The Pigeon From Hell At MMU


Maddy and Tom after MMU honors ceremony May 17, 2014.

Maddy and Tom after MMU honors ceremony May 17, 2014.

I’ll miss TJ Kremer III, recently former editor-in-chief of the Mount Mercy Times. He is a thoughtful writer, and was a very good editor.

And he understood the pigeon from hell. For some reason, pop music lyrics and their strange lack of meaning came up as a topic of conversation while the newspaper crew as putting the polishing touches on the final issue of the “Mount Mercy Times” for the spring semester. During the conversation, I made some reference to the “pigeon from hell,” and after a few seconds, Tom piped up with “The Pretenders.”

Yes. “Back on the Chain Gang.” 1982.

But it wasn’t just that he understood 1980s cultural references that many college students, born these days in the 1990s, don’t understand. More importantly, Tom cared about journalism and worked hard to ensure his readers got his best effort. Sometimes, it seemed like a lonely job, as student journalists can act lazy or indifferent.

Still, he wasn’t alone. There was, for instance, Madison Jones, his partner in crime and co-editor. Maddy was every bit as serious about journalism, but balanced Tom, partly through a more relaxed demeanor that could help calm a newsroom on deadline, partly through a penchant for visual flair. He was our best writer. She was also a very good writer, but served as our best page designer and photographer.

They will both be missed. Both were honored by the Mount Mercy University Communication Program at “Honors Convocation,” along with many other students. Usually, my department colleague and I split the task of giving the awards, but since I knew both Tom and Maddy best, I gave out both the journalism award and communication student award.

It was an honor to honor them. I was glad to see that they got some additional honors—Maddy picking up an English award for her writing in Paha, the MMU literary magazine; Tom was singled out as the outstanding philosophy student of the year. And many other news seniors were honored today, and even those that weren’t at today’s ceremony will leave holes at the Times. We’re losing two Taylors, Foster and Grangaard, who were honored at the convocation. Our fiercest advocate for the transfer student population, Cassie Paulson, is graduating. So is our business manager, Shannon Brown.

Taylor Foster? Keep it cool, man. May your life be full of drama, but only the kind on stage that you enjoy. Taylor Grangaard? I was downloading stories for my journalism class today, and noticed how often your byline popped us as I pawed my way through stories. Keep on going, gal. Cassie? I know you think every pigeon is from hell. Don’t let them push you around.  Shannon? I know your life is changing, and graduation from MMU is the smallest part of it. Best wishes with your new roles as an MMU alumni and becoming a new father. And Nikki, you’re not graduating from MMU, but instead returning to your home U in the Czech Republic. Best wish, and watch out for those friendly tornadoes.

Amanda? Glad you’re around for another semester.

This is day two of the three-day graduation extravaganza put on my Mount Mercy each year. Today was Honors Convocation and Nursing Pinning. I spoke at one, my wife presented at the other. Some of my photos.

My bells and chimes, ready to ring.

My bells and chimes, ready to ring.

Friday night was graduate student hooding, and I played in the bell choir for it I also attempted to videotape our part of the program, and we’ll see how that went. I shot lots of “B Roll” images to use with audio, if the audio turns out OK. Anyway, sometime next week, after I’m all done with spring grades, I’ll see if Carolyn, our director, likes anything enough to want it posted.

Tomorrow is graduation. I’m both dreading and looking forward to it. I’m not big on crowds, nor on long ceremonies, so part of it I will just endure. But the commencement ceremony is followed by my favorite MMU graduation event, the on-the-hill picnic.

I can ring and I can speak, but more than those, I excel at eating. Trust me.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Pigeon From Hell At MMU

  1. The feeling is mutual. I will miss working on the Times and miss even more the people that were a part of it. We accomplished some pretty neat things together there, and I will always be pround of the efforts of our team, including our fearless advisor. (who excelled at making sure we were well-stocked in M&Ms, in addition to offering sage advice and guidance over the past two years.) Thank you, Joe. Thank you for helping me become a better writer. Thank you for lending your time, experience and patience. Sort of like the song, I was only one link of the chain. None of us could have done what we did alone. Together, I think we really made a difference. I am proud to have served alongside everyone at the Times, and proud to be able to say that I was instructed by a great journalist and great man.

  2. CRGardenJoe

    Thanks you for the kind words. And it was great to get a hug from grandma at the picnic!

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