After collecting a journalism degree from the Jesuits and an infantry MOS from the Marines, I began my newspaper career as a reporter and humor columnist for a Michigan daily. At age 24 (under the name Jim Fiebig) I became the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in U.S. history (L.A.Times Syndicate, United Feature), and continued churning out three a week on current events for the next 15 years. It never made me rich.
In the meantime I co-produced a syndicated comic strip, built an ulcer as a copywriter and creative director for various ad agencies and inhaled cigarettes and alcohol at a rate that gave new meaning to the word dissipation.
When the flames on my candle were a whisker away from meeting in the middle, I reassessed my life. What did I really want to do? And I did it: became a big-city police officer.
I was in my mid-thirties (the other recruits called me “Pops”), and the next 20 years in the mud, the blood and the beer were the happiest of my life.
I walked away as a patrol lieutenant with honor intact — loved by the street cops and barely tolerated by the brass. (On the morning of my last day on the job, an assistant chief slapped me with a written reprimand for a minor PR infraction. It amused me.)
The retirement party ended at one in the morning. At 6 a.m. I boarded a plane for Bosnia and a year with the International Police Task Force. We were there to ride herd on the Muslim, Croatian and Serb cops, reacquaint them with the tenets of human dignity, and drag them kicking and screaming into modern law enforcement.
I lived in a farmhouse in the Serb Republic. Everyone had a pig, a garden and a hangover.
For whatever reason the Serb cops, fresh from the killing fields, liked me and looked out for me. I did what I could to make them better police officers.
I came home sweet home with an even stronger love for America, and a palpable disdain for people too ignorant to understand the blessings of being here.
I’m back. I’m writing again… and I’m the world’s wisest man.