Once I realized Slab City was a retirement community for the Hippie Generation and as the gaseous smell, whiffs of putrefying dog shit mixed with a diffusion of human excrement, I realized the time had come to go. Tom, a resident and new friend, gave me what he called the Ten Cent Tour. We visited Salvation Mountain where decades ago a man deep in need of salvation had erected a cross and painted this small hill into a mountain of various colors. After he died, with contributions from churches, this mountain was resurrected and draws many people from Japan. I am not into crosses, at all, but I went just to see what was.
After that, we went to East Jesus where all the trash of the world ends up and is turned into art. East Jesus didn’t smell so but this was just the beginning of the season; later on in the winter when the population reaches into the thousands, playing music, taking drugs and with all their wild dogs defecating freely, one can only image the variety of smells this desert sink hole can produce. Only, the really hippie can be at home here. In the end we went to the canal where if I held onto the rope, I could jump in for a brief respite from the sun, and not be carried away by the current.
A wise man said, you should do everything once, just to say you did it; and so it was—I held on for dear life to the rope and jumped in, trusting in the road adage, If you only do one thing wrong at a time, you are more likely to get away with it. So, after I finished with the edit of my book, I left Slab City and took back to the road. Before leaving LA, I had procured a place for the end of October, so having a week or so left, I decided to go back to Joshua Tree but this time to go inside the National Park, a couple of thousand feet above the town of Joshua Tree.
After the filth and chaos of Slab City, the park pristine with pure of air was a welcomed respite. Joshua Tree, since I first arrived back to California 15 years ago, has been to me as a refuge, the most uplifting place in the world, where true salvation is manifest in the outcropping of these huge rounded rocks of white tank granite divided by fissures into stones stacked one upon the other surrounded by the Joshua Tree standing with uplifted branches continually proclaiming, Hallelujah to the heavens. One of beautiful qualities of the Joshua Tree is, each tree grows equally far from the other trees making the desert look like an orchard carefully set out in grids.
I am back in LA now, living in a nice Jewish community in a tiny house complete with all necessities just for me. After a lifetime of chaos and constant moving I have transformed into a stable life where I can work on my books and be at peace. Looking back, it is hard to see had this could have happened, but it did. Thank God.