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Back Side of the Dial

Bandwidth is the first to admit that a bout with vertebral subluxation is like being vexed by the devil. And nothing can make those pinched nerves happy like a good face-down adjustment on a leather table. But what is it with West Indians and chiropractic care? The preponderance of chiropractors' advertisements in South Florida aimed at the Jamaican community indicates one of two things: Either Caribbean islanders get into a heckuva lot of car accidents or they love going to the doctor.

The town of Lauderhill and the area around West Sunrise Boulevard, home to many of these immigrants, is served by billboards (some graced with reggae star Freddie MacGregor's smiling face) promising caring, concerned back-cracking. And reggae radio stations -- especially those on the AM dial -- are home to commercials that almost make me want to throw my back out so I can pay these folks a visit. A bulging disc and herniation with nerve impingement never sounded so delightful.

WAVS-AM (1170), the source of plenty of radio spots advertising chiropractic care, has enlisted MacGregor to provide a mellifluous voice-over trumpeting the services of County Line Chiropractic. One provider asks patients to call "1-800-IRIE-DOC." The best commercials involve actual testimonials, such as the nephew of "Auntie Roach," who reports that she was involved in a "mash-up." Afterward, he explains, she endured "pain a-back, pain a-shoulder, pain a-foot, pain a-neck. Poor Auntie Roach!" According to the nephew, a visit to the Sunrise offices of Dr. Lisa Owen set Auntie Roach straight again.

"Soon after, Auntie Roach jump up and say she feel good-good-good! She go to carnival and jump up -- jump up! So Auntie Roach says, when pain bite you, the best place to go is Dr. Owen's office! That's right, for the kids, Dr. Owen is never wrong!"

While the chiropractic ads come hot and heavy all day long, at night, more unorthodox healing methods enter the fray. The station issues a disclaimer after the claims of "Brother Soli of India," who tells listeners, "I am a spiritual guru. I have been blessed with powers and knowledge to help people throughout the world. Do you feel that your life is in darkness? Do you have questions about your life? Do come and see me. Do you feel that that man or woman that you have in your life is acting strange toward you and has become a stranger in your world? Do come and see me. I can explain to you what is going on with your life. I have been blessed with powers and knowledge to destroy evil, bad luck, curses, spells. I have powerful tools that can help you destroy these things. I have candles and crystals, oils and incense from my homeland in India to help people who have been voodooed, who've been cursed, who have a spell against them."

The pirate stations are often even better, if that's possible. The later the better in most cases. They're almost always positioned on a sliver of a station so small it threatens to fall into an abyss of hiss if the tuner is jarred. Check THIS out:

Female caller: "When you gonna start playing music?"

DJ: "In a little bit. Right now we doin' our 'Ghetto Love Connection.' I've been playing music all night long! C'mon now, baby!"

Female caller: "But ya ain't been playing ..."

DJ: "Don't start lyin'! Yeah I do! C'mon now."

Female caller: "It's too late. I need to go to sleep. Y'all need to play some songs."

DJ: "You too? Whatcha doin?"

Female caller: "I'm chillin'."

DJ: "You chillin'? Whatcha doin'?"

Female caller: "I'm watchin' Jenny Jones."

DJ: Look atcha -- a thug like you! What, you by yourself?"

Female caller: "Huh? No, with my peeps."

DJ: "Your peeps? Like who, you mean your nigga?"

Female caller: "Huh?"

DJ: "Who's your peeps?"

Female caller: "My peoples! The peoples who own this house!"

DJ: "Huh? A-ight then."

Female caller: "A-ight."

DJ: "So you mean your family?"

Female caller: "Yeah."

DJ: "OK then, a-ight, go ahead, girl, do whatcha do."

Female caller: "Yeah!"

DJ: "Bye."

Female caller: "Bye." (hangs up)

DJ: "How can she watch Jenny Jones and listen to the radio at the same time. She don't make no sense. I ain't gonna play shit. Fuck that!"

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