Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

I Seek the Praise of Ordinary Men…by Robert M. Katzman (originally posted 4/13/07)

I wrote this a decade ago to protest the War in Iraq. But now we have a screaming infant in the White House creating havoc because no one has the nerve to say no to him. America is bigger than him. This is no Democrat or Republican thing. This is about decency and how we treat our friends around the world. What have we become?
Men, Women, start saying NO!!!

I Seek The Praise Of Ordinary Men

by Robert M. Katzman © Friday, April 13 2007

I seek the praise
Of Ordinary Men
Whose lives I reveal
And then capture by pen

Men who slaughter cows
Who farm and cut trees
Men who suffer pain
In theirs backs, in their knees

Carpenters, Cops
Women who teach
People who protest
And march in the streets

Vicki, the Tattooed Armenian Motorcycle Chick…Needs a Break…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © June 3, 2018

Recently, a year after my wife died, I decided to get “back on the horse,” a mysterious phrase some older people say and see if I could find a new relationship online. Like I had a clue what I was doing. But after a few weeks of zero responses, late one night I got this letter from Vicky with a picture of petite her astride a very large motorcycle, saying she’d like to meet me, and against all the rules I read online that are supposed to protect women from dangerous men, she included her phone number. I waited until morning and decided to call her.

We talked for a while and it was clear very quickly from her story that while we weren’t a good match in many ways beside the motorcycle. Vicki’s life was in shambles and I got this idea that perhaps I could possibly help her by writing about her life. I’ve been so absorbed by my own loneliness and misery that it never occurred to me that I might be helpful to another person worse off than I am. In Jewish culture, this is called a “mitzvah” or a good deed. It is up to each person to decide whether to choose to help, or not. I decided to call and meet with her and see what Vicki thought about this idea, if she was comfortable meeting with me.

(Read on …)

Just One Punch, But Mickey Remembered…by Robert M. Katzman

Acts of Friendship: Mickey Remembers

by Robert M. Katzman © May 18, 2018

 I had dinner with a friend in Chicago last night at the kind of a classic guy’s dark wood steakhouse restaurant my Dad and I would go to on a special occasion. Except this was the 18th anniversary of his death in 2000 and in his memory, I had a great dinner with my old friend. He lived far south of Chicago and I live in southern Wisconsin, so this was a good central meeting place.

We talked about many old times, good and bad and the price Time can exact on a person and their relationships. One of the rare things as a person travels through life is to still have a person you can talk to about something that happened 40 years ago or more. That begins to change year by year when a person hits 68, which is what I am now. As my Dad used to say: “The circle gets smaller.”

After a couple of hours it was time to head out to our respective homes because it was a hike to get back, but still, worth sharing company with each other. You get what you give.

(Read on …)

Grief Hits Like a Brick: April 27, 1975…by Robert M. Katzman

Grief Hits Like a Brick: April 27, 1975

by Robert M. Katzman © April 27, 2018

 

Never knew when it would hit, how hard it would hit, or where.

Didn’t think it would be in my kitchen in Wisconsin on a sunny Friday morning, on the 43rd anniversary of when I met a beautiful young love I’ll never see again.

It is one thing to type that.

It is another thing to experience the totality of that slammed door all at once on the first anniversary of that endlessly shared day with her, without her.

Oh, she’s gone.

Forever.

And the pain of it unexpectedly just smashed into me with a suddenness that made me think I was going to break into pieces, very wet pieces. Tears poured through my fingers where I was holding my face, dripping on my greying beard, down my neck soaking my black T-shirt. And they kept flowing because there was no way to turn them off. Fifty weeks after Joy’s funeral, I’d figured whatever I was going to feel, I’d already felt.

Wrong.

(Read on …)

Finding a New Girl at 17. Finding a New Woman at 68. How?…by Robert M. Katzman

Why is today different from all other days? Because on April 20, 1889 Adolph Hitler was born in Austria. Growing up Jewish on the South Side of Chicago, I learned this date when I was very young, perhaps seven. History matters when you belong to a people whom other people hunt to kill.

But maybe that was because ten days after that date on April 30, 1945, he killed himself in an underground bunker as the American and their allied armies were swiftly closing in on Berlin from the West, and the Russians were closing in on Berlin from the East. And exactly five years later, I was born on 59th and Cottage on April 30, 1950.

As a wary Jewish child, uncertain about who might hate me next, sometimes I used to say to myself:

“Good. I replaced him”. Meaning to me, I erased the evil man. Children can create essential fantasies.

With such somber history imprinted on me so young, it fostered a fascination with history throughout my life. Who did what to whom; why; when; how come this army defeated that army; why do people kill over religion; land; water; women; why do some people think they are superior to other people; and one day I thought to myself:

If a tiny black Pygmy from Central Africa could give a blood transfusion to a tall blond Swede thousands of miles north of them in order to save their life, well, we must all be the same. We look different, but we are all the same. It’s so simple.

That revelation hit me at about ten, and I found prejudice to be ridiculous. Which means my children and grandchildren also grew up with no prejudice. What is taught works both ways, depending on what a person feels is essential to creating a welcoming world, or a world with walls and barbed wired to keep out the “lesser people”. Evil can outlive you just as easily as kindness. I choose to give a person a chance.

(Read on …)

My Fierce Grandma Celia Warman, Her Thousand-Dollar Bar Mitzvah Gift to Me on the South Side of Chicago, 55 Years Ago……………….by Robert M. Katzman © April 13, 2018

    by Robert M. Katzman © April 13, 2018

55 years ago today, April 13, 1963, near the top of Pill Hill on the South Side of Chicago at a very large, very square synagogue named Rodfei Sholem or Chadash on 91st and Jeffery Avenue, I was still 12 years old and it was my Bar Mitzvah. But that Temple was so packed with members, that it had to schedule two Bar Mitzvahs at one time.

Many of the Hebrew School teachers were high-strung Israelis, only 15 years after the new country was formed, and they screamed at me all the time. This Bar Mitzvah, this singularly longed for day represented parole for me from my resented ethnic prison. I was free. I was done.

It took me four more years, on my own running a newsstand in Hyde Park by then, to figure out I really did completely accept my Jewish identity at 17, in 1967 and my personal life long self-education began that year and continues today, half a century later at almost 68.

99% of everyone who was at my Bar Mitzvah party are dead now. It is a lonely time to recall any of it, but I do remember the crowds. Now no one left to call and say: Do you remember…?

(Read on …)

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