Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Chicago Municipal Tyranny Explained: My Newsstand in 1965…by Robert M. Katzman

Chicago Municipal Tyranny Explained: My Newsstand in 1965 

by Robert M. Katzman ©  August 1, 2017

There was a situation I first encountered when I opened my wooden newsstand August 21,1965 in Hyde Park, 52 years ago: Permission to issue permits to open a newsstand were delegated by the City to the four major newspapers in order to receive a newsstand permit for a particular corner in Chicago. Period.  But the main two asses to kiss were the conservative Chicago Tribune and the Liberal Chicago Sun-Times.

However, there were really only two City newspaper corporations, because the Tribune owned the Chicago American and the Sun-Times owned the Chicago Daily News. Both had to approve of you. Whatever running around by me was necessary, I needed four recognizable signatures on a yellow postcard-sized piece of stiff paper if my teenaged dreams of self-employment were to be realized.

Each newspaper assigned a certain medieval person called a “Division Boss” to decide whether a person was sufficiently worthy to receive their blessings for whatever area was under their control.  Direct contact with the newspapers’ business administration office was impossible.

(Read on …)

Battle Cry of the Anguished American Immigrant!…by Robert M. Katzman

(Originally posted on July 21, 2008, then reposted March 10, 2017 in frustration after the 2016 election, where insanity began to rule what was once a last best refuge for people seeking a chance to live, to be happy)

 

To me, being an American is an idea.

A concept.

An agreement of equals.

A willingness to tolerate the differences in others.

A celebration of the beauty of cultural diversity.

 

While maybe originally, ours was a government,

Of the Protestants, By the Protestants and For the Protestants”

We’re bigger than that today.  A numerically insignificant People like my own family, Jews, now represent less than 2% of the total American population, but I believe that our Constitution includes me when I read it.  I don’t live in fear, here.

Soon, there will be more Moslems in America than Jews, but I don’t care.  They came here to escape the same killing chaos that brought my family here, as well as looking for a new start and a fair chance to become successful.  I welcome them.  Besides, when the hating is missing, they may remember that we’re linguistic cousins who speak two versions of the same Semitic language, as do the Assyrians, who are Christian Arabs.

(Read on …)

Rose Bliss, Country Charm and a Killer Baby Robin…by Robert M. Katzman

Copyright July 6, 2016

There is a fluidity and capriciousness to time and events.

There is no way to predict what will occur next based on what has happened before. Even a series of good events, one following another, doesn’t mean that kind of luck will continue, or the reverse, either. There is no pattern, no rationalization of balance to why things happen in a person’s life. Why do I write this?

Last September, during a street fair in Racine, Wisconsin, a smallish town of less than 80,000 located next to Lake Michigan, just north of Kenosha, 30 miles south of Milwaukee and about 27 miles north of the Illinois border, my wife Joy and I met a very nice local couple named Brad and Rose Bliss.

In this nine months later follow-up story to what happened in that story, just about every single significant thing changed. No, none of us is or was famous and no one would have read about any of us in some newspaper; but what happened then caused our paths to cross during that street fair, and subsequently made a friendship bloom between two new settlers in Racine and a long established couple.

(Read on …)

Bribing a Chicago Judge with a Sawbuck…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Cops,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Humor,Jewish Themes,My Own Personal Hell,Politics — Bob at 6:37 am on Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Bribing a Chicago Judge with a Sawbuck

By Robert M. Katzman

Copyright © January 2, 2014

 

In the spring of 1965, in Hyde Park, an area seven miles south of Chicago’s central Downtown area and home of the University of Chicago and jazz, my father, Irving, felt it was time to explain corruption in the Chicago Machine and teach me the basics.

I was fifteen, and if you can imagine the setting, we’re in our small apartment sitting on either side of the scarred kitchen table. I was listening and playing with the salt and pepper shakers at the same time. He may as well have been explaining etiquette customs on Mars to me. I had no clue about what he was going to say.

(Read on …)

A brief essay about Jews in America, a small town synagogue, the LGBT population and their freedom to be whomever they chose to be, under the protection of the Constitution…by Robert M. Katzman and Joyce E. Katzman:

Filed under: Friendship & Compassion,Jewish Themes,Philosophy,Politics,Rage! — Bob at 6:03 pm on Saturday, March 21, 2015

© March 20, 2015

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story: www.differentslants.com/?p=355

Haym Salomon (April 7, 1740 – January 6, 1785) was a Polish-born Jewish American businessman and political financial broker who immigrated to New York from Poland during the period of the American Revolution. He helped convert the French loans into ready cash by selling bills of exchange for Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance. In this way he aided the Continental Army and was possibly the prime financier of the American side during the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain. He died at the age of 44 after the end of the war, penniless. He did more than help finance the war against the British. He gave everything he had.

Or, put another way, American Jews did whatever they could to help create the ultimate safe haven for themselves less than three hundred years after the Spanish Inquisition, which was world-wide and not just confined to Spain.  The colonial Jewish population in 1776 was approximately 2,500 among an estimated total population of 2,500,000 colonists. One 10th of one per cent of the total population. Obviously, Jews needed protection.

After George Washington became president in 1789, he wrote a now famous August 17th 1790 letter to the Touro Synagogue in Rhode Island, personally guaranteeing Jews in America protection from harm from any others, including the government. A personal statement like that one, and in writing, from a country’s Head of State was unique in the world at that time. I also believe that likewise, the Jews owe such protection to others of different beliefs, manner of dress and customs. Who are we to judge others?

Current American population is approximately 330,000,000. Estimated American Jewish population is 6,000,000.  Jews are about 2% of the population and shrinking.

The LGBT population is estimated to be about 10% of America’s total population, or 33,000,000.  Jews, at 2% of them, would be about 600,000 individuals with hopes and aspirations of happiness and acceptance from their families, friends and institutions. However, today about half of them living in America suffer from discrimination, persecution and diminished rights.

This is a terrible crime and Jews should do what they can to right this wrong, nationwide. I have read about incidents in small towns where members of some very conservative Jewish congregations have insensitively excluded people who are open about their sexuality from participating in ancient rituals.

To treat such a person with any sort of rejection, discrimination, or religious exclusion is to reject how we expect America to treat all Jews, everywhere in this country.  My wife Joyce and I, Jews in both spirit and in practice say clearly this is unequivocally unacceptable to us. We two may be only infinitesimally small voices in a universe of prejudice. But two small voices can break the loudest of unjust silences. Whatever you may be, wherever you may be, why not add your voice to ours?

Together, we view a person seeking the freedom to be who they truly are as an equal of ours in every way and we would seek such a person out to be a friend of ours if he/she would accept us as one. As we treat others, God judges us.

Signed,

Robert and Joyce Katzman

Note: below, George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Tuoro Synagogue

Gentlemen:

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

 

The author can be hired to read his work by your group or organization. Don’t worry, it won’t corrupt him. Too late for that. Poetry and stories sound different when read by them who write them.

Contact? bob@oldmagazines.com or 847.677.9444 (11-4, M-F, Sat 10-2)

 

 

 

I Seek the Praise of Ordinary Men, a 2007 poem of protest against war in Iraq…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Depression and Hope,Friendship & Compassion,Life & Death,Politics,Rage!,Social Policy and Justice — Bob at 8:40 am on Friday, October 24, 2014

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  www.differentslants.com/?p=355

I originally wrote this poem on Friday, April 13, 2007, after interviewing Mike Hecht, the 88-year-old man who wrote the forward to my first book. He was the cantor on Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Repentance) in my temple for forty years, the now sadly extinct B’nai Torah in Highland Park. His job, an honor in Judaism, was to blow the shofar, or ram’s horn to announce the beginning of a new year, every Rosh Hashanah, usually occurring in the fall.  Mike died May 16, 2009, a week after his 90th birthday. I saw him the day before, May 9th, and gave him a birthday card featuring Yoda from Star Wars on the cover with the movie’s theme music playing when he opened the card.  He laughed, as he lay on his bed, and then asked me as I turned to leave him, “But Bob, who is Yoda?” Surprised at the question I paused, thought about how to explain the connection and then said, simply: “Mike, he’s you. Yoda is you.”

That was the last time we spoke.

This is the link to my eulogy for him. I miss him still. http://www.differentslants.com/?p=701

I noticed there was a line in the last part of my description of Mike that seemed to vibrate. I thought about what it meant, what I really was trying to express and that line became the title of the poem. I realized it was a protest against the 2nd Iraq war began by then President Bush and VP Cheney, after false clams that there were weapons of mass destruction there. Years later, Iraq is now disintegrating into three parts.  A new war is now raging there, and the future of the area is unknown.

I also added this part (in 2007) for people to think about:

Today, beginning last night, is Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Take a moment to think about it. Whether you are observant or not, whether you think about Judaism less than a minute a year, would have made no difference to Hitler. Who your grandparents or great-grandparents were, would be enough reason for the Nazis to kill you.

I think about that, and wonder what I would have done, if I were trapped in a situation like that, today.
What would you do today, if you knew then, what you know now?  Maybe the poem will motivate you to action. I hope so.

Robert M. Katzman

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