<Autobiography of Reggae & 33 Years of Smile Jamaica; 1 min. 56 sec.>
I ‘n’ I parents are Snowbirds. Winter and Spring in Arizona. Summer and Fall in Fort Benton, Montana. North Central Montana. Along the Highline.
Since they are retired, and Fort Benton has more cows than people, they don’t have a lot to do.
Fort Benton is the birthplace of Montana. Founded in 1846, it is the longest inhabited township in the state. Before the railroads it was the farthest spot where steamboats could haul freight on the Missouri River. About 1200 people live there.
As you might expect, Fort Benton has several good museums and statues. Moms worked as a guide for visitors coming out of their Covid spiderholes after two years of lockdown: Canada, Czech Republic, Japan. France, she told stories to them all.
One day a guy in his mid 50’s approached and introduced himself. Larry C was a classmate of mine. (1983, 36 students.) He was a skinny kid with blond hair who kept to himself. Didn’t really interact much and hadn’t thought of him in about 40 years.
Then he said something incredible: “Does Bob do a radio show in Salt Lake City?” My Mom nearly fell out of her chair. Yes! Larry does some sort of work that takes him to Utah and by some higher serendipity, found I ‘n’ I doing Smile Jamaica.
Mom and I figured it was because I ‘n’ I do mention, quite often, about being from the land of “where the men are men and the sheep are nervous.”*
*Please don’t cancel me!
Fort Benton MT – site of the original 70’s cattle mutilations. Second biggest wheat producing county in America. #3 target when Putin launches his nukes. (Home of America’s Minutemen missiles). Home of the original Shep dog story.
Now has a hemp processing plant which is the second biggest employer in town after the city. Also a dispensary now that Montana legalized the hippie lettuce!
I tell this story about the legacy of 33 years of hosting Smile Jamaica, one of the longest running – if not THE longest running Reggae Show in America. A deejay in Florida had 30 plus years before he passed away. The killer Reggae show on KGNU – Boulder, Collierado, Reggae Bloodlines might be longer, but they have had multiple hosts.
Celebrating not a Milestone but a Smilestone! (14 sec.)
I was in The Pie Pizzeria by the U of U campus. They were playing KRCL. My roommate and I heard an ad for new volunteers on the community station that rules the nation! I ‘n’ I was trained and debuted end of June 1988: late Sunday/early Monday graveyard – 3 O’clock Roadblock. (Like Smile Jamaica a Bob Marley jam). Learned the ropes. Entertained the select few night owls, cab drivers, cat burglars, insomniacs and graveyard workers.
Oct. 89, my Reggae mentor, John “Rutabaga” Reese invited me to co-host Smile Jamaica. Then, Sat. 1-4pm. Of course! Rutabaga left Summer of ’90 and I guess I’ll just stay until I ‘n’ I joins Jah’s Heavenly Choir.
<How it all started: Smile Jamaica ’89; 77sec.>
So I’n’ I thought to celebrate 33 Years with the best recollection of albums and CDs I would have acquired those early years (1986 Black Uhuru Anthem LP to about ’90 prime time). I always knew on the vinyl which are the first, because I would write “Nelson” on round Avery labels and attach to the corner of the LP.
I quickly learned not to do that, because the adhesive on the stickers can leave a round stain on the vinyl, diminishing its value!
<Labeling records; 61 sec.>
Conclusion: Something like Smile Jamaica: Same time, same host for a third of a century? In this chaotic era of failing newspapers, $44 billion for Twitter, podcasts and streaming. It is pretty impressive to be something stable from the Dinosaur Media/Legacy Media era.
I always joke, me and The Simpsons, the only things that don’t change. Sunday Night FOX. Saturday Afternoons – Smile Jamaica
Smile Jamaica Ark-ives: Jah-tober 8, 2022 – 33 Years of Reggae Vinyl
Black Uhuru – What Is Life; Anthem (Island) ’84 US/UK
UB40 – Present Arms in Dub; Present Arms in Dub (DEP) ’81 UK dub album of the hour
The Abyssinians – Forward on to Zion; Forward (Alligator) ‘82 Chicago blues label
Judy Mowatt – Just a Stranger Here; Mellow Mood (Ashandan) ’75 JA
Big Youth – Get On Up; Rock Holy (Nichola Delita) ’80 JA
<Neil Armstrong: One small step for man, one giant skank for mankind>
<Roswell New Mexico UFO crash, July 1947 – 75th Anniv.; 3 min. intro>
1947. Planet Earth had come out of a brutal world war which only ended with the dropping of nuclear weapons onto Japan. Was nuclear technology a signal to Extra Terrestrial confederations that lowly Earth was now worthy of investigation and inspection? Ancient Astronaut Theorists say YES!
This blog post is obviously about Roswell, New Mexico and its famous UFO incident. But Roswell was not the first. And Roswell did not coin the term “flying saucer”. A guy named named Kenneth Arnold was the first to use the phrase to describe the alien craft much different than Terrestrial fighter jets.
Arnold was a pilot from Idaho. Literally, a few days before the Roswell UFO crash, he encountered nine disk shaped objects moving in formation at impossible speeds: 3 times the speed of current fighter jets.
He went to the local paper and described a pie tin shaped craft that moved like skipping a saucer on the water.
Days later this Extra Terrestrial “probe” force left the Pacific Northwest and ventured Southeast. Roswell Army Air Field – where the nuclear weapons left Los Alamos and headed for the bombers over Japan.
But something went wrong. One of the disks crashed in the desert near Corona, New Mexico. A rancher named Mac Brazel was out on the range and saw the odd metallic type debris and gathered it up in a pile on his property. Didn’t think much of it, until….
Others in Roswell saw the UFO phalanx and it made its way through the rumor mill of a small town. So, Brazel, being a good salt of the earth citizen, brought his “space dandruff” and took it to the local authorities. The Sheriff did due diligence and contacted the Army.
Army said, yep: unidentified flying object/flying disc. Not a plane. And remember space exploration rockets and lunar crafts did not exist in 1947.
Roswell Army Air Field’s press release is fascinatingly candid.
The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County. The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home.
Flying disc. It wasn’t theirs. Flying object. Disc. Disc, Disc. Extra Terrestrial.
And that is how the press in Roswell reported it:
<Actual Roswell UFO crash Anniv. date? 28 sec.>
There are a variety of days chosen as the anniversary: July 2, July 4, July 6, July 7, July 8 and July 9, 1947
I ‘n’ I use the Roswell Daily Record of July 8
Alas, it wasn’t to be. The army walked back their confirmation of flying disc/saucer and substituted a ludicrous correction that the debris was a downed weather balloon.
They sent their Intelligence Officer, listed in the above press release – Jesse Marcel – out to correct the record and he showed a crinkled sheet of balloon material. About as substantive as a roll of tin foil.
Look at Marcel’s face in the picture. He isn’t engaging the camera naturally. He is being instructed in what to say. And the look on his face is, “We’re really gonna say it’s this balloon bullshit?”
Marcel has the look of a guy held hostage.
And more Pentagon lies?
Mac Brazel, the rancher, said, “That material isn’t what I turned into the Sheriff’s office.”
My brother in law, Michael. Sold high tech pipe throughout New Mexico. Roswell was one of his territories. One day at a local Mexican restaurant, he asked a client, “What’s the deal with the UFO’s?”
The old timer looked at him and said: “After the crash the local mortician was told by the Army to bring three child size coffins out to the Army base. Sheeit! You don’t need coffins fer no damn weather balloon.”
Who you gonna believe? My third hand hearsay or the chronic liars in the military?
<Need no coffins for a weather balloon; 2 min. 18 sec.>
Don’t wanna believe I ‘n’ I? Would you believe Richard Nixon? He had 50’s comedian and TV star Jackie Gleason over at the White House.
Gleason was a big UFO buff. Asked about Roswell. Nixon said, “Not only were there three dead aliens, I’ll take you to see them. They board a plane for a Florida Air Base and what Gleason saw haunted him the rest of his days.
For nearly a decade, I ‘n’ I have been exploring the connection between the UFO Trinity:
Ancient Aliens TV Show – Gods are in fact Extra Terrestrial astronauts
Reggae & Dub music – I ‘n’ I brought down two CD suitcases and a record bag full of UFOria tunes for the Annual Smile Jamaica UFOria special
<Preparing for Smile Jamaica Annual UFOria special; 25 sec.>
Have to gear up for a radio episode of this magnitude:
Commemorative T shirt
Jump in the Dub Mobile
Hanging from the rear view
Last but certainly not least
I ‘n’ I grew up a twice a year Methodist in North Central Montana (Fort Benton). So I never truly read the Bible.
It was only as an adult that two instances made me turn to the good book
Reggae music – Rastas know their Bible as well as any Theologian
Ancient Astronaut Theory
The latter was introduced to me by my bredrin Aquaboy (ironically, he is now a scoffer to my alien/gods/astronauts synergy) through the works of Zecharia Sitchen
Sitchen was a scholar who translated Sumerian cuneiform tablets. He specialized in the cosmologization (is that a word?) of Biblical figures and events as being chronicled by Ancient Astronauts called the Anunnaki – “Those who came down from the sky”.
In his Earth Chronicle series of seven books, the Jewish-Azerbaijani scholar, elaborated on the race of extra terrestrials from the 12th Planet:
Sumerians knew , before telescopes even discovered planets Neptune and Pluto in the early 1900’s, about:
The Sun (1)
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter. Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. (The Asteroid belt was a planet destroyed in an Anunnaki Civil War which I don’t have time to go into here) (2-10)
Earth’s Moon (11)
The 12th planet: Nibiru.
Nibiru has an elliptical orbit that loops around the other eleven with their wobbly circular spinning. Eventually the planet approaches Earth, The Anunnaki descend by space ship to several ports: Egypt, Sinai, Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan and of course Sumer (Southern Iraq).
The Anunnaki had ruined their atmosphere through “intergalactic warming” and needed Earth’s plentiful gold to restore it. They created mankind out of a Tree of Life/DNA helix to mine this gold. They were too lazy to do it themselves. And when they tired of us humans for being “noisy”, the bastards tried to wipe us out in a flood.
Wasn’t Noah in a rickety ass wooden boat with two of every kind. With only one family to shovel shit, feed everyone and keep the carnivores from eating the herbivores.
The Old Testament Hebrews plagiarized from the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh.
It was Utnapishtim in a tessaract spaceship with a DNA seedbank for plants and animals. He and his crew orbited the Earth for 500 years until the flood waters receded and everything could be re-kindled through DNA cloning and re-animation.
They took the gold back to their mother ship , as Nirbiru whipped around The Sun and headed home.
As an Assyrian American, anything to do with Assyria, Babylon, Akkad, Sumer (Shinar in the Bible) is of interest to I ‘n’ I
<Smile Jamaica and the Ancient Astronaut Theory; 2 min. 47 sec.>
Imagine a time long ago. Before Facebook, Netflix and Itunes. Ronald Wilson Reagan in the White House.
Last Sunday of June 1988. Salt Lake City, Utah. Hot summer. Middle of the Night. A callow youth from Montana debuted on the late night airwaves of community radio station KRCL.
The show was called: 3 O’clock Roadblock – after the Bob Marley tune. Reggae with a mix of Ska and World Beat.
I ‘n’ I had been doing a little Reggae show on the Univ. of Utah campus station called Positive Vibrations (also Bob Marley). My roommate and I were in the Pie Pizzeria and they had KRCL on the Hi Fi. We heard a call out for new volunteers. And they were looking for a late night Reggae mix show. I ‘n’ I was selected, six weeks of trainings and started fumbling on the airwaves for late night insomniacs, cab drivers, graveyard shifters, cat burglars and night owls.
Thirty four years later. Trodding on prime time with Smile Jamaica
<34 Years of Reggae Radio: on KRCL; 2 min.>
I ‘n’ I had discovered the gem that is KRCL. Non commercial music. No commercials. No slick presentation. (Early 1987). And the station had two really great Reggae shows: Smile Jamaica, with my mentor, Rutabaga Reese. And Nite Roots with Papa Pilgrim. I ‘n’ I would listen intently, especially on Saturdays (1 to 4pm in those days; not 4-7). Great roots gems spun by Rutabaga. He taught I ‘n I about ON U Sound – What I ‘n’ I re-invented as the music genre Mutant Dub.
I ‘n’ I would keep a notebook of classic albums to fill up my collection before I could ever think of committing to a weekly radio show.
<Reggae Radio mentors at KRCL; 40 sec.>
Fall 1986 I moved from Bozeman, MT to SLC to attend the Univ. of Utah. I ‘n’ I had always been a music collector. And in 1986 I discovered the compact disk.
In the dorms I met a Jewish engineering student named Neal. He had a rich kid’s stereo and in the concrete block dorm rooms, sound really reverberated. We traded disks back and forth. One night we listened to the group Black Uhuru.
Heavy electronic 80’s era Sly & Robbie; Michael Rose’s Afro-Arab vocals and balanced harmonies: Puma Jones (roots dawta) and Ducky Simpson (Rasta dread.)
I ‘n’ I had about a dozen Reggae CDs but Black Uhuru “Anthem” was the epiphany moment. I became a Reggae obsessive after that!
In gratitude to Black Uhuru, I used to start each late night 3 O’clock Roadblock with a Black Uhuru tune.
<Black Uhuru and Reggae Fanaticism; 63 sec.>
Now that I ‘n’ I had the show, I needed to expand my Reggae collection through the unintended, and probably unwilling President at the time:
Reagan – 666 as the Rastas say.
<Funder of the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives Ronald Wilson Reagan; 37 sec.>
Hey, I ‘n I bear no grudges against the man. Back in the mid 80’s there were more grants that loans. I would take a big fat Ronnie check and deposit into savings. Then either around the Holidays or Summer I would scour the Bay Area record shops. Dozens of them, large and small, back before digital killed the record hut.
East Bay: Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito
Mill Valley – Marin county
Sacramento and Reno if I ‘n’ I was driving.
<Bay Area cratedig circuit; 44 sec.>
I used to stay at a Travelodge on Columbus and Bay. Right across from the Tower Records. Or couch surf at an Aunt’s apartment over by San Francisco State U.
I would descend like a plague of locusts in the shops. CDs (new). LPs bargains as people sold vinyl for the CDs. Cheap and plentiful.
$4 dollar records cast off in 1989 can go for hundreds today on Ebay and Discogs.
<That effort became the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives; 51 sec>
Salt Lake City was well represented in good record stores, before digital set in, during the mid 80’s. I used to deliver mail and had to use my own car. So the gas reimbursement was usually enough to buy two new disks every two weeks at the late lamented Smokey’s Records. Other gems at places like Randy’s (still in business) and Cosmic Aeroplane, Raspberry Records and Mad Platter (all gone to that record hut in the sky)
Quick Smokey’s story: Near the end of the store’s life, the owner Smokey Koelsch, started giving me the hairy eyeball. Why? Thieves kept breaking to Smokey’s shop to steal all the Reggae cds.
And those are the stories I ‘n’ I collect and share for 34 years.
Forward ever, backwards never1
<Cratedigging in SLC; 47 sec.>
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: July 2, 2022 – 34 Years of Reggae Radio (Vinyl)
Prince Far I & the Arabs – The Message; Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Chapter 1 (ROIR) ’78 Dub album of the hour
Black Uhuru – Party Next Door; Anthem (Island) ’84 US
I Roy – Deck of Love Many Moods of I Roy (Trojan0 ’74 UK
Inner Circle – Burial; Blame It on the Sun (Trojan) ’75 UK Peter Tosh Cover
Arthur Louis – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door; This Is Reggae Music vol. 2 (Island) ’75 US comp.
Burning Spear – Lion; Man in the Hills (Mango) ’76 US
Rita Marley – One Draw; 12″ (Shanachie) ’82 US – 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
Marcia Griffiths – Feel Like Jumping; Feel Like Jumping (Receiver) ’68 UK comp.
The Heptones – Cool Rasta; Cool Rasta (Trojan) ’76 UK
Lion Zion – Gas Guzzler; Reggae in America (House of Natty) ’76 Oakland; Lee “Scratch” Perry prod’n
Ras Michael & the Sons of Negus – Rasta Liveth; Tribute to the Emperor (Trojan) ’76 UK
Bob Marley & the Wailers – Punky Reggae Party; 12″ (Tuff Gong) ’77 JA
Judy Mowatt – Mr. Dee Jay; Mr. Dee Jay (Ashandan) ’75 JA
Big Youth – Hurting Inside; Progress (Nichola Delita) ’78 JA Bob Marley cover
Dennis Brown – Malcolm X; Visions (Blue Moon) ’78 UK
Keith Hudson – Musicology; Rasta Communication (Greensleeves) ’78
The Gayladds – Little Candle; Love & Understanding (Ballistic) ’79 UK
Matumbi – Music in the Air; Seven Seals (Harvest) ’79 UK green vinyl
Linton Kwesi Johnson – Inglan Is a Bitch; Bass Culture
Soul Syndicate – There’s a Fire; Was, Is & Always (Epiphany) ’80 Santa Cruz, CA; Gaylads cover
African Princess – Jah Children Cry; Hits From the House of Shaka (Jah Shaka) ’85 UK
Bunny Wailer – Mellow Mood; Sings the Wailers (Mango) ’80 US – rock steady covers
Desmond Dekker – Moving On; Black & Dekker (Stiff) ’81 UK
Akimbo – So Long Trouble; So Long Trouble EP (Forward Sounds) ’85 UK
Johnnie Osbourne – Love Comes and Goes; Reggae on Broadway (Cha Cha) ’81 UK
Peter Tosh – Reggae Myelitis; Wanted, Dread & Alive (EMI America) ’81 US
Toots & the Maytals – Beautiful Woman; Knock Out! (Mango) ’81 US
Casselberry & DuPree – Take It to the Limit; City Down (Icebergg) ’86 Milwaukee, Wi; two women cover the Eagles
Singers & Players feat. Prince Far I – Quante Jubila; War of Words (ON U Sound) ’81 UK
Twinkle Brothers – Since I Threw the Comb Away (Sunsplash) 8/7/82 Montego Bay
Don Carlos – Lazer Beam; Spread Out (Burning Sounds) ’83 UK
Lilian Allen – Conditions Critical; Conditions Critical (Redwood) ’87 Emeryville, CA; Toronto dub poet
Singers & Players feat. Sister P – Holy Scripture; Vacuum Pumping (ON U Sound) ’88 UK
Caribbean All Stars – Snake in de Grass; Live & Direct (Raw Life) ’84 Oakland
Krieger-Densmore Reggae Bonanza – Get Up Stand Up; 12″ (Rhino) ’83 US Wailers cover
Ruffy & Tuffy – Third World War Is a Must; Climax (Black Star) ’88 Finland
KRCL is building a new studio and so all Summer we have been building shows from home. I ‘n’ I was putting together an entirely different Smile Jamaica. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and I caught an alert on my phone from Rolling Stone Magazine:
Damn. First U Roy. Then Bunny Wailer. Now Lee. For me, Lee “Scratch” Perry epitomized what I loved about Reggae music. He was there at the beginning of ska. Brought the Wailers their riddim section and he was a giant in the Reggae mythos via his Black Ark studio.
A mad genius who marched to his own drummer. In the Secret History of Reggae music, that label took on mythic undertones without sacrificing the impeccable quality of 70’s Roots Reggae.
In fact, when I ‘n’ I upload these Reggae Radio showcases I can them the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives in a backwards tribute to him.
The Black Ark. From the Hebrew Ark of the Covenant buried in a church in Ethiopia. Beyond cool!
In Reggae, we collector obsessives are often more interested in labels and producers than performers. When I ‘n’ I started building my collection in the late 80’s, it became very easy to just automatically add Perry’s productions/performances as the epitome of quality.
Especially through the Mango label, the penultimate releases from the likes of Junior Murvin (Police & Thieves), Max Romeo (War in a Babylon) and The Congos (Heart of the Congos).
It had everything that originally attracted I ‘n’ I to Reggae music: great lyrics about Rastafari love, the story of downtrodden Jamaicans living in the Diaspora (Babylon) and this throbbing bass.
At the Black Ark, Perry was notorious for dumping all of his instruments onto one track. It overloaded everything to the point that your monitors were over-bassed. Then he would cut that murky sound with a slicing high hat and cymbal crash. It had a sort of “stone skipping on water” buoyancy.
The vocals were on the second track. How he captured that sound on primitive Jamaican recording equipment speaks to his prowess as a producer/engineer.
There was often times when I ‘n’ I would purchase a new disk or LP and hear that trademark cavernous sound and think, “That’s a Black Ark recording.” And sure enough, even if the LP was produced by another label. Engineering credit was Lee’s
Another of his hallmarks was the “moaning cow”. He would do some strange flange technique that would approximate that groaning bovine. I’ve pulled the clip for you to hear:
<Lee Perry’s Moaning Cow; 21 sec.>
Lee definitely had some mental health/paranoia issues and eventually the hanger’s ons, the skylarkers, the follow fashion dreads who would hang out and shift coke and eat pork made him destroy the Black Ark Studio to get away from that bad mojo. He painted black X’s over everything. The console, the monitor speakers, the walls. Eventually I think the studio, located behind Lee’s house, burned down.
That lead to about 15 years in the wilderness. Middling releases. A lot of stream of consciousness jive with forgettable Reggae players.
Lee was sued by Chris Blackwell for calling him a vampire who killed Bob Marley for his royalties.
He got his second act with three major events
The return to glory with ON U Sound producer Adrian Sherwood and the album From the Secret Laboratory (another backward tribute as I ‘n’ I often call the Smile Jamaica Ark-ives the Secret Dubratory.)
Blood and Fire Label’s massive reissue of The Congos Heart of the Congos.
The Beastie Boys cover tribute from their boutique magazine Grand Royal
In the wake of the Blood & Fire reissue, a lot of legit and gray market Black Ark disks and LP’s flooded the shops. Lee moved to Switzerland married a wealthy Swiss gal decades younger.
If you check him on discogs, he issued dozens of LPs and CDs of middling quality: some techno, a lot of Mutant Dub, a lot profane rhyming couplets. He definitely was the eminence grise of Reggae music and enjoyed his notoriety.
I ‘n’ I have a few stories I could tell that don’t put in a good light, but those imperfections make him human and flawed like all of us.
If you still buy those round aluminum coaster thingees. Here is the epitome of his best Black Ark work of classics and obscurities.
Jah’s Heavenly Choir has a new mixing board and you can hear Lee’s maniacal cackle lively up the place.
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: Sept. 4, 20201 Playlist
Lee “Scratch” Perry – I Got the Groove; From the Secret Laboratory (ON U Sound) ‘90
Prince Jazzbo – Live Good Today; Ital Corner (Clocktower) ‘76
Candy McKenzie – Jah Knows; Lee “Scratch” Perry Presents (Trojan) mid 70’s
Lee “Scratch” Perry – Free Up the Weed; Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread (Upsetter) ’78 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
The Heptones – Garden of Life; Disco Devil (Trojan) ’79 comp.
Everyone has an origin story. Here is mine. I ‘n’ I had moved to Salt Lake City, Fall of 1986 to attend the University of Utah. Left Bozeman, Montana (Montana State) and brought with me a good stereo system. Laser turntable, Bose 301 speakers, cassette deck and amp.
I also brought with me this new fangled gadget called the CD player. In Montana I had always been a music obsessive and I ‘n’ I was probably the first on the block to purchase a CD player. Well, Mom got it for me Xmas 1985. Fisher model you would get at Montgomery Wards. So low frills all it displayed was the track number.
Salt Lake City had great independent record stores when I arrived in 1986. (Most are gone today). I had switched over from vinyl to the aluminum coaster thingees that were pretty expensive. $18 in 80’s money must be about $30 dollars today.
I had met some people in the dorms and one of them was a Jewish trust fund kid named Neil Copperman. I was in that sort of mid 80’s rut where all my favorite groups were flogging a synth drum excess that I wasn’t into. The Clash fell apart. My favorite college rock band was Minutemen and their frontman, D. Boon died in a car accident.
I ‘n’ I was looking for a new genre to collect. Bought some blues. Dabbled in world. Nothing really sunk in. Neil and I would trade disks and make cassette copies. One day we were in his room: small concrete bunkers. His stereo was better than mine. He brought out a CD by a group that looked like Prince with dreadlocks: Michael Rose, Ducky Simpson and black beauty Puma Jones.
Dropped the disk in the player, itched up the volume and BLAM. The heavens parted, trumpets blared. It was Black Uhuru meets Sly & Robbie. That synth drum crap I hated on the Rolling Stones records was massive on this Reggae outing.
That disk lit the fuse and I ‘n’ I never looked back. Spring of 1987 I was involved in a campus radio station called K-UTE. I programmed, if you could call it that, a Reggae show called Positive Vibration named after the Bob Marley tune.
Spring 1988 my college roommate and I were in the Pie Pizzeria. They were listening to the community station called KRCL. I had discovered their two mainstay programs devoted to Reggae: Smile Jamaica(Sat. 1-4pm) hosted by Rutabaga Reese. Wednesday nights was Nite Roots with Papa Pilgrim.
I ‘n’ I would listen to Smile Jamaica with a note pad and jot down all these great albums that Rutabaga was playing: Ini Kamoze, Don Carlos, Wailing Souls, Mighty Diamonds. Bliss. Saturday afternoons became “my college for musical knowledge” with the Dub Professor, Rutabaga Reese.
That night in the pizza joint we heard a call out for new volunteers. Roomie wanted to do 80’s college rock (they were set for that.) I was selected to do a late night/early morning show called 3 O’clock Roadblock (another Bob tune.) The weekend before I debuted, June 26, 1988 I ‘n’ I roadtripped to San Francisco and scoured the city spending my student loan cash to front music for the new show: night owls, insomniacs, 7-11 workers and cat burglars.
Super hot summer. Great way to learn the ropes.
I programmed late nights from end of June 1988 to August 1989. A couple months later I went from the minor leagues to prime time, Saturday afternoons, Oct. 1989 to share Smile Jamaicawith Rutabaga. But that’s a story for another day…
Thank you KRCL for granting me the privilege to juggle the black wax and spin the aluminum for the masses for an incredible 1/3 of a century. In media that streak is almost unheard of.
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives June 26, 2021 Playlist – 33 Years of Reggae Radio
Black Uhuru – Party Next Door; Anthem (Island) ’83 – E.T. Thorngren rmx
I Roy – Heart Don’t Leap; Keep on Coming Through the Door (Trojan) ’71 comp.
As I’n’ I mentioned on-air: KRCL is building a new studio and we had to vacate our old space to make way for another four story apartment complex on the Northwest side of Salt Lake City.
That means, just like The Covid 2020, I’m back to building Smile Jamaica episodes from the cloudy living room of the Ark-Ives.
So that means it’s all digital for the summer. The black wax will have to wait. That takes about half of the usual selection out of rotation.
So I ‘n’ I decided I would do specialty Reggae programs for the interim:
Roswell UFOria anniversary (July ’47)
33 Year Reggae Radio Anniversary (end of June)
Summer of Dub
Happy Birthday Haile Selassie (July)
And what I ‘n’ I played last Saturday: A chronological sampling of the Mango Records Reggae release catalog.
Our story starts with Chris Blackwell. Son of a British food producer father and a Sephardic-Jewish mother. Born in England, the family moved to Jamaica where Chris’s father was in the colonial army.
Instead of leaving Jamaica for a life in England, Blackwell stayed in Jamaica and started out managing jukeboxes throughout the Island. Of course, that brought him into contact with regular Jamaicans he encountered in bars and restaurants and absorbed their folk music traditions of mento, calypso and eventually horn-based ska.
If you have ever seen the movie Countryman, it incorporates part of Blackwell’s transition into Rasta cultural awareness. Chris was shipwrecked, rescued and nurtured back to health by a Rasta fisherman.
That same year (1958) Blackwell was gifted $10,000 dollars and started his Island Records label. Jamaican ska ‘n’ b, production assistant on the James Bond movie, Dr. No, which was filmed in Jamaica. Within a couple years he moved to England to become one of the first successful independent record producers.
He hit pay dirt right off the bat with Jamaican teenager Millie Small who recorded a ska version of a pop tune by Barbie Gaye entitled “My Boy Lollypop”. The record sold 6 million copies and introduced Jamaican music to the radio mainstream.
In the early to mid 60’s Island Records was a successful label releasing records from Traffic, King Crimson, Cat Stevens, Jethro Tull, Richard Thompson and many more. Quality rock and roll that sold millions of records.
Blackwell never forgot his Jamaican roots and was a major distributor of Reggae music from Jamaica into the UK.
Around 1972 he encountered the Wailers. They had been working with Lee “Scratch” Perry for his Upsetter label and many people think that was the group’s musical water shed.
Blackwell loaned the group enough money to record their first album: Catch a Fire. Catch a Fire is a foundation release. Nine tracks (six Rasta/protest tunes, three love songs.) Many of these songs were re-worked from the group’s ska era. But it is hard Jamaican, Rasta roots to the bone.
Problem was, Blackwell thought it was too “legit” for his rock audience. He wanted to sell not only to the Jamaican music scene in the UK. He wanted to treat the group like any of his rock acts.
So, he brought in some Nashville session musicians, who played on Traffic records, as sidemen. They added some psychedelic guitar and organ flourishes that really rock-i-fied their sound.
Blackwell invested in an expensive packaging release on the initial pressing. A fold-up record that opened like a Zippo lighter. Catch a Fire, geddit?
That album was one half of what introduced Reggae music to the UK rock buying public and college kid Americans in 1973.
The other catalyst moment for Reggae’s crossover was also connected to Blackwell: The Harder They Come.
Jimmy Cliff plays Ivan: a kid from the Jamaican bush who winds up in the city and turns to a life of crime. Filmed in Jamaica with a boisterous Reggae soundtrack, it is essentially a Jamaican Western showcasing the grim reality and majestic beauty of the island.
Ivan is killed in a glorious shootout and that movie made its wRay through Berkeley, Cambridge, Columbus and East Lansing college towns making a market for that inverted “chucka chucka” Reggae sound. Dreadlocks and ganja were every bit as culturally enticing as hippies and LSD were in the mid 60’s.
So, The Harder They Come (1972) and Catch a Fire (1973) allowed Blackwell to carve out a Reggae niche to fit this market. Rather than seeing Reggae lost in the promotional mix of his larger rock acts, he created the Mango Records imprint.
That label defined the non-Jamaican Reggae market: Toots & the Maytals, Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, Third World. Singers like Justin Hinds, Max Romeo, George Faith. He brought Lee “Scratch” Perry’s non-commercial, mythical and brooding Black Ark studio recordings into record huts across the globe.
But in the end, he was still a businessman. With The Wailers it became apparent that a trio wasn’t going to transcend out of the Reggae niche into the hockey arenas and soccer stadiums. Concerts made money and sold records.
So, alas, it became Bob Marley & the Wailers. In the secret history of Reggae music race always plays a part. Peter Tosh was too tall, too black too militant. Bunny Wailer, also too black, was too mystical. He hated touring cold cities and he bailed out on the tour after Burnin’ was released at the tail end of ’73 to cash in on the immediate success of Catch a Fire.
Bob Marley: Black Jamaican mother. White, (absent) English father. His lighter skin and angular features, especially as his dreads began to grow, made him look almost Mediterranean. He could be a brother to late 60’s era Carlos Santana
Blackwell saw in Bob an undeniable charisma. Men wanted to smoke a spliff with the dread. Women wanted to have his babies.
So, Catch a Fire and Burnin’ are credited to the Wailers but by 1974’s Natty Dread it was Bob Marley & the Wailers. Remove Bunny and Peter and supplant with the female backing of the I-Three. By the 1975 Live album, Bob Marley & the Wailers were a rock sensation selling out celebrity filled arenas and clubs across America, the UK, Europe and Japan.
Here is another story for the secret history. When Bob had a toe injury while playing soccer, it turned gangrenous. At one point he was advised that he should have part of his foot amputated.
But the pressure to continue releasing records and mounting his Babylon By Bus tours, Bob chose not to come off the road and have the surgery. Bob stalked the stage like a lion, how could he continue that playing guitar and moving about with a cane?
Alas, Bob died of melanoma, the ultimate gift from his absent white father, on May 11th, 1981. Some (irrationally) blame Blackwell for his passive aggressive pressure to keep building that audience of white fans and at the end he had finally crossed over into the black awareness as disco petered out in 1980.
Had Bob survived into the 80’s he would have been right there with Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and U2.
Peter Tosh called Chris Blackwell. “White worst.” Lee “Scratch” Perry was sued for defamation for claiming in his song, Judgement in a Babylon, that Blackwell was a vampire who killed Bob Marley to steal his royalties.
At the end of the day it is still a cut-throat business and Blackwell committed to Reggae music through Mango up until the Roots era of studio based, band crafted Reggae gave way to the digital electronic era of dancehall and slackness lyrics around 1985. Sporadic releases continued until Blackwell sold his record fortune to Polygram at the end of the 80’s.
But from 1972-1984, Mango Records was perhaps the best and consistently successful Reggae catalog that forms the foundation of the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives.
So I ‘n’ I went to discogs.com and sorted the releases in chronological order: From 1972’s the Harder They Come to UK group’s 1979 magnum opus Tribute to the Martyrs.
That fills 3 hours of some of the best Reggae music that I ‘n’ I (the royal Rasta we) will ever hear.
So, thanks Chris. Without your instincts and ruthless business acumen Reggae might never have left the Island
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives: June 12, 2021 Playlist
Jimmy Cliff – The Harder They Come; The Harder They Come Soundtrack (Mango) ‘72
Jimmy Cliff – Better Days are Coming; Struggling Man (Mango) ‘73
Lorna Bennett – Breakfast in Bed; This is Reggae Music vol. 1 (Mango) ’74 Dusty Springfield cover
Scotty – Skank in Bed; This is Reggae Music vol. 2 (Mango) ’75 dj to Lorna Bennett
Toots & the Maytals – Country Roads; Funky Kingston (Mango) ’75 John Denver cover
Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey; Marcus Garvey (Mango) ‘75
Ever since Pres. Eisenhower was whisked up into a space craft in 1954, the American government has known and held back the truth. UFO’s piloted by Extra Terrestrials have emerged since the world achieved nuclear weapons.
Apparently, no more lame denials. Prepare yourself that we are not alone.
What’s that you say? Another tin foil conspiracy from binging on Ancient Aliens eps during the Covid Lockdown?
Ike was supposed to go golfing and then slipped his security detail. He went up into an alien spacecraft and signed an intergalactic treaty. He claimed to have had a “dental emergency”. Why no Secret Service?
Basically in return for advanced technology like velcro, teflon, GPS, aerial stealth/anti-radar and Tang, the aliens would have free range to probe (humans) and mutilate (cattle).
I ‘n’ I was getting cross eyed with my bredrin Aquaboy and he mentioned an article in The New Yorker, of all places: The U.FO. Papers
Here is the teaser on the cover:
For decades, believers have felt that evidence of alien visitations has been dismissed by the U.S. government. With formation of an official task force, is the Pentagon taking flying saucers seriously?
It is basically the story of UFO investigator Leslie Kean and her trials and tribulations sifting out the unexplained from the hoaxes and disinformation. How the Pentagon resisted any Congressional oversight and tried to quash the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena* being reported and filmed with alien, infrared technology, by US Naval Pilots.
* Unidentified Flying Objects
Called Tic Tacs, from the capsule shaped breath mint, the rate of speeds these crafts could achieve would have sucked a human pilot’s spine out of his asshole. Now that’ a probin’!
The geriatrics at 60 Minutes did a UAP study. British paper, the Telegraph, has also done stories. But hang on a second.
I think it was either Bob Marley or Woody Allen who said that “I ‘n’ I don’t want to be in a club that would have me as a member.”
Now that UAPhoria(?). Nah, now that UFOria is mainstream. When even the old codgers who watch 60 Minutes are coming aboard, I’m suspicious.
RT is a regular source I ‘n’ I go to for Alien runnings. Maybe because Russia’s leader looks like an alien: Vladimir Putin.
The crescendo of UAP/UFO legitimacy has an ulterior motive. It is to show that the American military is incapable of defending us from these Tic Tacs and thus needs trillions more for weapons development.
Washington Post, Pravda on the Potomac, and all the rest love war. Congress loves military aid to their districts. If the New York Times is for it, you should scoff. Their admission of alien space craft has more to do with China and Russia.
Wars and rumors of war. Dempublican or Republicrat, it never ends. As Keith Poppin laments, “Same Things For Breakfast”
And as I ‘n’ I read in the New Yorker article. All the discussion was on the crafts themselves. Not who or what is behind piloting these UAP’s. So I think that is what is being missed.
<Smile Jamaica: UFO’s and Christopher Columbus>
What is gonna happen when they touch down in our fields, parks and dispensaries? They are gonna drop down right on the White House lawn. And we will have to take it.
Are people gonna be fixated on the craft they arrived in? Do you think the Native Americans who greeted Columbus at Plymouth Rock in his three ships the Nino, Pinto and the Santa Clara*
*Listener emailed me who didn’t get my joke from Animal House: “Did America give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”
Do you think the Taino tribe who first encountered Columbus in what is today the Bahamas were fixated on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria – his three ships?
No, they were in wonderment at these strange men with four legs (on horseback) and wooly faced encased in a shiny shell.
Well, we better be ready for the same experience. “Who are these little green people with bulbous eyes, long fingers, and teardrop heads?”
Let us hope the Aliens are a tad more benevolent to the “natives” than the conquistadors were to the indigenous peoples of the New World.
Don’t forget, Eisenhower sold us out for probes and mutilations. Doesn’t bode well. For I’n’ I.
Let’s hope the Aliens are “probing” us not for malicious intent, but because of our weed.
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