Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Oslo, Norway, Yom Kippur and the Man of Mystery…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bewilderment,Friendship & Compassion,Humor,Israel,Jewish Themes,My Own Personal Hell,Travel — Bob at 4:30 pm on Monday, May 6, 2019

Every so often, life throws me a curve. Sometimes so often, it feels like I’ve actually lived my life in orbit, and not on the land. This is a true story set in 1992, when on a trip to Frankfort, Germany to attend the world’s largest book fair, when I owned a world-travel foreign-language bookstore named Grand Tour, my wife Joyce and I decided to take a train north to Norway, from where some of her ancestors came a century before.

By chance, that year Judaism’s lunar calendar placed Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish world, the Day of Atonement, would also be in Norway the same time we were there. Our hopes of finding a Synagogue to observe that day, were dim. However, God must have a sense of humor, because this is what happened to us on the special day.

(Read on …)

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.”

Very nice to read that, but the newspaper rackett reality was a lot less regal.

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 …)

Someone is Always Deciding What America is “Ready” For…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman ©March 21, 2019

A nice person I know, Jewish like me, posted a reflection that America may not be ready to elect a gay person to be president. 


The basic idea expressed was that South Bend, Indiana’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s time was not “now” no matter how qualified he may be. I am not neutral and admire him, so I wrote this:


(I know others may not agree with me, but speaking up is why people came here in the first place. You are legally entitled NOT to agree with me in America or anyone else, but in a civilized way)

This country wasn’t “ready” for the revolution in 1776, either, and a third of the colonists were against it. Many fled to Canada. I know that long before that date, the Native Americans weren’t ready for the English.

(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 …)

A Man and His Dog Awaiting the Blizzard of 2019…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Existential Pets,Life & Death,My Own Personal Hell — Bob at 3:32 pm on Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Man and His Dog Awaiting the Blizzard of 2019  
by Robert M. Katzman © January 27, 2019

I went out to walk my tiny dog Max at 12:15 AM
And I saw the big snow storm moving in
I have been battening down the hatches
As the snowflakes are starting to fall harder

(Read on …)

I Can Be Alone in a City…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bewilderment,My Own Personal Hell — Bob at 8:30 am on Friday, January 18, 2019

by Robert M. Katzman © January 16, 2019

I can be alone in a city

A noisy busy city filled with people

Waves of people surging like an ocean

(Read on …)
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