Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

America, Please, Don’t Do This!…by Robert M. Katzman

America, Please, Don’t Do this!

By Robert M. Katzman © July I, 2018 (Canada Day)

Eyes flicker open in the darkness. I hear the battery wall clock ticking, so I must still be living. Pale morning light is peeking past the loose drawn shades covering some of this small house’s dozen large windows. If this were a fort, no way to defend it. But on a sunny morning, cool wind outside, shades up and windows open a bit on four sides, I don’t need electricity to clear the stale air or illuminate my house.

Wearing my usual long black T-shirt with the screaming American Eagle on it, the one that stops near my knees so I always appear modestly dressed to a morning visitor, expected or not, except for the fact that its only about five ounces of opaque cotton, I decide to do my morning routine, parts of which I’m recording here for future anthropologists. Present day people may be less entranced.
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My Fierce Grandma Celia Warman, Her Thousand-Dollar Bar Mitzvah Gift to Me on the South Side of Chicago, 55 Years Ago……………….by Robert M. Katzman © April 13, 2018

    by Robert M. Katzman © April 13, 2018

55 years ago today, April 13, 1963, near the top of Pill Hill on the South Side of Chicago at a very large, very square synagogue named Rodfei Sholem or Chadash on 91st and Jeffery Avenue, I was still 12 years old and it was my Bar Mitzvah. But that Temple was so packed with members, that it had to schedule two Bar Mitzvahs at one time.

Many of the Hebrew School teachers were high-strung Israelis, only 15 years after the new country was formed, and they screamed at me all the time. This Bar Mitzvah, this singularly longed for day represented parole for me from my resented ethnic prison. I was free. I was done.

It took me four more years, on my own running a newsstand in Hyde Park by then, to figure out I really did completely accept my Jewish identity at 17, in 1967 and my personal life long self-education began that year and continues today, half a century later at almost 68.

99% of everyone who was at my Bar Mitzvah party are dead now. It is a lonely time to recall any of it, but I do remember the crowds. Now no one left to call and say: Do you remember…?

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Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy Failing Algebra & the University of Chicago Lab High School (1966)…Part Two…by Robert M. Katzman

Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy failing Algebra, and the

University of Chicago Lab High School in 1966.

by Robert M. Katzman © January 31, 2018 

Part Two

So Paul and I met twice a week for months in that small room in the library with two wooden chairs and a wooden table. I told him about how the newsstand was progressing and what I was learning, and the difficulties of learning to manage a one-armed, one-legged 69-year-old employee, born in 1896, who as it turned out was the original owner of where my newsstand was now, except his was there in 1916. This became sessions of stories about stories.

I had no identity as a writer, never considered that as any kind of career for myself and wasn’t writing down any of what I told Paul when we met, or his stories either. Like two pre-biblical Israelites carrying on a kind of oral tradition of expecting the next generations to preserve unwritten history. But we were both telling each other stories. I wasn’t expecting anything from him, but I was glad he seemed interested in this kid talking about whatever I was talking about. But when we were telling stories, we weren’t talking about algebra, so that was good.

(Read on …)

Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy Failing Algebra & the University of Chicago Lab High School (1966…Part One…by Robert M. Katzman

Paul, Beautiful Sue, Wayne, the Paperboy Failing Algebra & the

University of Chicago Lab High School (1966)

by Robert M. Katzman © January 30, 2018   Part One 

Classic gritty Chicago tale about a high school math tutor and a student from very different worlds leading to a fifty-year warm friendship, which only death could end.

In September 1964, after failing a pre-freshman admittance required Algebra course during the summer at the University of Chicago Laboratory School High School, or U-High, in Hyde Park, I also subsequently failed my first year taking Freshman Algebra, too.

Somewhere among my less treasured memories is an old shoebox, and within it, besides my four different draft card classifications between 1968 and 1974, is a small rectangular piece of paper with the handwritten letter “F” placed squarely in the center of it. It meant I had to take the detested algebra class for yet a third time.

U-High’s very efficient system for helping students who seemed likely to embarrass and undermine the school’s gleaming reputation in the future assigned me a math tutor who would meet with me in the library in a private room every Tuesday and Thursday. The first week of my second year there as a sophomore in September 1966, I met Paul Moulton. I was sixteen, born in 1950, and he was forty-six, born in 1920.

(Read on …)

Last Filmed Interview of My Life and Store by Brad Meyer & Sofia Kerpan

Final filmed interview of my strange life and my last Magazine Memories just before it closed in April 2016, so I could care for my wife Joyce, who was in hospice. To me, what they created is an incredibly touching end of career perspective by other people. Only nine minutes long, made by Brad Meyer & Sophia Kerpan.

(Read on …)

Magazine Memories, 2012 Filmed Interview by J.T.Bowers, Skokie, Illinois–Store Closed 4/10/16

Filed under: Bewilderment,Filmed Interviews,Humor,Katzman Biography,Life & Death,My Own Personal Hell,Retail Purgatory — Bob at 7:53 am on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

One of the last back-issue magazine resources in America, this 2012  fourteen minute interview by an incredibly compassionate and talented movie maker, J. T. Bowers, who got it right. Out of two hours of filming, he distilled it down to this short film. But the music…the music is heartbreaking, to me at least. Like filming death in slow motion. Some people can see more than others, and Bowers is gifted that way. I haven’t seen him for years,but maybe he’ll see this and contact me.

(Read on …)

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