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Courtesy of Mike Flynn
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When allegations started surfacing that Rev. John Wieberg, who died in 1963, had molested children when he was a priest, the archdiocesan Review Board deemed the allegations as "credible."
This news got blogger Mike Flynn of punchingkitty.com typing: “[The allegations] better be credible, because getting your ass called out as a molester nearly 50 years after you died would suck butt (consenting adult butt of course) if you didn't really do any of that.”
As you can probably tell, the 29-year-old blogger doesn’t believe in sacred cows.
“There’s no one topic that I wouldn’t talk about if I could figure out a way to spin it so it’s funny,” says Flynn.
Spinning St. Louis news and gossip for laughs is what Punching Kitty has done three times daily since 2009 on issues ranging from the heavy and serious to the mundane and moronic.
About the possible remains of a human body found in Kinloch: “Did someone [die] there, or have so many people left Kinloch, MO that the earth is trying to create people itself? A city of dirt people where everyone seems dirty and not fully developed… oh wait… we’re thinking of Pacific, MO.”
Regarding the leaked picture of a violent St. Louis crime scene: “Oh god please please please please let it have been the FBI [that took and leaked the photo] so St. Louis doesn’t come off looking like douche bags again…” It was reportedly the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, to which Flynn only added, “Crap.”
And then there's Flynn's take on the Old Rock House's website getting hacked multiple times: “You know, setting your password to ‘theoldrockhouse’ probably seemed like a brilliant method to avoid a post-it note, but then things like this happen...”
While his blog posts about the city are often full of snark, Flynn says he doesn’t have an axe to grind.
“I love St. Louis—been here my whole life,” he says. Flynn seems to want to stress this, maybe because he knows that loving St. Louis is part of what makes his blog work. Punching Kitty’s editorial voice, which Flynn describes as a slightly amplified version of himself, is “not unlike most of St. Louis. They’re pissed about some stuff. They’re kind of angry with their city in some ways, but if you make fun of it: ‘Go to hell! It’s my city.’”
Nonetheless, Flynn thinks much of St. Louis' media is lampoon-worthy, especially KSDK-TV’s I’m Just Sayin’. “You can write about every episode," he says with a laugh.
“The other thing I hate about any of the local media things is they cover national news," he adds. "That just blows my mind they still waste time on that—when the Japanese earthquake happened, who went to stltoday to learn about that?”
Flynn credits his former position at Bonneville International radio for providing him with the background to do such blogging. He designed and contributed to their blog toastedrav.com, which gave him the impetus to start Punching Kitty. “I decided when I was working at Toasted Rav there was a lot of stuff we couldn’t write, and I was kind of getting bored with the normal sanitized stuff, so I just started Punching Kitty.”
Now, Flynn has become an unexpected media darling. Last year, the Riverfront Times named him one of 13 bloggers they love; he also won the RFT's 2011 St. Louis Web Award for "Best Local Celebrity Site." He has appeared on KDHX’s Collateral Damage and Mark Bland’s podcast The Q. Some staffers at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also seem to be fans, despite Flynn's general dislike of the newspaper and its website. When gossip columnist Deb Peterson recently did a Q&A with him, Flynn “spent half the time telling her why the Post-Dispatch is horrible,” he recalls. “None of it made it into the article.”
He complained to someone who was about to give him free press? That’s actually part of Flynn’s philosophy. “The minute you give one person an exception, then you’re being a jerk," he says. "Otherwise, if everyone’s even, then you’re at least, in my mind, not playing favorites."
It may seem surprising that the man behind the website that posts pictures of Albert Pujols in his tighty-whiteys and refused to stop using a photo of John Pertzborn of FOX 2 News, even after he requested that it be taken down, has any sort of philosophy. Even more surprising is that Flynn makes these rules to avoid being a jerk. Other rules? You can’t be anonymous because “then you’re a jerk that was hiding it from people,” he says. And you have to post regularly.
St. Louis' reaction to the blog has been mixed. While some people are upset, others have told him that they “get their news from Punching Kitty, like it or not,” he says. Flynn tries to counteract this by sourcing stories if he got the information from another news agency, though he frequently gets the inside dirt on St. Louis from his news-tip form, getting an average of 10 to 15 tips per week.
Flynn has no plans to stop the site, and has even been thinking about ways to make it into a book. But he’s not sure that he’ll spend the rest of his life in St. Louis. “I’ve described [living in St. Louis] almost like an abusive relationship," he says with a laugh. "I love St. Louis, but it keeps hitting us, and at some point I’m going to have to just say ‘enough’ and go to another 'city shelter.'”
Until then, enjoy the show.