The city of Chicago has many faces, but the one that is inescapable this winter is President-elect Barack Obama's. . . .Kind of like the Hajj! (Yes a "Hussein" joke).
Obama's image flutters on Chicago street banners and shines from storefronts. Chicagoans have an extra bounce in their steps and new stops to highlight on their tour routes — the hangouts the Obama family came to love.
Businesspeople talk happily about the "Obama bump" in revenue from people making mini-pilgrimages. . . .
From soul food to swanky cuisine, the Obamas ate their way through Chicago . . .Reject mental image, reject mental image . . .
Downtown, a Barack and Michelle date night [sorry, threw up in your mouth again] often included dinner at chef Rick Bayless' upscale Mexican restaurants . . . . Mexican folk art dazzles the eye while "sustainably raised" vegetables, poultry, meat and fish from local artisan producers grace the plates.
Spiaggia's, a stylish and expensive Italian restaurant, 980 N. Michigan Ave., is where the Obamas traditionally celebrated Valentine's Day [not apologizing any more]. . . .
Sepia, a favorite spot for Michelle in the West Loop, 123 N. Jefferson St., is right next door to the boutique of Maria Pinto, a favorite designer and good friend of the soon-to-be first lady. Be forewarned, you have to make an appointment to try on clothes here.
Sepia is a renovated 1890s print shop with carefully preserved vintage features such as well-worn brick walls, contrasted with contemporary twists, such as the clear plastic drum encasing the crystal chandelier.Transgressive.
Other famous Sepia patrons include politico Rahm Emanuel and actors Bill Murray and Gwyneth Paltrow.You had me at the plastic-drum-encased chandelier. On with the tour!
The Obama residence is a stately reddish-brown brick Georgian revival with six bedrooms and four fireplaces at 5046 S. Greenwood Ave. While attractive, it has plenty of more palatial neighbors — architecture that makes this section of town fun to stroll. You can no longer stray too near the Obama home — blockades are in place —but you can glimpse the president-elect's house from about half a block away. . . .Half a block away? Bet you can get a lot closer to Billy Ayers' house.
If you are a true Obama fan ["High five! Down low! Too slow!"], you can visit the Hyde Park Hair Salon, where he got his hair cut for more than a decade, until fame dictated that his longtime barber, Zariff, start going to him. . . . Zariff reports that "the Obama style," which he describes as "low, youthful and joyful," is now being requested by men who stop by from all overThat's enough.
the world. . . .