Smile Politely

A Building, A Feeling, and A Latrine: Family Visit

Recently, my immediate family came to visit me here in Chambana. Partly for Thanksgiving, but mostly for my birthday (which was a very important birthday because it’s divisible by 10, waaay more important than those other dumb birthdays that are divisible by 8 or 11 or other worse numbers). Obviously while the fam was here, we passed by many buildings, felt several important feelings, and yes, used a restroom when the need arose. For this December edition of B/F/L, I’m gonna talk about some of these things because well, ‘tis the season for family.

1107 W. Green

With my mom visiting, we of course had to walk by my old student apartment that she helped me move into when I started grad school here all those many years ago. My first domicile in Champaign-Urbana was at the Goodwin-Green apartments, conveniently located very close to literally everything, right at the intersection of Goodwin and Green. Specifically I lived here in 1107 W. Green.

Not a ton to say about the outside of this building. It’s very rectangular and spartan, but not offensive in any way. I wish I could show you what the rooms look like though because they’re positively soviet. Tiny studio apartments with floors of concrete covered in some off-green coating, thin walls, and claustrophobic kitchens/bathrooms. At least mine was up on the 6th floor, with a commanding view of the parking lot.

Well, since I can’t show you the apartments, here’s the weird little courtyard/picnic area where the cool grad students from Europe would always stand around smoking. Like always. Every hour of the day. Year round.

Oh! And here’s the weird little playground just South of 1107 W. Green. I totally forgot about this place! I fondly recall coming out here to sit on this very swingset whenever I was having trouble writing a paper.

Ok, that happened maybe twice tops, but still… FONDLY.

Boy, this playground sure is strange. Let’s do the full rundown of this place. This building review is a now playground review.

There is of course the aforementioned swingset which seems to be in decent shape overall.

Nearby is this sad, covered sandbox thingy. Sand gazebo? It’s seen better days. When I approached it I fully expected a very hungover undergrad to rise up out of the sand, dust themselves off and wander away.

Next is this slide. A very fine example of traditionalist slide design. 

Then there’s the smallest jungle gym I’ve ever encountered.

Despite my advanced age, I was able to climb all the way to the top without fearing for my life.

Finally, to round out the playground offerings, there’s a big, sad, open quadrant for general running around.

This whole place is so weird. It feels like a modern art installation. Also note that the flooring is made of squishy stuff for MAXIMUM SAFETY.

VERDICT:  I wouldn’t really recommend living at Goodwin-Green if you’re a grad student looking for housing. This weird little playground is great though! Definitely check that out.


Having People Come To Visit You in Chambana

If you’re like me, and you’re not originally from Champaign-Urbana, then you’re pretty used to not having visitors from outta town. Even people I know here who are from Chicagoland, their friends and family never come down here to visit them. Why would they? So much more to do in Chi-Town. (The noted exception to this is people whose parents are tragically gung-ho U of I alums who still trek down for football games)

That’s why, on the very rare occasions when people do come to visit me, it’s a real emotional roller coaster.

I’m so thrilled that my loved ones are coming!

I hope they’ll be able to see why I care about Champaign-Urbana!

I hope they don’t think I like it too much though, it’s not that great here.
All this dumb corn.
I hope they don’t think I want to live here forever.
They better not trash talk my horseshit town or I’ll gut them!

I’m sure it’s the same for you too when you get visitors.

VERDICT: Just tell everyone you know to either move here or just not show up at all. It’s better that way.


The Men’s Room at Riggs Beer Company

While the fam was here I wanted to show them a good time and share with them some of the best parts of Chambana, so I took them to Riggs. It’s a magical place that the whole family can enjoy. There’s board games, and cats, and wide open vistas, an inviting ambiance, and tons of beer.

It also has one of the more impressive bathrooms in town. Well, not impressive, just slightly noteworthy. I’d say gimmicky even.

The gimmick is that you can see into the brewin’ area from the urinals (I dunno what the women get to look at in the ladies’ room).

This window is certainly better than staring at a blank wall, but honestly there’s usually not much going on back there. At least not when I’ve been peeing.

Fun fact about me: When I have my own bar, instead of a window, every urinal and stall will have a small TV each showing a different Predator movie on repeat. The bar though will not be Predator themed in any other way.

The rest of the bathroom is pretty standard except for the trough sinks.

I sorta like the trough sinks here as they go with the vague farmhouse aesthetic of Riggs. Also, though I usually abhor push-to-use faucets, these ones are actually quite nice. The water is pleasantly warm and the stream, shockingly, lasts long enough for one to wash one’s hands thoroughly.

No air dryers though, which is a bummer for folks like me who care about OUR PLANET EARTH.

Also, I know that Riggs is trying to be a nice place, and it’s a tasting room, not a bar, but this is one of the most sterile restrooms I’ve ever used in an establishment that sells beer. I mean sterile in a not-great way. Look at these stark white walls and black partitions.

Bleh. There are some pictures by the sinks, but they’re like… ads for Riggs? And they look like motivational posters or something.

A very nice restroom that is sorely in need of some character. And you know who is a character? The Predator.

Hope all you dear readers have some lovely winter holidays involving a sufficient, but not excessive amount of family time. When you read me again it’ll be 2018!

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