Friday, January 21, 2011


DRAMA IS THE INTERPLAY OF FORCES----- DRAMA--- AND NOT LOVE--- IS WHAT THE UNIVERSE IS ABOUT. Ancient Hindus were the first to intuit this---weaving it into their religion--making it the cornerstone of their philosophy. (The Bagavad Gita) In summary, their notion is this: Unchanging ETERNITY---(spirit)---yearning to escape its tedium---yearning for SURPRISE---(changedevelopmentcomplexityevolutiondestructionrenewalfeeling) DESCENDS into timeenergymatter---for the sheer JOY of the adventure. ONLY THE HINDUS---consequently----have a sensible answer to the question: why is there evil in the world? They say: TO THICKEN THE PLOT!!

I LOVE DRAMA----swim in it as artfully as I can---stir it up often---I'm famous in my tribe for stirring drama at the campfire---making enemies and admirers---and I relish both. If I am late to a campfire I will often be summoned to "get things going."

THUS I LOVE THE SLABS---come look with me at the kaleidoscopic drama unfolding here.
SALVATION MOUNTAIN---a speck of religious art--in a vast desert. The fruit of a simple, obsessed mind and determined will---about 15 years of daily work---Here is SPECTACLE --- created in an unspectacular setting. The drama ?-----A powerful will lifting a weak mind to glory. Shopenhauer and Nietzsche are vindicated---WILL IS more fundamental than reason!!
And here's colorful evidence.
Now I will pick up some loose ends of my story----The 5 experiments my tribe chose to run----during our visit. What you are seeing is a moment from our SPOOKY WALK SING SING-----a bunch of bold, brazen singers meandering into the dark scary bushes and backlands of the Slabs on a moonless night to SERENADE the mavericks in their holes and dens. Bagpipe Bob accompanied us with the Unforgetable whine of his instrument. To say they were stunned is understatement----Rousing from their beds and campfires---shaking their dusty heads in disbelief---lighting our group with flashlights---THEN SUDDENLY "getting it" their hearts swelled up and they joined us in song and cheered mightily when we finished. Bob---loving drama perhaps as much as I do---finished each stop playing an irresistable irish jig---then we all danced---and some of the denizens too---what great fun---and DRAMA--late night singing and jigging in the Spooky Zone.
This is one terrific guy---You've seen him in full dress on a previous blog entry. A much loved member of our tribe.
A WIKI--TREE DECORATION. We all went to our rigs and came back with something to decorate our "tree". (creosote bush). Our 3 other experiments included: A STAR WHEEL--- On a chilly night we all lay in a big wheel formation--bundled up and on tarps---and watched the heavens together--for a long time. (a soothing, healing, bonding experience) Another experiment was to begin each assembly with a joke told by a different member each time.
The 5th experiment was to dip into the minds of some Slab characters in Q&A sessions I was able to arrange. You'll see!
Another dramatic loose end to wrap up. Remember the guy in the previous entry buying a goat and having it killed and skinned? Here's what he wanted the skin for. He wanted a deep sounding drum. Was still stretching and tying when I came back to check on his progress. What struck me was his stiff pose. I'm sure it means something but can't put my finger on it. Anyway, the cruel unfeeling slaughter of a harmless goat reminded me of witnessing my first and only bullfight. I asked a nearby Mexican if the cruelty troubled him. He "explained" with the enthusiastic confidence only religious people have---"Oh no! This is not cruelty! You see---"ANIMALS DON'T HAVE SOULS".
Can you see this plane? It's the Osprey----the multi- billion dollar--vertical take off and landing--troop carrier of such controversy. Testing continues over the Slabs and nearby gunnery range.
Better than a helicopter because it flies much faster--when its props are turned forward---like this..
And back to slab drama---Two giant abandoned water tanks (17 ft high--100 ft in diameter) luring artists to express themselves. Dragons, Dinosaurs Teriodactles etc ----dramatic enough by themselves---The drama here is INVITING SURFACES linking up with artistic minds.
The second tank---its invitational space filled to overflowing with sexual explicitness. I know the artist---and these drawings are faithful renderings of what's in his head. So sexually saturated are these walls that I announced to my group that the interior of the tank had become a SENSUAL VORTEX and that all who enter would be dynamically reborn erotically----women would be revirginized and men re vigorized. And so we arranged to enter the tank and conduct a ritual. Here's the full story as recorded by my ex in her excellent blog:
The joiners---those preferring to cluster camp with others make up about half the Slab population and occupy about half the available land-----and oddly enough---the cluster of clusters are clustered together---three clubs within a stone's throw of each other. The big time drama of this club was that it's members recently split over the issue of rules versus no rules---order versus anarchy. The no rules people won and most "order" people left. Chaos quickly reigned as petty disputes with no "system" to resolve them spiraled into vengence and violence.

I interviewed an "order" refugee who was enjoying the drama of anarchist getting what they wished for. She bided her time---confident that order would return.
One of 5 clustered trailers composing the LOW (loners on Wheels) compound. I don't have the picts to do justice to this group---by far the largest---most stable of the clustered folks. They have a decades long history--an evolved constitution--traditions---and an impressive infrastructure of kitchen, meeting /eating area, theater room, library, card room, dance area, etc. These are older folks, happy to be in a group of their peers. Their drama, surprisingly, is their success. Having solved survival and "belonging" issues they seem bored to me---lacking challenge---lacking charismatic, "make things happen" personalities. Super secure people often resort to petty bickering for a sense of aliveness.
That sign says "TRAVEL'N PALS. Its drama is that it originated in protest to the LOW's ironclad policy of no couple-ism. So those wishing to enjoy couple-hood migrated just across the street and began a new tribe.
Occupying the "individuals" half of the slabs are about 50 characters like Container Charley--whom you've met before. They find groups oppressive--so they define a territory--take possession and do their thing. Charley is building a museum. Other individuals sell things (solar mike---solar panels)----start a church---read and write---build something--or stay drunk.
One of Charlie's displays.
Another of Charlie's exhibits--not the lady--that's my Ex--the bus--quarter buried---has an interesting story---not unlike--Ken Kesey's merry pranksters trip---the traveling group at odyssey's end---wanted a dramatic resting place for it---- So they quarter-buried it here.
Side view of the Stage Door--A makeshift, homemade Nightclub created by a Slabber. I've been here when 50 or more denizens and visitors were entertained by would-be country stars. The cast off couches and chairs were sometimes coopted by local dogs. Great Drama!
Front view. Keep in mind that the two stages--nightclubs--this and the RANGE are not profit driven enterprises--but a wish to create DRAMA----"Happening".
Here is the drama of lost love---about 50 animals are buried here---most with tender messages posted. One bears a professional tombstone.
Profit motive here---the seller designed and sells these t-shirts for $15. The shirt says: THE LAST FREE PLACE-- SLABS--- SURVIVOR.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: The overall drama of the slabs is to camp and live without paying rent while enjoying the proximity of others---- To beat the capitalistic system---to occupy and claim land without paying for it. A sub-drama is to preserve privacy and individualism while still enjoying connection with others. Those who choose to cluster "enjoy" the additional drama of "making it" with a group. Those who choose to lead their group "enjoy" the drama of leadership.
Ultimately, everyone's DRAMA is to keep NOTHINGNESS at bay---to push it away--in any of a thousand ways.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


MOST SLAB DENIZENS ARE SEASONAL VISITORS----only about a hundred live there year round---will show you some of each. Some of my "tribe" enjoying a frisbee tournament --40 of us--here for a week---our rigs are parked in the background.
Each day we walked a portion of the slabs where I arranged interviews with resident personalities. I'm leaning against the slabs bulletin board. Slabbers also have a "radio station"---channel 23 on the CB where Linda---the Slab "Mayor" communicates all the news worth reporting.
Here's Jo Ann---my Co-host---a very creative lady who thought up several of our tribal experiments---which I will detail later in the Drama post.
Meet Container Charley---Surely the Slabs' most creative and enthusiastic resident---here lecturing our group on his latest acquisitions: the whirlagig behind him (used as a prop in a recent Bruce Willis movie)---and the geodesic dome pictured left.
A close up of Charley in his power room. Each of those rectangles is a 700 pound battery and he has 32 of them---charged by an awesome array of photovoltaic panels. He doesn't particularly need the power---just enjoys having it. His grandfather invented those individualized packets of salt and pepper you see everywhere.
Solar Mike and wife----as they emerged from a sound sleep to behold one of our experiments---our SPOOKY WALK SING SING--- More about that in my Drama post. Mike runs a thriving business installing solar panels on RV's. Imagine running a business with no rental overhead.
A New preacher in town---no license or degree required--just put out your cross and people will come. I took a pict of an AA meeting in progress but chose not to show it. They meet behind this trailer.
This guy was just passing through and was allowed to pitch his tent here out of the wind by the friendly oasis people.
This guy lives in a tent under that tree---had a strong desire to build a certain item---needed a goat skin---bought a goat for $60---hired a fellow camper to slaughter and skin it. The killer's price was the meat-----Will show you the completed item in my next post.
The meat is hanging to dry all over this tree--- becoming jerky--Can you see it? The horses are his also.
Nearby is this German nudist living in his truck. (took this pict surreptitiously)
Saturday night entertainers at the "ranch"--- an informal stage --lights and sound equipment powered by batteries---charged during the day by solar panels. The movie "INTO THE WILD" features this strange stage----with "Insane Wayne" singing his signature Slabs song.
A cluster of mavericks roused from their campfire when our SPOOKY WALK SING SING boldly marched into their camp--they were astonished and delighted that ANYONE would come calling on them. More on this is my next post.
Surely the Slabs most eccentric and fearsome character---meet MOTH! I sneaked this photo to show his intimidating dimentions, dreadlocked hair and bizarre dress----yes, he wears a dress and god help you if you ask about it. He bloodied one guy this night---- lives in the large septic tank I pictured in the domicile post. So far I've not had the courage to approach for an interview. FLASH: Thanks to THE BAYFIELD BUNCH we now can have a look inside that mysterious tank that MOTH lives inside along with lots of other picts they made at the Slabs 3 years ago---since that time you will notice from my pict of his tank that he built a steel door with lock to stop future visitors.

RANDY COMMENTS: Next up, I will focus on my favorite aspect of Slab life ---The Dramas in play.

Friday, January 14, 2011


A PLACE TO BE. We all must BE someplace. Come with me to the world's most surprising campground---A place where you may camp rent-free ---even build a house--in a super free--almost anarchic-- community. The state of California inherited the land and has chosen to permit unlimited free living. It is a sanctuary for distressed or impoverished or just curious individuals. In succeedings entries I will focus on its Denizens and on its Drama. Now, I acquaint you with its Domiciles. To see the precise location of the Slabs note the tiny town of Niland California at the lower east edge of the Salton Sea. Now note the road going east and see where it intersects with the Coachilla Canal---bingo--the infamous SLABS.
Settled myself in on the edge of our "tribal" grounds about dark and noticed this scene in my front window.
Of course I stepped outside to catch the full glory of the moment. My 5 pronged experiment begins tomorrow.
But this first morning, I will amble around to show you the variety of Slab domiciles. This neatly engineered shed with camouflage material for shade adjoins his motorhome.
Territoriality expressing itself here. A year round resident is building a pool. (Odd because there's no running water at the Slabs---nearest faucet is in Niland---4 miles away.)
A classic Teardrop trailer---from the 1920's---minimalism for sure. But note the solar panel for electrical power.
A somewhat isolated 6ft x 12ft home built literally on the sand and shaded against the summer sun.
Can you see this camouflaged tent. Also located on the Slab's periphery and occupied by Leonard's defender--the escapist social worker mentioned in part 1.
Lots of old trailers like these in what I call the spooky zone--thickly vegetated.
A traveling guy and gal set up temporary housekeeping amidst the trash--seemingly untroubled by their unsightly surroundings.
Guy and his wife fenced themselves and their dogs in---with chain link no less. Said he's here for the long haul.
Lots of tents around---reasonably comfortably living if one has water. Many Slabbers do like this guy--buy a 50 gallon tank and pay a small fee for water delivery. Using an average of 2 gallons per day, that is a 25 day supply.
A residence and a business---"Solar Mike" and his wife live here---I judge them to be the Slabs most substantial citizens. He sells and installs solar panels and windmills.
The Slabs most colorful citizen---container charley. (more about him later) showing off his summer nights sleeping loft. The Container behind him is an insulated one shipped in from San Francisco and used as his primary residence. He has claimed a large swath of land and is constructing a museum/estate.
Xanadon't is the name of this quirky structure. Do you get the literary reference?
Inside Xanadon"t --- My friends inspecting.
Perhaps the strangest of all the homes---and occupied by the strangest of Slab Citizens---Will show him to you in the next entry.
This was a sewer holding tank for the military base---made of reinforced concrete. Its current occupant---a character called Moth---apparantly "claimed" it , chiseled a doorway and moved in, decorating his windoless home with odd paintings.