About the OB Rag


The OB Rag blog and website was first initiated by Frank Gormlie and Patty Jones in late October 2007 and our original intent was to ply the San Diego scene with news and commentary from a distinctively progressive and grassroots perspective, and to also provide a forum for those views.

Importantly, we also wanted to provide some kind of web platform for the Ocean Beach community.  And in the Spring of 2013, we opened up a small office within the Green Store on the 4800 block of Voltaire Street.

Every October we celebrate that we’re still going strong. We’ve changed a lot – writers and bloggers have come and gone – but the Rag continues to provide a web platform for OB residents and merchants, and covers local OB and Point Loma news, issues and events – and more.

Significantly, the OB Rag staff began publishing a new online journal for all of San Diego – the San Diego Free Press. It jumped out in June 2012. Many of the people who were then writing for the Rag didn’t live in OB and were eager to begin writing about their own neighborhoods or about San Diego more in general.  (By the end of 2013, the San Diego Free Press matched and surpassed the readership of the OB Rag – as it has its own very-involved editorial board and more contributors.)

Some brief history about the OB Rag website:  Besides providing a news site for OB, we also wanted to be a resource for San Diego’s peace movement – as the Iraq War was still going on. At our year anniversary – late October 2008 – we had a daily “visitor” or reader average of over 250. Around that time, we decided to focus more of our attention and energies on OB itself.

By October 2009 we had a daily visitor count somewhere between 500 to 900.  And we were taking advertisements and sponsorships and selling hot-looking T-shirts.  Our stats just continued to rise dramatically over the months.

In March 2010 we are averaging between 750 and 1,000 visitors a day, and with over 26,000 visitors for that month. That June we had 34 visitors short of 40,000, and by that Fall it was 1,200 to 1,400. Then in October 2010 we had 43,000 visitors.

In the Fall of 2011, and our very best month – October 2011 we had 108,000 visitors – this was during the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Other milestones: we had our one-millionth page hit in mid-December of 2010, and our two-millionth hit in November 2011.  Since then, our stats have leveled out due to the impact of the publication of the San Diego Free Press.

We’ve had a plethora of writers, bloggers, contributors, photographers, and close supporters over the years – some of whom continue to write and contribute.

They include (alphabetized by last name):  Jon Christensen “JEC”, Matt Wood, Judi Curry, Anna Daniels, Bob Dorn, Jim Grant, Barbara Houlton, Meredith Houlton, Mary E. Mann, Ernie McCray, Brenda McFarlane, Rick Nadeau, Doug Porter, Dave Rice, Gregg RobinsonMichael Steinberg, Jeff Stone, Lane Tobias, ….

Others who penned or typed an article or two or took photos for us include: Brittany Bailey, Mercy Baron, Jon Carr, Kristin Condon, Colleen Dietzel, Stephanie Denton,  Chris Dotson, Shane Finneran, Dave Gilbert, Gary Gilmore, Nate Hipple, Rich Kacmar, Steven Kindrick, Kip Kruger, Sarah Little,Danny Morales, Jim Noble, Abby Normal, OB Cindi, Bill Ray, Genie Sapienza, Stu Seymour, Sunshine, Wireless Mike Williams John Williams.

In the Fall of 2008, we were joined by Doug Porter, who now writes on a regular basis for San Diego Free Press, and who wrote for the original OB Rag back in the seventies.

We were also joined around that time by Anna Daniels, who has been very active on city-wide issues over the years, and who currently writes about her own neighborhood of City Heights on the San Diego Free Press. Porter and Daniels are both very involved in the day-to-day operations of the SDFP.

When we started this blog, we were disgusted with the state of things: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bellicose and war-mongering President Bush, a Constitutional crisis, the environmental and global meltdown, as well as local corruption and government incompetence on all levels. We believed then and still believe now that things can and should be a whole lot better.

Things have changed since we first started blogging. We initially supported the candidacy of Barack Obama for President, and we celebrated with champagne and tears the night he was elected.  But our eyes were not then and are not now shut. We remain critical – and hopeful – of our political environment.

We have come to deeply understand that progressives need to keep pressure on the White House, no matter who is in it.  And it’s important to develop broad coalitions of activists and like-minded people, to not be hampered by some restrictions of our political traditions, and be willing to work across different parties and communities.

Plaque on building at corner of Newport Avenue and Bacon Street, commemorating the past. The original OB Rag had its office upstairs, circa 1974. (Click on image.)

Over time, we had become very disappointed in what President Obama had achieved and not achieved during his years in office. We oppose the continuation of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have been disheartened by the so-called “compromises” his administration has made with those who have vowed to destroy the American social networks established over the last century. This president seems to have sacrificed his message of change and hope to the expediencies of Washington, DC. We remain critical – and hopeful.

However, with Obama’s electoral sunset came the GOP chaos of the 2016 presidential election campaign, and the rise of Trumpism, led by a proto-fascist, along with the first democratic socialist to enter the mainstream in generations – Bernie Sanders.

Meanwhile …

This website attempts to keep OBceans, other San Diegans, and readers from across the country and from across the oceans informed on issues and changes around us.  We try to share all news and reports about the village of Ocean Beach, from other sources, but primarily from our in-house bloggers, and we try to publish news and perspectives about activists and grassroots goings-on within San Diego County. “Views and news of Ocean Beach and beyond.”

When we first started this blog, we felt that we needed “to rebuild a sense of community, not only on the neighborhood level, but also amongst those of a kindred spirit.”  We have expanded our circle of friends and readers, as we have a solid base of Ocean Beach readers, a San Diego, national and even international audience.  We have nearly 2,400 names on our email news and support list.

It’s ever-so clear to us that, as we originally stated at the beginning:

With mainstream media becoming more and more monopolized and centralized, there is a need for information and opinion outside the corporate media monolith. Blogs are helping to fill this role. Like during an earlier day, when underground newspapers filled the void, blogs today enable grassroots journalists and commentators to counter mainstream propaganda.


Page 1

OB Rag – March 1972, Vol. 2, No. 8

The First OB Rag

The first OB Rag, actually the OB People’s Rag, was an alternative grassroots newspaper for the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Diego during the first half of the 1970s, with its first publisher, editor and writer Frank Gormlie. It published from late Summer 1970 to early 1976. The Rag’s volunteer and dedicated activist staff succeeded in fueling the community organizing in Ocean Beach during those years with their underground publication, taking on the establishment while giving voice to the burgeoning counter-culture.

The very first issue of the OB People’s Rag – September 17, 1970.

The OB Rag was once described by Art Kunkin, the then-publisher of the LA Free Press – the grandparent of alternative newspapers – as “the best alternative grassroots community newspaper in the country.” [See our page “1st OB Rag” for more complete history of the first OB Rag.]

Plus, many of the original OB Rags are now available for donations. [Go here for those Rags that are available.]

Much later, in the early years of this century, folks associated with the Ocean Beach Grassroots Organization (OBGO) and the Save Ocean Beach Coalition published several editions of a new version of the OB Rag (see below for a sample front cover of this version). There are at least two issues of that version of the OB Rag scanned here in our blog.

So, here we are, with a third version of the OB Rag. Please peruse our posts, comments, and satire and join in. (For information of another San Diego progressive publication put out by some of the same writers of the current OB Rag, see below for “the Pie Shop.”



OB Rag – October 2002, Vol. 7, No. 2
This version of the OB Rag, was published by members of the
OB Grassroots Organization and Coalition to Save OB

“The Whole Damn Pie Shop”

A number of the current writers for this OB Rag published a left-wing magazine in San Diego during the first half of the eighties. Called “the whole damn pie shop” the magazine proudly announced on each front cover:

Our name is from a quote of a Brixton, England demonstrator who when asked in 1981 if he wanted a larger share of the pie, replied, “No, we want the whole damn pie shop!”

“the whole damn pie shop” No. 10 page 1

Describing itself as an independent left and progressive newsletter, the Pie Shop was initially sponsored by the Borderlands Education Committee – itself a creation of an Ocean Beach political collective. Current and occasional writers for the OB Rag, Frank Gormlie, Rick Nadeau, Michael Steinberg and Gregg Robinson all wrote for the Pie Shop from its inception in 1981 through the end sometime in 1986.

Issue Number 10 has been scanned and added to the site. Click the image to the left to view the whole issue.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Ted Clayton January 30, 2008 at 8:15 pm

I was stationed in & around San Diego with a string of commands in the Navy, from 1971 to ’75 … and I must say this website and it’s namesake have quite a familiar ring! ;-)


avatar Frank Gormlie February 2, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Ted – yes the OB Rag thrived for a good five years, 1970 – 75, and became quite well-known. Every two weeks, from 5000 to 10,000 issues went out, mainly in OB but also across the beach area, some of the college campuses, and even (gasp!) on a few military bases. OB was also home to many sailors as well as hippies and surfers. It still is. Thank you for sharing, and you’re welcome to post any other comments or memories (well, just the good memories).


avatar Lily October 6, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Hey Frank,

I used to carry the OB rag as far north as Leucada back in the day. I was also carrying oooo Off Our Backs I then too I think. Hope you are well.

the wild science girl
now of Montana


avatar Frank Gormlie October 7, 2010 at 8:10 am

Hi Marcie of Montana – welcome “back”! Do you have any memories of the 70s that you can share with us?


avatar Judy Burzell May 3, 2008 at 11:11 pm

Hi Frank,

I got such a kick out of seeing the OB Rag online after 30-some years! I worked on the paper, the OB Childcare Center, and a few other great endeavors in the 70’s…the paper looks great…having kept in touch with a lot of the old guard there are so many people who feel the same way around today…they are now grandparents but no less passionate about current issues…good job, it’s so great to see people beginning to do something after a period where not a lot went on.


avatar TR @ WSB September 1, 2008 at 3:17 am

Just a shout-out from a former OB resident, and San Diego native, now running a neighborhood-news site, in blog format, in West Seattle, a ‘hood that has a bit of that funky OB-esque flavor. Glad to find this, so we can keep up with what’s happening, even though we’re long gone.


avatar jeannie reeves October 6, 2008 at 7:46 am

Thanks for the OB blog. I lived on Bacon and Longbranch for 10 years…. In 2003 I moved back to Montana where I grew up. I think about OB everyday and miss my old life there! Thanks for the blog.


avatar Frank Gormlie October 6, 2008 at 8:25 am

TR & Jeannie – thanks for checking in with us! That’s great. JR – tell us what you remember, and what you’ve been doing.

Jeannie – how about sharing your memories – or do a comment or 2 on our other articles.

Thanks for visiting, keep coming back, and let us know what you’d like to see or read.


avatar Dawn Burris October 21, 2008 at 9:03 pm

This site really brings back some memories. I grew up in OB from 1973 through 1985, lived across the street from People’s Foods, went to the Free School (and spent many a summer with them at the Plunge, Camping, Blacks Beach, etc.). It’s great to see the old pictures – would love to see more! Living in OB really did leave a lasting impression, and I often look back at the path it set me on with a sense of gratitude for the unique life and experiences I had during that time.


avatar Frank Gormlie October 21, 2008 at 9:09 pm

Dawn – welcome back. Hopefully your comments will be seen by other Free Schoolers. Please peruse our other posts and leave as many comments as you’d like. We love it when people contact us for the first time like you just did. And go ahead and share any stories – go to the part of the First OB Rag story that is noteworthy for you and make a comment there as well.


avatar Dawn Parker-Waites October 30, 2008 at 11:41 am

I was searching online about the desalination issue and ran across your article written last November, and was wondering if there is any way we could re-post it on our site and give full author credit and link to your blog? I loved the coverage of the issues! Great job!


avatar Frank Gormlie October 30, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Dawn – I decided to contact you this way versus your email; yes, yes, go ahead, the writer is Jon E. Christensen, and please do the link to our blog. And thanks. Come back again real soon. Also you can contact us via the contact page.


avatar lisette littlemeyer September 1, 2009 at 11:21 pm

It is so good to see you guys back ! I was just thinking about the Rag the other day. I will support in any way needed, well , in any way I can.
I learned how to do keys and paste ups on the Rag when I was 12 years old.


avatar Barb S. October 14, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I heard the helicopters today around the cliffs, watched on the news how a man had drowned, he was a “trans c ant” is how Kimberbly Hunt pronounced the news! I wonder if this would’ve happened in La Jolla or maybe if it was a visiting tourist, would the searched been called off after One Hour?


avatar Judith November 19, 2009 at 9:31 am

I just discovered your site when looking for mre info on this poor kid in Arkansas tasered by the police at her mother’s request. good to hear a progressive voice out of San Diego. I’m frankly pissed over the whole affair, and so sad that this poor child has barely a glimmer of a chance at being a normal human being with parents and a “public safety” team like this. well, maybe the dad is half sane and ought to have custody,. but even tough I usually oppose adoption as a tool of class repression, i;d sure like to see this child placed in a home with some forward thinking people nwho know how to defuse a stupid argument over taking a shower rather than escalate it.

makes me rather *like *my life as a single mother in California despite its challenges. and, again, glad you are keeping the lower portion of the state a little more hospitable.


avatar Curtis Fleming May 22, 2010 at 5:25 am

I just discovered your site when looking for mre info on this poor kid in Arkansas tasered by the police at her mother’s request. good to hear a progressive voice out of San Diego. I’m frankly pissed over the whole affair, and so sad that this poor child has barely a glimmer of a chance at being a normal human being with parents and a “public safety” team like this. well, maybe the dad is half sane and ought to have custody,. but even tough I usually oppose adoption as a tool of class repression, i;d sure like to see this child placed in a home with some forward thinking people nwho know how to defuse a stupid argument over taking a shower rather than escalate it.


avatar Judith May 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm

hi Curtis. I’m actually not in Ocean beach, nor in SD County at all; I’ve lived in the Bay Area fort many years, with occasional trvel trips out of the country or across the continent. but I too as happy to find that Frank and the OB Ragers 2.0 or whatever you want to call them cared about this absurdity in Arkansas. wonder if there;s been any update on that cute little pixie. did you see the photo? she looks like aoperfectly adorable, not so scary kid to me and weighed about 65 pounds when it happened. her mother is the one with the problem!

maybe sometime we out of towners can all get together and enjoy the OB life. I have family in and north of Los Angeles, not sure when I’m getting to SD area but…well, let’s stay in touch through this site.

OB denizens, any of you who’d be willing to provide hospitality for some pilgrims maybe in the late summer?


avatar tim ludwig June 19, 2010 at 6:25 am

It` about time more of us are taking issue over the homeless/panhandling in OB.The bumpersticker from The Black just keeps ”the lights on” about this annoying problem.Let`s keep the lights on and try and solve the issue as a community that does care about people.
Just a few tips we should practice..
Don`t allow people to go thru your trash.
Don`t give money/ food out.
Don`t allow campers/cars to park longer than 3 days


avatar OB Jamie November 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm

To hell with you telling people what to do with there food.


avatar liveinob November 7, 2012 at 2:49 pm

really OB Jaimie? it tokk you 2 years to comment on this post?
just get out of jail or something?


avatar Robert "Bob" Sorben November 9, 2010 at 2:02 pm

How to advertise on blog? How much for a side ad?
Let me know when time permits.
Thanks Bob Sorben


avatar ART YOUNG(BLOOD) AKA O.B. ART (BACK IN THE 70S) January 29, 2011 at 9:42 am



avatar Rick Ward March 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Frank or whom ever.If you guys could come up with a T-shiirt W/ an O.B.(green,of course) on the back. And a O.B.Rag.org on the pocket. I would put up the first 500 dollars for a run,if I cpuld get five of them.This would be a good product for Jack’s(the Black) to distribute for you.Just remember,the main art work should be on the back.Surfer Style. e-mail me if this is something the Rag would be into.Time is of the essence as my cash is going fast.


avatar Frank Gormlie March 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Rick, we’re interested. Why don’t you email us at our email : obragblog@gmail.com


avatar Ann Miller February 25, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Dear Editors,

I love your point of view – it’s been mine since before The Deluge. I’m looking forward to many future hours of fine reading, courtesy of the Rag.

However, my experience this week has convinced me that my fellow comment-makers need some instructions on logical reasoning and the fine art of argument. I had to learn this the hard way. Listen and learn at my expense, fellow bloggers.

First of all, the columnist and his/her ideas are fair game for criticism. Being jumped on goes with the territory. Those who are thin of skin shouldn’t be submitting their work for publication. I’m sure Emilie, as a professional, didn’t flinch.

Second: The forum that follows the publication of a piece is intended to exchange opinions of that particular column and the ideas expressed therein. Taking pot shots at the personalities of the individual repliers – or having the termerity to psychoanylize them – is not good form. Arguments should be met with arguments supporting one’s view. If this is not possible, it is best not to write in at all.

Lastly, personal recollections, while often interesting, are no substitute for viewpoint. Viewpoints supported by robust reasoning make fascinating reading. Everything is just typing.

Finally: a confession. My main objective in joining in the recent discussion was not to win over hearts and minds. It was principally designed to send a message to Emilie, whoever she may be. Namely, kids grow up. Get used to the idea. (Believe me, you will eventually long for the day!) Have the grace not to agonize over every sign of development – and for Pete’s sake, don’t have the exteme bad taste to make these natural matters public at the expense of your child’s privacy. Ever again.

Sincerely, and with good wishes in the gallant task of bearing the torch of enlightenment for all of us progressives,

Ann Miller


avatar Derek March 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Frank or whomever… are your t-shirts Made in the USA? Are they Union Made?

If no, please consider this the next time you get a run of them… Buying Made in USA products ensures that others have jobs and can afford to also contribute to our economy. Going one step further and buying Union Made shirts ensures that the shirts are made by workers that have a fair shake at a contract and healthcare and are not just coming from a sweatshop… and yes, there are sweatshops right here in the good ol’ US of A, just like overseas…

Being the progressive group that you are, I am sure you can see the real life issues associated with these questions. Thanks and keep up the great work!



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