Reader Rant: “Hrrrrmppff On the Peace Rock Killjoy”

by on September 7, 2009 · 16 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Reader Rant, San Diego

Jim Grant 2010 ed-sm

The sun sets on the latest addition of Peace Rock - "2010" is removed. Original photo by Jim Grant.

Editor: We received this Reader Rant from Peace Rocker – one of the folks responsible for the original peace sign up on “Peace Rock” – the large, protruding rocky sentinel that juts out of the Pacific Ocean just south of where Froude Street runs into Sunset Cliffs Boulevard.

by Peace Rocker

I was discouraged almost two years ago when the Peace Sign was stolen in the middle of the night. Perhaps, I thought, the thief chose (wrongly!) to see the sign as a political statement, rather than as a simple and eternal prayer for “peace on earth, good will towards all.” Or maybe , the thief was a local hippie who wanted (selfishly!) just to have the sign as a personal trophy, or maybe it was a mercenary who wanted (obscenely) just to sell the sign — created at a cost of over $5,000 — at some swap meet or garage sale. Or maybe the thief was some self-appointed “conservationist” who just objected to ANYONE using that rock as a platform for ANY expression.

No matter, I thought. The Peace sign had a good run. Many people found solace and beauty in it. Thousands of locals, and thousands of tourists, took their pictures with it; and the pictures will be eternal on bookshelves all over the community and all over the world. Those of us who loved it will never forget it. And, of course, the Peace Rockers got something like the “last word” when, a year later, we erected a permanent, sanctioned sign in the heart of Ocean Beach on Newport Avenue, atop the International Hostel, where it sits so beautifully against the blue sky, and then lights up every night, and where it has already become an accepted part of our special Ocean Beach history and culture.

The rock, of course, sat empty for many months, and every day when I ran past it, I was expectant for some “next” installation to keep the unique, local tradition alive. Thus I was gladdened a week or so ago to see that the senior class at Point Loma High School had taken the initiative, had shown great creativity, and had installed their own simple but elegant “2010” sign. I read that they attached it with steel rods, and that they hoped it would survive the weather at least until their graduation in June of 2010. I saluted them and hoped their effort would meet with acceptance and success.

What a bummer then to see that some local vigilante — the same thief who stole the Peace sign? — removed the 2010 sign within a week of its appearance. Surely, no one thought that “2010” was too POLITICAL. No one could have been OFFENDED by such a simple show of local class spirit. And no one could have thought the sign ostentatious or divisive in any way. Thus, it occurs to me, the thief must be some local Grump-Head, a Killjoy who was determined to send his (or her, or their) own message to any aspiring guerrilla artist: KEEP OFF.

Well, “Bah Humbug” to you. This is a tradition that has survived in Ocean Beach for DECADES. In my 30 years in the neighborhood, there have been only six or seven installations (including, at least, a Christmas Tree; a toilet; a crab; a Pterodactyl; a Tiki Man; and, of course, the Peace sign). Each has been a creative expression of our unique community, each has been FUN, and each has been, in the scheme of things, very TEMPORARY. There is no accurate way to poll this question, but I bet that, if asked, fully 70% of the community would say they enjoy the tradition of occasional guerrilla installations. So to you who feel compelled to spoil the fun of the majority, and in this case to dampen the spirits of high school seniors, I say, hey, thanks for making Ocean Beach a little more homogeneous, but a little less perfect.

Peace Rocker

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar jettyboy September 7, 2009 at 6:02 pm

One old grumpy man couldn’t do it alone. He/she/they/it had to have help. While I personally am against any kind of destruction of the cliffs, I fully support the creative and artistic display on Bird-shit rock. Since the first tree went up thanks to some surfers who will remain unnamed, I have gotten a big internal smile looking at each new installation. The Peace Sign out did all. It was beautiful, and I miss it.


avatar claudia j September 7, 2009 at 8:09 pm

WOW, I felt such a positive energy in the 2010 that was placed on the famous bird shit rock…I really thought it showed that people or students were looking into peaceful future in 2010. I loved the comment about making one of the 0’s a peace sign… I know in my heart whoever took the 2010 down cannot rest at night… My parents moved to the cliffs in 1957 and we lived on Amiford Drive…Just a bit of history I remember when the rock was much bigger and a car company used a lift and put a new car on the rock and it was used in a commerical.. Real Locals respect that ROCK !!!!! cj


avatar bodysurferbob September 7, 2009 at 8:59 pm

nothing is permanent but this is ridiculous. to you students of PLHS who placed the “2010” on the rock – just remember that you had a lot of the community behind you – not necessarily in that put your year up there (my year is sometime in the sixties) but because you had the guts to do it. you took a risk – and a lot of times in life – that’s whats important. i give you an A+.


avatar jim grant September 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I was so pleased to have a new subject to photograph nite or day …….in the sunshine or clouds or on a clear clean Ocean Beach morning. I was happy to run into the group ( taking photos) including one of the Moms ( Jill) on a Monday afternoon last week they were so proud of the hard work and the fininshed product. It was a fantastic sunset and the group was overjoyed to hear I submit photos to the local paper and on occasion they are published. In fact they made the local Beacon Sept. 3 2009 page 2……
Whoever took it down must be a unhappy person and a grumpy person.
I have some beautiful shots of the Rock and the 2010 if anybody wants one I am more than happy to send you a high res file just ask…..
Nice jobs class of 2010. Put your heads together and come up with another idea !!!! Don’t give up strike back …..

Jim Grant


avatar Shawn Conrad September 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Run 220 volts through it so we can get an idea who the perp is.

Then waterboard him.

Then waterboard him again.


avatar Abby September 9, 2009 at 7:21 am

Maybe we should put a webcam pointed at the rock and see if we can catch this Grinch.


avatar Larry OB September 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm

I wouldn’t guess it was a grumpy person….maybe a bird activist. It is after all one of the few safe spots for travelling birds. We’ve also messed up the San Diego River as a bird refuge. Dogs delivered by SUV chase the birds as they try to feed at low tide, and the jetty rocks are prowled by feral cats.


avatar jandz September 9, 2009 at 8:09 pm

There is only one reason why people remove whatever is placed on The Rock – because they can.
And no matter what goes up next, they will remove it.

Crude, unthinking, mindless – there are no adequate words for them, and unfortunately they seem to be all around us. What can we do to protect ourselves and our world from them?


avatar PLsenior September 10, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Being a senior in the class of 2010, i was devastated to find that the 2010 sign had been taken down (and left thrashed on the no surf beach in a tidy pile, might i add. I am almost positive it was the work of a few underclassmen who wanted to show what they thought of us


avatar Dave Gilbert September 10, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I agree with Larry OB, for me anyway knowing that the birds had it back took some of the sting out losing the Peace sign. Hell, I hadn’t even thought of the birds up to that point.

Thank God you got some pictures of before it was removed…that way it will live on forever! ;)


avatar Gary Gilmore September 11, 2009 at 9:09 am

I fully endorse any creative group of people who get together and do true guerilla art. I like JettyBoy’s line “I fully support the creative and artistic display on Bird-shit rock.” If there was ever a place in this town, state or country that that promotes this kind of art, it’s OB. I love this place.


avatar claudia j September 11, 2009 at 8:58 pm

PL Senior– I am sad, once again that someone did this…If a underclassman did this that is bad Karma.. I can’t imagine a true PL Pointer doing this to your class of 2010…Being a senior is such a special thing. I know when I was a senior it was so special and I remember my mom telling me your only a senior once, and only have one senior prom and one senior picture so enjoy it and respect it… I encourage your class to put something else up and be proud….Who ever did this terrible thing can’t rest at night….cj


avatar jon September 14, 2009 at 9:07 am

This letter was featured in the latest issue of the Peninsula Beacon. I think you may have found your grinch…

Sunset Cliffs’ Ross Rock not a community easel
by CHARLES KINKADE, Sunset Cliffs

I’m aware we all work or do something during the days and/or nights and I’m also aware of the fact that some of you have grown up in this lovely area.

What I refuse to accept is the lack of consideration for others. Along with the many parasitic problems in the world, the sense of “entitlement” for me is among the worst. Congratulations! You live and/or grew up here! This does NOT mean you can do whatever you want to. I know it’s a hard concept to grasp, but around the same time you realize that you should clean up your acne you should be realizing that you are NOT the only person in this world. Next time you wake up, look outside — it’s true!

We are entitled to some basic things such as clothes, food, clean water, no marshmallows on the beach and a safe community and so on. What you are NOT entitled to is the right to put up “art” or “installations,” aka “graffiti,” on Ross Rock or any other rock, beach, tree, passed-out reveler, and so on. This community is extremely lucky to have a natural park for all of us to enjoy, and last time I checked my science books, plastic, glass, spraypaint, plywood, nails and screws are not abundantly found in nature.

Please take the time to consider others before you deface public property and possibly put yourself in harm’s way. I’m sure none of you have wings like the lovely shotty bird sculpture that adorned Ross Rock a few years back, so don’t think hitting the reef after a long fall is going to end well. Even with a few drinks or whatever it’s going to hurt, if not KILL you!

Even if you still believe that everyone else “owes” you something (see “entitlement”), take the time to at least consider nature. Like, hmmmm, what happens if the “installment” falls? What sea life could be hurt or damaged? Perhaps a poor surfer or unsuspecting teen will end up pulling rusty nails and screws from their heels. Or, what if the repetitive climbing of the rock causes it to disappear due to the added erosion (see “science books”).

These are hard concepts to grasp but just like you would (hopefully) pick up the ball or skateboard so somebody doesn’t break their neck when they fall, you might find that these little things that we do for others make us truly feel entitled to gifts we are given in life.


avatar PL Native September 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm

What a shame they took it down!! And left it in a ruined pile on the beach, no less. I feel so bad for the boys. Everyone I know that saw the sign LOVED it. (Except, it appears, Grinch Chuck Kinkade.) I applaud the idea that in the time of spray painting and destruction, some PLHS seniors had the planning, skill, and nerve to do something of that magnitude that added to the environment; didn’t take away from it.

If it was underclassmen, shame on you. Apparently they didn’t realize that one day THEY will be seniors and may want to make their own mark in life… bad karma will be waiting for them when they do. Not that I think they could ever have the leadership, teamwork, and guts to construct something like this.

Destruction is easy. Creativity and courage is not.


avatar Debbie September 19, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Anyone have some glow in the dark paint? I think it would be cool for the peace rock to reflect the rays of la luna and light itself up so the birds could easily find it and be able to continue to poop all over it day and night!


avatar Frank Gormlie September 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

Debbie – funny funny funny. Good to hear from ya!


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