Close to Home: Man on the Street

Here's another "close to home" tale, about things a poet experiences in his downtown Los Angeles neighborhood. Today, he describes a mysterious encounter with a homeless man.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Now a few moments for one of our Close to Home tales from poet Lewis MacAdams. He lives in downtown Los Angeles, and he writes stories about his experiences there. Here is one about a mysterious encounter with a homeless man.

LEWIS MACADAMS: The fashion district was a kaleidoscope this morning. As I slid between the bootleg DVD vendors at the entrance to Santee Alley, a Crown Victoria full of plain-clothes cops leapt out of a car and starting busting people.

(Soundbite of siren)

MACADAMS: Immediately, the guys on the upturned plastic milk crates at the fronts of the market stalls, who I'd always trusted to be watching for shoplifters, hit their speed dials. Within seconds, entire walls of swap meet Louis Vuitton began disappearing into black plastic garbage bags.

I turned west on Olympic to Main, feeling very Walker Evens-like as I studied the shadows of the ancient light fixtures on the back of the Mayan Theater.

A burly, bearded black man pushing one of those shopping carts for the homeless came towards me as I turned north on South Broadway. I thought he'd be hitting me up for a buck as I inched past, but instead he started telling me about an accident he'd just witnessed down near Washington and Figueroa, where the blue-line trains come out of the ground.

It sliced the red car right in half, he concluded with a triumphant smile, it sure did. He showed big gaps where front teeth had once been. Isn't that something? I agreed, shaking my head the way my mother used to do. You could just be driving down the street and bam.

I started telling him about the bootleg DVD vendors. One minute you're minding your own business making a dishonest buck and the next minute you're in cuffs getting frog-walked into a cop car. But his voice interrupted me.

You got that right, he boomed. You don't know where, you don't know when.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: A Close to Home story from Los Angeles poet Lewis MacAdams.

(Soundbite of music)

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Coming up on DAY TO DAY: Men, tired of that same old blue suit, that drab red tie? Brian Unger with fashion tips on DAY TO DAY.

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