Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Light Brush With Stedman

A short article in Crain's Chicago Business caught my eye the other day: Restaurant at NBC Tower closes.

"The casual-dining restaurant in NBC Tower shut its doors earlier this month, with the owner putting the 8,000-square-foot space up for sublease.

"Renamed Amira Mediterranean Cuisine several years ago, the restaurant’s eclectic menu featured brick-oven pizzas, kebabs and pasta dishes. Before that, it was called Pazzo’s, which offered more traditional Italian fare and opened in 1995..."

The economy shoots down another downtown Chicago restaurant. I ate there exactly once, the time I had my encounter with Stedman. Few are my stories of celebrity sightings, but this was one. Sort of. "Sort of" because it was sort of a sighting, and because Stedman is sort of a celebrity.

I became editor of a monthly magazine in the late '90s, and during my first week the publisher took me and the rest of the editorial staff -- one person -- out to lunch at Pazzo's. As we sat there talking about this and that, a man walked by our table and headed toward the exit.

"That was Stedman!" the publisher said, as wide-eyed as I ever saw her, before or since. I didn't say anything but must have looked quizzical. "Stedman. Oprah's boyfriend," she said.

I would never have known who it was if I hadn't been told, and the only impact of my ignorance would be that I'd have to post about something else today. Stedman Graham is his full name. Not knowing who he is, in some circles, is like not knowing what year it is.

I move in other circles and pay attention to other things. Sometime later, I used the term "E Pluribus Unum" as part of some artwork to illustrate an article in that same magazine. It seemed to fit, but only for those who recognized it. The publisher wasn't one of those people, though surely she carried around legal tender that asserted that very idea.

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