Like Having A Cocktail In The Sistine Chapel

The lobby of the Palmer House

I have a weakness for grand old hotels — so whenever I am in Chicago, I stay at the Palmer House.  In Chicago, at least, they don’t come much grander than this.

The peacock doors

The Palmer House has been around for decades.  Countless Presidents, princes, and potentates have stayed there, and Hollywood’s greatest stars have played at the Empire Room.  The hotel is colossal, with more than 1,000 guest rooms, and is stunningly ornate.

The Monroe Street entrance features the famous and beautiful peacock doors.  These brightly polished and gleaming examples of master metalworking craftsmanship set the tone for the guest’s passage into the brilliantly gaudy, rococo decor of the hotel’s interior. The bustling main lobby features large standing lamps that look like the Pharoah’s braziers, carved black and gold light fixtures on the stairs leading up to the Empire Room, and blazing wall sconces — all beneath a fabulous painted ceiling high, high above.

When you sit at the lobby bar in the Palmer House, you could easily spend hours just gawking at the ceiling and the various features of the lobby area.  It’s like having a cocktail in the Sistine Chapel — that is, assuming that the Sistine Chapel would employ a highly skilled bartender.

Our “Feisty” President

President Obama has been on the road lately, encouraging people to support the “jobs bill” that he proposed in his recent speech to a joint session of Congress.  Many of the news stories reporting on the President’s speech refer to him as “feisty” — see here and here, for example.  “Feisty” seems like a curious word choice under the circumstances.

“Feisty” is defined by Merriam-Webster’s to mean “full of nervous energy” or “fidgety,” “touchy” or “quarrelsome,” or “exuberantly frisky.”  Other sources define the word to mean “plucky” or “spunky.”  It is roughly synonymous with “cantankerous.”  There’s a reason why “feisty” is typically used to describe the unpredictably outspoken, motorcycle-riding grandmother who foiled a robbery or has engaged in some kind of angry letter-writing campaign to a local business.

Isn’t “feisty” an odd and somewhat dismissive word to use to describe the Leader of the Free World and the most powerful nation on Earth when he is out campaigning for his proposal?  I doubt that President Obama would want to be characterized as fidgety, touchy, quarrelsome, or spunky — it really doesn’t add to his political street cred to be equated with plucky octogenarians.