Reinvigorated By An Indian Wedding

Life can be draining in downtown Los Angeles. A colorful, music-filled street celebration, however, restores a poet's faith in his city.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Now poet Lewis MacAdams sends us tales about his experiences where he lives; that's in downtown Los Angeles. These are his close-to-home stories, and here is one.

Mr. LEWIS MACADAMS (Poet): When chronicler Carry McWilliams was haunting downtown L.A. in the 1920s, he wrote that a park bench in Pershing Square was like a ringside seat at the circus. Today, at the end of a hot afternoon, it resembles nothing so much as a mental hospital day room. Dozens of people sit amongst their battered things staring into the twilight. Others sprawl on the geometric lawns at the foot of shadeless, dwarf orange trees.

When I looked up the street to my right, the sky above Radio Hill and Elysian Park was already charcoal. Then I spotted a commotion of sound and flashing cell phones among a crowd thronging the sidewalk in front of the Biltmore Hotel. As I crossed Olive, I noticed in the middle of the ruckus was a handsome young man in a flowery Nehru jacket on a white horse riding bareback, an attendant holding a parasol at the end of a bamboo pole above his head, and realized that this was a wedding, and he was the groom.

Some in expensive Western fashions, others rock in elaborate Indian styles. The crowd danced around a pair of drums, chanting and raising their arms above their heads in ecstatic praise. It was just what I needed. I could feel the booms obliterate my own wavering intellect and misty emotions. I could sense the tension draining from my body.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. MACADAMS: I joined the party as it turned west on 5th Street, then dropped out as the crowd surged up the valet parking entrance to the hotel, where the groom would meet his bride. What was that all about, a tall young man in wire-rimmed glasses and an elegant overcoat asked me. It was an Indian wedding, I think. He looked pleased to have even caught a glimpse of it. Los Angeles, he said, smiling and shaking his head in that half smug, half bemused way Angelinos do when they've just encountered something utterly unexpected and exotic in their watershed. Los Angeles.

CHADWICK: Poet Lewis MacAdams. He's the founder of the conservation organization Friends of the L.A. River.

BRAND: You know, right up now, in our blog, Daydreaming, we're looking to an interesting test we'd like you to take. It claims to predict your gender based on the Web sites you go to. I'm a man according to the test.

CHADWICK: Wait, the show is now touting a test that claims that you are a man?

BRAND: I know, stranger things have never happened. Well, tell us what it says about you. Go to npr.or/daydreaming. Stay with us. NPR's Day to Day continues.

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