just immigrant cultures. Arrived groups. Fully multi-lingual. Adding their flavor. People who see my beard and know I’m not Amish or in a biker gang. Not quite New York. Light-years ahead of St. Louis.
On a short walk I saw Romanian, Greek, Polish, and Ughyr restaurants. St. Louis was an ethnic city. In midwestern and “up south” fashion though it rapes anyone of their identity. The goal is blandness. Drowing in an ocean of whiteness. The Italian is just a hoosier with the vowel on the end of his name. The assimilated goyische Jew breaks his Yom Kippur fast with a pork steak and a Bud Light, the Romani kid told to never tell anyone he is a “gypsy”.
Street Tribes: There was a time the game in St. Louis was organized. Fat Woods running the Pruitt-Igoe, the Petty Brothers, Jerry Lewis-Bey and the Moors, the Conway Brothers and others before them in Kinloch, etc. . Crack killed all that. And it aint came back. The Street Tribes of Chicago from Jeff Fort and the el Rukn to the Folk Nation to the Peoples Nation to the Latin Kings provided structure and organization. It could be a positive force or negative force. The point is it provided structure. Which meant less violence. It also meant a structure for self governance was in place detached from the system. The government saw this as a threat. Destroying the leadership led to the removal of structure which has led to Chicago becoming the murder capitol. The ideas still exist though as do the tribes. That in itself gives Chicago a progressive advantage over the petty, chaotic and cannibalistic streets of St. Louis.
Modern: Chicago is a modern city in a modern America. A good portion of the St. Louis Metro has one agenda-the return of the 1950′s ( and that wasn’t a bad decade). They aint coming back though.
Culture: I’m not that well-cultured. I go to a museum every now and then, I like thr library and have a thing for flowers, old buildings, public radio and the symphony. That’s about it and I believe St. Louis competes well with Chicago on all of those if not better. The area where Chicago really kicks St. Louis ass is film. There was a time when the Tivoli, Hi-Pointe and Plaza Frontenac showed a lot of good foreign-films, documentaries, and edgy indie-fims. Not anymore. Even the St. Louis International Film Festival has went downhill. They all seem to be focused on yuppie love stories and gay or ironic comedies. Like Girls isn’t bad and white enough on the small screen. Every time I see a film I wanna see and it’s not here I look and it’s in Chicago.
Public Transit: I don’t think Chicago’s public transportation system is all that great. It definitely is not as good as NYC, Boston, DC or Philly. it also is not as pedestrian as the East Coast. Still, it isn’t bad, and it is way better than St. Louis (which doesn’t take much). Metro in St. Louis is for poor people. When I was poor I caught the bus and Metrolink. Now that I have a decent job I don’t. That simple. I don’t miss the unruly passengers, rude drivers, and being late everywhere. Chicago, while still kind of lacking, has more diversity on the train. Not just poor people. The city is also a lot more pedestrian. I love walking and in Chicago there are a lot of places to walk, a lot to see, and a lot to take in. you are also not the only person on the sidewalk. In New York I walked several miles a day. In St. Louis my fat ass only walks to the car (OK I go on nature walks when nothing is good on TV). I miss walking. Every time I go for a walk in my neighborhood I may have to beat a mother f****** ass or die trying.
St. Louis has many pluses. Great friends, favorite places to eat, family, familiarity. You are born here you die here. Few people surprise you in St. Louis or alter their destiny. They play the roles they were born to play.
Syria is in the midst of an ethno-religious civil-war. The Alawi Baathist regime of President Bashar al-Asad is backed by the,Alawis, Christians, many Sufis, elites, some other minorities and many secular-minded Sunnis. Internationally they have the support of Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and China. The Sunni-Islamist insurgency has the support of the bulk of the Syrian-Sunni population and internationally the Muslim Brotherhood, international jihad volunteers, al Qaeda, the Gulf States, Turkey, France, the UK, America, and others. I do not subscribe to the theory of the “White Man’s Burden” and I am an anti-colonialist in the spirit of Frantz Fanon. Arabs are not children who need to be looked after by the White Man. They can solve their own problems. It is none of America’s business. What America can offer is support for refugees. North St. Louis City and County has the capacity to take 200,000 to 30,000 refugees. So, if we really care about the people instead of bombing them how about we open our doors to them? Many are currently languishing in refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey and other countries. We are a nation of immigrants and north city and county need them to offset population loss. Unfortunately it appears that the International Institute and other agencies housing refugees in St. Louis may be prisoners of the “Delmar Divide” and don’t look north of Delmar.
I am sure the Rev. Rodney Francis has a good heart and is trying to do something to help stop the violence. Scapegoating toy guns is absurd though. How many children who play with toy guns go on to shoot someone? 1 in 10,000? 50,000? The issues that lead to violence are way bigger than toys. Boys will make any toy into a play weapon and have a play battle it is within our warrior nature. If the good Reverend wants to do some good he can focus on his block of Washington where middle-aged white homosexuals men go to purchase black meat from the homeless men and parolees at the shelter. They need Jesus more it would seem!
This is good news and probably inspired by recent court rulings. Unpaid internships give an unfair advantage to young people from privileged backgrounds. Poor and working-class kids trying to better themselves can’t afford to work for free.
The BP Station on Vandeventer and Forest Park where I’ve been going for years has permanently closed as the Laclede Gas building on the 3900 block of Forest Park will soon. Rumor has it some university-related development. No need to worry for Midtown, CWE, and Forest Park Southeast folks. A Quicktrip will be opening on Chouteau at Vandeventer at the old Bellons location and you still have the friendly folks at the Gas House in the day hours and their car wash. UPDATE: I am now hearing this will be a St. Louis Ikea location.