After hours at Slab City, I find myself dazed by the sun, watching my self-appointed tour guide, Doc (left), and 18-year-old Zack roll cigarettes at the Internet Café, a sprawling wooden structure featuring a computer and benches. Half a dozen other slabbers lounge about watching movies, smoking and drinking water in the 115-degree summer heat. People express mild enthusiasm or indifference at my Nikon D200 as it clicks portraits of the city's most dug-in inhabitants. After about 30 minutes, I notice a beefy looking dog lying motionless under the bench where Zack is sitting—one of countless details camouflaged in ubiquity.

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