Getting to Know Your Community…

by on July 12, 2010 · 18 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

Originally posted July 10, 2009

More important now than ever before

With the economy forcing people to spend more time focusing inward, some are becoming more in touch with the little things that make daily life so interesting. For many people, including myself, daily routines start to become a comfort that blocks out stress. Even a commute home from work can be a reminder of the joyous simplicity of the community you live in.

After work, I pick my girlfriend up and head towards OB on 8 West, passing through the OB Entryway, past Robb Field and the Ocean Beach sign, eventually pulling into the alley where our apartment assigned parking spot sits. Along the way, we pass the same people, the same parked cars. Neighbors on all sides of us use the alley as their backyards; their garages as adult retreat rooms or rehearsal space for their bands; the alley itself serves as a playground for their kids. I have actually had a full conversation with some of these people only a few times, mostly in passing. Some of their names I do know, some I do not. Irregardless, I know that I can always count on a friendly smile, a wave, and even a generic comment like “beautiful day” or “shitty day” (depending on the marine layer). This is my reality. As part of my daily routine, I have come to expect these common courtesies. It is something I value tremendously; I don’t know if it would be possible to live in a place where a little smile here and there was a cause for concern.

The “bubble” you live in becomes your existence; I guess some people call it a bubble, but for those who stay abreast of what is going on outside of the community, that is not necessarily the most appropriate term. Nonetheless, places like Ocean Beach are oriented towards sticking around and not leaving too often – hence, a bubble. Inside the bubble, you start to notice things that happen regularly. The neighborhood cats that roam your patio (and inadvertently fall in love with your own cats through a screen door) become familiar, the blocks you walk to get to where you’re going become your favorite routes, the wetsuits hanging on fences are a daily reminder of the ocean literally blocks away. Even the folks picking through the trash to collect cans (or maybe try and steal your identity…I can’t help it, I’m paranoid) are as common a sight as that woman who is WAY too old to wear a miniskirt who you always see walking her dachshund. Or the guy who rides an adult tricycle. Or the hopscotch course drawn in sidewalk chalk at the end of the block that you can NEVER avoid jumping into.

This is not some existential rambling about community; it is community. San Diego is a city made up of hundreds of these; even a tiny enclave like OB has distinctly different “sections”, each one with distinct citizens who get to know each other over the course of their daily routines.

So why is it important to bring this up? Now, more than ever, communities struggling to sustain their identity have to work twice as hard to keep from falling apart. The word “gentrification” gets thrown around a lot, and most people agree that it is a bad thing for a place like OB – but there are ways to weather gentrification and assume its improving qualities while also not losing the same sense of community that I feel every day on my way home from work. For anyone who reads this but never even smiles at their neighbor, maybe now would be a good time to start. Find out what they do, who they are. Why are they always yelling at the TV at 6:00pm screaming “Fuck Pat Sajack!”? Well, maybe they just happen to love Wheel of Fortune, and believe they could better host the show. Where do they get their ridiculous smelling weed? Well, maybe now you’ll get a new connection. Just saying hi could get you a “fuck off” or a bud light. It’s worth a try at least.

On July 4th, Chris Bowd was assaulted and nobody knows exactly what occurred. To find out what happened, his family and friends are reaching in – rather than out – to try and find the culprits. OB is small enough where if something happens, somebody probably knows who did it. That’s the point – we need to foster that to make sure nobody slips through the cracks. The OB Rag is doing its part as a community partner, but it is just one piece. Just as important as the people who follow this blog are the people who don’t have a computer, or those who really just don’t have the time to follow the rants and raves of a bunch of freaky OBecians.

It seems cliché, but at a time when most of us are scaling back what little amenities and luxuries we once had, we could spend more time enjoying the minimalist existence that a lack of luxury allows.

Except the goddamn parrots. I could do without them.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Dave Gilbert July 10, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Nice piece Lane!

I always try to have a “howdy” or a “hi” when I’m walking around our little town and more often than not I get one in return. It’s when I’m not in O.B. and do the same thing that I’m sometimes reminded that not everyone is so free with their pleasantries.

LOL, those parrots do seem to get under some folks skin but I dig them, they’re part of our charm too.

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avatar Gary Gilmore July 11, 2009 at 7:39 am

There once was a young man named Lane
Who had obviously gone quite insane.
He wrote discouraging words
‘Bout OB’s favorite birds
So now he’s been banished to Maine.

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avatar jon July 11, 2009 at 7:45 am

Ha! It’s only 8:45am and I think Gary gets comment o’ the day!

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avatar annagrace July 11, 2009 at 8:39 am

Gary Gilmore for Poet Laureate of the OBRag!

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avatar Lee July 11, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Liked the article, but felt you were out of line (and at the very least extremely rude and acting like a sexist) when you wrote about the woman who is too old to wear a mini skirt. When do you or anyone else for that matter get to decide how people should dress. If you don’t like what you see, look away. The Rag once supported diversity, maybe you should read some old hard copy back issues? Just a thought.

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avatar Mary July 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Nice Lane, I know that chalk hopscotch you speak of. Good thing it never rains, eh?

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avatar lane tobias July 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Lee – point taken, kind of missed that when I read it over. I guess I could have put it differently.

I dont know if wondering whether or not a mini skirt on a 75 year old is appropriate would be sexist, but definitely ageist. my bad.

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avatar lane tobias July 11, 2009 at 5:02 pm

the thing with the parrots for me, is that they crap all over my car. its not really the sqwauking (in fact, as a de facto alarm clock they are useful) but waking up to a new “lucky strike” on my car is pretty frustrating.

so there you have it.

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avatar Abby July 13, 2010 at 7:27 am

Want to borrow my cat Lane? She seems very keen on getting close to some parrots!

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 13, 2010 at 8:25 am

Just you wait, Lane, you’ll miss those OB parrots’ squawking.

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avatar Dave Gilbert July 11, 2009 at 9:42 pm

LOL, well if one happens to nail you personally it IS considered good luck! I finally washed my vehicle so I know what you mean but I think the pigeons leave worse and more.

Missed you guys at the house warming though…good times, they even have their own flock of parrots, or maybe ours followed Frank & Patty! ;)

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avatar Sunshine July 12, 2009 at 6:03 am

Lane,
I think you should wear a mini skirt for a day and feel the freedom it affords you.

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avatar lane tobias July 12, 2009 at 3:08 pm

i think i might have to do that sunshine since its clear I made a comment i cant really apologize for.

whenever that does happen, ill definitely post the pictures on the rag.

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avatar Sunshine July 13, 2009 at 6:06 am

Lane,
Hope your gams are as interesting as the older woman’s were. LOL. No need to wear panty hose either. Just the mini skirt and let it all ‘flap in the breeze.’

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avatar nancy July 16, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Liked your writeup about OB, as I’ve been here since ’71 and wouldn’t live anywhere else. I do wish we’d see the parrots down my way, south OB, along the cliffs. Now see more crows which can be noisy too.
For some cute very short videos, and a little writeup, of OB scenes, google “OB in HD” and enjoy. They make my day and reinforce how lucky we are to live here, and your writeup does the same.
Thanks,
Nancy

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avatar lane tobias July 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

i wanted to thank everyone in the community for being a welcoming and open armed neighborhood. although at times, especially most recently, it felt like OB might be going away from its historically tolerant attitude there is still an overall love of the community that is second to none. its been a challenge settling into new jersey as its rained just about every day we’ve been here. makes me truly miss those temperate, sunny july days in OB….

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Well, my friend, those sunny July days JUST arrived in OB, so you haven’t missed much yet, ‘cept those parrots you love so much. “…open armed neighborhood” ? Jeez, things never got that bad that the open carry folks were strutting around OB. LOL

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avatar Abby July 14, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Rarely does a day go by where I don’t see at least one thing or person that makes me think “I love this place!”.

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