No More Exile on Main Street?


Friend of Easy Mode and all-around good guy, TJ Greaney, has announced his departure from the Southeast Missourian. My partner in crime and I were already set on edge after the absence of last week’s EoMS, and his last column confirmed our fears. I have read every single column in his 16 month run. I bookmarked his page within the first five columns written. I have responded to a column at one in the morning in an angry email at one in the morning, accusing him of all sorts of things that later were proven untrue. His columns have touched me and made me laugh. August 2nd’s Praise for the humble porch may be my personal favorite. Happily, Greaney is not walking away from journalism but merely taking a new job at the Columbia Tribune. I can only hope that the powers that be at the Tribune recognize his passion, intellect and courage and assign him a new weekly column forthwith. Luckily, the competition doesn’t appear too stiff.

Good luck, TJ.

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 4:54 pm  Comments (1)  

The Greaney Panopticon

Few days are filled with unbridled possibility as Wednesday. I’m sure some of you agree with me, for a myriad of reasons. I, however, have one specific reason to love Wednesday. And this reason, as has been the case many, many times before, is a light that shines as a beacon to us all, Mr. TJ Greaney. Ah, Greaney. Two syllables that set my mind ablaze with phrases and moments. He is the author of a weekly column entitled “Exile on Main Street” for the Southeast Missourian. For the record, I find his columns consistently entertaining and always well written. I’m sure my blog writing cohort would agree with that assessment. (As a quick comparison, I find his columns about a thousand times more readable than Jay Mariotti‘s.) I’m sure a quick look at the past couple of weeks will do the trick for a few readers as well. So, in the service of TJ, join me in the panopticon!

TJ’s column from May 9th, Safety up, Privacy down is a real hoot. Vandalism downtown has led to calls for surveillance cameras to be installed and TJ takes a trip to see the system a neighboring city has. The problem is that, despite the good (crimes prevented/solved), there is a loss of privacy for everyone. Greaney throws in a reference to Foucault and his concept of a Panopticon, a prison where the prisoners are held by an all seeing guard. This is a heady reference, I don’t care what paper you’re reading. TJ expounds on the idea saying, quite correctly, that the police could find infractions committed by almost anyone given enough video. He compares this to the holding penalty in football, which is seldom called, though it occurs in some fashion on nearly every play. These two references are separated by a paragraph, but damn, TJ’s the best. Foucault and the holding penalty are two vastly different signifiers. Only a master weaver can think to combine such disparate elements and the finished tapestry is a sight to behold.

The column from the following week, however, is a serious downer. ‘Local girl says she’s out of options‘ is a typically horrific tale of a girl who made a couple bad choices, hit rock bottom and is now looking for a helping hand to get her life together. I’ve pruned out a lot of the chilling details. TJ gets a little Bob Greene-y towards the end, but nothing too bad. A good column. My interest was more piqued by the variety of comments left in the wake of the article’s posting. Greaney responds to a number of the suggestions, seeming concerned more with using the column as a means to get the girl some help than responding to the criticisms sent his way. gurusmom, who appears to be a regular commenter, opens coldly with “How about more facts and less human-interest here, TJ?” But that’s not even the worst of it. A commenter named owl really lowers the boom:

As a reader I have serious doubts about the validity of a story where the main source is not named. Of course I understand the nature of the danger this person may be in, that is if she even exists. This is tabloid stuff and degrades the Southeast Missourian by creating strong emotional responses. How do we know the reporter didn’t just make this up? It’s not like that hasn’t happened before.

Oh snap. TJ, to his credit, just ignores this one. But dang, that would get me riled up if I were him. He’s just trying to help this poor girl! Clearly anyone who would cast such aspersion towards TJ has never met him. The warm hearts continue to glow as becarefulwhatyouwishfor states “Each time I read the article, it sounds more and more like a scam.” I should mention that several of the responses suggested programs and housing options that the girl might qualify for and were assiduously followed by a response from TJ, thanking them for their time. The cynicism is pretty eye opening. I hardly think it will be enough to derail the Greaney Express.

And that’s just a couple of weeks. If you had told me when I met TJ (which, frighteningly, was almost SEVEN years ago) that one day he would be living in southeast Missouri and writing a man in the street column named after a Rolling Stones double album for the local paper I would have been shocked. Um, wait, that’s not true. That actually seems about right. Greaney’s entire archive (as far as I can tell) is available on the site and there are some gems hidden in there. Methinks Easy Mode might have a Greaney’s Greatest Hits Week, featuring the best of Greaney and hilarious Greaney bloopers. So click on over and have a read. You shan’t be disappointed.

Published in: on May 23, 2007 at 5:14 pm  Comments (1)