Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

When Pope John-Paul Came to Chicago While I was Running the Newsstand at Randolph and Michigan…by Robert M. Katzman

About the Randolph and Michigan Newsstand:

Quote from the historic Downtown Chicago newsstand’s last owner, Rick Graff, in a May 25 1987 Chicago Tribune story by Jack Houston : “Graff said he bought the stand three years ago from Robert Katzman, known among street vendors as the ”King of Newsstands.”

After buying it from the second owner after Al Paccelli, I arrived on a Saturday night with a truck filled with pre-cut wood, a lot of tools, and cans of brown paint. Using a sledge hammer, I destroyed the stainless steel newsstand by pounding on the places where it was welded together. Made a tremendous amount of noise, but at no time did any cop come, by or drive by, and ask me what the hell was I doing with the 100-year old landmark?

No one asked me anything. In 1977 no one lived Downtown and the streets were essentially empty.

(Read on …)

When Ebony Magazine’s John H. Johnson Rejected Me, Gently…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Black/White relationships,Friendship & Compassion,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories — Bob at 4:13 am on Thursday, April 11, 2019

I met John H Johnson in 1976 when my Gulliver’s Periodicals began expanding the number of titles I carried to include mainstream magazines. When I requested a meeting with him—and I was absolutely nobody—he granted me one in his beautiful Michigan Ave building, in his office.

He graciously heard me out, told me he felt he owed loyalty to the Charles Levy Distributing Company the had first given him his chance to be seen on newsstands decades before. But nevertheless wished me luck in my battle with them on the streets of Chicago.

(Read on …)

Incident in Nick’s Diner…by Robert M. Katzman

Incident At Nick’s Diner by Robert M. Katzman © June 2005

After my divorce in 1977, I would pick up my daughter at her mother’s house early everySaturday and bring her home Sunday morning. Sometimes, before I would return her to her mother’s house, she and I would stop off for a quick breakfast at Nick’s Diner, a popular local restaurant.

Nick was a very friendly Greek man from Athens. He would wave and smile at me whenever I would stop by his place.  The food was good, and cheap, and Kate, the waitress, was fast and sweet to my daughter. We liked Nick’s Diner.

One Sunday morning in 1979, when my daughter was four and I was twenty-nine, we were sitting in our usual spot in a booth near the door, when I heard a loud and obnoxious voice from across the diner.

(Read on …)

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
*
*
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 …)

Next Page »