More About the Author
My first newspaper column was in the weekly "Village Voice" in the mid-80s. It was called "I believe" and each week it had ten lines that went like this: "I believe that if you really think about it, men should be the ones who ride side-saddle." "I believe that somewhere there's a place for us, but it's $3600 a month plus utilities." "I believe that if you wake up and smell the roses, you've probably been buried alive."
That got me a job as a writer for Jim Kerr, the morning dj at WPLJ-FM at the time. Eventually I ended up producing his show for a few years, while also working at different magazines as a writer and editor. I would get up a 4am, go do drive-time radio until 9, then go to a bar and have a few drinks with Jim before jumping into a cab to whatever magazine had their hooks into me at the time. Trust me, if you're not drinking at 9am, you're doing it wrong.
I created a column called "The Hot Sheet" (try and say that fast, three times in a row) that was published in three or four "downtown" magazines before it ended up in "Entertainment Weekly" in 1991. It was a list of people and events that were in the news that week, ranked from 1 to 20, with a snarky comment attached to each. I called it "kicking people while they were up." EW over-paid me for thirteen years before they showed me the door, which was fine, I had absolutely nothing new to say about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and the Sopranos.
My wife Sue (we just celebrated our 39th anniversary by staying up past 9pm) was working on Seventh Avenue in Times Square and for some reason she wanted a place where we could get away from the city on the weekends. She bought a little farm house outside a tiny little town without a stop light in the Catskills, three hours away from the cocktail parties, the free-movie screenings, the gift-filled swag bags and expense account lunches that I was gorging on in Manhattan. What was she thinking? We had lived in Greenwich Village for twenty years. We didn't have a car, I didn't have a driver's license, we didn't have a lawn mower or a grill. It took years, but I gradually came around to her way of thinking, a story I tell in "It Takes a Village Idiot" which is a thinly fictionalized version of the real story. I, of course, am the idiot in the title.
"Baby's First Tattoo" is a spoof of those memory books they give parents so they can write down the day the baby got his first tooth, the day she said her first word. My mother had eight of them and never got past the second page on any of them. "First Tattoo" is the memory book for real children, it has places for baby's first Ritalin prescription and baby's first lawyer. I wrote most of "Baby's First Tattoo" on the back of napkins on a plane ride from Omaha to Albany after spending a long, long weekend with small, noisy, sugar-fueled nieces and nephews. Inspired isn't the right word for that, tortured is. If you think I'm kidding, those same nieces and nephews are out of college right now, none of them married, none of them have kids. Because they know what they were like.
"My First Wedding" was a spoof of a wedding planning book, a follow-up to "First Tattoo." The premise was this: everyone knows that they're probably going to get married more than once, so why not make a deal with the caterer? If he does a good job on your first wedding, you promise to use him on the next one. It was a huge bomb. We could have dropped in on Iraq and ended the war ten years ago. Apparently brides-to-be don't find wedding planning as funny as I did.
After "The Village Idiot" came out, I thought a good way to promote it would be to get a newspaper column, write about fun stuff, and at the very bottom there'd be a line that said, "Jim Mullen's new book is "It Takes a Village Idiot." I've been writing that syndicated column every week for 10 years for United Media (which merged with Universal Uclick this past June). If you run a newspaper and would like to shower me with money go to www.universaluclick.com/ and sign up for my column. If your newspaper doesn't run my column, ask them why. Sometimes if you Google "Jim Mullen newspaper" you can find the column on line. I don't know why it's so hard to get on line, but I'm guessing it has something to do with money.
I put 43 of the columns together as a book called "Now in Paperback!" and it's companion volume with another 43 columns will come out in soon (around the first of the year, 2012) called "How to Lose Money In Your Spare Time -- At Home!" Don't ask me why, I like the exclamation points at this point in my life. I also have two novels in the works, one of which should come out in 2013.