The OB Rag – 3 years ago: ‘born in the crucible of fire’

by on October 18, 2010 · 2 comments

in Culture, Media, Ocean Beach, San Diego, War and Peace, World News

fires Oct 07 pj

Looking east from the north end of Sweetwater Reservoir (taken by Patty Jones at 5:52 am, Oct. 23, 2007)

When the OB Rag website first started publishing three years ago, the massive October 2007 fire was raging across San Diego County.  Our blog/ website was hatched in the midst of fire, born under fire, so to speak. The fire and the responses to it raised all kinds of issues that we began addressing.

Here are a few of the posts that we wrote and published about the fires – and a few other issues – during that period:

TV Coverage of the San Diego Fires

After watching the television coverage of San Diego County’s fires for the first couple of days, here are a few brief observations & comments about local TV channels’ coverage:

Channel 9: Best coverage, hands down, by team of Paul Bloom, Kimberly Hunt, Michael Turko and weatherguy John Coleman. Their energy, passion, aggressiveness, knowledge of the earlier Cedar fire, insights on fires in general, and just being centered on the fires captured my attention by the end of the third day.

For the rest.

Mandatory Evacuations – Are They Any Good Or Do They Contribute to the Fire Damage?

We’ve all seen or experienced the “mandatory evacuations” ordered by the authorities during the FireStorms this week. Last count, there were 560,000 residents ordered to evacuate their communities since last Sunday, October 21st as reported by the San Diego Union Tribune today. There have been additional evacuations ordered just today as fires continue to burn in parts of the county as of late Thursday, the fifth day of the fires. But it has been the largest mass evacuation in recent California history. The magnitude of the mass movement of people across this county in the last few days is unprecedented.

For the rest.

People Coming Together — why doesn’t the left respond en mass to natural disasters?

During the first days of the fire storms, after Qualcomm was opened up, the first volunteers appeared at the stadium ready to do what they could to help those evacuated. In the end, the stadium held approximately 12,000 San Diegans and their pets, and hundreds of volunteers had swarmed the football center (I never saw a final figure for their numbers) to help out. There was a genuine outpouring of compassion and sympathy for the unfortunate ones. Local politicians, the media and President Bush made much of this solidarity showing “San Diegans comin’ together to help one another.” I saw a few interviews with the volunteers and they were truly kind hearted people.

For the rest.

Continuing Discussion: Obey the Gov’t Order to Evacuate vs Stand & Fight the Fires

The Union Tribune today continued the discussion of the issue of whether residents living in the path of the wildfires should obey the government order to evacuate or whether they should stay and fight in attempts to prevent destruction to their homes. The article, by staff writers Alex Roth and Kristina Davis, acknowledged several points of interest.

For the rest.

We Have to Keep Asking: Why Did It Take So Long for the Military Aircraft to Get Up in the Air and Fight the Fires?

It was before sunrise on Tuesday morning, the 23rd of October, the third day of the fires. Patty and I sat on the edge of Sweetwater Reservoir, watching a spectacular line of orange flames that had crossed the entire flank of San Miguel mountain. The flames were marching down the side of the slopes toward Spring Valley where her mother lived. It was the night the entire mountain burned.

… However, as the day progressed with the county being ravaged by the wildfires, I — along with probably thousands of others anxiously watching the skies for relief — became shocked — and disgusted — that no other military aircraft came to San Diego’s rescue that day. That was the day that the number of houses burned to the ground went from a few dozen up into the hundreds.

For the rest

A Perspective – From Crickets to Waves

Sometimes, late at night, I sit on Frank’s front porch under the wonderful canopy of trees and if the wind is right and the night is quiet I can hear the waves. It’s wonderfully hypnotic. As an east county gal it took me a little while to figure out exactly what the sound was, there is nothing comparable where I live. Crickets don’t count.

… I have been pestering Frank to start this blog for a few weeks. I knew it would be a good thing, but I had no idea how quickly it would grow, nearly 500 unique visitors, almost 1400 page loads, 11 posts and more than 35 comments. In the last two days he and I have learned a lot, on our own and from each other. Now that a lot of the technical stuff has been “put to bed,” I am looking forward to being able to share with you my perspective as someone newly involved with activism.

For the rest.

What’s a cop on a horse to do on a sunny Friday afternoon in OB – besides hasslin’ teenagers?

In a spectacularly superfluous display of power, four horsemen of the San Diego Police Equestrian Squad rode through the streets of Ocean Beach for hours on the Friday afternoon before this year’s OB Oktoberfest, October 12th.

Undaunted by the typical lack of crime in sleepy Ocean Beach on an autumn weekday afternoon, the armed posse surrounded a group of clear eyed Anarchist kids passing the time on the seawall by the pier. As the officers approached one youngster took to his heels, racing up the wooden steps next to the Silver Spray and down the alley behind the cottages. The police were stymied, their enormous mounts were ridiculously ill prepared to give chase on the slippery veneer of sand covering the pavement. One officer dismounted and pursued on foot, but the child eluded him.

For the rest.

Is There a Media Black-Out of Anti-War Protests?

On Sunday, October 28th, the day after the “National Day of Action” — where thousands of Americans took to the streets across the country in a dozen major cities, and where many others demonstrated in smaller actions in over two dozen other cities and towns — I turned to our San Diego Union-Tribune for a news account of the protests.

I was dismayed, although not surprised at the U/T’s coverage. It wasn’t on the front page, nor on page 3; I leafed through the paper, still with a lot of coverage of the fires and their aftermath. Finally I found the story of the demonstrations in a small article on the paper’s “The Fight For Iraq” page — way in the back …

For the rest.

Mike Davis: the un-told story of how immigrants were affected is “the central human tragedy of the recent fires”

Currently a resident of San Diego, Mike Davis grew up in El Cajon, and he lent a personalized and first-hand account of the geographic landmarks ravaged by the fires, particularly Otay Mountain and Tecate Peak. Now a professor of history at U.C. Irvine, Davis’ reputation is wide-spread as an “American social commentator, urban theorist, historian, and political activist.  …

Mike Davis went on to describe what is the untold story of the fires, how immigrants, particularly in the southeast of the County – near Potrero – had suffered during the fires; 11 had been burned, 200 others arrested, many routed from their camps in the canyons and forced into Mexico or into the arms of Border Patrol agents, and of course the four who died, all due to the Harris fire. Claiming that there were more injuries among immigrants than were reported, he recounted how the Tecate border guards had to flee for their lives due to the advancing flames; how the Mexican press more accurately portrayed what was occurring than our establishment press, how Mexican border police rescued 50 people — all ignored by the press here in San Diego.

For the rest.

Surfers Surfed While San Diego Burned — Can We Learn Anything From the Wildfires of the Past?

I’m as much a fan of social historian Mike Davis as any other lefty who has attempted to figure out what’s been happening in Southern California – what with the fires – how our dichotomous social fabric has interacted with the particular ecology that we find ourselves in. When the wildfires hit our county in October, Davis sprang to mind as he has certainly developed a reputation for his forthright perspective on the wildfires that ravage our region on a regular irregular basis. Davis enunciates his view in “Ecology of Fear“, written just after the disasters that beset Los Angeles in the mid-nineties. I had read it a few years ago and found it very illuminating.

For the rest.

For other of our posts, please visit our Archives section. And for more about us, go here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar tj October 19, 2010 at 6:09 am


Happy 3rd Anniversary, & Congratulations.!

Thanks for the positive effort & hard work you put into the site & the community.

Hope you have many more . . .


avatar Old Hermit Dave October 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I second tj—You and your staff post some interesting reading,


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