What’s The Best Side?

Last Saturday, I went on a sound walk led by my brother, Norm. He is a sound artist; I think he may provide a better explanation of it than I can, so I’ll let you do the Googling. Anyway, he goes to different spots around the city to record as he walks. He has been to the Indiana Dunes, Jackson Park, Washington Park, the Near West Side and the West Side.

I decided not to do much last Saturday and was looking for some evening entertainment, so I agreed to go out on an East Garfield park sound walk. It was a muggy day, but overcast and breezy. I zig-zagged my way west from Bronzeville. I took Cermak to Ashland, then Ashland to Roosevelt and took that west to Kedzie. I saw some interesting things along the way. Two guys running in front of a parked police car with their lights on; I was afraid I was in the middle of an “incident” but it was a false alarm. At the same corner, a man was carrying what looked like a ten year old boy upside down. He didn’t appear to be in distress, but there wasn’t much I could have done-plus the cops were across the street.

I then headed north on Kedzie, it looked pretty bad. I am well aware of the reasons why, and I was happy to turn off it. Telling my mom, an old-timer about it, her reply was “Kedzie’s always been scary”. My destination was on Franklin Boulevard. Now since I claim to know so much about Chicago, I was surprised that I was not aware of this street. It appears to only exist between Sacramento and Central Park Avenues. It is quite a wide a green Boulevard, but the buildings on it are not very old. I arrived at the address I was to meet my brother at. I beat him there and discovered it was home to a white couple who also used the house as a gallery.

For you newbies, White people did live on the west side that we see today as predominantly black. The flight from the area started in the 1950’s and the riots of the 1960’s cleared out even more. Small businesses and major industries abandoned the area at the same time, and the city appeared to do nothing to keep the area from becoming a wasteland. So imagine my surprise when I pulled up to the house. The atmosphere was festive, as another art happening was taking place along with the sound walk. I kept my eye on the neighbors around because number 1, I was worried about a drive-by happening, and number 2, I wanted to know how they regarded the White folks.

Franklin looking west
Franklin looking west

Things were quite chill, my brother arrived and we mingled with other arrivals. A number of police cars were flying west on Franklin, which tingled my Spidey-senses. It turns out the “boom” sounds I heard prior to their appearance were not firecrackers after all. We took a walk around the block, being quiet as my brother instructed us. We all quietly spoke or smiled at neighbors crossing our paths. One of which was a guy with a little girl and Pit Bull. The pup was cute, but it was on a leash so I felt safe. We were on Ohio and St. Louis; two police SUV’s passed us, with quizzical stares. One made a u-turn and told us about the gunshots to the west and to be mindful of any activity.

Conservatory at sunset
Conservatory at sunset

We returned to the house as the sun was setting more. We then walked to the Lagoons at Garfield Park, which was where the police were headed earlier. It was uneventful and I got a few sunset photos, but my camera was not cooperating, so half of the photos came out fuzzy. My back had finally had enough for the evening, but we were returning to the art house already. By then it was just plain dark, but my brother was taking questions about the walk. I was getting anxious, because how many times do you hear “shots were fired into a group of people” on the news. I got my brother’s attention to see if he needed a ride to the bus stop. He said no, and I told him I had fun but I was out of there.


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