Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Part 4: The Compassionate Cops of Wales…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Cops,Jewish Themes,Philosophy,Robert Katzman's Stories,Social Policy and Justice,Travel — Bob at 5:04 pm on Saturday, November 8, 2008

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

So, now thoroughly enlightened as to how fast I could legitimately motor along Wale’s skinny streets, I drove on toward romantic Hay-On-Wye.  This was the high point of my trip and I eagerly looked forward to exploring endless used bookstores.

Going through guidebooks and a packet of information from The Wales Tourist Board, I learned a long list of intriguing bookstore names.  Chicago had a fair share of used bookstores in an area called Printer’s row, as well as another area just north of the famed landmark cinema, The Biograph Theater, where notorious bank robber John Dillinger was shot dead, after being fingered by the Lady-in-Red, by a fusillade of bullets from many FBI pistols, led by the famous (and as yet unknown cross-dresser) J. Edgar Hoover.

But reading the list of names, and anticipating visiting the actual stores, was like trying to eat just one piece of chocolate.  Here’s a probably incomplete list of the names.  Any errors are mine:

Castle Hay Books…Murder 4 Mayhem…Outcast…Rose’s Books…Richard Booth’s Bookstore…Marijana Dworski Books…Pemberton’s…Westwood Books…The Wye Gallery…Poetry Bookstore…Children’s Bookstore…Boz Books…Book Ends…Hay Cinema Bookshop…Antique Gifts and Books…Hancock and Monk…Lion Street Bookshop…Rare Comics and Cards and The New Strand.  (Whew!)

For me, being caught someplace without a newspaper or book while in an airplane, doctor’s office, or any situation where I’m waiting, is inconceivable.  I don’t know about the next generation, but for me, reading is as necessary as food.

I was going through this very busy and somewhat larger town, Talgarth, where there seemed to be some kind of street fair or celebration of some kind, and there were people and cars everywhere, whizzing around me.  I wanted to pull over and check it out, but there wasn’t enough time.  While thinking this over on a quieter side street, an annoyed person in a car waiting behind me honked loudly.

Surprised, I looked into the rear-view mirror, but before I could see who was honking, the dark vehicle suddenly whipped around my fragile rental car and smacked my left side mirror with a shuddering CRACK!!  At the same time, I saw their side mirror go flying off into the sky.  I guess it was a draw, in terms of unexpected damage.  But nevertheless, I was shaken by one more assault on my little car’s thin metal shell, again in someone else’s country.  This was a disconcerting moment.

What do I do now?

(Read on …)

Part 3:The Compassionate Cops of Wales…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Cops,Jewish Themes,Philosophy,Robert Katzman's Stories,Social Policy and Justice,Travel — Bob at 1:56 pm on Monday, October 27, 2008


© October, 2008

(# 3 of 4 chapters)  


My last day in Wales had a very full agenda, so I was up at 6 am, ready for double-barreled tourism.


I filled my gas tank, loaded in some road food and set out for adventure.  My first objective was Caerphilly Castle, about twelve kilometers west of Cardiff.  I had read about it, imagined it, and even seen some pictures of it. But it turned out to be cooler than any other castle I’d ever been in before. 


Before includes Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France and William Randolph Hearst’s (stolen from Europe) vast San Simeon Castle in California.  Since seeing Caerphilly, I can add The Czech Republic’s Prague Castle to that list, too.  With the herds of beautiful women floating all around Prague like gazelles, I’m amazed I even noticed the somber castle. But, I did. And Wales still trumps them all.


No, I haven’t seen every castle in those countries, and the ones I did see were big and impressive, especially sailing north up the Rhine River.  But after a while, you can get “castled” out.  A kind of sensory overkill, with yet another vast pile of chiseled stone and hand carved everything inside of it.


After a while, I was able to accurately follow the many twists and turns on my intense Welsh road map, which eventually led me to the drab little town of Caerphilly.  The town seemed to me to be a post-industrial kind of place where the local coal mines finally ran out of extractable coal and the local economy reflected the hard times that followed after that.  I was initially disappointed, as I slowly drove through the grey and empty streets trying to find some sign that would tell me where the castle was. 


But that didn’t take long, and I quickly understood why the town would do nothing to slow down travelers seeking their claim to fame.  A couple turns here and there, and…Damn!


I was inside of a Disney movie!


The castle stands alone, surrounded by a moat.  It has a drawbridge and four massive, round, tower-like structures at each corner.  It’s not the largest of its kind I’ve ever seen, but there is a kind of majesty to it that the others just didn’t have.  They were all very nice museums of former royalty, but this was a CASTLE.


As a kid, I played with my little plastic armies of mounted knights in shining armor, as well as cowboys, Indians and World War II soldiers, sometimes all taking part in the same battle.  In my imagination, all the wars I waged on my South Side of Chicago basement floor were equal opportunity conflicts, and neither time nor technology were barriers to my assorted armies from different centuries. 

(Read on …)

Part 1:Encounters With Empathy…The Compassionate Cops of Wales…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Cops,Jewish Themes,Philosophy,Robert Katzman's Stories,Social Policy and Justice,Travel — Bob at 10:07 pm on Thursday, October 16, 2008

 (# 1 of 4 chapters)

 Bendith Duw ar Bobl Cymru a`u plismyn gwaraidd!!!

(God bless the Welsh People and their civilized policemen!!!)


My original motivation to travel to Britain for the first and only time, in 2001, was to investigate Notting Hill.


Notting Hill was long famous, even before the warm-hearted film of the same name with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, for its incredibly congested, unbroken mass of bargain-seeking and perspiring humanity crushed within its mile long length, as the best flea market in Europe.


While I did find beautiful ceramics, overflowing tables of eccentric flotsam and jetsam, and the original 1964  Beatles periodicals I was actually seeking, as well as a priced-to-sell full suit of medieval English armor for mounted combat or jousting, the memory I find that lingers longest are my three unplanned days in Wales.


The distance from London to Cardiff, the capitol of Wales, was slightly less than driving from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin.  Interesting places are much closer together in Great Britain than in the States.  The approximate size of the former homeland of the world wide British Empire is about the same size as Illinois and Indiana, together. 


Britannia...small, but mighty!


To me, the charm of travel is experiencing the unexpected, and that is what the Welsh Police Force was unprepared for, when I attempted to explore their part of that lovely little island, and they kept crossing paths with the continuously confused Jewish guy from the far more dangerous South Side of Chicago.


I just love those guys.




In May, 2001, without warning them first, I flew from Chicago to England for four days, three of them of exploring Wales.


I was going to rent a car in London so I could wander through the Welsh hills, dales and towns. A helpful guy from American Express advised me that my rental car was covered by them as an additional benefit of having their Optima card, and not to take the expensive local insurance policy because that was unnecessary.  I thanked them, packed up my guide books and road maps and left the American Midwest to seek British adventures.

                                                                                                                                                           (Read on …)

Fighting Words – Vol 1 Excerpts on YouTube

Filed under: Poetry & Prose,Robert Katzman's Stories — Bob at 4:28 pm on Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Subscribe to Robert’s YouTube channel here:



Note from the Author:


Robert M. Katzman, owner of Fighting Words Publishing Company, with four different titles currently in print and over 4,000 books sold to date, is seeking more retail outlets for his vivid and non-fiction inspirational books: 


Independent bookstores, Jewish and other religious organizations, Chicago historical societies or groups, English teachers who want a new voice in their class who was a witness to history, book clubs, high schools or museum gift shops.  I will support anyone who supports me by giving readings in the Chicago Metro area.  I have done this over 40 times, and I always sign my books, when asked.  Everyone, positively everyone, asks.  I was amazed, at first, by that.


Individuals who wish to order my books can view the four book covers and see reviews of them at www.FightingWordsPubco.com 


There are links to YouTube and podcasts, as well.  Or, anyone can call me directly at (847) 274-1474.  Googling my name will also produce all kinds of unusual results.  That other Robert M. Katzman, now deceased, whose name will also appear and who also published, was a doctor.  He actually bought one of my books!  Such a nice man.  Rest in peace, Dr. Katzman.


There will be short poems, stories and essays published in this space every two weeks by either myself or my co-blogist Richard G. Munden, or both.  If you find our postings thought provoking, moving or even amusing, please tell others to come view this site.  We will find our strength in your numbers.


 Next year, I will publish my fifth book, a collection of my best poetry and essays, called,


        I Seek the Praise of Ordinary Men


Individuals who know of independent bookstores that might be interested in a rough-hewn guy like me, who ran a chain of newsstands for 20 years in Chicago, please tell them about my books, will you?  I am partial to independent bookstores, having owned two, myself, until my last one was killed by the giant chains, in 1994. I still miss it. 


I’m also looking to find someone who would want to make a play out of some of my stories in the Chicago area, so I could go there and do some readings sometimes.  I think there’s enough honest sex, drugs and rock n’ roll to hold anyone’s interest, as well as a lot of authentic dialogue from ordinary people in extraordinary situations.  I think the plays would work anywhere, frankly, in some intimate theater with talented actors.




When We are Seventy and You are Forty…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Poetry & Prose,Robert Katzman's Stories — Bob at 7:32 am on Sunday, August 3, 2008


In July 1993, my youngest child and daughter, Rachel, then nearly thirteen, had her Bat Mitzvah.


At her party, her mother Joyce and I read this serious poem I’d written for the happy occasion.  Her grandparents, Irv and Anne, my parents, were both there that day, as they were at my Bar Mitzvah thirty years earlier, in 1963.  Her older sister, Lisa (then eighteen) and her older brother David (then fifteen) were there as well.  I tried to read my words, and failed, as usual.  But Joyce finished all of it, as she always has: 



When We are Seventy and You are Forty

©1993 by Robert M. Katzman



When we are seventy and you are forty:


It won’t matter if you ever repaired that explosion you called your room.


It won’t matter that all of our bath towels were in your room, soaking wet, and on the floor in Hamsterland.


It won’t matter that your determined gymnastics in the living room sounded like incoming rockets when we were in the basement.


When we are seventy and you are forty:


It won’t matter that your high-spirited mob of friends kept us up until three in the morning, whenever they slept over.


It won’t matter whether you were an honor student or a misfit.


It won’t matter that little bits of evidence of Rachel would be found in every single room you’d been in.


When we are seventy and you are forty,


All that will count to us is:


When the good things happen in your life, you will want us to know.


When you experience pain of any kind, you will always know our hearts and arms are open to you.


When we call you to talk, you will always be willing to listen to us.


When we have heartache, we can always find solace with you.


When we are seventy and you are forty,


And your brother is forty-two and your sister is forty-five:


May we all feel as much love for each other then, as we all feel for each other today.


                                                                                                                                                                 (Read on …)

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


To me, being an American is an idea.

A concept. An agreement of equals.

A willingness to tolerate the differences in others, and 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.

I’m happy to live in a country where the African-American and Hispanic populations overwhelm my own culture, because diversity doesn’t threaten me.  I like living in a country where being different doesn’t limit you, like being Cypriot, Cambodian, Armenian, Ethiopean, Gypsy, Kazak, Slovakian or Bulgarian.  Or Chechen, Bosnian or Somali.

The prospect of learning Spanish because the ever evolving tide of immigration and history now favor Latin America is not intimidating, because it will soon be the principal “American” language and my grandchildren will speak it fluently and wonder why I’m inept at it, like my immigrant grandparents whom were native speakers of Yiddish and found English to be daunting.

Damn frustrating English, impossible to spell but so rich in variety for songwriters and poets, has only been the lingua franca of North America for about three hundred plus years.

A speck in time.

(Read on …)

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