Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

(1967) Bill & Ellen & Bob & Larry & Hugh & Jan & Brian…by Robert M. Katzman

By Robert M. Katzman  ©  Halloween 2011

What follows is the quintessential Chicago story of hardship and friendship. It all happened on the South Side, and my story covers decades. Why not dive in and get lost for a while? Every so often, as present civilization seems to be crashing down around us, and civility with it, good happens.

Why this is always a surprise mystifies me, but just as there’s more darkness in the Universe than light, perhaps that out-of-whack ratio is mirrored here on Earth with evil overwhelming good.  I don’t want to believe that is true.  I have evidence to the contrary that spontaneous good both exists in the most modest of people, and that it is either an inherited trait, or a mutation.  

Though my story was written on Halloween, it is more goodhearted than all the witches and goblins who surface that day, and is much more of a Thanksgiving Day story, at least to me.  Let me introduce the cast of this absolutely true little drama, which begins in frigid winter, 1967 and ends in sunny June 2011, forty-four years later.

(Read on …)

An Older Man’s Perspective on Yom Kippur: The Jewish Day of Atonement

By Robert M. Katzman © October 10, 2019


I believe that the central and very big idea of Yom Kippur, is essentially to ask for forgiveness as a community, all over the world, not only for one’s self. To atone collectively. 

Asking God to forgive another’s sin’s is an amazing concept if you think about it in reference to when these ideas were assembled–perhaps 3,000 years ago–when it was simply kill or be killed. 

(Read on …)

Remembering Rosh Hashanah in the 50’s…by Robert M. Katzman

By Robert M. Katzman © August 17, 2017

Remembering when Rosh Hashanah in the 50’s

Emptied out the South Side of Chicago

Creating a sea of frozen steel

On the northbound Chicago Highways

Racing the setting sun

To celebrate the

Jewish New Year

In September or October 

(Read on …)

The Rustic Queen on the Carousel…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman ©️ June 27, 2019

Matt Jerke, the technical assistant on the 2nd floor of the Racine Public Library, has been incredibly helpful in trying to bring me into the 21st Century. I am a work in progress. Very slow progress. Thank you, Matt

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Some beautiful sunlit morning
While I wait for Cinderella to arrive
My grand-daughter might say to me:
“Grampa, what did you learn in your life?”
And I look through the colors of the glass
Fade backwards thru time
Drifting  
Wondering how to answer someone so young
And pointing to the pretty window
I’d say to her,
“Well sometimes things were wonderful…

(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 …)

How a Lithuanian Jewish Kid, at 14 , Joined “Da Chicagah Machine”…by Robert M. Katzman

How a Lithuanian Jewish Kid, at 14, Joined “Da Chicagah Machine”

by Robert M. Katzman © January 13, 2019

Chicago is a museum of unassimilated words, accents and physical expressions. North Side Jewish accent, rich kids, was very different from the West Side, the immigrants and the South Side, home of the white collar, the working-class Jews. The Chosen People had different voices, even in the American Promised Land. 

Dees guys, dis stuff, dem bricks and dos cops came from the Germans who came here earlier. 

(Read on …)
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