Cover Story

Our Lake
Come summer, Lake Michigan defines Chicago. Here is the complete how-to manual for that aquatic playground, as well as reminiscences from five prominent writers that capture the lake’s elusive essence.


The Friends of O
by James L. Merriner
Inside the circle of Chicagoans who spotted Barack Obama’s talent, helped guide his path—and made it hard for him to close the deal (even before the Reverend Wright eruptions)

by Jennifer Tanaka
Last year, the world-class chef Grant Achatz was diagnosed with oral cancer, and radical surgery seemed like the only answer. He fought and won—and he kept his tongue. 

Hello, Beautiful!
by Michael Lenehan
Ten years ago, Greg Gunthorp sold pigs for less than his grandfather did during the Depression. Only a last-ditch effort saved him from going (pork-)belly-up: He called Charlie Trotter’s.  

At Home: Photo Finish
by Christine Newman
A couple raze the Victorian next door to their Lake Geneva vacation home and build a sleek new photography studio with its own personal- ity: industrial chic, plus a view of the lake.




PAGE TWO Weatherman Tom Skilling’s unusual following ARTS & CULTURE Killer pitcher Cat Osterman is Beijing bound; mega-artist Jeff Koons comes to town; a gay history icon in dispute; five great road trips for music aficionados; new music and books; and introducing our new literary review column, Writers on Writers SERVICE DESK In a down real-estate market, does it pay to transform a starter house into a dream home? We asked three contractors to find out. Plus: Inflation, deconstructed STYLE Whether your preference is sitting poolside or beachside, you’ll find something to covet in our 1950s- and ’60s-inspired summer swim guide. Plus: Waxing by ZIP Code, a peek inside Jill Alberts’s new boutique in Highland Park, and our picks for art fairs

Bistronomics hits River North; Achatz and Keller square off in Dining Out; the hottest spots; Kahan’s big deal

by Sarah Preston
Holy cow! Wrigleyville scores yet another sports bar

by Marcia Froelke Coburn
In Drunkard, his sixth book, the Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg lives down a sad, perplexing, and notorious family crisis.

Deal Estate
by Dennis Rodkin
As these six housing bargains reveal, there is a silver lining behind the area’s declining real-estate prices. 


The Closer
by Jeff Ruby
Summer swarms of camera-toting, Navy Pier–visiting tourists driving you crazy? If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Chicago Guide®
Your handbook to what’s going on around town: Jazz Showcase goes live; Shakespeare goes hip-hop; Cicero goes gaga for mummies.

The definitive guide to Chicago’s top restaurants. Mon Ami falters; Seasons picks up steam; Zak’s Place scores in Hinsdale.