Smile Politely

A Building, A Feeling, and A Latrine: Summer’s for the birds

A far away shot of a two story building across a parking lot sitting against a cloudy blue sky.
Tom Ackerman

Back to another B/F/L this month. With summer here, I’ve gotten more chances to take pictures of buildings and bathrooms on campus without being heckled by cool teens. 


713 S. Wright St. the Student Services Arcade Building

Even if you’re not a student, if you’ve ever been on Wright Street waiting in line for the Fernando’s food truck, or the Watson’s food truck you may have noticed this building.

a view of the outside of a two story brown brick building with a blue awning.
Tom Ackerman

Sadly, it’s not a videogame arcade, but it’s still pretty cool. 

The front door of a brown brick building. Each there is a column on either side of the door. And the worlds "Bradley" are stamped in cement on a plaque above the door.
Tom Ackerman

Some great brickwork here, plus cool columns. My half-hearted attempts to research why it’s got this sign that says “Bradley” yielded no info. 

Obviously the best part about this building are the gargoyles up top. I dunno how I never noticed them before, but I love these fucking little freaks.

a close up shot of a brown brick building with a cement gargoyle sitting atop a column
Tom Ackerman
a close up shot of a brown brick building with a cement gargoyle sitting atop a column
Tom Ackerman

I gotta know what’s written in Righty’s book that he’s trying to show us. Also what’s in Lefty’s bowl that he is definitely not sharing with anyone? 

Other cool parts of this building: 

It’s got copper gutters and downspouts which look rad in sort of a steampunk way.

a close up shot of a two story brown brick building with gutters going down the wall.
Tom Ackerman

And, now that Illini Hall is demolished, you can get a great unobstructed view of the whole Arcade from the south side! 

A far away shot of a two story building across a parking lot sitting against a cloudy blue sky.
Tom Ackerman

VERDICT: I refuse to check out the interior until it becomes a real arcade. Still, 5/5 more buildings should have nefarious gargoyles. 


Looking at birds

The birds are back y’all. Surely you’ve noticed. They roll up and start screaming promptly at 5:15 a.m. every morning and continue screaming throughout the day trying to get laid or whatever. Obviously, they can be annoying sometimes, but if you don’t stop to look at the birds around you, you’re really missing out. 

Just in the last two weeks, here is a mostly-comprehensive list of all of the bird species I’ve seen from my own backyard:

  • American Crow
  • American Robin
  • Vulture
  • House Sparrow
  • House Finch
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black-capped Chickadee
  • Blue Jay

Look! I even got a pic of the Blue Jay! Apologies for the poor image quality, I haven’t (yet) spent $8,000 on a proper bird camera. 

a bluejay sits on top of a stop sign in front of a wooded lot.
Tom Ackerman

Don’t know your warblers from your titmice? Neither did I! Until I picked up this helpful book from the Champaign Public Library. 

a picture of a book cover on a wooden table. The cover says "Birds of Illinois" with a brown bird sitting on a flowering branch.
Tom Ackerman

Now, thanks to Stan Tekiela, I’m learning tons of facts about birds I ain’t even seen yet! For instance, here’s some great facts about a particular bird:

  • They are a strong flier that can approach 60 miles per hour in flight
  • They can fly straight up and then away
  • Their eyesight is three times better than ours
  • Their hearing is also excellent, they can hear competing males up to a mile away
  • The male has a “harem” of up to 20 females
  • They roost in trees at night

Any idea what bird I’m talking about? Dear readers, these are all true scientific facts about our own wild turkeys. Absolutely terrifying. If you’ve never seen a wild turkey, they’re the size and ferocity of four Canadian Geese tied together. Just imagine you’re taking a stroll at night in the Illinois countryside and you run across a tree with a huge male turkey and his 20 baddies hanging out and then they all rush you at 60 mph. No coming back from that, no sir. 

VERDICT: 11/10. If you ain’t looking at birds, you ain’t living. 


Espresso Royale / The HUB on Daniel St. 

Waaaay back in the far distant past of 2019, I reviewed the restrooms at the Espresso Royale on Daniel St. right before it was closed and demolished. The Daniel St. Espresso was an institution, some folks’ very favorite spot on all of campus, and its restrooms were weird and iconic. 

Well, there’s a new Espresso Royale on Daniel St., in almost the same spot as the old one. I went over there to check out their bathrooms. 

First off, the Espresso technically doesn’t have its own restrooms, you have to leave the cafe and use the restrooms for the lobby area of the HUB apartments

A hallway with a wall painted white on top and blue on the bottom. with a bathroom plaque, a circular light, and an orange and blue framed print.
Tom Ackerman

The men’s room is pleasant. I like the orange and blue color palette.

a bathroom urinal surrounded by light blue tile and a orange and white painted border. There is a brown stall wall and door.
Tom Ackerman
a bathroom sink surrounded by light blue tile and a orange and white painted mirror surround. There is also a teal garbage can.
Tom Ackerman

Though the garbage can doesn’t quite match…. I’m not a big fan of trough sinks, but this one works fine. 

a bathroom sink and dark blue faucet.
Tom Ackerman

There’s exactly one piece of art in here and it’s this abstract print. Which I do like. This bathroom could use three to four more pictures like this. 

a navy blue wall with an orange print framed in a white frame
Tom Ackerman

VERDICT: Though it’s a perfectly nice new bathroom, and more accessible than the ones at the old Espresso (which were in the lower level at the bottom of some precarious stairs), this still feels like a downgrade. The old bathrooms were full of character and gender-neutral. This bathroom is clean, corporate, and enforces the gender binary. Alas. 

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