2020 has been an absolute rollercoaster of a year, as the pandemic has steamrolled our society in so many ways. We’re looking back at the shit we all just went through as a community. Not all months this year were equal, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to rank them. Now is the time to remember the good, note the bad, and chuckle at the weird (just wait for BEST and WORST 2020), and everything in between.
This ranking — 12 being worst and one being best — is completely arbitrary, so don’t @ us. We’ve provided a context for each month. Please, whatever you do, don't take this assessment too seriously.
Summer is in full swing. Much of the enjoyment of living in the Midwest during the summer is completely stripped of us. Cases are skyrocketing. Even though the sun is shining and we can be outdoors, everyone is acting as if the pandemic is going to go away soon, when really it is raging out of control.
- Election season is approaching. There is a lot of promise on the ballot. Positivity!
- Paign to Peace is really something. These young leaders in our community are badasses.
- Although summer was a positive thing for our collective mental health, that meant Greek Reunion was coming. Yes, even during a pandemic. This was going to be bad but thankfully city leadership actually listened and worked with businesses to shut things down.
- Rogue Barber Co.’s racist behavior was absolutely deplorable. And the City of Champaign’s response to the whole thing did not help.
- Wait, they are going to spend how much on armed officers in Urbana Schools? Yikes.
- Another prom almost happened, but was shut down. Have these people learned nothing?
We are fractions of what we once were. We once knew the person occupying the space we call our body. We barely even recognize those versions of ourselves at this point. At least the year is almost over.
- It’s almost 2021, which doesn’t mean that this god-forsaken pandemic is over, but every day we inch closer to a new era where life is normal again. It is hard to be patient, but we’re trying.
- Also, we published this.
- Jim Dey proves he’s still as racist as he’s always been.
- Good lord people, it is almost 2021 and we’re still not even remotely close to being out of the pandemic. People in many areas still aren’t wearing masks. Seriously. Are we ever going to get out of this shit?
While the pandemic wasn’t improving, at least we entered a new season to see... from inside of our homes.
- Langston Allston created this incredible mural.
- The election was almost here, and Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons continued to show us that he and his staff are prepared for November.
- The surge of weddings caused a ton of COVID-19 spread, and students returned to school.
- We were once again sad at how little is being done from local leaders to perpetuate the arts community in Champaign.
- We still had to look at Rodney Davis’ face, which was even more painful when he did what he does best: side with Trump.
While we wouldn’t consider things to be going well, we’ve been in this for a bit, so we were getting the hang of things. We soaked up the last bit of summertime before the cooler months hit.
- Both Ayo Dosumnu and Kofi Cockburn announced they would be returning to U of I, which meant our basketball team was gonna be really good.
- Year of the Park kicked off, and if there's anytime to enjoy the outdoors, it is during a pandemic.
- Sen. Kamala Harris, a former C-U resident, was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate.
- Millionaire David Kraft was selling off bits and pieces of the Art Theater on Facebook. Talk about adding insult to injury.
- The pandemic was not going well at all. Things were becoming more clear for the fall: many things were completely cancelled, and we were still reminding people they have to wear masks at restaurants.
- We learned that a mail sorting machine was removed from a USPS location in Champaign, which couldn't be good for the election.
Holy smokes, we entered the last quarter of the year. But hey, at least we had some holidays coming up.
- Tom Ackerman reminded us about the great outdoors in C-U in the most Tom Ackerman way possible.
- Joan Dykstra, a generally horrible person, announced she would be retiring.
- While we all despise Zoom at this point, and never want to use it ever again, there was some good that came out of it. People love witchcraft, apparently.
- We all needed a good laugh. Thanks to the Champaign GOP, we got one.
- COVID-19 pandemic continued to rage out of control. In fact, it was much worse than it was earlier this year.
- Remember that saliva test that was kinda-sorta-maybe getting out into the community? Yeah, that wasn’t happening yet.
- Dallas & Co. closed.
- The election was almost here. We were definitely not panicking. You were panicking.
We were in full-on adjustment mode, planning for the long haul of the pandemic to really mess with us as a society. There was still hope, especially for the fall, but really, we were grasping at any sign of normal life..
- We were all under a fairly strict stay-at-home order, so there was no college basketball tournament happening because of COVID-19. We piggybacked off of last year’s March Madness food and drink tournament, and took it one step further, focusing on icons in C-U.
- Even with COVID-19 hitting as hard as it was, it was incredible to see the amount of support businesses and organizations were lending to one another all around the community.
- Champaign-Urbana Public Health District quickly became the leader we needed in C-U. They have been focused on the pandemic every step of the way, in the good times and bad, they were there for us.
- Aleya Lewis had a brutal and terrible encounter with the Urbana Police department. Police brutality and systemic racism are very, very real, and here in C-U.
- Who was this guy slinging COVID-19 tests (and where did he get them)? This was not good at all. Jesus, then he posted results directly to his Facebook page? Seems legit!
- We had to remind people how to be good people.
The election was finally here and even though the pandemic was terrible at least we had something else to focus on for a minute. But don’t worry, things were still terrible, but at least it wasn’t all bad this month.
- Oh my god, the election actually happened and it was as excruciating as possible, but some good things came from it.
- Suzu’s, a new Japanese bakery in Downtown Champaign, opened.
- Our Illinois men’s basketball team had a ton of promise.
- The idea that you can really make an impact on the community was in front of us this holiday season.
- COVID-19 cases were absolutely raging, killing thousands by the day across the country, and Thanksgiving gatherings did not help.
- The election might be over, but the aftermath is still something we’re all dealing with. Trump lost but didn’t concede. . The election was pretty good for Democrats but overall, not awesome. Candidates were already preparing for the April 2021 election.
Things are not good, but at least we got to live our normal lives for a few weeks before it all went to shit. Remember restaurants and bars and music venues and hugging your friends? Sigh.
- The Census happened this year! We could all use a little bit more money to improve the community. All you had to do was fill out a form? Easy peasy.
- Oh thank god, maybe we can finally get a new mascot. Can we please move on and replace the racist mascot already? How are we still having this conversation?
- So, the pandemic has arrived. Now what? Though uncertain times, highs included a conversation about self-care and learning that the Grainger College of Engineering was at the forefront of developing a life-saving ventilator prototype. Science rules.
- The coronavirus pandemic takes root. Damn, this absolutely sucks. People are dying. We must cancel everything for now.
- There went another venue in Downtown Champaign, the Sodo Theatre.
- We learned about Kelly Loeffler’s existence and connection to our community, and, well, surprise: She’s a terrible person!
There is some optimism about the fall, and if we could all band together and fight this thing through mitigations, we should be good soon, right?
- Gathering is not an option right now, but at least we have this awesome drive-in movie theater.. Summer was right around the corner; we were hoping to get out of this pandemic soon.
- Oh good, we could get tested in C-U pretty easily now.
- Even though things are pretty terrible, there was a lot of positivity rallying around local businesses that need help as we sort this all out. Plus C-U still has a lot to offer.
- It was setting in how terrible this pandemic really could be, and all we could do was talk about what we are missing.
- A mainstay of Campustown, Zorba’s, closed.
There were some signs of hope that we are going to get out of this thing soon, and summertime arrived, so things were pretty good, all things considered.
- Thousands of people march in the streets all over the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd.
- Researchers at U of I develop a saliva-based test for COVID-19.
- One of the best bands in C-U history, HUM, released an incredible album, Inlet, by surprise.
- Some morons in Mahomet thought it was a good idea to have a prom — one of the first major (known) superspreader events in our area — during a pandemic.
- We asked our elected officials about defunding the police, and the responses weren’t good.
- Orpheum Children’s Science Museum officially closed.
What is coronavirus?
- When it comes to “things we like to do most” here at Smile Politely, eating and drinking at restaurants is definitely way up there on the list. We enjoyed Restaurant Week. Ah, normal shit like eating at restaurants rules.
- We had a lively discussion about which types of cuisines we were missing in C-U, because there are many, and as we mentioned above, we like to eat.
- We learned where to (and not to) make out in Downtown Urbana, thanks to the brilliant Tom Ackerman.
- Oh shit, what is “coronavirus”? This did not look good, but life was relatively normal right now, so we just hoped that it didn’t get out of hand.
- Remember last year when the beloved Art Theater closed? Well, the landlord, a millionaire, listed it for well above its actual value, making it virtually impossible for anyone in the arts to be able to afford to buy it, let alone bring it back to life.
- Surprise, surprise. Another bar opened in Downtown Champaign. Hooray, free market capitalism.
- We had to use the words “Ann Coulter” in a SPlog and we didn’t like it.
Ah, a new year. 2020, can’t wait! Recreational weed was legalized. Living in Illinois is solid right now.
- Our very own Administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Julie Pryde, was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Health. She is an extremely dedicated human being and an incredible source of information, and since we definitely didn’t have a global pandemic on the horizon, there’s nothing to worry about.
- There was some chatter about Trader Joe’s, and it was exciting though it didn’t have much in terms of legs. That said, a Costco was coming, which made a bunch of us Midwesterners happy.
- Damn, after 30 years, Skins N Tins closed in Downtown Champaign.
- We were realizing this is an election year. While some might see this as exciting, there is a lot at stake and that’s stressful. Couldn’t we just enjoy the new year and not think about this yet please?
The Editorial Board is Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, and Patrick Singer.