It went in about a year ago, another cheap souvenir shop on Newport Avenue. You probably walk by it at least once a week, Pacifica Fashion at 4949 Newport Avenue, between the Old Townhouse Restaurant and Margaritas. Out front stand a couple of lily white mannequins modeling Rastafarian head gear, a rack of $5 bikinis, and hanging from the front edifice are a number of cheap t-shirts referencing OB, surfing and weed. When it opened about a year ago, I thought to myself sarcastically, “Good another cheap tourist shop selling crap, just what OB needs.” Admittedly and disdainfully, I have never been inside.
This morning after breakfast with Dad, I noticed a new t-shirt hanging out front, and this one really caught my eye. It was of the old signs which use to line I-5 near the San Clemente Border Patrol Checkpoint. You know the one, the silhouette of the Papa, Mama, and Baby running. Above the silhouette is the word “CAUTION,” and below “PROHIBIDO.” Below the faux yellow signage, were the words “Ocean Beach, Ca.”
Now perhaps I am still a bit sensitive after last year’s sticker-fest, but as I walked away it occurred to me, is this t-shirt anti-immigrant? After all, we never had any of these signs up in OB, in fact they had been removed some time ago from the I-5 corridor. The only community to which the signage was directed was the immigrant community in an attempt to keep people from trying to cross the freeway. So what was the point of this t-shirt?
The more I thought about, perhaps over-thought, what is the message supposed to be. Certainly it is a far cry from the t-shirts which read, “My parents visited OB, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt,” or, “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor…” and all the other equally inane t-shirt messages out there. This t-shirt is a political statement about immigration, or rather anti-immigration which is, whether you like it or not, is free speech, and despite its direct attack on the immigrant population, it is not hate speech.
I have learned to put up with offensive t-shirts, and bumper stickers for ages. Learning to tolerate pro-Bush bumper stickers for eight years was an exercise in extreme tolerance. But what really annoyed me was the attachment of Ocean Beach to this message. Given the number of immigrants, legally here, and some not so much so, it is hurtful for someone to try to make OB something it isn’t; a place of hate and prejudice against the immigrant population. Ironically, I am sure the restaurants on either side have their fair share of immigrant workers. Their presence does seem to keep us in OB from filling the tables at either one, on any given day of the week.
Maybe I should say, OB wasn’t such a place.
I have begun to notice the ill winds of intolerant change in OB, and I for one, do not care for it. It did not start with the infamous stickers last year, and it certainly has not ended there either. Why just in the past two weeks, a fellow at the end of Del Mar Avenue decided the beach, the cliffs and all he could see was his. And this modern day Yertle the Turtle decided, as king of all he could see, to remove two permitted, legally placed memorial benches from a public space. It was just too noisy with all those people coming down and enjoying his cliffs, his ocean and his view. Never mind the two families he hurt… they don’t live here why should I care, it’s my ocean, my cliffs, my view. Never mind the public whose tax dollars maintain the integrity of the surrounding area, including prevention of erosion to his cliffs, his ocean, his view. Perhaps he will mind, however, when he has to pay his attorney to represent him in what is more than likely going to be a criminal and perhaps even a civil suit. And like good old Yertle, his little pond will be all of which he will be king.
So maybe it is time for us OBeachians to give up our personal little centers of the universe and begin taking into account consequences of our actions on others. Maybe if we think before we act, just a second or two, and remember who we might hurt… or better yet, who we might not hurt, we can make OB the way it was. I’ll give it a try, will you?
More of Interest:
- BREAKING NEWS: Both Memorial Benches Have Been Found and Are in Good Shape
- Time to Regulate All Those Antique Stores