Another year bites the dust, leaving behind some relevant questions to ponder. With the destruction of the Metropolitan building in the Great Downtown Fire of ‘08, should we soon expect new construction in its place? And when will southbound thru-traffic reopen at the intersection of Neil and Church? (The City won’t commit to a timetable, leaving us to wait for the building owners who suffered losses in said fire to clear the way for progress.) What of our once height-challenged skyline? Will it continue to rise upward in 2009?
Will new local businesses like B. Lime, Bella Bambini, Cakes on Walnut, Bombay Indian Grill, Howbowda Bagel and BookGlutton grow stronger in 2009, or falter during troubling economic times as happened to Papa George, Murphy’s Deli and Kafe K? Speaking of economic woes, are significant layoffs at the city’s largest employer, the University of Illinois, on the horizon? And will the layoffs at big-time employers like Hobbico and ACH Food Companies (formerly HumKo) send the city’s job market into further disarray?
Some people will, unfortunately, have more time to catch a movie in 2009. But can any of the new year’s offerings surpass The Dark Knight? And will Milk have a strong showing at the Oscars? (It’s showing here in Champaign-Urbana after the New Year.) And what’s this we hear about a new season of Lost?
After bringing Wu-Tang Clan, Robert Pollard, Yo La Tengo and Girl Talk to town in 2008, what will local music venues do for an encore? The Fighting Illini men’s basketball team wasn’t requested for an encore after last season’s dismal performance. But this year the boys are off to a 9–1 start, and many orange-clad fans are wondering: Will Alex Legion’s long-awaited entrance into an Illini basketball game propel the men’s team into the Top 25? Those sporting blue want to know: Will the post-Kerry Wood Cubs ever make up their minds regarding Jake Peavy, and will Year 101 be any different than Year 100?
The most pressing thing on most people’s minds: How long before the walls of Mike & Molly’s new men’s restroom — that’s right, new — are covered in graffiti? Oh, and maybe this Obama guy. While we ponder the potential impact of our reigning state politicians, some also look forward to finding out whether Obama can really change anything. As we twiddle our thumbs in anticipation, what do we do with the lump of coal that is Rick Warren giving the invocation at Obama’s inauguration?
As 2008 comes to an end and Smile Politely prepares for Year Two, all of these questions (and more) are on our minds. But we’d like to hear from you, so let us know what topics you’d like to see us tackle next year. Whatever is near and dear to your heart, please spill the beans.