Smile Politely

Seven years ago, your venerable Smile Politely editors went to Illini Inn and joined the Mug Club

Here’s the article.

I can’t sit silent about this. Our Managing Editor, Patrick — that silly sonuva — sent me this link, and it got me goin’.

Especially not during a week where Smile Politely and its current cast of crazies detail for you the BEST and the WORST of what’s what in Champaign-Urbana-U of I-whatever. 

Fact is, the Illini Inn got torn down last week. Demolished. Pummeled. In a pile. Ripped to the goddamned ground. 

I have no doubt that the building was in disrepair, and that it was far more economically viable for Green Street Realty to tear it down, and build on the land. It’s valuable land, no doubt. 

But in my heart, somewhere, somehow, you wish there was someone in some board room saying something like “Folks — this one stays. We’ll build into it. We’ll take the top floor off. But this one — this one stays.”

Obviously, that didn’t happen. 

And that, my friends, is the death knell of Campustown, as it once was, for many many years. Officially. That’s that. The end. No more. Nothing. Literally, nothing.

OK. Campus Florist. Respectfully. Cookie Jar, Espresso Royale. OK. 

Fine — but really, nothing.

I drove by 6th and John the other day and saw that the That’s Rentertainment logo still remains on the awnings that now host an all too familiar and ubiquitous Asian grocer. Believe me, I am thankful. One of the greatest things that C-U has is its Korean-Chinese-Japanese, etc. presence. 

But it’s still hard to look at. That logo. So powerful. So unique. It’s still hard to remember the way Campustown used to be, and how it used to literally bind the community together. Literally. It’s not something that didn’t happen. 

I hear there will be a new iteration of Illini Inn, one for the next era. I call bullshit. The only thing — the ONLY thing — that Illini Inn had was its ghosts. Ghosts leave once the walls come down. Now, it will be just another place that dads come to and say “I was member 23,455 at this place — sure isn’t like it used to be.” And then chug. Oh, they are gonna chug. They are gonna chug ’til it’s ready to go to the game, or to the party they shouldn’t be at. They will chug. They will chug like you do when you are young and you think to yourself, “I am gonna chug this fuckin’ beer.”

RIP Campustown. I’d give anything to shove $7.00 of quarters into Ghosts ‘n Goblins at Spaceport, buy some bootleg live CD of Nine Inch Nails at Record Swap, pet the cat(s), and make my way over to the old Zorba’s for fake college gyro.

The kind I really, really like. 

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