Friday, November 28, 2014

Slab City Tank Farm Murals – Wheel of Kama

It’s been four years since we visited Slab City. Back in 2010, we stopped to see Salvation Mountain. This time we were drawn deeper into the slabs to see the “tank farms”. We heard that the tanks were covered with murals and that was all we needed to know. As we made our way to the tanks, it was clear that there was a lot more to see. How did we miss East Jesus or the Slab City Library?

These tanks likely held water when the Slabs were Camp Dunlap from the 1940s to the 1950s. For more information about the history of the Slabs, see Slab City, Then and Now on the Slab City Website.

We photographed two tanks. The first tank (33.253277, -115.467664) is covered in murals of a political nature. In the images below, we call this Tank 1. The second tank (33.253010, -115.468961) has murals of an erotic nature and has the title Wheel of Kama, referring to the Kama Sutra. In the images below, we call this Tank 2.

The murals are slowly being covered with other art and graffiti. Compare the pictures we show here with how beautiful the murals were in 2012, as documented at L.A. Taco The Circular Murals of Slab City I and The Circular Murals of Slab City II. Curiously, at the bottom of the L.A. Taco post (Slab City I) is a comment that gives some information about who might have painted the murals.

Tank 1

Bomb Series
Bomb SeriesBomb SeriesBomb Series

Dinosaur Series

Dinosaur SeriesDinosaur SeriesDinosaur Series

Four Characters and a Jeep
Four Characters and a JeepFour Characters and a JeepFour Characters and a Jeep

Reptilian Brain Series
Named for the bird-like figure on the tank gate. Note the spent shotgun shells that make up part of the image.
Reptilian Brain SeriesReptilian Brain SeriesReptilian Brain Series
Reptilian Brain SeriesReptilian Brain Series

Tank 1 Far Away Shots
Tank 1 Far Away ShotsTank 1 Far Away Shots
Tank 1 Far Away ShotsTank 1 Far Away Shots

Writing on the Tank Wall
Left: Boeing; Right GE, Freddie Mac, and Nike
Writing on the Tank WallWriting on the Tank Wall

Tank 2

Left: Erotic Yogis; Center: Curvature of the Tank and the Chocolate Mountains in the background; Right: Wheel of Kama Title
Erotic YogisCurvature of the Take and the Chocolate Mountains in the backgroundWheel of Kama
Tank 2 Against the Blue Sky
Tank 2 Against the Blue Sky

Around the Tank – Wheel of Kama

Jujube – Imperial Valley

Left: Fleshy Jujube; Right: Shriveled Jujube
Fleshy JujubeShriveled Jujube
While other folks were snapping up black Friday deals, Travelmarx was jeeping around the north end of the Imperial Valley (Slabs, All American Canal, Mammoth Wash). Riding around the edge of this agricultural/desert region is like listening to a Philip Glass piece. You see dry desert – mesquite and ironwood – for a long time; that’s the note in a Glass piece that seems to go on forever. And then suddenly, you come upon an unexpected, lush citrus grove; the note changed and you are excited for the new sound because the tension is relieved. And so it was as we were coming out of Mammoth Wash (33°07'40.0"N 115°22'19.6"W) and we spotted citrus groves. But even better - like a third note in our Glass piece - we saw a grove of something very different from citrus. We stopped to take a look. What we found were deciduous trees with strange fruit that looks like a small apple, except with a pit. The ground was littered with reddish, shriveled up fruit. We sampled the them and they tasted like a combination of a date and honey. Very tasty.

After a little research back at the ranch (literally), we found that we had come across jujube, Ziziphus jujuba, a member of the Buckthorn family. They are commonly called red dates, Chinese dates, Korean dates, or Indian dates – all containing the word “date” alluding to their taste. While they have been grown in China for thousands of years, they were only introduced into the US in the late 1800s. According to FoodFacts, the initial introductions to the US were varieties meant for drying and the public was was more interested in fresh fruit.

We picked up a dozen or so of the desiccated jujube from the ground, brought them home, and enjoyed them over the course of the holiday weekend. The taste continued to grow on us. We don’t have a clue as to the cultivar we found. The California Rare Fruit Growers page for jujube lists a number of common cultivars.

Some more jujube references: A Brand-New, 4,000-Year-Old Fruit, Jujube – A Fruit Well Adapted to Texas, and Hardy Tree Yields ‘Chinese Dates’. In Italian, they are called giuggolo (plural giuggole). The Italian Wikipedia entry brodo di giuggiole talks about the phrase andare in brodo di giuggole, which roughly means being in rapture from consuming this fruit. It’s that good.

Left: Jujube Trees Near Mammoth Wash; Right: Dried Jujube Fruit
Jujube Trees Near Mammoth WashDried Jujube Fruit

Left: Cutting Open a Jujube Fruit and Seeing Pit; Right: Dried Jujube Fruit
Cutting Open a Jujube Fruit and Seeing PitDried Jujube Fruit