Smile Politely

A Building, A Feeling, and A Latrine: August Rants

This month, I’m gettin’ back to what the people want by complaining at length about frivolous crap. So buckle in and get ready to be mildly perturbed along with me.

The Tower At Third

Longtime readers will be saying, “but Tom, you already reviewed The Tower At Third, like a year and a half ago!” This is true, but there are some late breaking developments which demand that I have another look at this particular structure.

You see, the Tower At Third is being repainted GREY AND BLUE. You will all remember that in my seminal column The Invasion of the Fugly Grey Rectangles, I, mostly jokingly, remarked that the Fugly Grey Rectangular buildings were taking over, and soon no other buildings would be left. Well, now it seems like that dark future is coming to pass. The Tower At Third is clearly being given some new duds to match its other equally tall neighbors — The Drab Duo. Surely this new coat of paint is just Phase One in a total conversion process. Phase Two being somehow shaving off the Tower’s excess sides to leave it a rectangle like the others.

To be fair, The Tower At Third definitely did need to be repainted. Its previous rust-afflicted brown visage looked like the hull of a fishing boat that had run aground decades ago. Minus the barnacles of course (though barnacles would not have looked out of place). Why did they have to paint it grey with blue accents though? Really? DO THESE DEVELOPERS NOT EVEN READ MY PRESTIGIOUS COLUMN?

Ugh. Anyhow, here’s two better alternative colors suggestions for The Tower At Third:
1. White with red spirals so it looks like a barber shop pole or a delicious candy cane.
2. Giant fake wood grain so the Tower looks like the biggest tree stump in the world.

VERDICT: Is there some kind of surplus of grey and blue paint? That’s the only reasonable explanation I have.

While we’re here, let me just mention the new building across Green Street from The Tower At Third. Look! A Fugly Grey Rectangle with GREEN highlights! So innovative! Some people really do read my column!

Honestly I feel like these greens are a little too loud, but kudos to this building for not being blue.

Having Friends Move Away Every Single Year

It’s the nature of Champaign-Urbana. This is a transitory home for so many people. Even if you’re not a student, and not friends with students, C-U is a great little town, but surrounded by bigger places often with bigger opportunities. Thus, if your social life is anything like mine, and you don’t hang out exclusively with die hard Chambana natives who have been here for 50 years and will be here for 50 more, you’ve probably gotten somewhat used to your friends moving away.

In the six years I’ve lived here, this process has not gotten any easier. Sometimes you see these desertions coming, and sometimes you don’t. Of course, some folks end up moving back to C-U in spite of themselves. This town pulls people back in.

My only real advice for dealing with your friends moving away is to keep a spreadsheet of all your friends (a “friendsheet” as I call it). This way you can track when people leave and make new friends accordingly. Thus preventing you from becoming a total friendless hermit slowly over the course of a decade.

Here’s a look at my Friendsheet as an example for when you’re building your own.

VERDICT: 0/10, Friends moving away is THE WORST. Nobody should ever leave me again.

The Men’s Room at Quality

Quality is a cool bar where cool people hang out. It’s got a great vibe going with its tall ceilings, bare brick walls, happenin’ beers, and pinball machines. You know what’s not cool at Quality though? The men’s room.


As you can see it’s a very standard setup, one urinal, one stall, a single sink. Tasteful dark green walls with (tragically) none of the fun vandalism you see in other bar bathrooms.

But the worst part about this bathroom by far is one that I can’t convey to you in pictures. It’s the smell. Every single time I’ve been in this bathroom, it has smelled overwhelmingly of pee. It’s like a sauna where the steam is made from urine. Even when I was there taking these photos, which was at like 6 p.m. on a Tuesday, it smelled more strongly of piss than some crowded truck stops I’ve visited.

The smell doesn’t even seem to be coming from the toilet or the urinal. It’s just everywhere all at once. I do not know how this can be unless the urinal isn’t actually hooked up to the sewer and instead just dumps all the pee right into big sponges inside the walls. Sometimes when I’m drinking at Quality I walk over to the Piglet to use their restrooms.

Bathroom Hardware: 5/10, “Meh 2 the max”, needs a second sink and a better soap dispenser.
Bathroom Smell: 3/10, at least there’s not also a chronic poo smell.

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