Americana: Slab City

Americana: Slab City

2010, Society  -   41 Comments
Ratings: 6.00/10 from 24 users.

VICE focused on all the crazy environmental issues going on in the Imperial Valley, from the air pollution, to drastic bee die-off, to the sewage-filled rivers, and everything in between.

But during the shoot, they also met a bevy of characters in Slab City, who are just as intriguing as all the eco-problems.

VICE thought it'd be fun to show you what a typical day is like in this bizarre stretch of area loaded with tweakers, eccentrics, army vets, hippies, and just plain old weirdos.

People have been living here for free since the late '40s. And at one time in the early '90s, the place was like a giant flea market. And believe or not, this land belongs to the State of California Teachers' Union.

There is no California culture there at all. There are no strip malls, apartment buildings, dune buggies, off-road racing, crowded freeways, filthy beaches and arrogant politicians.

More great documentaries

41 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Tanja Edwards

    This is a pile of bullshit from beginning to end. Tell the real story!! I will help you, I was forced to endure this place as a child because of my junkie parents. HORRIFIC things happen to young children out there and nobody cares! The state of California should be sued for allowing a place like this to still exist. Those "delightful snowbirds" 30 & 40 years ago they were nothing but child abusers and molesters. I got out! I cant imagine the kids that didnt. This place shouldn't be glorified in slightest, it should be burned to the ground along with every single sick f#$% out there!!!!

  2. Max

    that old hippie though! love him

    happy 420!

  3. Max

    my point is: Slabbers live a lifestyle most people want in a sad and 'dead-ending-road' way. i am USING the system to live that kind of lifestyle in a more 'visioned' way. find your own ways.

    read this if you want:
    just watched this one and another one (slab city 'pilot') and i really like this kinda off-the-grid lifestyle. these slabbers constantly talk about not wanting a 9-5 job and doing the same thing over and over, which is my main goal, too. but really, they live sadder lives than a lot of people who do have weekly jobs. they are mostly people who weren't able to make it in the 'system'. and i say 'not able to' because maybe they didn't want to either, but i think that that comes secondary. what i mean is, for example: i follow the system by going to school, but right now i'm searching ways to go against it (not get sucked too deep into it) while still using it effectively. because i found out that it's brainwashing me, not just because i couldn't keep up with it, which is mostly slabber peoples' case. if my plans work out, i will be having degree within 4/5 years and i'll be working (by work i mean earning money by doing stuff that i want to do) mobily so i can live off-the-grid / while traveling, too. and keep on building myself.

  4. Duck.I.Says

    This wasn't a documentary. It was a home movie. I've seen "Alan" in photo docus done by good photographers who were documenting Slab City life. I know the character by now. But his friend, the "Vice guide" who was supposed to be "documenting" stopped being objective the moment he arrived and became utterly enmeshed in the desert party scene.
    With the exception of the tie-dye-wearing, bicycle-riding foreign-born hippie, this didn't have another single, rewarding moment for me. Of course, that's just my opinion, and you are free to have your own without further words from me. I have been fascinated with Slab City for a while. I simply hope some of the camps there understand that you don't need to sh*t where you eat, and, ergo, do not litter as profoundly as most of the camps do. If you are so free, you should understand that you're free because of Mother Nature, and should treat her better. I mean, seriously. This was just a downer, all in all.

  5. Nacho_Omnibus

    Cool first two characters....don't really care about seeing some people attempt at partying like it's Thurday night at the high-school. Sweet - you just knocked my boner down.

  6. John Mulvihill

    If I have to move all the way to Slab City to get away from stupid back-and-forth arguments, I'll do it. I have a feeling they don't have a lot of patience with opinionated, self-righteous types.

  7. SilverBee

    Disappointment. I expected a serious look at this community and got a celebration of its worst parts. I enjoyed seeing the man show his living quarters. That was what I expected.

  8. Candace Sturtevant

    Meth sucks. It's made out of batteries, old shoes, cat litter, HEET for cars, and other poison stuff for human consumption. MAD AT METH. It sucks the life of everybody it has ever got it's grip on. Get some sleep, and food; don't start picking at your face either. God Good Almighty, SPEED KILLS.

  9. KsDevil

    A rather surface view of Slab City. I would have expected VICE to go father into the depth of how people survive, the more mundane yet important issues they face, and to talk to the more coherant slabbers.

  10. S.E.T.H

    The comment below is total baloney "meths only reason often is that you only took it once -basically its pure dopamine" or " (it) make you feel instantly better than god"

    I could read more intelligent statements from an eggplant!

    1. capdanks30

      I would never do METH because it removes your teeth and it is full of poison.You follow this same guy in a few years and he will be dead or in jail.

      I have done a better drug called coffee and stayed high for 3 months.I reached a MANIC state because of my DNA and Bipolar Disorder.I felt better than METH and it was like Nirvana.

      Comming down after 3 months was BAD ...REALLY ...BAD.My advice is to avoid METH and Coffee if you are Bipolar.

    2. Nwttp

      "because it removes your teeth"

      Pfft no it doesn't. Think for yourself. Meth addicts just don't take care of their teeth/drink water.

    3. I AM POP SLAG.

      i oversimplified this in order that someone who has taken meth miught understand- read the comment below and consider yopurself educated you stupid junky f**Kwit.

  11. I AM POP SLAG.

    understanding what methamphetamine actually is--
    --a massive pure dopamine overdose of a scale not even hinted at by other incredibly potent psychoactives.
    This particular molecule is chiral- it has a left and a right hand form- the right hand form is relatively benign and is a common decongestant- the left hand form however mimics and interacts with the dopamine and receptors in the brain so much more effectively than any other drug to make you feel instantly better than god-
    The more dopamine stimulus a drug provides the more addictive is its potential- meth is worse than crack in this aspect and its potential to become an allencompassing pursuit worse than any hell imaginable to outsiders but to the addict they soon leave reality far behind until its too late.
    Ive taken amphetemines on occasion on a night out and had good and bad experiences- one at least one occasion ive taken meth and it wasnt a good experience- way too intense and with little to recommend it.
    In fact as an experienced psychonaut who likes a mushroom or two-

    I can safely say meth is de-facto, without doubt the most f*cked up and seriously dangerous drug known to man and if your thinking about taking it...

    Can i suggest you do something safer like drinking neat gasoline first or snort some pure chili powder to get a buzz and then see how you feel after that- you will feel better than after a week on meth if you can even stop taking it that is...
    Meth will give you a "buzz" similar to the one you would get by sticking your face in a chainsaw and similarly to a chainsaw to the head it will also give you brain damage.

    Or go to fukushima and get radiation poisoning - you will live longer than if you get a permanent meth habit.

    Anyone stupid enough to condone or promote even the thought of putting methamphetemine into the human bloodstream has a seriously addled brain from probably doing just that...

    When you see the drawn face of a long term heroin addict in the street and you cant help but feel a little pity for him- just consider that the way you look at him is the same way even he looks at a methhead...

    because what meth actually does over any length of time at all is make you both stupid from the chemical brain damage it gives you and totally batshit crazy too into the bargain- the only function you are then still capable of once you have lost your mind is to find more meth!

    Its that powerful- itll use you up and still keep going.

    Anyone saying meth is anything other than as dangerous a substance as pure arsenic is not to be trusted purely because they took the stuff more than once and its effects are in evidence...ergo they are more than likely...not thinking straight...permanently.

    Meth- The quickest way to crazy there ever was-

  12. Ella Ferro

    This is one of the worst documentary I have ever seen, it doesn't tell anything . Just random shots of misfits.

  13. I AM POP SLAG.

    "I'm gonna eat that dogs butt if you let me get away with it"

  14. Trish Doyle

    This weird pocket of the states fascinates me. If you like this doc, check out one called Bombay Beach.

  15. TheDanishViking

    I get the smoke, beer and sun. But crystal meth!!? That way out of line. Sorry, to say it but the long haired dude is on a sad, sad path.

    1. Nwttp

      Didn't seem that way to me. To each his own, best to mind yours. What line is it in which you say he's out of?

    2. TheDanishViking

      Suit yourself. Check out for example this docu: "drugs-inc meth" on Topdocumentary, and read some of the comments.

    3. Nwttp

      How is a link an answer to a question? Just please tell me what line you say he is out of. I understand meth is bad for people with no willpower, as all drugs CAN be. However the guy you talk about as "out of line" (whatever that means) seemed to be hurting no one, as well as enjoying his life.

    4. TheDanishViking

      We just disagree about meth. I believe it is very, very dangerous.

    5. Nwttp

      As is alcohol. Would you say everyone who drinks is out of an imaginary line?

    6. Nwttp

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying meth is good by any means. It's just your statement of "That('s) way out of line" bothers me to say the least. It's fine that you don't like it, but that doesn't mean you are right, or that all people should be banned from doing what they want with they're own body. Nor does it mean all people that disagree with you are "out of line".

    7. wald0

      People's rights end where they infringe on others. Have you ever been around meth and its psycho users? They definitely infringe on other peoples rights when they are stealing, killing, or whatever it takes to get what they want. Their children, and yes ninety percent of them have kids it seems, suffer as well. They rarely eat because mom and dad aren't eating or working to provide for the kids, they are too busy what was it you said-"...doing what they want with they're own body". As an ex-addict (opiates not meth) and a counselor I have seen it time and time again, if you haven't you shouldn't be so quick to defend what you so clearly do not understand. if you have seen it then shame on you for endorsing it in any way- period. This is not like other drugs, I have seen it first hand and know what I speak of. This drug is very dangerous to those that do not do it as well as those that do, and that is why it should be eradicated before all else. I am all for legalizing pot, its harmless. I am even for letting people do with their bodies as they like, as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others.

    8. Nwttp

      Don't just assume foo. GOD THAT'S ALL YOU PEOPLE CAN DO ON THIS SITE. I was also an opiate head and ya know what? I hurt no one, and quit on my own. Should I be locked up because people like you are not smart enough to do what they want with themselves? I think not. People like you are the bane of society.

      People steal and kill to steal cars all the time. Better ban them quick.

      I've read stories of people not feeding their kids to play video games 24 hours a day... better ban all those too.

      Sorry dude, but you are NOT, and your argument is not logical.

      Oh, and you said
      "if you haven't you shouldn't be so quick to defend what you so clearly do not understand"

      Sorry, didn't know you knew the guy in the doc... Jesus it never ends.

    9. Nwttp

      You also said

      "People's rights end where they infringe on others."

      Sorry but if that was the case than drugs would be legal, maybe with harsher penalties for drug related crimes, which would be about 99 percent reduced since the illegality of drugs is the only reason they cost so much. Of course you didn't think about that now did you? How old are you? Casue you sound like a kid. Oh and...

      "Have you ever been around meth and its psycho users"

      Been around meth heads, and to tell you the truth most are less psycho then most of the non drug doing psychos I'm forced to deal with everyday I leave my house.

    10. I AM POP SLAG.

      bulls@@t- you spend five minutes in the presence of a meth junkie its enough to remind you never to ever go near the stuff- its the face picking that gets me- or is it the complete detatchment from reality? or perhaps the fact they are beginning to rot whilst they are still aluve?

    11. I AM POP SLAG.

      Meth is bad for everyone- will power or no- other drugs have reasons for their users- meths only reason often is that you only took it once -basically its pure dopamine- biologically its pure distilled addiction and will effect pretty much any mammal in the same way- more more more- from an elephant to a mouse...

    12. Nwttp

      Oh really? Great insight... thanks a lot! Oh yea... how many times have you done meth?

    13. I AM POP SLAG.

      read the comment below it- i oversimplified it for you in case you had been taking meth and your brain was fubared

    14. skibee

      u sure got ur panties in a wad over that, silly....

      it was their opin.

      doesn't mean it's ur

      or my opin.

    15. Nwttp

      Yea, it's because when so many people think like you, and the few others that must argue with logic, it ruins peoples lives. You and him certainly have no right to tell people how to live. And being 100 times less intelligent, only with thousands of others to go along with you, doesn't give you that right either. Don't know what comment you replied to, but don't get me wrong, I wasn't mad at all. Stopped being surprised by my closed minded peers long ago. I write these comments so the few people who can think for themselves know I'm here too, and maybe, hopefully, one day we can all get together and put the simpletons such as you down and/or out of power.

      His so called "opin." could get me thrown in jail some day. Opinions can be wrong you know. And anyone who says someone shouldn't do drugs because they have, one never tried them, and two learned about them from t.v, is clearly wrong. Sorry guy, only panties I bunch are my girls. Now remove rod from behind.

    16. I AM POP SLAG.

      you take a lot of meth? cos you dont make much sense...

    17. Nwttp

      Yes, you are some how the sensible one because you think all guns should be legal, but drugs, OMG how dare people! Goin around shooting me with their drugs! Lol dude wow. That is about the least logical thing I've heard someone imply on the internet.
      (in reply to his deleted comment)

    18. skibee

      what deleted comment, pal ?
      who's feeding u this ?

    19. Nwttp

      Lol what? feeding? You are a strange person. The one deleted because of language, have it right in my email with your name on it.

    20. skibee

      people are strange....

      if ur a stranger...

      later alligator ~*

  16. megatron_mcdaniels

    we can live like this too if we shake off the hypnotism. you know, from the lizards.

  17. AntiTheist666

    Perhaps the shortest doc I have ever seen. Worth watching for an unusual slice of Americana Pie. Quite tasty, especially the snakes.

    1. Muriel Elsayed

      Yes, the snakes are nice, I liked the dog and her puppys also.