The Hidden Garden of Ocean Beach

December 1, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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Originally posted August 28, 2009

Editor: We repost this in tribute to Lou Williams who has just passed away.
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by Mary E Mann

“This whole place was the pits,” says Louie Williams, gesturing at the lush, artfully designed garden around us.

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OBcean in Bangkok

May 6, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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Editor: Our OB Rag blogger, Mary Mann, took off for Bangkok, Thailand a few weeks ago, in the midst of turmoil roiling that country. Here is her first post from that beautiful but troubled land.

“Are you ok? We heard about the explosions in Bangkok. I’m worried about you.”

Thus read a portion of an email from my mom, which I read in an internet cafe off of Koh San Road on my first day in this sweltering, smiling country.

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Farewell to Mary Mann – A Sample of Her Posts

April 13, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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One of the OB Rag’s more able bloggers is moving on and out of OB … to grad school … to be a writer. Although we protested – “Hey Mary! You’re already a great writer!” – she is ignoring our pleas to stay in OB.

Mary joined our staff one year ago exactly. Here is a sample of her posts since then:

* An Arch to Build a Dream On
* Keith Kifer – the Blues Wizard: “I’m always on stage.”
* The Kids – the Young and Homeless of OB
* OB Burners and Hoopers Get Busted
* The Hidden Garden of Ocean Beach
* Bars and Clubs of OB – a Review
* Who Was That Naked Swimmer Anyway?

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OB Library Stays Open But Hours Are Cut

February 25, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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This year, the city of San Diego was obliged to trim 3.8 million dollars from the library budget. 3.8 million dollars. To put that in perspective, that’s roughly 760,000 used books off of Amazon. That’s one library, right there.

The Ocean Beach library seemed particularly vulnerable to these cuts, given its proximity to the larger but less centrally located Point Loma Library. Throughout the past few years of budget cuts and closing scares, the Ocean Beach community has spoken quite loudly and clearly against the closing of the small Ocean Beach branch on the corner of Santa Monica and Sunset Cliffs.

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Who Was That Naked Swimmer Anyway?

February 12, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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Who is The Naked Swimmer?

On January 30th, a community at the brink found cause to boil over in protest to the increasing population of street kids. On this day in Ocean Beach, a very intoxicated man swam naked near the pier. He resisted arrest next to the seawall on Newport and Abbott, which is just about as public of a spot as OB offers.

However, the intoxicated man, who I have referred to as The Swimmer in a previous post, was not a street kid.

Stephen Morse is a clean-shaven, 6 foot 200 pound college student. The 19-year-old has a role in the student government at San Diego State. He is a recent transplant from the state of Washington, where he went to high school, and was on the local school football team.

Morse was charged with resisting arrest (penal code 148) and public intoxication (HS 11550). He was bailed out of jail straight away, and is awaiting his court date.

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The “Kids” Speak Out on the Homeless, Traveling, and the Naked Swimmer

February 11, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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Angela from Santa Cruz is not semantically homeless. The 19-year-old has supportive parents, so much so that they pay her cell phone bill so that they can reach her on the road. Because, although Angela has a house that she can live in, the road is where she chooses to be. Angela is not homeless; she is traveling.

This bit of semantics is the true distinction between the permanent “bums” on Newport Avenue (most vocally represented by Boston James, www.bostonjames.com, the “first homeless man on the internet”), and the groups of transient youth known as the Kids. “Traveling” is the label that binds them together. They are without a home by choice.

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The Public Library: the great equalizer

February 1, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann

Let’s not mince words, I am willing to admit that I love the shit out of books. Much more than is probably healthy or even altogether sane. I love how they smell, how they look on my bedside table or on used bookstore shelves. I love the quiet contemplation they induce in people, the gentle low murmur of contentment that fills bookstores and libraries thick as a cat’s purr beneath its ribs. I love watching a friend or lover read, their eyes intent, their bodies in the same room as mine but their neurons a world away.

Most of all, I love reading, curled in my bed before sleep, on the couch with a cup of tea on a rainy day, stretched flat and gently roasting on the beach. I love unfurling my mind into a new, uncharted landscape, inhabited by Zorba’s and Mrs. Dalloway’s, and seeing how it fares. I am an entirely impartial defender of books.

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Getting to know our public servants: David Surwilo – Community Relations Officer

January 13, 2010 by Mary E. Mann
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Editor: The OB Rag is beginning a series on ‘Getting to know our public servants’ with this report by Mary E Mann of an interview with OB’s Community Relations Officer.

Picture your high school guidance counselor in a police uniform, and you have a pretty good idea of Officer David Surwilo, the one and only community relations officer in San Diego Police Department’s Western Division.

The Western Division is huge and diverse, comprised of North Park, Hillcrest, Mission Hills, Linda Vista, Hotel Circle, Fashion Valley, Old Town, Sports Arena, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, and the airport area. Surwilo used to manage this area with three other officers, with four different “storefront” offices. That was in the sunny days before budget cuts hit the SDPD hard, and three officers and three storefronts were cut, leaving only Surwilo and his office on Sports Arena.

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Suffering through the Fall in OB

October 12, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann

Even in Ocean Beach, a Mecca for sun-lovers, you can feel the fall coming. Obecians jump right into the season – just the hint of crispness in the air, and suddenly everyone is wearing sweaters, making soup, and huddling around mugs of tea or coffee, looking for all the world like extras in Home Alone 5: The Beach Holiday.

What to do with this surfeit of cozy feeling? Even in the city of eternal summer, options abound for fall fun. Here are just a few ideas for creating fall in the shadow of a palm tree:

1) Escape the bubble – I know it’s scary to cross Nimitz and venture into the shadowy world beyond OB, but I believe in you. San Diego is one of the largest and most diverse counties in the U.S.A., and an hour drive can take you to another world.

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Steal my move

September 27, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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Our very own Mary Mann has been published on San Diego CityBeat! Way to go Mary!
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Culture Shock and the ABCs of break-dancing
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“So here’s the move,” says Joseph “Dyno Rock” Corrales, before sweeping his right leg under his entire body, hopping on his left foot and switching arms. His legs move with no thought, so intent is he on watching his charges imitate him. A hip-hop track fills the room, and the stars of the class, 14- and 15-year-olds with bodies like Gumby, match their steps to the music.

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Bars and Clubs of OB – a Review

September 24, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann
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After very careful analysis, and more than a few whiskey gingers and Belgium beers, what follows is a review of the Ocean Beach bars/clubs. Pardon me if I missed one or two – a girl can only do so much drinking. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
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Pacific Shores:

Ah, the black light undersea glow is almost as soothing as the drink prices …

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Burners and Hoopers: the Police Respond

July 27, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann

Two weeks ago the OB Rag published an article I wrote about burners (people who spin fire at Burning Man), and hoopers (people who dance with flaming hula-hoops). A group of hoopers had been ticketed on June 4th, with fines totaling $2,500. They got these tickets practicing in a small, controlled group at the beach in OB.

The article received a great response, but I started thinking about the voices that hadn’t been heard.

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Sunset Cliffs – and surf culture – in danger of erosion

July 20, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann

“All this shit – the benches, the trail, the signs – none of it matters if we don’t stop the erosion of the cliffs.”

This is Richard Aguirre’s main message, filtered through a long discussion of erosion, geology, politics, surf culture, and safety hazards.

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OB Burners and Hoopers Get Busted

July 1, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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By Mary E Mann

A young man spins unlit fire chains by himself, in the middle of Collier Park at Soto & Greene. His phone rings, a tinny sound from his pocket. He pauses to answer it, tucks it between his shoulder and his ear, and continues to spin while he talks. The spinning is almost an afterthought, his body dancing slowly, almost like tai chi, but with whizzing metal balls on chains involved.

Slowly a troupe forms, ten people or so, mostly men and mostly young-looking, in their 20’s and 30’s. MORE INSIDE …

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Street Fair: OB sure knows how to party

June 29, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann

Among the many things I can say about Ocean Beach, one is that this community sure knows how to get behind a party.

According to friends of mine, OB old-timers, this year’s Street Fair was tame. No longer are people allowed to drink openly in the streets, for one thing.

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The Kids – the Young and Homeless of OB

June 8, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann

For weeks, starting in he beginning of May, I was getting up early and taking walks around Ocean Beach. I was looking for the groups of kids (teens and twenty-something’s mostly), who I have heard described as “Pier Kids”, “Anarchist Kids”, “Street Kids”, “Kids with backpacks”, and “Those kids who wear a lot of brown and have dogs, and sometimes cats on leashes”. I will refer to them here as The Kids. The Kids are, in fact, the young and the homeless.

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The Human Pandemic

May 31, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E Mann

Last, it was spinach. A few people across the country got very sick, and a baby died – the only thing they all had in common was the consumption of spinach. Suddenly, grocery stores were bereft of spinach, and newscasters with serious faces warned of a spinach-sickness crisis. A small national panic ensued.

Today, it’s swine.

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An Arch to Build a Dream On

April 27, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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By Mary Mann

Walking down the long row of trailers, I wonder how I will recognize the one that belongs to Daniel Wallace and Judith May. They all look the same. As I near it, though, the ownership of the mobile home is made obvious by a preponderance of what their makers refer to as wobblies, wooden creatures, each with a name and a story. I should have known there would be something.

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Keith Kifer – the Blues Wizard: “I’m always on stage.”

April 9, 2009 by Mary E. Mann
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by Mary E. Mann

A pigeon hops through the open door of the plywood camper, sneaking up behind an unsuspecting Keith Kifer, who’s busy preparing lunch. Kifer, otherwise known as the Blues Wizard, gently shoos the bird away, exclaiming: “How rude! He didn’t even knock.”

How rude indeed, to sneak up behind a burgeoning blues legend. Kifer has been making a name for himself in San Diego, as the lead guitarist for The Blues Wizard and the Masters of Humility.

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