Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Dobie Maxwell–A Noble Unsung Comic…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Dobie maxwell-Unsung Comic,Friendship & Compassion,My Own Personal Hell — Bob at 11:36 am on Thursday, March 15, 2012

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

© 3/17/2012  St. Patrick’s Day

Some people are born with a sense of reciprocity, innate and clear, like salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

Other people, well, you could stick a giant glowing neon arrow up their ass in an effort to point them in the right direction, and it would serve no purpose.

Dobie Maxwell is someone who’s been kicked around in anonymity for a good chunk of his life, and yet still maintained his sense of right and wrong and when to speak up when he recognizes an injustice.  As a person so much like him, I know how rare it is to find a guy to buck the snarling crowd and say: Stop!

I will tell you who he is to me, and what happened to compel me to write this profile about him. I am not certain, but something tells me that not enough has been written about Dobie, and if so, not like what I’m going to say.

Except I know so little.

Funny, under the present circumstances.

I don’t know Dobie’s actual name.

I don’t know if he’s married or has children.

I don’t know where he lives or even his phone number.

We never went to dinner or a movie.

I don’t know what his car looks like.

But,  I surely know Dobie.

He’s a standup comic waiting for a break.  Years ago, a total stranger, he called me to sell his Mad Magazine collection at a time when I didn’t want or need them in my back-issue magazine store collection, and I had little cash to give to him, in any event.  No one had asked me for any issue of Mad for a couple of years. But we talked for a bit, anyway. Dobie has that something that makes talking to him as easy as breathing.

He was a different kind of cat, tho’.  He needed the cash, but seemed to get me and my own sorry situation. We connected that way.  Then, irrationally, since as I already told him I had no need of what he was selling, I made him an offer that was not a lot, but fair, and then I asked Dobie if I could pay him over five months. An outrageous thing to ask a stranger.

Why would he trust me?

The guy didn’t know me at all.

I hoped maybe, possibly, someone would want to buy the Mads and the sales might cover the debt.

He agreed.

Jesus Christ, Dobie!

We met, shook hands (a contract), I gave him the first check and it was cool.

Almost immediately, a quite serious podiatrist in scrubs came in who was looking to complete his Mad collection, but was on a budget. I guess he was seeking to complete his collection foot by foot.

The Doc bought a LOT of Mads over the next year, and he was happy. Dobie got his money on the dot each month and along the way, we became friends. Other people bought Mads down the line.  I made an actual profit.  There was a weirdness to it.  The Dobie-Bob-Doc connection didn’t exist prior to our handshake.

The Doc was happy, Dobie didn’t get screwed by a stranger and feel like a schmuck, and my store lived another day, for a while anyway. There are not enough Dobies in the world because I expect most of them get stung.

So Dobie has no more Mads to drag around with him, but he has me in his corner and I him. Friendship can be very light to carry with you, most of the time.

He came by my store every so often to say hello, or offered me free tickets to come see him.

One time, he called me in great frustration to tell me that his car window was smashed and some thug had stolen his laptop with twenty years of routines inside of it…with no back up disc anywhere.  He was in total misery and I did what you do when there is nothing a person can do to fix what’s broken: I listened.

I commiserated.

I offered him an ear from someone who actually cared.  It didn’t fix his problem, but perhaps for just a moment he felt a tiny bit less alone and maybe less disgusted with himself and his difficult life.  Dobie drives from gig to gig, all over the Midwest, sometimes barely covering the cost of his gas.

And that’s my small story about Dobie Maxwell, never written before.

So…

For about five years, I’ve been writing and posting my stories and poetry on my DifferentSlants.com website, gradually building up a list of about 140 e-mails addresses to notify people about when I posted a new story. With five books in print, and more than 5,000 sold, it was the only way I could advertise myself and hope to get hired to give readings, as I have been more than seventy times.  One of the people on my list was Dobie.

In February 2012, the most hits ever happened on my site, over 28,000, and I was very happy to becoming better known.

Then came my story about the killing of innocents in Syria.  I was angry and it was spontaneous.

I wrote an emotional and–rare for me–political story entitled:

Israel: Join The Syrian Rebellion, Now. While the World Watches and Does Nothing!

and sent it out to my 140 addresses, all of which were visible to the recipients, as had always been the case over the past five years as my list grew and grew.  I didn’t know any other way to do it, with my limited internet skills.

Well, several people seized on the subject matter, which to me was about compassion and not about politics, and then they went after each other, especially two hysterical writers, a Swede and an Israeli.  Except they not only wrote angry notes back and forth to each other, but also to everyone else on my list, endlessly.

People were furious, FURIOUS!…with me.

Some liked the message but not the transmission, proving for certain that a person can be damned by their good deeds.

Then came the steady machine gun-like rat-a-tat-tat of:

Drop me from your list!   Drop me from your list!!

Drop me from your list!   Drop me from your list!!

Drop me from your list!   Drop me from your list!!

Drop me from your list!   Drop me from your list!!

Drop me from your list!   Drop me from your list!!

Drop me from your list!   Drop me from your list!!

After five years and so many stories, no one wanted to hear from me any more.

I was so crushed and so defenseless.  Damned by my ignorance of internet etiquette.  So many doors slamming!

So, I wrote an apology, sending it out to my whole “list”, one last time:

To too many exasperated and antagonized people:

I regret that my last posting was sent incorrectly and which created so much unwanted traffic to so many people.

I’m 61, don’t know enough about the rules and customs of the internet and didn’t know I should be using “Bcc” to keep everyone’s e-mail private. It has been a very bad experience for me.

My goal was to try to help, somehow, to find a way to stop the killing of innocent Syrians. I never write about politics.

Instead, my posting created a wave of messages between people with strong positions who argued en masse sending messages to everyone on my list, instead of one-on-one on the site itself in the comments section.

The list of irritated, exasperated people includes my aunt, son, friends and people I work with. I am embarrassed that I caused so much antagonism.

A classic case of being damned by an effort to do a good deed, because of what I didn’t know. Consequently, to avoid this whole situation ever repeating itself, there is no longer a “list” to be asked to be dropped from.

I write from the heart and want to be known as a writer worth reading, but this painful episode will never help me achieve that goal.

If anyone is still sending out messages to dozens of people related to what I wrote: Stop it, damn it!

No one need bother to write to me to ask me to stop. I have, with this last note of regret. If anyone cares to read my many stories and poetry at DifferentSlants.com, fine, great. Go look at it. Doesn’t cost a dime.

I feel terrible right now and wish I could turn back time. Again, sorry.

Bob

Few replied. Some offered consolation, saying it’ll blow over soon and don’t lose sleep over it, etc.

But I was done.  No list, and if anyone wanted to read my stuff, it would be by chance and not because I notified them.  Welcome, Anonymity.  I know you so well.  But it seems like even you don’t know me.

Then, a day later, this message came in an e-mail from one of my consolers, from Dobie Maxwell:

 I sincerely apologize in advance for invading anyone’s personal space. This is a one time email, and I promise I’ll stop after I get this off my chest.

I just wanted to say to all who have been so adamant about being removed from this list, please don’t blame or be angry with Bob Katzman. He is a very honest, giving and hard working fellow – not to mention one talented and diligent writer. I met Bob at his store years ago, and immediately liked him on many levels. He’s passionate about what he does, and is an unbelievably kind and giving soul. He wants the world to be a better place and actually makes an attempt to DO something about it. I totally respect anyone who has that kind of guts. Not many do.

If he happened to make a mistake and include people’s email addresses, so what? It was an honest mistake, and NO harm was intended. He isn’t a stalker or trying to sell Amway to anyone, and if someone happened to get into a discussion about a topic he brought up, all the better. Can’t we just hit ‘delete’ if we’re not interested in participating? It will pass, and life goes on. Bob didn’t do anything malicious, nor did he or anyone else ask me to write this note. Life is very short and these are not the best of times for anyone. I can see how someone might get a bit bothered by getting an email or two that wasn’t asked for, but is it really that bad of a situation? I’d bet some of our soldiers in Afghanistan would LOVE it if all they had to worry about were a few stray emails. On the world scale, this is less than zero. It’s a bug fart, and a silent one at that. Let it pass, and it will.

Those of you who are angry, all I can say is please don’t blame Bob. In fact, I will personally buy you any of his excellent books, and you can read for yourself how talented and thoughtful of a writer he is. I’m a performer myself, and I know how difficult it is to do anything well. Bob Katzman isn’t trying to hurt anyone. Let’s all just let this pass and work on healing our suffering world. I send positive vibes to all who read this.

And I absolutely promise this will be the last time I send ANYTHING to any of you. Peace and healing to ALL – Jews, gentiles, whites, blacks, males, females and everyone in between. We’re all in this together. Nobody is higher or lower than anybody else. We’re all humans, let’s live well.

Sermon over.

Sincerely,

Dobie Maxwell

Stunned by all he said, I wrote to him, thanking him.

The irony is clear to me, and will soon be to Dobie.  I no longer will broadcast my writing, including this piece. Maybe to a couple people, but that’s it. I never want to be the butt of a massive wave of anger again.  So here is a public thank you and celebration of Dobie Maxwell, and I’m whispering that it’s posted.  Sorry Dobie.  As always, and a comic certainly knows this, that timing is everything.

The capitol of the country of Reciprocity is Character.  Dobie lives there.  I want to think I do, too.

See you around, Dobie.

And, thanks again.

Break a leg, ok?

 

Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $24.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.

8 Comments »

Comment by Rick

March 16, 2012 @ 1:30 am

Anyone who would like to receive automatic notification whenever a new article is published on Different Slants should take advantage of the “Subscribe” feature found in the left hand column of every page. You will receive an email (with no cc:) showing the beginning of the new post and a link to the rest of it.

It will also make Bob very happy.

Rick

Comment by Bob

March 16, 2012 @ 11:18 am

Rick Munden is a kind person living on a boat next to Turkey (the country, not the bird) with his terrific wife, Mary. The reason their boat gently rocks to and fro is because Mary has an in with the Universe and probably a cousin in The Vatican.

I would say ‘Hail Mary’s’ if I knew they were directed to Irish Mary in the boat instead of that other nice Jewish Mary in the manger. The Jewish girls I grew up with on the South Side of Chicago, not only would not put up with having hay…and cows…and donkeys…all over their delivery room, but none of them would admit to knowing me, either…Biblically or otherwise.

We sleep, my present wife Joyce and I, in a room with two old dogs and a rabbit, so it does have some semblance of a manger-like quality to it. And in fact, with the Timothy hay we feed the rabbit scattered all around, maybe I should leave the door open for the Three Wise Men if they decide to come by to say hello to us, in Aramaic. Maybe they could give me a hint about a good lottery number. Maybe not.

I looked up “manger” in my ragged dictionary and it’s Latin for ‘chew’. So chew on that for a while.

Passover & Easter fall on the same day this year, a rare thing. Maybe all the stars will align or something. We all have something to wish for.

Happy Easter, Mary
Happy ______ (fill in the blank),Rick

I had my Bar Mitzvah during Passover, 49 years ago this April 13th, a time, place and people who only exist in memory.

Shabbat Shalom, from a contemplative Bob

Comment by Don Larson

March 16, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

Bob,

I write for me on my Facebook and my blog. I almost never ask anyone to read the postings. If someone wants to read them that’s their choice, I do not impose my thoughts on them in those two places unless they respond. As such, no one is “forced” to read what I write.

To your other readers:

If someone doesn’t like what I write that their choice too. My suggestion has been if that’s the case, don’t read my posts, or instead, get a life! There are many millions of Americans exercising their First Amendment Right. That inalienable right has almost no limits except those types of speech excluded by the U.S. Supreme Court.

American life is not all about getting along, or being passive, or about matters outside our particular scope of concern. In short, it’s easy to find another person who has very different ideas about any particular topic. That’s what great about America, we can all be different, and write whatever we wish (subject to the limits mentioned earlier) as we please.

Many years ago when I first started publishing on the web, I posted controversial statements that also led to a surge of “drop me off this list!”. I dropped them as they requested. It didn’t matter that they joined that mailing list voluntarily, I never added them. But that’s how human nature is, fickle. Some people expect other adults to change their diapers for them. I’m not one of those people who will.

After that Discussion Group web site ended, I never again opened up my next blog to comments. It’s been very peaceful ever since. I still have over 400 readers a day read parts of my blog. Between April 2002 and July 2010 I accumulated over 5 million page views on another part of my website. Some liked what I wrote some didn’t. I wasn’t trying to please everyone. That’s unrealistic.

If a person feels like a strong liberal, good for them. The same goes for a strong conservative, good for them too. All of them, those in-between, and me, are going to be around. That’s how life is.

I know Bob will always be for peace and he is a caring individual. I don’t always agree with him. But we have remained good friends for 54 years and political views don’t get in the way of our friendship. Life has too many other facets for me than to base my associations and friendship on narrow political views.

By the way, I almost never discuss my political views in-person or on the phone. I write them in the manner I described earlier. I don’t believe in coercing someone to listen to my political views. I can’t believe that I ever could change anyone’s mind on their political views and vice-versa.

I hope you see that I am no better or worse than anyone else. If you think that’s not true, then that’s your issue, not mine. I’m not perfect and I gave up trying to be perfect long ago because perfection takes too much energy.

Back to Bob in particular:

As for you, Bob, don’t change your ways of expressing yourself. Sure, you don’t want to spam your loyal readers, but I think you understand better now how to avoid spamming people.

Sincerely,

Don

Comment by Bob

March 17, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

Don, and to whom it may concern,
I am thinking about resurrecting a small list of the people who asked to be notified when I post a poem or story. I will be selective. Can’t let one lousy experience push me around.
As for Don, and there is only one Don, everything he said respresents who he actually is, which is a highly lovable person. I cherish him and his very different than mine political views.

As for changing your own diaper, Don, I appreciate your sharing that, but let’s just say that however that works out in 2040,I hope the diaper changer–should you (God Forbid!) need one,is incredible cute.

From the Left, with devotion,
Bob

Comment by David Griesemer

March 18, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

I confess, I was oblivious to this turmoil, and suffered no ill effects. My sympathies to all who did, including Bob. Dobie is right when he says – for those unfamiliar – Bob does not set out to injure folks. When he does roil, it is measured and well-founded. But communication is changing from under our feet, without consulting or even notifying us. As we age, what was harmless becomes a minefield. Bob’s soul got lost in the algorithms. Like Lyndon Johnson, he’s retired to his ranch, wondering how things went so wrong. Like John Quincy Adams, he’ll be back.

Comment by Tom Millstead

March 19, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

Hi, Bob. Read your controversial message–a great piece of intense writing. Yes, I agree with you on what Israel should do. But I’m not Jewish and have no right to tell a threatened nation like that as to what it should do. Indeed, free people should act to assist the oppressed. At the same time, I have strong views on non-violence–by anyone. The culmination of a life-long search for the meaning of it all. I told you about the 400 or so Fate magazine copies I have–due to an interest in alternative phenomena,lifestyles, views and events. So I feel military attacks aren’t the ultimate answer to evil. But sometimes a temporary help, true.

Glad to hear from you. A coincidence since I just finished reading “Fighting Words” and wanted to talk with you about it. Much impressed by the quality of the writing, much more than I expected and I expected there’d be a lot. Much came across as a polished story told by a top professional fiction writer, as far as vivid descriptions and setting up scenes. Will give you a call.

And, alas, I still need to be rid of those Fate mags. If you could find room for them, that’s be lovely. But if not, please don’t hesitate to say so.

A final note: There are ways now (though I’m not into them) to publish existing backlist print books as e-books. On Kindle and elsewhere. There are people set up to convert print prose to online books and vastly extend readership. Your works could thus reach many more folks.

Cordially,

Tom Millstead

Comment by Dobie Maxwell

March 23, 2012 @ 7:28 am

Hi Bob,

THANK YOU for those kind and sincere words. I’m very glad we crossed paths in this life, and I hope we can continue to do so.

Looking forward to having you on as a guest on The Mothership Connection radio show this coming Sunday night at 8:20 PM Central Time on AM 1050 WLIP in Kenosha, WI. http://www.wlip.com for those who want to listen online. Talk to you then!

Your friend,

Dobie

PS, I drive a Chevy Cavalier. 🙂

Comment by Gargi

April 3, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

Having revisited this posting, I’m adding my two cents to the register: CHING!

I enjoyed your reflections, Bob, your story about Dobie, and his replying. From a ‘writerly’ point of view, there are a few stand-outs:

“There was a weirdness to it. The Dobe-Bob-Doc connection didn’t exist prior to our handshake.”

“Friendship can be very light with you, most of the time.”

“Welcome, Anonymity. I know you so well. But it seems like even you don’t know me.”

“The capitol of the ocuntry of Reciprocity is Character. Dobie lives there. I want to think I do too.”

Pearls, all!

A shout-out to Rick for coming to the rescue with clear-eyed, sound advice to the ReaderS of this, your (too) blog. Thanks. (I can see there are no chinks in the chain of friendship that links you and Bob– over years or over oceans).

As to my response (and, of course I responded!) to the attendant brouhaha– it was stated after that said story (will say no more as I want this entry
to stand as a response to this particular posting by Bob).

One last thing, I KNOW Dobie didn’t plan it this way, but, I cannot help think about that other poor Dobby, the enslaved House Elf (of Harry Potter fame) who later became a Free Elf– and of whom it is quoted of here:

“Dobby was often ostracised for having no “proper shame” about being out of work, the way most house-elves…acted. Dobby was generally pleased to be free, although he did enjoy working (as more of a hobby than a career). He was ecstatic to be out of the abusive hands of….”(…,fill in the blanks)

Yes Dobie and Dobby managed to eek out a happy ending’ after all their struggles…so can us all!

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