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Former C-U resident-fronted band reviewed on Pitchfork

Grave Babies, a Seattle-based band fronted by C-U native Danny Wahlfeldt, took a dark turn on their latest album, Holographic Violence, out now on Hardly Art. In doing so, they garnered the attention of tastemaking music publication Pitchfork. Read the review here, complete with typical Pitchfork music-writing expressions including lines like the following:

"candle-lit-bat-cave, Peter-Murphy-drinking-merlot-out-of-a-human-skull levels of goth"

"Wahlfeldt's controlled chaos shudders and swirls around him"

and "It would be easy to imagine it as the soundtrack to a sci-fi film where teenagers in bondage gear roam a dystopian wasteland."

Wahlfeldt used to play in local band Coco Coca, though that was before my time here. The scene evolves, people come and go. It can be sad to see great musicians in great bands leave, but when they go they often do great things like this. Stream the album where it premiered on Noisey and decide if you think it deserved that 6.4 rating.


Immigrant Welcome Awards 2015 nominations due August 15th

The Champaign-Urbana Immigration Forum is hosting our 2nd Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards!

Immigrant Welcome Awards recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations that have created a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants in the Champaign-Urbana community. We are seeking nominations for individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions, taken risks, and have provided leadership for the wellbeing and success of immigrants in Champaign County.

Award categories

  • Distinguished Service Award – An individual who has demonstrated long-term commitment to the local immigrant community
  • Leadership Award – An individual who has been a strong leader in the immigrant community
  • Student Leadership Award - A student who has shown promise as an important leader in immigration issues, locally or beyond
  • Community Organization Award – A Nonprofit or community-based organization, which demonstrates exceptional commitment to serving and advocating for local immigrants
  • Institutional Award - Local government or other large community institution, which has made significant changes in response to the growing immigrant population
  • Business Leadership Award (Any business) - A business that contributes to the local immigrant community through advocacy, donations or in-kind services
  • Business Leadership Award (An Immigrant Owned Business) - A business that contributes to the local immigrant community through advocacy, donations or in-kind services and/or a locally owned immigrant owned business that has contributed to the local economic development of C-U

Nomination Deadline: August 15, 2015.

Go to here and click on "Nominate".


Booster shots offered on campus this week after mumps outbreak

No-cost MMR booster shots offer to students at the ARC this Thursday and Friday from 9 am-3 p.m. Bring i-Card.

The University of Illinois is encouraging students, faculty and staff to get a booster shot of the MMR vaccine.

From the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs:

To Students, Faculty and Staff:

The Illinois Department of Public Health and Champaign-Urbana Public Health District have recommended that students at the University of Illinois at Urbana receive a booster shot of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine as soon as possible, even if they have already received one or two previous vaccinations with the MMR vaccine.

This recommendation is because of continued mumps infection in a number of students through the recent spring semester and summer sessions. Most cases on campus had two previous MMR vaccinations.

The goal is to maximize the number of individuals who have boosted immunity before the beginning of classes this fall. Students who are currently not on campus but planning to take classes on the Urbana campus in the fall should obtain the vaccine as soon as possible from their local provider or pharmacy. Immunity takes two weeks to develop after receiving a vaccination.

In order to facilitate access to this MMR booster shot, McKinley Health Center will operate a two-day special MMR vaccine clinic for students at the ARC Building on Thursday, August 6th and Friday, August 7th from 9 am to 3 pm. As an incentive to encourage a quick response, all University of Illinois students who present a valid ID card will be eligible to obtain the vaccine at that time at no cost.

Students who lack adequate vaccine protection, or those who are considered likely to pass mumps infection to other students, may be restricted from certain university activities, including classes.

For more information about mumps, please visit http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/mumps/htm.

Faculty and staff born after 1956 may also choose to receive a booster MMR vaccination, subject to the opinion of their medical provider. Immunizations are generally covered expenses through the University’s employee health plans.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District will be present at the ARC Building on Thursday, August 6th and Friday, August 7th from 9 am to 3 pm to offer this vaccination to faculty and staff at no charge on those dates.

Information about future vaccination opportunities through McKinley Health Center will be posted at the McKinley website http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu.

Dr. Robert Palinkas
Director, McKinley Health Center


In Case You Missed It: July 27-31

The week is coming to a close, and you've surely been busy all week — so I'll continue what did on a whim last week, which was recapping some highlights from SP from our group of writers and editors.

Q&A with Kenna Mae by Maddie Rehayem

Kenna Mae Reiss is one of the more talented musicians I've seen in quite a while here in C-U, which isn't being negative towards talent that exists here — she's just straight up incredible. Maddie put together a piece and spoke with Kenna Mae about a variety of things, and if you haven't done so, please do check out her music or one of her live performances. She's captivating. 

GirlZone rides again by Rebecah Pulsifer

This is a terrific event taking place this weekend only in Urbana at the IMC, which has been set up to create opportunities for girls in the community. Rebecah spoke with some of the organizers, and they discuss the workshops (soldering, zines, dancing, more), and the full schedule of events (live music included). 

Shades launches Shady Dawgs Kickstarter campaign by Patrick Singer

OK, so yes — I totally put this SPlog post together as well, but this turned out to be kind of a big deal, as Mark Hartstein, aka Shades, decided he was going to launch a Kickstarter to start up his hot dog cart. He's almost reached his goal in just a few days, which is pretty remarkable. A good spot in the SPlog from this week.

Catching up with Hopscotch by Jess Hammie

Kaya Tate is kind of a badass, and her creations are spectacular. You've probably seen her name and/or Hopscotch on SP previously, but this is a proper feature that Jess did earlier this week. If you're interested in the latest (and coolest) creations food-wise, do yourself a favor and check that one out that was featured on Thursday.

Good on you, Urbana by Boswell Hutson

There's going to be a new Broadway Market in Downtown Urbana soon, which totally rules — and if you missed it, read more about it from Boswell's piece which ran midweek. TIF funding from the City of Urbana is going to make that possible, or at least kickstart the process.

Tim Beckman says weird stuff at Big Ten Media Day by Tom Pauly

Tim Beckman continues to be a complete doofus.


Of course, there's plenty more to see from the past week. Hope you've enjoyed what we've published, or not. That's fine, too. Thanks for reading regardless.


Vintage Vinyl Sale returns October 3rd

Once again, the Vintage Vinyl Sale will return on October 3rd, per this Facebook event. It'll take place at Fluid Events Center from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., and all proceeds from the sale will benefit Illinois Radio Reader, a service of Illinois Public Media (from the event page):

One of the Midwest’s best sales of vinyl records, DVDs, CDs, and other donated musical ephemera is back and ready to rock your socks off!

All proceeds from the sale will benefit Illinois Radio Reader, a service of Illinois Public Media, which provides the reading of local newspapers, magazines, books, and much more to the visually impaired in East Central Illinois.

Pretty awesome — more information to come, I'm sure.

Photo from the Facebook event.


2016 Illinois Marathon registration now open

As I just noticed, there are only 276 days until the next Illinois Marathon, which could be more significant to some of you than myself. However, if you're interested in signing up for 2016's race, you are now able to do so.

Remember: If you had some issues last year because of the rain, they'll make it worth your while and comp your 2016 fee

Check out our recap of the wet 2015 race here.

Thanks to our pal Mark Palmer at TravelBlawg for the tip.

Photo by Sam Logan.


In Case You Missed It: July 20-24

We publish Monday through Friday here at Smile Politely, and between features, articles, and SPlogs, there are a bunch of things to take a look at and read. Sometimes, things slip through the cracks, which is totally understandable. If you catch every single article that we publish, you might be paying too close of attention to us. That would be pretty weird.

Anyhow, there were some cool things published this week by our Editors and writers. Not to toot our own horn or anything, I just thought it would be fun to touch on some things that were published, in no particular order. Here are some of them:

V. Picasso settles into Downtown Champaign by Jess Hammie

V. Picasso is a fairly new restaurant to Downtown Champaign, which was revived earlier this year after some time in Urbana a while back. Jess took a trip, and recapped her experience, which was pretty solid all around. Damn that chicken looks delicious.

A Building, A Feeling, and a Latrine by Tom Ackerman

This is one of the more creative-while-simple ideas that we've had submitted to us by a community writer — and it's pretty great. Tom took to talking about that monster yellow building, The Quarters, discussed that great feeling of picking up Black Dog, and reviewed the new bathroom in the Dandy Pig. I'm really looking forward to seeing more installments in this series, no doubt.

The Urbana Park District Youth Summer Theatre presents the Pajama Game by Mace Mackiewicz

The Urbana Park District's youth theatre will be performing The Pajama Game for a couple more nights (info in the article), and the show features some pretty cool stuff from young performers. Mace took to interviewing the Director, Kyle Thomas, and the Music Director, Justin Brauer. From the looks of it, it is quite the hit.

Tim Beckman only made $200 from a speaking engagement by Tom Pauly

So there were some figures released about just how much money coaches are making at the University of Illinois for their appearances and what have you. The real gem of that report was that Tim Beckman earned a whopping $200 from a speaking engagement. That's it. Also, who paid him to speak? He's had some missteps in the past.

Sparking creativity and cultural consciousness at Shatterglass Studios by Daina Kiela

With this week's weekend feature, Daina talks with Shatterglass Studios about the history of the company, and their latest project — a bio pic of the legacy of Emmett Till. If you're unfamiliar with the type of work that Shatterglass does, please take a look at that article and check it out, plus, combine that with the story of Till, and you've got yourself quite the featured story to round out the week.


Anyway, there's a small recap for you with a few of them. Thanks for reading, as always.


Urbana Art Expo now taking applications

One of the best things about living in Urbana is the commitment that the town and larger local community gives to fostering the arts.  This Autumn is certainly no exception, as 40 North and the Urbana Public Arts Program team up to bring us the Urbana Art Expo - a great place to display, sell, and of course, buy visual art.

From 10 AM to 5 PM on September 13th, the Urbana Civic Center will be filled with various artists showcasing their visual art in the annual Urbana Art Expo.  If you're not like me and can produce visual art that is appealing to anyone in any way, applications are now open for space in the juried exposition and art sale - a fantastic way to get the community involved.

Sign up above, and don't forget to stop by the Civic Center on September 13th.