Yes, somehow the Small Axe series played in the US. Probably on Amazon. Very strong filming and storytelling.
It’s all a little weird for me in that when I was a good little middle-class hippy we basically hated reggae and identified it totally with skinhead bovver boys, whose favourite recreation, we believed, was beating the shit out of us hippies. Not that that ever happened to me. This was all before Bob Marley hooked up with Chris Blackwell and Island Records. Still making his magnificent work with Lee Perry. Which I never heard until years later.
In 1971/72, I lived in a grotty flat on Westbourne Park Road, a couple of streets away from Island’s studios. We bought out veg on Portobello Road, saw films at the Electric Cinema, but rarely ventured further west to Ladbroke Grove or north past the motorway overpass to the nether reaches of the market. For a short while I sold Frendz on the streets - I was very bad at it - but that involved going to the office which was up that way. I recall seeing completely burnt-out saucepans for sale on a market stall, which puzzled me. All of which is to say that we didn’t have really any interaction with the West Indian community and I don’t recall any obvious presence on their part. The place was crammed with hippies and boarded up rows of houses, but squatting was not yet widespread, although there was talk of it.
Once, before I lived in London, I bought some “grass” on a day trip to Portobello for that purpose from a Jamaican I accosted pretty much at random on the street. I was such an idiot back then! But that was about the sum total of my experiences with black culture and life.
Ten years later (or so), I went overboard for reggae, but it was something of a long process. Today, if forced to choose only one genre of music to listen to forever, I might pick reggae and/or dub. Still a tough choice to make. African rumba, juju, salsa/Afrocuban (particularly African expressions of it) would also be strong contenders.
I often wonder how my life would have gone if I’d stayed in England. Would I have been involved with punk? Been in the music business, which I had dabbled in with unimpressive results? Although I have a story or two. Or would the white middle-class world and family have absorbed me back into some dreary bourgeois life?
As far as this topic is concerned, I’m always fascinated by what did happen in the UK in my absence. Pre-internet news was relatively scarce, although I got almost every issue of NME for years and a few copies of The Face and Straight No Chaser, bought the new imports the week of release even if US release was imminent - I was a trendy little bugger! But it all felt somewhat remote and like the real show was going on back in England. Still does in some ways.