We All Live in Slab City

In an abandoned Army base on the edge of the California desert, hundreds of recession-weary Americans camp out and wait for the hard times to blow over. Life in "Slab City," with no plumbing or electricity, is deemed preferable to life amongst the driftless unemployed masses in the wider world. Where is your Slab City?

I don't know what it is with you these days, America. You seem... angry. Angry at The Rich. It's tough being The Rich these days, what with all the anger directed at them from the huddled masses, sharpening their pitchforks and yearning to be free. It's a bit disturbing, America, the way you're looking at The Rich. Are you feeling okay?

Look, we understand that all of the promises you've been promised by the Great Promiseers have not worked out exactly as planned. The recession is over! But incomes keep falling. There's a government panel dedicated job creation! Full of corporate executives who cut jobs. No reason to abandon the American Dream, of course. You can still move to the suburbs! And apply for Welfare. Enjoy health insurance! That you can't afford. Send your kids to college! And saddle them with unprecedented debt.

If you get sick of it all, fly away forever! Just kidding.

Modern America is a licked-out Oreo: angry poor people, fearful rich people, and nothing in between. Pinning your hopes on widespread popular protest movements? I wouldn't bother. While you're distracted by the standard reactionary backlash, the real debate is over how the movement can most effectively be co-opted by the corporatist establishment (the one with the friendly face). Interaction between different classes is now unlubricated. Even if you're used to getting fucked, it's going to be more painful now.

Slab City is not just a lone community of castaways rusting away beside the Salton Sea; it is a state of mind. Where is your slab? It's the place where you lay back, close your eyes, and get screwed. In America, it is everywhere.

[Photo: Chuck Coker]