Americana: Slab City

Americana: Slab City

2010, Society  -   41 Comments
Ratings: 6.12/10 from 25 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

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tanja Edwards
2 years ago

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!!!!

7 years ago

that old hippie though! love him

happy 420!

7 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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 years ago

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!

10 years ago

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-

Ella Ferro
10 years ago

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

10 years ago

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

Trish Doyle
10 years ago

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

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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

10 years ago

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