'A Patch of Green'

In this series of short stories, a poet shares his experiences living in downtown Los Angeles. Today, he looks at the sometimes curious interaction between the generations in his neighborhood.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Poet Lewis MacAdams is a boomer who lives among a younger generation moving into downtown Los Angeles. He writes about his experiences there, and today we present another of his closer-to-home stories. He calls this one "A Patch of Green."

(Soundbite of passing car)

LEWIS MACADAMS: When I first moved downtown and I got depressed, I'd just walk east past Main Street to San Julian - which is a street in hell, as well as exhibit A in any argument against capitalism - and I'd feel better. Now, it makes me feel worse.

(Soundbite of passing car)

So these days, I jog to one of the only downtown oasis: a little patch of green operated by FIDM, the fashion institute. When I bend over and grab my ankles, the guards with their shaved heads and maroon blazers eye me suspiciously. As I do my crunches, I wonder if I was ever as pretty as any of these swans. They all seem so together to be so young.

(Soundbite of music)

MACADAMS: One jam-packed New Year's Eve at the Broadway Bar - as Leslie and I moved our drinks around the counter like they were chess pieces trying to avoid the dancing high-heeled beat of the two burlesque queens on the bar in front of us - an enthusiastic guy at the next stool leaned over to shout in my ear about how great it was that the Broadway Bar could be just as hospitable to people my age as to people his.

(Soundbite of passing car, music)

MACADAMS: Not too late the other evening, I was stumbling out of a fami-mar(ph). Supposedly, it's the Japanese way of pronouncing family mart, upscale 7-Eleven-like Japanese chain, which has just opened two brightly lit, very intelligently-stocked convenient stores on what our otherwise dark downtown L.A. blocks.

(Soundbite of police siren)

MACADAMS: Clutching my plastic container of California rolls, I noticed flashes going off near where I had parked my Prius. As I got closer, I realized a man and woman around college age were taking pictures of my L-A R-I-V-R license plate. When they realized I was going to get into the car, they stopped, embarrassed, but I told them, it's okay - that I felt like my license plate belonged to as much to the L.A. River as to me, since I started Friends of the Los Angeles River.

You started Friends of the Los Angeles River? the girl asked. We studied Friends of the Los Angeles River in our land use class. She pumped my hand excitedly. I had no idea you were still alive.

(Soundbite of passing car)

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Alive and kicking. A close to home story from poet Lewis MacAdams.

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