Chicago Basks in Its Favorite Son’s Glow – International Herald Tribune Article


“So long, Crawford, Texas.

Even before President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January, effectively crowning Chicago as the site of the western White House, the city is basking in a moment of triumph that is spilling well beyond the confines of politics.

For the first time in U.S. history, an American president will call this city home. And as he moves to Washington, a dose of the Chicago mood is sure to follow.

“We’re not Little Rock, and we’re not Texas,” said Rick Bayless, a friend of the Obama family who owns Frontera Grill and is one of the local celebrity chefs. “It’s easy to put on your cowboy boots and eat all that barbecue. You can’t do that from Chicago. We’ve got a lot of muscle, and it’s far too complex of a place for that.”

The complexity of Chicago, a city that is multiplying in its new diversity even as it clings to a segregated past, is rooted in the 200 neighborhoods that make up the third-largest U.S. city. America and much of the world may well know Oprah Winfrey, who became a billion-dollar name through her rise to fame here, but the city holds a far broader identity.

One sign that the Obama brand is replacing the Oprah brand? The talk show tycoon is not mentioned in the city’s new tourism campaign, which invites visitors to “Experience the city the Obamas enjoy.” Winfrey’s studio is not mentioned along the list of stops, which range from Bayless’s restaurants to a bookstore in the Obamas’ Hyde Park neighborhood to Promontory Point along Lake Michigan. And souvenirs are on sale across town, with Obama shirts, hats and knickknacks arriving just in time for Christmas  shopping.

“It seems like there are eight million people walking around here congratulating each other,” said Scott Turow, a best-selling novelist who was born in the city. “Chicagoans are unbelievably proud of Barack and feel of course that he’s ours, because he is.”

Catching himself, he added: “I guess I should get out of the habit of calling him Barack.””


4 thoughts on “Chicago Basks in Its Favorite Son’s Glow – International Herald Tribune Article

  1. Chicago is so “complex”…I wear cowboy boots and enjoy barbeque occasionally, I probably wouldn’t understand it. Thank God I live in small town America, away from all of the ‘complexities’ of big city life…if only we had more ‘muscle’…???

  2. This article is a joke. It could have been a nice tribute to Obama, given some recognition to Chicago and called it a day. Instead, the author finds some of the most snobbish people this city has to offer quotes. A few of my favorite excerpts:
    – The chef from Frontera Grill sounds like a real jerk. What do you mean you can’t eat bbq in Chicago?? Just b/c he doesn’t serve it at his restaurant? Has he ever been to Smoke?! What a snob.
    – People from Chicago just put their heads down and “accept what’s dealt to them.” Seriously? Has the author of this article ever been in Wrigley when the Cubs lose? There is so much crying and moaning and anger that it’s a borderline disturbing! Let’s not even consider what would have happened had Obama (gasp!) lost the election!
    – I have yet to meet someone born and raised in the area that is “humble.”
    – Alex Kotlowitz must not get out of the Gold Coast that often if he actually believes that people in Chicago aren’t defined by “wealth, work or accomplisments.”

    Don’t get me wrong, Chicago is a great city. It has a lot to offer, and there is a lot to do. But come on….complex, humble? Not the first 2 words that come to mind when defining this city 🙂

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