The best words of wisdom I have to offer anyone visiting Slab City for the first time is to not judge this place or its people based on outward appearances.
Judge not, lest ye not be judged
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged…
As often as St. Matthew is misinterpreted, this verse is especially relative when visiting the slabs for the first time. For starters, no slabber I’ve met is about to pass judgement on anyone. And any visitors who do judge, are not likely to make it past the Range.
I take that back. When it comes to justice, Slab City does have its own judges and juries.
Take for instance the slabber whose boat got burnt down by vigilantes after he mistreated a fellow resident of the opposite sex. But I digress…
But seriously, while judgmental folks may take one look at some of these souls and see a wild pack filthy miscreants and ne’er do wells, I see a bunch of fun-loving friends just doing what they can to survive and loving life to the fullest as they do.
Never mind their looks – and in some cases their smell – Slabbers really are some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met. I’ve never been greeted with a smile by strangers in Los Angeles. And I’ve never had such a warm welcome to a strange part of a big city, as I have to an even stranger Slab City encampment.
Take for instance one night at the Oasis, where those gathered around the fire might happily pass along whatever it is they may choose to partake. You don’t need to agree with their poison of choice, but ya gotta appreciate the offer! Then there was the guy returning to his seat who did not barge right in front of Rene as we talked. He politely waited, then said excuse me and even bowed before he passed.
Or how ’bout the boisterous gang in the corner at the pot luck?
A suspecting individual might wonder what mayhem was in the works. The quiet observer would soon discover the Mad Hatter was just having a tea party.
People Watching is Best Slab City Entertainment
People watching is one of my favorite activities at the Slabs. There is actually some amazing talent to be seen at East Jesus and heard at the Range. But the audience is often the best act. Where else will you see a drunkard don a helmet before hitting the dance floor, or a clean cut young lady give Moth a sweet kiss goodbye?
What I find most interesting, however, is the harmony that exists among such a striking dichotomy of economic classes. One Saturday night I observed an Audi convertible parked at the Range, clearly out of place. It was easy to identify the owner and his clique trying just a little too hard to fit in.
But then again, I guess that would just be me passing judgement.
If you have heard of boondocking for free the Slabs, but have never given it a try, what has kept you from joining the fun?