The Slab

Sam, a middle aged man with scrubby beard dressed in a dress, came down the hill to tell me I should move up the hill a bit, which is what I did, into the Slab Hostel where I am happier and more settled. I have a small unused trailer to write and sew, my two sedentary activities. The Hostel is run by Whitehorse Bob who is very amenable to my prayers in the morning. The neighbor across the road remembers me from the Rainbow gathering up north in Oregon a few years ago where I baked the two giant Chalot (breads) for the Shabot. His name is Tom and was at the first Rainbow Gathering in 1772, is also very amenable to my prayers. Both Tom and Bob are around my age but each of us with different reasons why we are in Slab City.

The Slab, as the locals call it, is a place of impermanence, like the desert constantly blowing into a new design. Because the desert quickly sucks the moister away, things are left scattered about baked by the sun in a slow disintegration back into sand. One of the attributes of the Slab is art; and these scattered pieces of metal, wood and cloth, ultimately make their way into art or utility, yet the greatest lure of the Slab is freedom—freedom without restraints however the laws of retribution are everywhere and generally applied with kindness. One of the advantages of the Slab is the slow pace with which life occurs down here, slow and methodical. The heat retrains sudden decisions.

Freedom on the Slab generally means: music, art, drugs, alcohol, food and water. The ultimate freedom seems to be the party where you can get as drunk as you want. I would have to get pretty drunk to think, having a party is freedom. Either people don’t know what is freedom or they know and they don’t understand how to apply freedom to their lives. The best they can up with is, lets have a party. But, by far the best part of the Slab are the people you meet and the information decimated.

A German couple came to spend the night here at the Hostel and in the morning after I had finished praying, they asked me to sit with them so they could question me. I explained to them, I do not ascribe to religion but I do practice the faith, by doing the 613 Commandments, out in the world instead of behind the skirts of some rabbi. When they left, he gave me a poem he had written and I gave them a book of short Jewish stories I had written, The Other Side. They were in America trying to understand my country. I was one of many who have filled his vision of America.

I have finished the edit of my book and I plan to travel on, probably early next week but I know well, how man plans and God laughs. The beauty of being on the road is in the constant change afforded by instability; movement is a sign of life—here beneath the heat of the sun everything moves slow. Slab City is like the Old West was a hundred years ago—hard, beautiful and most of all, free.

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