Monday, January 08, 2007

Slabs of Clinton Hill: A Photographic Essay

"I'm leanin' on a switch sittin' crooked in my slab, but I could still catch boppas if I drove a cab."

- Paul Wall, from Kanye West's
Drive Slow

‘Slab’ is a slang term applied to any full-sized luxury General Motors automobile predating 1980 - primarily Buicks, Oldsmobiles, and Cadillacs. It is an acronym that stands for “Slow Low And Bangin’”. Below you will find the slabs of Clinton Hill.

The Slab is a celebrated symbol of the dirty South as well as the low-ridin’ left coast (mainly Southern California), but low and behold, the Slab is also a staple of my Brooklyn neighborhood, Clinton Hill.

Slab is one of those really splendid kind of acronyms where the word formed by the collection of letters also very much achieves its own unique descriptive quality of the object in question. I am short on examples, now that I think about it. The San Francisco-based Theater Group, ACT (American Conservatory Theater) qualifies. The semi-esoteric baseball pitching statistic, WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) might qualify. I want to say Wu Tang’s ‘Cream’ (Cash Rules Everything Around Me), but I know that isn’t right. Laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) is probably something different entirely because the ‘Zherr’ sound of its second syllable is onomatopoeiatic. But so is the word ‘whip’ in its derivation, probably. But Slab is better than all of these. Maybe tied with Laser.

But I digress. Slabs can be candy-painted or outfitted with hydraulics to sink and rise in the back (the ‘switch’ to which Paul Wall refers toggles this low-riding action). Like any other car, they can also have rims. The Slabs pictured below have none of these luxury features.

Some brief notes on each Clinton Hill Slab:

Slab #1 – This orthographic projection gives one a real sense of the comical length of all Slabs. This is a two-door vehicle and yet it is parked in front of three houses. This slab also features a handsome drop-top.

Slab #2 – Given its general disrepair, some might say this automobile might be more aptly characterized as a ‘busted hooptie,’ rather than a Slab, which denotes some degree of care and upkeep. However, this is the only Slab here which is ‘riding on spokes’ as they say. Notice the spokes.

Slab #3 – This Slab is a fetching teal color, reminiscent less of a blue sky than a bottle of Alize. I hypothesize that this slab and slab #2 may share an owner given that they are often parked on the same block and both have blue masking tape holding the tail lights to the body of the car.

Slab #4 – This is the Golden Supreme Slab. The shapeliness of the front bumper is suggestive of a curly bracket, or a ‘brace’ as they are also sometimes called. You know the one – ‘}’ – it goes inside regular brackets, which goes inside parentheses. Granted, this car’s visual impact is greatly bolstered and offset by the back drop of gritty urban street art, not to mention a flattering angle, but that’s just the luck of the draw. The paint job is crazy gleamin’ and the body of the car obscures the top half of the back wheel leaving its long slabby contours intact. Golden Supreme Slab is the winner of the Clinton Hill Number One Slab Award. (This was a contest?)


Joe said...

This is a reach, but if I were having a particularly over-educated day, I might lump POTUS (President of the United States) in with your descracronyms, in the sense of the Latin root from which "potent" is derived. There's also something rich about the palindromic nature of "radar," considering the reflective way in which it works.

liz said...

Speaking of slabs and also the word "whip," can we please have some discussion of "ghost riding the whip" (both the phenomenon in general and the derivation of the phrase)?

Also, who's down? This weekend? Do you think your neighbors would let us borrow a car?

William said...

A well-researched, illuminating monograph. Spot on, Martin. Today I saw a lecture in which a hot chick with an accent said "spot on" a few times while talking about atomic bombs or some shit. I wasn't really looking at her slides, if you know what I mean!!!!! Oh yeah!!
I was looking at my feet, which were in too-small shoes.
That second slab (fantastic! slab! martin, you make me so happy. slab slab slab!) was a total hooptie.

uncle tom said...

Sweet piece of slablog! Got me thinking about Grandpa Bill's '65 Coupe deVille. It would have been at home on Clinton Hill.

Oh, by the way is there a hard, fast rule regarding inclusion and exclusion of articles, conjuctions and/or prepostions in acronyms?? hmmm?

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