By Jim Norman
Well, my friends, I decided to give ChatGPT, an AI program, a crack at writing a 600-word biography about–who else?–me.
To give it a fighting chance, I supplied some of the basic bones: I worked for the Associated Press, the “New York Post,” “Medical Economics,” “The New York Times,” and “The Record.” I was a lawyer in New Jersey, a boat builder, and an artist.
Lemme tell ya, I apparently led one hell of a life, which sadly ended nine years ago (but somehow left me in a position to write this). Here’s all about me — true in what I told it and utterly false in every other detail, including where and when I was born, the university I never set foot in, all the positions I never held for the media organizations I worked for, all the books I never wrote, the woman I never met and never married and the children I never had.
“Jim Norman (1931-2014) was a world class journalist, lawyer, boat builder and artist whose life was a testament to never settling for mediocrity.
‘Influenced by … excitement and drama’
“Born in Bronx, New York in 1931, Jim was influenced by the excitement and drama of life in the big city. He attended college at Purdue University, where he majored in English and Journalism. His studies there gave him the tools and knowledge he needed to thrive in the world of journalism and writing.
“In 1952, at the age of 21, Jim began his career in journalism with the Associated Press, where he worked for four years as a reporter. After that, he moved on to become a reporter at the New York Post and the Medical Economics, and spent a year as a military correspondent during the Korean War. In 1958, Jim took a job with The New York Times as an editor, a position he would hold for 17 years.
‘A stint as managing editor of The Bergen Record’
“Throughout his tenure with the Times, Jim completed numerous freelance assignments, including a stint as managing editor of The Bergen Record in New Jersey. Jim also had a passion for boating and built boats as a hobby. In 1966, he married his wife, Connie, and they moved to the town of Mahwah, New Jersey, where they raised their three children.
“Meanwhile, Jim had become interested in the law and decided to pursue a law degree during his evening hours. In 1974, Jim graduated from Seton Hall Law School and passed the bar that same year. He then served as a public defender for the Bergen County Legal Services for four years.
‘Specializing in traffic violations…and personal injury cases’
“In 1979, he opened his own law practice in Hackensack, New Jersey, specializing in traffic violations, real estate and personal injury cases. While practicing law, Jim was also engaged in other pursuits such as boat building. He was a member of the Boat Builders Association of America, which recognized his efforts as a professional boat builder in 1982.
“Jim also pursued a passion for art, particularly watercolor painting. He had several successful art shows where his pieces were displayed and sold. Later in life, Jim wrote two books: a memoir of his journey called “On The Frontier” and a book on New Jersey boating regulations.
‘Jim Norman left a lasting impression’
“Jim Norman left a lasting impression on the many people he touched throughout his life. His exemplary career and commitment to ideals like excellence, justice and creativity were an inspiration to all who were lucky enough to know him. His insight, dedication and wisdom will be remembered for generations to come. Jim Norman passed away in 2014 at the age of 83.”
Now you know the rest of the story. And so do I.
And, Connie, if you’re out there somewhere, I’m sorry I left you in the lurch.
My ever-sympathetic wife says, “don’t worry, she’ll get over it.”
I’ll be canceling my ChatGPT subscription tomorrow.
Jim Norman is president of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County.