Sunday, 20 December 2009


This hodge podge of a story began with the SLABS but has expanded . I realized that two nearby communities--THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH and BOMBAY BEACH offer interesting contrast. The effects of SOCIALISM, CAPITALISM AND ANARCHY are(to some extent) illustrated in these three places. All three are located on the eastern shore of the Salton sea in southern, Ca. I begin with BOMBAY BEACH, a very unsightly town--soaked in government oversight and sustinence. Down and outers from a wide area migrate here for low cost living. Once established in a legal residence, the benefits kick in. Handouts of a hundred kinds become available--with spirit- killing consequences. Bombay Beach has become A POSTER CITY FOR THE ILL EFFECTS OF DO -GOODERISM AND RESCUE. (60 minutes did an expose) What is illustrated--I think--are the effects of generosity without freedom or expectation. Receipients of government largess become like tame rabbits in their fixed cages. Slab dwellers also often receive benefits but are not tied to legitimated addresses. I hope to illustrate the crucial difference that makes in creative ZIP.Photo below is of the beach---located outside a government provided, expensive, 8 foot retaining wall---Town pride has not mobilized to deal with the unsightly mess--of a long-ago high water situation, and I suspect it never will. Sensible folks would have moved elsewhere but like the New Orleanians they chose to whimper for their world to be made safe for them and damn the cost to the nations taxpayers.

An average street scene. I daresay all these dwellers receive welfare. What is missing is CREATIVITY---AND THE JOYS OF CREATIVE EFFORT. Slab dwellers as you will see also get welfare---but exhibit (sometimes) dazzling creativity. Both are "heartbreak hotel" ---last option---places. Why are the slabs so much more interesting?

Exhibit B--(below)That's FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH RV park over there----Capitalism produced and sustained---older folks with pensions, Social Security and such--living in great comfort and sociability--gated community---with old folks activities---safe but dull. I believe in my heart that deep creativity dies behind walls----not sure why---are they too safe? --too homogenized? Could Thoreau or Whitman live there? I believe they have won the battle but lost the war--for self actualization---for an autotelic personality.

NOW I'LL RESUME THE STORY I BEGAN TO TELL ABOUT THE SLABS: (the one too wierd to tell---instead must show)

---- PICTURES WILL HINT AT THE BIG DRAMA UNFOLDING HERE: FREEDOMS' LIMITS ARE BEING TESTED. And in such an environment an interesting creativity is fostered. I hope this becomes evident as I recount our group adventures here.
The lovely lady pictured below, Joanne, agreed to co-host with me, a gathering of 40 motorhome friends from WIN (Wandering Individuals Network) in this unlikely but exciting place. Behind her is one of many "art cars" scattered about. As I've done before (see entry entitled THE MOST FREE PLACE ON EARTH) I will try to waft the aroma of the situation to you via photographs and commentary. Here's one of Joanne's brightest ideas in action. It's called a STARWHEEL because we lie on tarps and sleeping bags in the configuration of a wheel to look at the stars---far more exciting than you'd think. (Maynard discovered a galaxy--we named it for him)
Each day we hiked to interesting aspects of this abandoned military base like its olympic sized swimming pool.
No zoning laws, property lines, taxes, or building codes required---just pick yourself a spot and construct-----whatever. Where else in the world could you own a home for less than $100?
Note the battery and satellite dish---two important items here.
And this guy's solar panel--almost as important here as water--it charges his battery, which powers tv, lights, radio, pump and even tools----sits atop a classic teardrop trailer. He lives inside there.
Acouple of young runaways live in the front, readying themselves for a new start in Mexico. (but he's broke and they won't let him in at the border) I wonder if they will still be here next year. Many drift here for a temporary stay and remain for years.

The downside of freedom! No legal force exist here to prevent or correct such messes. (an
estimated dozen sites like it exist within the one square mile boundary of the Slabs.) Moral force---disapproving words and signs--is tried, but to no avail. What has actually happened in its 30 year existence is that the group occupied areas are kept very clean and where individualism reins--trash proliferates.. THOSE WHO RAIL AGAINST COLLECTIVISM AND PRAISE EXTREME INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM FROM THE MOB AND FROM GOVERNMENT OWE US AN ANSWER TO THIS SORDID SCENE.
Container Charlie---perhaps the slabs most interesting character--updates us on his latest project. He has reclaimed a trashy acre, building a home in a container and a museum/park beside it. Visitors flock to see his creations---he's become semi-famous. Like Thoreau's cabin, the world has beat a path to his door. (google him---at his place----called East Jesus)
Charlie's living room.
This bus is famous for something but I forgot what--At the end of its travels they memoralized it in this quirky manner---burying it angled in the sand then reconfiguring its interior to be level so that it serves as guest quarters for Charlie's guest. The cute lady is Diana, my ex---she smiles--no doubt remembering 10 golden years with me. For her take on the Slabs click here:
The Slabs library---Diana tells the story and has better pictures. The lady pictured is Karin--longtime friend and famous in traveling circles for her monthly medical column.
Surely the world's most unique library reading room. It astounds me that one guy, for no pay, has maintained this free library for many years.
Someone else built this unique 18 hole desert golf course, stretching far into the distance. The "greens" were surprisingly puttable---I lend a hand dragging the smoother around a bit.
The Slabs most famous character--Leonard Knight---folk artist--creator of SALVATION MOUNTAIN---worked on it for 25 years---and still works every day. (see him in the movie INTO THE WILD)
His creation seen from the top---note the paint buckets---also, bottom right a young assistant.
A mind-boggling adaptation---Guy sees this concrete tank with roof---decides to move into it---despite its previous function as sewage holder. But how to gain access?
Here's how: With chisel and hammer and hacksaw he made a hole and built a door. Amuses himself with art projects such as -------(Note the dog's nose at the bottom---the sign says: private residence--year round.)
Nearby he keeps a lonely rooster in a deep tank.
I have an audience---and a pedestal----time to orate---did Hamlet's TO BE OR NOT TO BE speech.
Is the point I'm driving at too obscure? Let me put it this way: Which of these three places would you rather live in? Here's my answer: I'd take the $6,ooo I'd save by not living at the Fountain of Youth---and spend it traveling here and there to places such as the slabs.
AND OH YES: I think extreme freedom calls forth creativity better than extreme security which is deadly.

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