Smile Politely

A Building, A Feeling, and A Latrine, volume nine

Hello, and welcome readers. After last column’s building extravaganza, I wanted to return to my usual format. So, all we’ve got here is a building (well, and a few things that used to be buildings), a feeling, and a latrine, and none of them are linked at all except that I am writing about them.


The Demolition on East 1st between Springfield and White

Astute readers will remember that back in March, for my Spring Cleaning column, I called for the Chambana community to rise up and destroy the old Bombay Grill on 1st Street because it was bringing up too many painful and delicious memories for me. Well, that cathartic group demolition process did not happen, but that whole block is being bulldozed anyway, so I thought I’d give y’all an update.

Well, as of this writing, the Bombay building is still standing, what about the others?

In particular, I was hoping to find that this building, 409 South 1st Street had been smashed to dust. I nearly gave this place its own section in March, not because I have fond memories of it, but because it is ugly. Just look at it. 100% cinderblock construction, and why are some of the blocks jutting out slightly? Maybe the architect had only cinderblocks to work with so they decided to have some poking out like warts to give it some visual appeal. The whole building used to look like a LEGO rendition of a tumor, and that has not changed at all now that the building has been gutted.

409 South 1st, which used to be Ken Lee Convenience Store, is painted orange and blue, which is a terrible color combination (just kidding, really, please don’t scowl at me like that). Closer inspection shows that the orange seemed to have been applied in a single coat of spray paint on the ciderblocks. Classy. Timeless. If I were in charge of this demo site, this guy would’ve been the first to go. 

What’s this though? Yes, a chalkboard in the back room of Ken Lee Convenience Store. If only I’d brought some chalk (the medium of choice for polite, law-abiding vandals), I would have written something profound on it like, “the times they are a changin’” or “Kilroy was here” or “TURDS TURDS TURDS.”

I walked around the rest of the block too. This was right after a storm so things were extra apocalyptic. Obviously I took a bunch of pictures, and now I’m going to subject all of you dear readers to my high school-level artsy phone photography crapfest.

This one’s called “Door to Nowhere featuring Creepy Hole.”

This masterpiece is entitled “The Very Last Naptime.”

Just take some time to appreciate the composition in this one. I am an art god.

I thought about reviewing this as a latrine, but I’m pretty sure that using random toilets you find on the ground is how you contract tetanus of the butt.

Wow, what a transcendent visual journey I just took you all on.

VERDICT:  It’s important to remember that every building you’ve ever known will one day be a pile of rubble. It’s also important to bring your chalk with you everywhere so that you can vandalize responsibly.


Discovering Busey Woods

A few weekends ago, my girlfriend and I were driving around on a nice day, trying to figure out what outdoorsy thing to do. She suggested that we could go to the woods out by the county fairgrounds. I was all, “you mean Crystal Lake Park? Those ain’t woods.” But she assured me that there were real-ass woods back there, so we went, and she was right. Not only are the woods real, they are so real there is even a nature center at their entrance containing lots of brochures and various woodland creatures both alive and taxidermied. We perused the nature center and then set out down the paths of the Busey Woods.

I should explain to you readers that I was born and raised in Phoenix Arizona and thus have a deep seated distrust for nature. Where I come from, under every rock there are five vindictive scorpions, and any plant that doesn’t have big spines is just trying to lure you into a false sense of security. I never felt my life threatened even once in Busey Woods though. In fact, it was quite a lovely place. I felt like I was in a secluded grove, and definitely did not feel like I was a three minute drive from a Jimmy John’s.

VERDICT: What can I say about Busey Woods except, look at how close this deer got to me! FUCK YEAH NATURE!


The Customer Restroom at Pard’s Western Shop

Pards Western Shop in Urbana sells a bunch of cowboy/horse stuff, and you definitely will not forget that while sitting in this small but comfortable restroom. The walls are covered with mini poster advertisements for Ariat, a brand that makes cowboy/horse stuff and uses professional rodeo riders in their promotions.

Honestly, the ads give the bathroom some character, and I’m surprised more places don’t put advertisements in their bathrooms. Imagine a world with bathroom-specific advertising. You’d go to McDonald’s and in the stalls there’d be ads saying, “You just took a dump! Must be time for more McNuggets!” Okay, McDonald’s probably wouldn’t be that crass, but I bet bathroom ads are coming. Though I guess you couldn’t achieve very targeted marketing that way since everyone poops.

Anyhow, the only other thing of note in this bathroom is the sweet retro bathroom fan. Perhaps one day I will put one just like it in my retro chic bathroom.

VERDICT: This bathroom is fine, and a good place to hide if you become completely overwhelmed by the boot selection at Pard’s.  Also, here’s a youtube video I found of that model of fan. The internet is a terrifying place.

Questions? Answers? Fond memories of Ken Lee Convenience Store that you just have to tell people about? Leave them all in the comments below.

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