WTF? Why is my new Soob ding, ding, dinging at me? I ‘n’ I don’t have time for this. Have to get to the last in-person Smile Jamaica at KRCL.
As usual, running late and lugged this massive crate (from whence the term cratedigging…) and huffed it onto the front car seat. Soob computer thought it was an unbelted child.
So, running out of time. I just pulled over and latched my “child” safely and motored over to North Temple and 1800 West in Salt Lake City.
What do you mean the last Smile Jamaica? Salt Lake City is awash in 4 story high rise condos/apartments. Over by the airport, when the Park ‘n’ Jet next door was sold to property developers, the station is stranded in the middle and was encouraged to find alternate digs.
Luckily we did find a good spot but it isn’t developed yet. So this show will be the last live Smile Jamaica for the summer while our new home is being constructed.
For I ‘n’ I, the classic KRCL location was over on 800 South/200 West. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when community radio didn’t have as many media competitors and had a true sense of connection between station volunteers, (who did all the programming), and listeners.
But I ‘n’ I liked the North Temple spot well enough. Just give me two turntables and a mic and I’ll do Smile Jamaica anywhere.
True story: When KRCL first announced at the end of the 90’s our new location, Dave Santivasi – long time host of Saturday Sage rock mornings – drove by the North Temple spot we are now vacating.
That location has always been full of night crawlers. Dave pulled in and was looking around. All of a sudden, his passenger door flew open and a lady of the evening jumped in. She assumed Dave was looking for a “date!”
So, while I ‘n’ I go back to Living Room Kinda Cloudy home built Smile Jamaica’s, like I did during The Covid last March-May, enjoy this Reggae vinyl bash blowout and some pics of The Temple of Sound being de-constructed.
It was real. It was fun. Sometimes it was real fun.
Forward ever, backwards never. Soon come to a new Temple of Sound!
You are the big tree, we are the small axe. Sharpened to cut you down — The Wailers
Last month I ‘n’ I drove my parents from Arizona back home to Fort Benton, Montana (see previous blog post.)
When you make that journey, it is wise to build in some weather time. Spring in Montana lasts about a week. I remember as a youth snow storms in August.
So once we got settled I had about three days with not much to do.
I ‘n’ I had been carving out some time to watch a series on Amazon Prime called Small Axe.
This is an ambitious five movie anthology put together by UK producer/director Steve McQueen. (No relation to the American actor who died of cancer in the early 80’s.)
McQueen is most known for his movie adaptation of 12 Years a Slave. Born in London to West Indian immigrants, Small Axe chronicles the lives of the Caribbean immigrants into English inner cities and the trials and tribulations that they face.
The films are not connected like a television mini series but stand on their own. Here is my audio review clipped from this episode of Smile Jamaica:
<Smile Jamaica reviews Small Axe>
The Mangrove was a West Indian hangout and restaurant set in Notting Hill London. A place where people could play dominos, eat Island food and build community liaisons against the unremitting hostility from local cops.
Those cops didn’t see The Mangrove as a commercial community center. Instead they assumed it was a den of iniquity: gambling, drug dealing and prostitution. The bobbies (London white cops) would periodically descend on the spot and demolish the interior, roust the patrons and harass the owner. A man named Frank Critchlow.
Finally with help from the local chapter of the Black Panthers and sympathetic liberal white barristers, the club sued and was able to exist as a social, commercial pillar of Notting Hill’s black community.
The unremitting racism was very reminiscent of last summer’s Black Lives Matters protests in the US with the amplifier of 60’s and 70’s British hostility directed at immigrants.
The music was terrific late era 60’s and early 70’s Reggae and Rock Steady.
This featured the Caribbean youth phenomenon of the shebeen in London. House parties where people would gather and listen to the UK variant of Reggae called Lovers Rock. Pay a little entry fee, have some West Indian food and alcohol. Inside would be a small Reggae sound system, complete with toaster MC.
Young women were a major commercial force in the local Reggae scene. They didn’t want to hear dread and Rasta, they wanted smooth love tunes sung by Reggae songbirds like Janet Kay, the family trio 15, 16, 17 and Brown Sugar. The guys didn’t mind because it was mostly slow dances where they could “rub up a dawta.”
The women wore their best finery. The men dressed up as dandies. Same era in America as Saturday Night Fever. People hooking up, breaking up and cooling out. Highlight was a scene where the pretty song by Janet Kay runs out of the groove and the entire party breaks out the lyrics in acapella.
Red, White and Blue
Local youth breaks through the racism and lack of connections to receive a Ph. D. and work as a researcher. However, his community is being devastated because of the constant beat down of young black men by viciously racist and cruel white cops.
Therefore he decides to give up his scientific career to become one of the first black bobbies (cops) in England. The locals see him as a traitor while the white cops use passive aggression and provocation to undermine his policing to the point of not backing him up in a violent criminal confrontation.
Reminiscent of American baseball player Jackie Robinson. A proud and determined black man who broke the color barrier and was called every foul name in the book. He had the strength to let it roll off his back and not let his anger fight back physically or verbally.
You can sense the seething in the young cop about how many more times is he expected to turn the other cheek.
Black foster kid from the countryside is dropped off in big city. Is initiated into petty crime and turns to Reggae music for salvation. His goal is to create his own sound system. Taking his weekly “winnings” to a local record shop to buy the latest Reggae singles and 12″ disco mix.
My Mom happened into the living room while there was all this great music bumping. On the wall was the usual offering of 70’s Reggae LPs imported from Jamaica.
She asked, “Do you have any of those records?” I paused the movie and counted. Yep. I had every record but one.
Wheatle eventually winds up in prison after the 1981 Brixton riots. His cellmate is a Rasta who introduces him to literature. Eventually Wheatle became a successful novelist in Britain.
The consistent theme through Small Axe is the unrelenting beat down that working class blacks face, in this instance England. Racism, poverty, lack of job opportunities, disjointed families, educational discrimination. Murder and assassination: Birthday parties firebombed,
In this movie a young boy who might have a learning disability or maybe because his parents work night shifts and odd hours he never learned to read.
There was no interdiction at that time. So the youth was sent to a euphemistically titled School for the Educationally Subnormal. Black children with heavy West Indian accents were assumed to be, what would have been called then, retarded. So these kids were dumped into a nightmarish “education” environment with children who had serious developmentally disabled white kids.
Of course the kids were not retarded, and were bored silly. Left to their own devices with teachers who were either absent or wasted time playing half assed folk songs on the guitar. To be cast into those “schools” meant that those kids had no chance to advance into the work force upon “graduation.” The poverty of racism and discrimination was their fate.
The not so subtle educational segregation only served to perpetuate the lack of opportunity for West Indians and their children for a generational cycle of misery and despair that we unfortunately still deal with in America.
With 2020’s Summer of Rage after the George Floyd murder, this anthology was a perfect complement on the UK experience.
In sum: I definitely will want to watch Mangrove, Lovers Rock and Alex Wheatle at home on my Hi Fi. I think I blew out my Dad’s hearing aid battery. “Jesus Christ, do you have to listen to it so loud?”
Yes, Dad. I do!
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: May 15, 2021
Peter Broggs – Rastafari Liveth!; Rastafari Liveth! (RAS) ’82 DC vinyl
Black Uhuru feat. Sly & Robbie – Ion Storm; Dub Factor (Mango) ’83 US vinyl dub album of the hour
Alpha Blondy – Cocody Rock; Cocody Rock (Shanachie) ’84 Ivory Coast West Africa
Carlene Davis – Don’t You Stop the Music; 15 Classic (Sonic) early 80’s
The Ethiopians – Everything Crash; Original Hit Reggae Sound (Trojan) ’68 comp.
Ok, Karen. I ‘n’ I have no choice. I’m the eldest and tasked with the responsibility of helping my Mom with my Dad. (Temporarily dain bramaged from a build up of excess spinal fluid. Called NPH.)
Since the Rona Pandemic of 2020 I ‘n’ I have boarded/de-planed 10 different planes. At first they were mostly empty. Now they are packed to the rafters. Guess I’ll take my chances with a 99% recovery rate and hope for the best.
So far so good: Bobbylon 43 The Covid 0
Here’s a diary of my trip.
Day 1: SLC to Denver to Phoenix
I ‘n’ I love the cattle car of Southwest Airlines. Pay 15 bucks extra for Early Bird boarding and aim for the back corner of the plane. Didn’t matter. Both legs of the journey were full. In the airport and on the plane I felt the flight staff were more strict on mask compliance than last year or during Xmas 2020. It seems like the more people are vaxxed the stricter they have become.
I wear my mask b/c it’s a bitch when you are scolded for pulling it down to take a sip of anything. It’s ridiculous anyway b/c they make you take down your mask at TSA checkpoint. So I pass on my gamboo to the security person and he/she gives me their cooties. Lovely.
Day 2: Cratedigging
Phoenix has great record shops. Several boutique vinyl mostly shops. Their local CD/Vinyl/DVD chain is called Zia and they are terrific. Didn’t find a whole lot this time, except at one store called In the Groove. Snagged about a dozen rare Greensleeves label 12″ vinyl records. Yes I!
The other thing? Mask optional. Where some stores had finally opened back up to actual “digging” as opposed to “curbside delivery”, the staff at In the Groove weren’t wearing a mask and there was no “No Mask, No Service” sign on the door
So neither did I’n’ I. I do the old hang off the ear just in case. It was strangely self conscious and exhilarating at the same time. Wow, how quickly we have been accustomed to breathing in our own carbon dioxide and huffing microscopic boogers that accumulate on those face diapers*
*My Pops: “Jesus Christ, would you quit calling masks a face diaper.” So good to have the old cantankerous dad back in the fold which we missed for almost two years!
Pops was days away from one of Cuomo’s Nursing Home/Covid Death Houses and battled back to flash the Hairy Eyeball directed at his ingrate first born!
That was 2020 for I ‘n’ I. Keeping my Pops dodging the Covid. Thanks to Ishtar, the Granter of Wishes! Others weren’t as fortunate.
Day 3: 420 on 4/20; 107 sec.
Arizona legalized the hippie lettuce in 2020. They didn’t waste any time converting medical only Weed Huts into rec stores. There is a terrific shop in Sun City West that helped my Pops with CBD cream for his neuropathy, 1:1 vape cartridges for my Mom – restless leg syndrome.
Got Mom a nice vape pen for Mother’s Day* since I ‘n’ I broke hers in Dec. (For some reason I am lethal on vape pens, either lose them somewhere or they quit charging.)
*I have always been a good son!
I ‘n’ I figured April 20th is like Black Friday for potheads. So I called early. Found out they opened at 8am that sacred day. Sale of 40% off cartridges. Got there by 8:20AM.
Jumped in the long line assuming that was for recreational customers. Asked the guy in front of me. Nope, that was for Medical. Spun the wheel and won a $10 pre-roll. Nice.
Walked right up to rec line like a celebrity. Got in their system and went to the budtender. Nice young woman named, wait for it!…..Marley. (Last trip thru Vegas my budtender’s name was Kaya.) I ‘n’ I was so excited I violated the six foot rule. But at least I had my face diaper on.
Walked out with a little bit of everything. Indica (for sleep); Sativa (for cratedigging); Hybrid (for everyday life). The most unusual thing was that they took credit cards. I ‘n’ I have bought weed in Washington, Collie-rado, Nevada and now Phoenix. Everywhere else was cash for the kasheesh. How civilized. Just like going to Mall-Wart or Olive Garden.
Well fortified, let’s get on the road….
Day 4: Sun City West, AZ to Mesquite, NV (350 miles)
It’s a three day drive from Phoenix to Fort Benton, Montana (North Central part of the state.) 1296 miles
Early high-light (pun intended) was the Last Chance Rest Stop on an Indian reservation just before you cross from AZ to NV.
Alien gear, weed gear and Trump gear “Still My President”. It’s a little disturbing that I’m obsessed with two of the three. Bought some alien schwag, Area 51 T shirt and a bunch of fridge magnets.
Pull in to the Virgin River Casino. Had a nice dinner. Near miss with Pops as he went ass over tea kettle. Dude still needs his cane. Two nice bikers helped my Mom and I get him back on his feet.
Pops safe in his room, Mom and I hit the machines. Video Poker for I ‘n’ I. Headed to the exact spot where I won $1000 last fall.
Nevada is a Karen state. Plexiglass is like gambling in a phone booth. I strategically aimed for an end machine close to the bar. Even then the cocktail server doesn’t venture often into the 25 cent video poker machines.
Of course you have to wear a face diaper. I ‘n’ I fire up my Sativa cart and do a little Dr. Ted recreation. (Vaping through a mask). Mmm. Strawberries.
Alas, lightning did not strike twice. The best I ‘n’ I could muster was 4 8’s (400 quarters.) But I got to play about 90 minutes and only dropped 60 bucks. I was crosseyed exhaling strawberry essence through my face diaper (sorry Pops!)
Day 5: Mesquite NV to Idaho Falls ID (550 miles)
Time to grind out the longest and dullest stretch of the 3 day journey. Since Utah and Idaho are 2/3 thirds of the Mormon Triangle States, there will be no vaping nor gambling.
There was ice cream. It was hilarious watching my parent’s little dog Bella go through a bowl of vanilla ice cream like she was going to the dog pound for the long sleep.
Hit Idaho Falls, check into the hotel room (so tired I ‘n’ I forgot my face diaper but didn’t need it. Utah and Idaho are coming out of it and getting on with it.) Pizza Hut in the room and half a Law & Order re-run. One toke from Blueberry Indica and I was in dreamland.
Day 6: Idaho Falls ID to Fort Benton MT (401 miles)
It wouldn’t be Montana if you didn’t have to worry about snow in April. Montana’s spring lasts from Memorial Day to June 1st.
The Monida Pass between Idaho and Montana is the stuff of nightmares. BFD. We’re going. Praise Anu, a few snow flurries, some low level fog. I give it a B+ by the usual whiteout conditions I ‘n’ I have been used to. Home sweet home.
Chillin’ in The Birthplace of Montana
Small Axe Mini-Series, Steve McQueen (Amazon Prime)
When you long haul it that early in the spring, you have to book a few extra days before I ‘n’ I would fly back to SLC. Not much to do, so I had some binge time. My parents have Amazon Prime. I carved out the time to watch a fantastic 5 movie series from UK director Steve McQueen.
From the Wailers song: You are the big tree, we are the small axe. Sharpened to cut you down.
Five individual films chronicling the West Indian/UK immigrant experience. Unremitting racism, immigrant mistrust, depression of the daily beat down for the color of your skin, lack of educational opportunity.
After the 2020 BLM protests you could truly see that endemic racism is a global phenomenon that didn’t start with an Orange dude still selling MAGA schwag.
Fort Benton down with the hemp
17 down, 33 to go. Montana legalized marijuana in Nov. 2020. They haven’t started recreational sales yet but it is legal to possess. Oct. 2021 retail starts….supposedly.
Fort Benton is a town of about 1500 people. Down from about 1800 when I grew up there. Too cold for industry, kids moving off the farm.
But there isn’t a house to be had because of a local hemp processing plant. Yes, hemp. Not cannabis, but I can imagine that will be on-deck now that legal marijuana will need suppliers. They are employing 35 employees in a huge plant on the hill close to my house. They would be the largest non-school/government employer in the entire county.
Indhemp are making hemp powder for supplements, oil, seeds, CBD extraction and I understand they have expanded to process hemp fiber.
And I ‘n’ I can’t wait until recreational is legal so I can walk up to the old NAPA auto parts store downtown and buy some vape from the Fat Hippie.
Fort Benton’s local dispensary!
Rona in Fort Benton-a
So basically after a week of living out of a suitcase, the day after we get home, I wake up and am not feeling all that great. Achy, feverish, low appetite. Are you kidding me? Is it the Rona?
I’ve been talking shit for a year and now it caught me. On the road, 1300 miles of 99% time spent in a car with people/pets I have herd immunity with. In the house I grew up in?
Is the streak over? Bobbylon 43, The Covid 0. Bad news if the Rona scores at all!
I immediately took a vape hit…..waited…..yes, could it be? Strawberries! I ‘n’ I didn’t lose my sensi (pun) of taste! My Mom said to quit being a wuss and come up and empty the dishwasher.
I ‘n’ I didn’t get my jab yet because I knew I had this massive trip in front of me. And I have talked to a couple people who had side effects. One guy had a tingling rash up and down his arms. My sister thinks it caused her outbreak of shingles.
So, a day later a friend of Pops comes over for a beer. He was setting up for a gun show in Great Falls. His tongue felt weird. And then he had trouble breathing. His tongue was swelling. He high tailed into Instacare. Epi pen. 24 hours in ICU.
He was totally gobsmacked, a week early he had a 24 hour bout of uncontrolled hiccups that was worse than ICU.
I asked him if he had been recently vaccinated? Yep, two plus weeks earlier. Moderna. I asked an innocent question. Could his back to back adverse health incidences – uncontrolled hiccups, anaphylactic shock – be a consequence of his jab? Oh, no. Take off your tin foil hat and believe the narrative.
And that’s why I’m waiting for the Sputnik V.
Smile Jamaica Playlist: May 1, 2021
Jacob Miller – Each One Teach One; Classic Rockers vol. 2 (Rockers) ’89 UK vinyl comp.
Sir Coxsone Sound – Black Wars Dub; King of the Dub Rock Part 2 (Tribesman); ’82 UK vinyl dub Album of the hour
The Pioneers – Long Shot; Give and Take (Trojan) ’68 – Kentucky Derby Set
The Pioneers – Longshot Kicked the Bucket; In the Beginning (Jet Star) ‘69
The Race Fans – Bookieman; 7” (Upset) ’68 JA
Dillinger – Race Day; CB 200 (Mango) ‘76
Sugar Minott – One Horse Race; 7” (Chris & Squidley)
The Special AKA – Skinhead Symphony (Longshot Kick the Bucket); Stereo-typical A’s, B’s and Rarities (EMI) ‘80
Mr. Bojangles – Selassie I Cup; 7” (Joe Gibbs Record Globe) ‘77***End of Set 1
Roots Gwaan – Good Trees; Exalt H.I.M. (Conscious Riddims) herbtune