Today I find myself at a cremation ceremony in Ubud, Indonesia, the cultural capital of the magical island of Bali. Thousands of locals and tourists are watching a Hindu-Bali ceremony… where the bones of Balinese men, women, and children, who have never received a proper burial, have been dug up, placed in giant coffin-boxes topped with carved wooden bulls, run through the streets, surprisingly like the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, and then set afire in a giant Hindu-Bali ceremony of flames and celebration. Amidst the humbling crowd are Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, and… me.
Roger Steffens is a reggae expert and collector extraordinaire. Also a poet, photographer, raconteur, and personal friend of Bob Marley. Which means… Roger’s been to Jamaica many times, mon. If you know anything about reggae, you probably know that Roger co-hosted “The Reggae Beat” on KCRW radio beginning in 1979, the first and only reggae show in Los Angeles at the time. And I consider myself extremely fortunate to be presenting some previously-unreleased Bob Marley music from the singer’s personal “Bedroom Tapes” that Roger has graciously allowed me to mix into our interview, “on loan” from “The Archives”….along with several original “dub tracks by The Wailers themselves. Enjpy….
If you remember, I last left you at the end of Part 1 getting off a hot, crowded bus which took me from Tetouen, Morocco to… Chechaouen, Morocco. It turns out that not all “ouens” are the same. I’m getting off the bus when I see a seated Islamic man dressed in all white, staring intently at me. He has a computer in his lap, and it’s not too long after 9/11. He points at me and I’m…. terrified… expecting the explosive worst…. only to find out that he’s pointing at my blue plastic CD player which I’ve left in my seat. “Shokrun”, I say, “thank you”, the only word I know in Arabic, as I get off the bus, the victim of my own racial profiling.