Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Hiroshi Hamasaki, and What He Meant to Me in 1969…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © August 2005

(Sometimes I get hired to read my stories in public in front of groups of people–a way of becoming known as a writer worth reading–and then hopefully selling some of my books. But I will never read this story in public. Never this one. Read it, it is very brief, and you will understand what happened 50 years ago this month. If Hiroshi were still among us today, I am imagining the terror he might be reliving…again).

Hiroshi Hamasaki, or “Frank”, as he told non-Japanese people to call him, came to my wooden newsstand in Hyde Park for the first time in fall, 1966. He was self-conscious about people stumbling over his unconventional actual name and long ago selected a name that would make strangers feel more at ease with him.

           At the more established, larger newsstand down the street from me, the irritable  news vender who owned it, a World War II veteran, had made an unfortunately vile reference to Frank’s ancestry, even though Frank’s family had lived in the United States for generations.

(Read on …)

Movies Worth Seeing…by Robert M. Katzman (Secret Movie Maven!)

by Robert M. Katzman (Secret Movie Maven)©️ Memorial Day, May 2019

I have been obsessed with the fantasy world of movies since I was a child who couldn’t escape a dangerous home. An alternative cinematic Universe seemed a safe harbor, if only for a brief time.

Sports were never an alternative. Hit a ball, catch a ball, get crushed while holding a ball, avoid being hit by a speeding ball–what is it with balls and aggression? 

Oh, wait. Not a good question.

While a lot of people revered Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, I was a long time admirer of Roger Ebert, and even got to know him for a long while. He was the only person in my one year on Amazon who bought my first book.

I’ve made a list of a number of movies, various genres, but all involving human interaction of movies worth seeing more than once or twice. I won’t list the casts or directors because younger people won’t recognize the names, but also because an existing group of famed movie stars appearing together in a film can amount to nothing without a great script and director.

There are a number of Westerns, but they tend to tell detailed moments of intense relationships in isolated areas of America where mutual dependence is essential. The fact they are “Westerns” is not essential to the overall story.

There are qualities of friendship, empathy, grit, courage and determination that sew these varied films into a celluloid quilt, but a person’s perception of pleasure is partly base on what rescued them from pain, I believe. Emotion doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

(Read on …)

Learning To Work With Your Hands…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © May 20, 2019

Learning to work with your hands changes your worldview and increases your ability to take care of yourself and be more independent. It also helps make a person more compassionate to other people’s physical limitations, because so many are one injury away from unemployment.

To me, judging another’s worth by what they do for a living is a sin. But then, running a wooden newspaper stand as a teenager to allow me to pay for high school with privileged classmates will create feelings like that in a person. Seven of my 160 classmates ended up working for me, at one time, or another. 

(Read on …)

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

Filed under: Beloved Teachers,Cops,Friendship & Compassion,Gangsters,Uncategorized — Bob at 2:46 pm on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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 …)

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 …)

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 …)

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