Monday, April 25, 2016

LIFE ON THE ROAD--WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR TIME?

PEOPLE ASK ME THAT QUESTION---so I've selected a few events from my recent past to illustrate how I spend my time.


After the balloon festival at Albuquerque I traveled West on I-40--pulled in here to watch a football game-(in 2 minutes flat I can aim my satellite dish for reception)-decided to spend the night.  It is a delicious feeling to have one's whole lifestyle immediately at hand.  That old highway there is a small segment of old route 66.

Wigwam village--Holbrook, Az--I spent the  night in an adjacent vacant lot. (free)

Near Meteor Crater, Az --got intrigued by this abandoned geodesic dome and stopped to investigate.
You may know that this type of building was invented by the great genius Buckminster Fuller.  It is one of the most efficient ways to enclose space ever devised.  Read about it here

A vast collection of showcases--abandoned.

Moved on to Twin Arrows casino--gambled with their free money--won $20--AND QUIT.
Too noisy to sleep here so I moved on into the night.

Found at nice quiet place south of Flagstaff  at Schnebly road exit.

Next day settled in at Thousand trails road near Cottonwood.  Was soon visited by old friend Laurie Theodorou who showed me a clip of her most recent performance.  Stayed a few days then moved on to Yuma--had dental work to complete.

Parked at the Paradise Casino.  This guy was my neighbor.  Yeah, I thought the same thing you're thinking.

Turns out it was the real Santa Clause--the one who won the national Santa contest and was paid $40,000 to star in the Macy Parade.

Tooth fixed--I moved on to one of my favorite places:  Peg Leg Smith wayside near Borrego Springs, Ca.  Joined a host of my friends in the WIN (Wandering Individuals Network) organization for their usual Thanksgiving gathering.

Everyone chips in and buys a great meal. (actually it took 3 days to eat all the food we bought)

This intrigued me at The Anza Borrego museum: Its the model resulting from pouring molton 
aluminum into an ant hill.  If you've ever wondered what's down there.....
Back near Salton City I decided to get an update on the human troll that lives in this abandoned motel.  Here's the story from some years ago.

Turns out he's not here any more. I went to the liquor store and learned that he has died.  This answers the question I was curious about:  About how long can a person stay drunk every day before dying.
The answer seems to be about 5 years.

Then I went down to the Salton Sea and spent the night.  Woke at dawn to get this shot.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Thoreau reminds me that time is the stream I go fishing in. Laurie reminds me time is the currency of life--mine and yours.  I hope to remind you that it is possible to simplify your life so that your truest fascinations become clear to you and you will get the hang of responding to them creatively and have something to share with the world----like this..







Then I drove down to the Salton Sea and spent the night--waking at dawn to get this shot.


Friday, April 15, 2016

A MONTH AT THE SLABS---Part 3 conclusion

I went to the Slabs like Thoreau went to Walden Pond--to see what it had to teach.
And I enrich my presence there with friends,  so I have two experiments running sinultaneously; will show you some pictures then give you my conclusions.
Look carefully at this bad photo, taken at the Range theater.  This young flute player HAS WINGS.

I remembered her from weeks ago at Quartzsite where I took a slightly better pict.  She was very elusive, turning her head; would have loved to see up close how they were attached.
Meet Doc 420 a stable character at the Slabs---member of the board--a well spoken, intelligent guy I chatted with at some length.  He unashamedly wears dresses every day.  That's his house behind him.

Meet Cuervo, the mule riding, mystery man who stormed the stage while I was performing. No one seemed to know where he lived or how he managed to feed his animals.
Builder Bill, the stable mind and able hands that constructs things;  If the Slabs were a watch, he would be its  mainspring.  Here he is performing around the evening fire at the oasis.

Here is Pish in a self made costume, marching with her doggie in the Tomato Festival parade. Note the tomato she carries atop a  stick.  She is a lovely and complicated person I had the pleasure of engaging at length.
Local personages (Royalty)from Niland, Ca--home of the Tomato Festival.

Slab organizations sent perhaps the most entrants to the Parade.  The sign says: SLAB CITY LOVES NILAND.

Also from Slab City--this float representing EAST JESUS--an artist colony on its northern fringe.
And look!  Its Doc 420--riding his bicycle backwards the entire parade route.

Local futurist making their statement.

 A family of 4? establishing their "homestead".
The HOLE!  See the gushing water?  It's from a spring a half mile away.  Slabbers stand in the hole to  shower.  I've done it several times over the years;  one of the great showers of my life.

Here's the spring ---about body temperature--much used by Slabbers.

Nightime around the Oasis campfire--musicians take turns entertaining us.

I'm atop a tower overlooking the art colony of East Jesus. Down there was once a trash dump.  Container Charley chose to live there in his (insulated) steel container and fashion art pieces from the Junk.  When he suddenly died a few years ago, I wrote his eulogy:
Container Charlie

He was lost---so he went to the slabs
for meaning and warmer weather.
Lost souls cluster here;
less lost for being together.

He staked his claim in a trashy dump;
began to shape art from junk.
Made his home in a steel container;
hunkered down like a monk.

Slowly, work by work he found himself;
began to feel his power;
named his acreage East Jesus;
built a zen-like tower.

Morphing rubbish into spectacle;
shaping sculpture from his mind;
made a thousand artsy items
of the whimsey kind.

And the world beat a path to his door.
And as he brought light to that space,
he forged a confident identity
in that most unlikely place.

Better than lemons to lemonade;
trash into art---go see them.
Man finds himself in a pile of trash
and builds a fine museum

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I trust by now you have a fair hint of the Slabs. Here's what I think:
1. I think it is a wonderful, accidental experiment--tolerated and subsidized to some extent by authorities of Imperial County.
2. It is an approximate ANARCHY---minimal government--that has validated one of their prime contentions:  WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, PEOPLE WILL SELF ORGANIZE. The 5 major clubs that formed there are real and satisfying communities of order, duration, adaptability.  They survive and thrive at minimal expense, WITHOUT TAXING THE GENERAL POPULATION.
3. It is practically free of prejudice, welcoming all.
4. It is practically free of the profit motive--no rent, no property taxes.
5. It is an inexpensive mental institution for some personalities that in conventional society would require very expensive care.  It saves the state millions while providing a tolerant place to be.  It is a gentle challenge to these personalities  encouraging their theraputic adaptation.
6. It does little or no harm to conventional society.
7. It is fun, exciting, challenging to find ones place in this community.
8. It is a free refuge for the weary, the stressed, the lonely.
9. The rise and fall of Slabs population can be a bellwether for crises in the larger society.
THAT'S JUST OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.  You could probably add to this list.

I SAY--LET THERE BE MORE SLABS--ALL ACROSS THE NATION--ALL ACROSS THE WORLD.  Let there be refuges for the weary, the uncomfortably different, the wildly creative who shock conventional society.  Let us make maverick sanctuaries and save a ton of money.














Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A MONTH AT THE SLABS---Part 2

MY FRIEND AND FELLOW BLOGGER GLENN MORRISSETTE  http://www.tosimplify.net/ CHALLENGES ME EVERY TIME ME MEET TO "GO PUBLIC" WITH A POETRY PERFORMANCE---preferably as a busker. (street performer)  I've not done it yet--but here at the Slabs I can do a warm up by performing at the famous and infamous RANGE theater.  Shows every Saturday night, with a usual audience of 100 to 150 of the worlds most colorful characters.
Here's a rap performance.  
Builder Bill put me on the program and I stepped to the microphone to perform..  I began with my most furious poem "generators".
The ending lines are done in full volume: 
"They are worse than skunks and snakes and witches--
I HATE THOSE NOISY SONS-O-BITCHES" 


My over-the-top delivery perhaps triggered something in a borderline soul--forSuddenly out of the audience a mad man stormed the stage , taking off his clothes as he came, then seizing the microphone and raging incoherently at the audience.  I stepped aside (to the left) and watched.  For a couple of minutes he stunned even this tough audience. Eventually, several regulars came forward-- surrounded him and led him away.
I continued with a second poem. (polite applause)  THERE GLENN--I DID IT!!
Thanks to that mule riding (really) madman, my debut was memorable.
Big doings down the hill--A Rave is in preparation.

They construct a perimeter of old bicycle frames.

Then stand some old cars on their noses.  Hundreds of youngsters came--the music went on for 3 days and nights.  At the height of the event an explosion was set off--the loudest I have ever heard and I was 200 yards away.

The slabs have 3 large tanks with 14 ft walls--inspiring some artist to do quirky murals like this

and quality art like this 

and this!

All around the one square mile that makes up the slabs are houses---some makeshift like this hovel.
You can see more of them in this previous post.
Entrepeneuralism raises its head occasionally at the slabs.  This guy opened up a lounge called VIPer.
He enclosed an area--hired a band--made some seats and charges $5 admission on Friday nights,

AND THEN ONE DAY---THIS HAPPENED----A SANDSTORM.  Pict taken out my side window.
A dreadful experience because fine sand will seep into even well sealed rigs--coating your lifestyle with grit.
One day we motored our sunset group to Bombay Beach--and photographed it.....from the levee surrounding the town.

and the dead fish along its shore--a yearly phenominon.  Imagine a line of dead tilapia like this--about 3 feet wide stretching a hundred miles completely surrounding the Salton sea like a ghastly, smelly bathtub ring.  Soon, they dry up, however and quit stinking.
Read about it here.
RANDY COMMENTS:  I WILL RESERVE MY PHILOSOPHICAL COMMENTS ON THE SLABS FOR THE 3RD AND FINAL POST.
Curious about my recently published book: 40 YEARS A NOMAD--CLICK HERE

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A MONTH AT THE SLABS---PART 1

CB HAD A VISION: "Lets settle in at the Slabs for the month of February; post a national invite for friends to join us; immerse ourselves in its culture; see what we learn; what we might contribute; how we might relate with a spontaneously assembled "tribe".  I said yes! So we did!  Here's a report:
Entering the Slabs--don't know how or why that guy is up there.
Side view from a distance of rigs parked at the Slabs---on the remains of an old marine base.
I estimate 300 people were here during Feb.


I settle in among about 30 LOW (Loners on Wheels) members.
CB settles his splendid Airstream on a nearby sand hill.

Folks began to arrive in response to his electronic invitation.(Facebook, etc)
We decided to meet every day for a sundown ceremony.
Folks amble in like Eugene, a bright, congenial talented singer/songwriter
Pish comes in dressed formally; a dramatic interesting addition to our group.

Brilliant sunsets almost every day.  We developed a ritual of "checking in"---telling how our day went.
Sometimes in the mornings we would walk.
Super Bowl Sunday--CB engineered a giant screen TV for us.
We began our mornings usually at this nearby social club. CB and I officially joined it.
Benefits include coffee, internet, interesting company.
Myself on the left--then "Hollywood Bob" more about him here  ( a friendly lady then CB and a friendly guy at morning Oasis.
All sorts of people show up--kids, hippies, dogs.
I've forgotten this guy's name but he was a brilliant conversationalist and a good musician.


The Oasis club displayed a touching sense of occasion on Feb 14th.

Games, prizes etc.Note that skirted lady barely visible on the left.

It isn't a lady--It is Doc--a fixture at the Slabs who prefers to wear dresses--is an elected member of the Slab Council.  The broad, non judgmental tolerance here is astonishing.

Meet Builder Bill who earned his name by building things--most notably the famous RANGE theater featured in the movie INTO THE WILD. He performs and hosts a show every saturday night.
He seems to be the central personality around which much of the Slabs personnel orients itself.
In ancient Israel he would have been called a Judge.
He made space for me to perform at Saturday nights show.  A startling surprise occurred--but more about that in part 2