(Veteran MJ columnist Jim Alexander has announced he will resign this month after a spat with owners over a column Alexander wrote where he published his own address. Though the paper has no policy against writers publishing their own addresses and though Alexander argued that his address is easily found in the White Pages, MJ publishers reprimanded him nonetheless. After the incident the paper created a policy prohibiting writers from publishing their own addresses.)

TEN YEARS AFTER

This July marks my tenth year of writing this column, which means I’ve been doing it for almost one-fifth of my life. For the past week I’ve been trying to determine how I feel about this and the best I can come up with is...old.

When I started this run Tiny Tim was still tiptoeing through the tulips, Frank Sinatra was still doing it his way and Allen Ginsberg was still Howl-ing.

I anticipate a gift from the Montecito Journal celebrating my accomplishment. The symbols for ten-year anniversary are tin or aluminum (traditional) and diamond jewelry (modern). Knowing my relationship with Jim Buckley, I imagine I’ll find a diamond in my “in” box...crafted out of aluminum foil.

It’s kind of interesting (not to mention spooky) how I got here. About 12 years ago, while in the middle of an important “relationship” discussion with Lora (in other words, I was daydreaming), I asked myself the question: “Would you rather win the lottery, become President of the United States or develop into a successful writer?”

Who knew someone was listening?

If I’d chosen President and been duly elected, we wouldn’t be debating our current immigration problems because I would’ve invaded Cancun instead of Iraq (better beaches and I prefer chimichangas over baba ganoush).

Since that fateful daydream I’ve written two novels, hundreds of short stories and more columns than I want to count, but I still live in the same 750-square-foot “cottage” and we continue to sleep on the same 45 thread-count paisley sheets. I’m still driving the same truck and I’m still eating beanie weenies (though that’s because I love beanie weenies).

I suppose I should’ve defined “successful” when I made that critical choice back then. More people know who I am now, and I guess that’s a sign of success, but a lot of people know who Joey Buttafuoco is too. A wise man once said you can judge a man’s success by how many friends he has. I’ve gained many friends in the writing community but that’s mostly because writers tend to stick together like a bunch of dweeby wildebeest on the Serengeti. Actually, more like postal workers after a car backfire.

I’ve evolved as a writer in the last 10 years. Many people now compare me to Dave Barry. I overheard this conversation just last week: “Compared to Dave Barry, Jim Alexander is portable toilet seepage.”

When you’re a humor columnist everybody has column ideas for you. Here are some actual column suggestions: “You should write a column about all the dog poop at Hendry’s Beach.” A crappy idea if I ever heard one.

Or, “Have you considered a column about the National deficit?” Deficit? What deficit? (I happen to know G.W. reads this column and I don’t want to ruin my chances of being invited to the White House.)

And, my favorite, “Why don’t you write a column making fun of real estate agents?” I might have fun with this one, but if you examine this paper’s ads you’ll find they’re 50% real estate-related. I’d have an easier time getting a column endorsing Hillary Clinton for Pope printed. Wait...that’s not a bad column idea.

People always think I’m going to write about them in my column. Once, several friends and I visited a friend recovering from a hysterectomy. Somehow we were able to find levity in the situation and we actually had the patient laughing. Someone said, “Be careful or you’ll find yourself in Jim’s column.” There’s not much humor in a hysterectomy. The only thing I could think of to say was, “Unless they found the real ‘Da Vinci Code’ in there, you’re safe.”

There are many people to thank after 10 years. I’d like to thank Cork Millner for recommending me for the job and Jim Buckley for hiring me. I’d like to thank my writer’s group – Jocelyn Kremer and Karl Bradford. I couldn’t have done it without them. I’d like to thank a secret society of depraved writers called The Puddingheads (Moose, Doc, Sparky, Hopper, Mac-D, Yogi, Sky, Ta-boo-boo, Cricket, Hotdish, Ladybug and Skooby) for occasional aid and constant encouragement. Finally, I’d like to thank my love, Lora, for lighting my fuse and pushing me uphill. And, all those important late-night “relationship” discussions.

Thinking back, I realize I’ve received two of my wishes. I am a successful writer, and I won a lottery – without buying a ticket.