Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Bookstore Stories (2) Entrepreneurs are born that way, even after two grim November 17ths…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,My Own Personal Hell,Retail Purgatory — Bob at 12:45 pm on Saturday, November 17, 2018
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November 17th? Here is my definition of being an Entrepreneur: On Nov 17, 1985, seven weeks after my first attempt to go into the back-issue magazine business-then common in the United States, now three decades later, almost extinct–two months after Bob’s Newsstand in Hyde Park closed after 20 years, the space I rented on Lasalle & Kinzie Streets in Downtown Chicago went up in flames, leading to 2 years of unemployment. Thousands of ancient periodicals collected by me over the decades going back to the Thirties, gone forever.

(Read on …)

Bookstore Stories (1) On Turning Away Hate…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bewilderment,Friendship & Compassion,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Jewish Themes,Rage!,Retail Purgatory — Bob at 10:10 am on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bookstore Stories (1) On Turning Away Hate

by Robert M. Katzman © November 7, 2018

(This possible series of story ideas was suggested to me by my wonderful Daughter-in-Law, Nicole)

 In 1991, I owned a small foreign-language world-travel bookstore on the north side of Chicago in the Lakeview area, near Clark and Belmont streets. It was the center of Chicago’s gay/lesbian community, and was also and still is known as Boy’s Town. The store’s name was Le Grand Tour, and before that, Europa.

(Read on …)

1964: A Runaway’s Renaissance and a Jewish Boy’s Revenge…by Robert M. Katzman

1964: A Runaway’s Renaissance

by Robert M. Katzman © September 9, 2018

Fifty-four years ago on June 8th, 1964 I ran away from a dangerous violently abusive home. I was fourteen and two weeks away from graduating Caldwell grammar school on the South Side, about a dozen miles south of State and Madison, Chicago’s Downtown.

My story is filled with Ghosts, but it is worth writing down, if only to soothe the Ghosts’ anxiety.

After all, aren’t I part of a world-wide Tribe so often called: The People of The Book?

Who am I to resist that Celestial Design?

It is now long past “What will become of this wild child?”

Now near seventy, I must write, “This is what really happened.”

(Read on …)

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers (complete story in order for the first time)…by Robert M. Katzman

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers

By Robert M. Katzman ©

First published by Bob Katzman at 10:47 pm on Sunday, July 11, 2010 

Not your usual love story.  

A fifty-year saga about a Chicago West Side tribal immigrant’s tale, encompassing:  Friendship, Jewelry, Gangsters and the real meaning of lifetime friendship, no matter what.

A puzzle with so many pieces, all steadily adding up to Joy’s diamond ring.   

 

On December 31, 1977, New Year’s Eve, I invited my long-time love, Joyce Esther Bishop, then 27, to dinner at a famous old Chicago steakhouse.  Specifically, The Kinzie Steakhouse, but which is now far better known today as Harry Caray’s Steakhouse, after the now deceased and legendary Chicago radio announcer for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, famously remembered for yelling: “HOLY COW!!” after every home run hit by the home team.  

Aside from Joy’s full-time day job working in the city, she also worked at my original Hyde Park store, Bob’s Newsstand, every weekend.  She was either selling newspapers, stuffing the Sunday newspaper’s weekend components inside each paper or keeping an eye on all the numerous part-time employees and/or the endless stream of customers.  

This was back in the days when Chicago still had four separate daily newspapers and was the last remaining American city to be so blessed.  Now there are only two Chicago newspapers left, both post-bankruptcy, and in their present (2010) shrunken and sensationalized formats, they would have seemed other worldly to either of us in 1977.  

The then fiercely competitive conservative Chicago Daily Tribune and the more liberal Democratic Chicago Sun-Times, were rich and mighty Midwestern icons of journalism, seemingly able to last forever, just thirty-two years ago.  What happened?  

Joy was certain that I loved her, since I told her so every single day (and still do).  I was also convinced that she loved me too, in the unmistakable ways women get that idea across to the objects of their affection.  

(Read on …)

My War with the Squirrel Gang Continues…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © July 22, 2018

So in my ongoing War with the Squirrels up here in the hinterland, or North Woods–or, oh…I don’t know where the hell I am anymore–I decided to take decisive action against the birdseed stealing bastards with grey furry tails.  Problem is, they’re organized.

They have this practiced pose where they sit on their haunches and hold their little grasping clawed paws together, so people will assume they’re eating something they’ve stolen. But really, they have advanced communicative implants in their paws so all squirrels know where either food or danger is at all times. The Twitchy Nose Mafia, everywhere and hidden at the same time.

This is hard for a bird-lover (without a shotgun) to overcome. I know, we have bigger brains, but no claws so we can’t scramble up trees after them, and no wings so we can swoop down on ’em, and so on. But…

(Read on …)

I Planted A Lithuanian Tree Today…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © July 20, 2018

I planted a tree today.

The grayish-bluesy sky was gloomy, threatening to rain, and I was standing in my garden thinking:

 “Good”.

 Some days drag themselves like there are elephants hanging onto each hour. I had no plans, no list of anything to do, no calls to make. I thought,

“Bob, plant a tree”.

(Read on …)

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