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Wines at the Pines to close this month

Wines at the Pines announced on their Facebook page that they will be closing this month. We thought that might happen after the PhD defense...

Here's the news:

After a decent run with Wines at the Pines, we sadly report that we will be closing this month. I have accepted an extremely ideal postdoctoral position at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. This decision was not an easy one, as we have thoroughly loved your stories and genuine support. We will certainly miss the community ties that we have built and maintained over the years. My growth and passion for wine and coffee are the direct result of working with you all.

Please take advantage of our closing sale! Everything must go by the end of April. Wine retail is 20% off; wine accessories and beer retail are 50%. Also, please let us know if you are interested in any other assets, like the shelving, furniture, equipment, dishes, etc.

Congratulations to the owner, Stanis, on her new position, but the community will miss you.


Win a pair of festival passes to Skeletal Lightning Fest

Smile Politely is co-sponsoring the inaugural Skeletal Lightning Fest, which is happening this weekend over at the Channing-Murray Foundation and the Red Herring. A two day even full of great music should be enough to get you interested in this offer. 

If you head over to our Facebook page, we're giving away a pair of festival passes, which will grant you admission into both days of the festival. The lineup is listed on the poster to the right, and you can check out all the information regarding schedule, set times and all that good stuff over at their website linked above.

Head over and make a comment on our Facebook post here with your favorite video (any video, doesn't matter if it's a live performance or not) of a band you want to see that is performing at the festival this year. We'll award one winner with a pair of festival wristbands. Best of luck!


Roger Ebert’s cancer returns, announces “leave of presence”

Some sad news comes this morning from Roger Ebert, the acclaimed film critic, C-U native and U of I alum, who has revealed his relapse of cancer. According to his column on the Sun-Times blog, he writes about his workload over the past year and all of his projects, but addresses his health:

Of course, there will be some changes. The immediate reason for my "leave of presence" is my health. The "painful fracture" that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on.

Roger Ebert's Film Festival is right around the corner here in Ebert's hometown from April 17-21 at the Virginia Theater. You can read the whole column over at the website linked above.


40 North announces additional Sky Gallery winner for 2013

In what appears to be an effort to help turn undiscovered commercial photographers into underpaid, and underappreciated, creative artists, local arts organization 40 North has announced that they will be displaying a photo from previously unknown local photographer, Larry Kanfer.

40 North partners with Adams Outdoor Advertising each year to display local art on billboards throughout the city, and this year apparently has decided that the time has come to allow commercial businesses to finally break through into the creative field to assist them in turning their once formidable and profitable careers into a saddening and pointless endeavor, marred by disinterest from the community, with very little money to show for it. 

More information can be found here.


Trader Joe’s coming to C-U, according to

In what has become the centerpiece debate between townie, transient, and new residents in this bustling community, the elusive and daring Soccer Mom of Savoy finally scored a goal by luring "organic" food retailer Trader Joe's to the Champaign-Urbana area. reports that a number of metrics aided corporate to make that decision, but that it was Unit 4's "School of Choice" that was the deciding factor, since Trader Joe's is also "known for giving consumers the illusion of choices."

You can read more about it here.

We, at Smile Politely, are completely ecstatic about the idea of another multi-national grocery store chain moving into our community. Because we lack abundant farm land, and because we are without any options for fresh foods that are locally sourced, we are so thankful for the ambitious and powerful "grassroots" efforts of those who run the Traderjoes4CU campaign.

Those countless hours spent getting petition signatures and putting together packets to send to a corporate office somewhere? Wow. Talk about a COMMUNITY effort

Must be nice to have all of that free time on one's hands. Imagine what people like that could accomplish if they actually applied that notion to the COMMUNITY itself?

Great work you all!


Follett’s to shutter this Spring

Follett's, one of the last remaining pre-Campustown 2000 project businesses, is set to close this Spring. And that would make sense, seeing as how reading from a "book" feels about as ancient as getting a letter in the mail from a friend across the country.

For me, however, I rest well knowing that Jill Guth and JSM will be taking it over and leasing it to new retailers. With their recent track record of bringing in new business to Campustown, something tells me that they are going to make that corner much more viable than it was before.

Link to the Gazoo


40 North announces Sky Gallery winners

From the press release:


Champaign County is an incredibly creative community overflowing with talent. Adams Outdoor Advertising and 40 North | 88 West wanted to feed those creative flames by creating a different type of rotating gallery. Sky Gallery is a new outlet for local artists to display their work on possibly the largest canvas in town: billboards! Sky Gallery is a unique opportunity for an artist to share their creativity with the community on a whole new level.

Congratulations to these 6 artists who will have their image featured on custom 10' x 30' billboards around C-U! The boards will be posted on April 10, 2013!

Peggy Shaw: "Hover"

Vanessa & Doug Burgett: "The Intruder"

Audra Ziegel: "Roadside Vista"

Beth Darling: "Tea Party"

Melissa Mitchell: "Aloft"

Holly Birch Smith: "American Wedding" (chosen by online public vote)



C-U ranked 6th on “75 Best College Towns and Cities for 2012-2013” by AIER

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) has placed Champaign-Urbana #6 on its list of "75 Best College Towns and Cities for 2012–2013." Pretty neat. Here's how they described the selection in the article (which you can read here):

The “college experience” is about more than simply attending a top-notch university. The city or town where the school is located also is important, the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) suggests in its 2012-2013 “AIER College Destinations Index” (AIER CDI).

The AIER CDI includes the top 75 towns and cities in the United States for college students, based on a larger evaluation of the 227 U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with student populations of 15,000 or more.

These lists come out from time to time, ranking one thing against another. You know how it goes. Sometimes you know they are full of shit; other times, they could be legitimate. So take that for what it's worth. More information on how the cities are selected is within the article linked above.

The top 75 college destinations — grouped by total residential populations — are listed below:


Love books and food? Go to the Edible Book Festival

 Love books? Love food? Come to the 2013 Edible Book Festival at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, April 1 at the University YMCA. All edible entries have a connection to books as shapes or content. Prizes will be awarded for the best culinary creations, which will be displayed, judged, and consumed. For more information, or to register an entry, visit the festival page.