The dilemma of the disenchanted progressive: why it’s important for Ocean Beach – Part III

by on November 24, 2009 · 31 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy, Environment, History, Media, OB Time Machine, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Peace Movement, San Diego, War and Peace


The dilemma of the disenchanted progressive has come full circle. If the progressive is disenchanted and deeply puzzled, what about the progressive community – what about a place like Ocean Beach?

a-dilemma 2

This then is the third and final part of the series.  In Part 1, I presented what I see as this dilemma for disenchanted progressives: as people on the political left we are disenchanted about the tempo and types of changes that President Obama has ushered in to date. And yet, as I discuss in Part 2, this country is facing a mass movement that represents an American brand of fascism, and it’s gunning for President Obama.

I concluded:

That is why progressives need to defend Obama from these attacks by the extremists. We cannot and will not allow the reactionaries and fascists to reverse a presidential election.   At this point, it is we, the progressives, who now stand for Constitutional government;  it is we who must stand for the election of 2008, and need to guard this “victory”.

Despite his faults, his weaknesses, Obama needs to be defended and shown that we – the progressives – are his allies. It is crucial when facing fascism that those who oppose it collude and coalesce with others who stand to lose under this reaction, to build coalitions and networks.  …

One year after his election, it is not for us to abandon the first African-American President.  It will not be us – the progressives of this country – to kick Obama under the bus, just as the far-right reaches a new zenith in their abilities to mobilize against him.  …

His historic election is way too close to be forgotten by us.  The hope he has given us is way too fresh to be denied. It is not time for progressives to hide from the very real threat that a fascist American movement makes.  Now is the time to ensure that Obama survives and sees our numbers surrounding him.  …

Why is this important for Ocean Beach?

Despite our small community’s relative isolation and quaintness, we are part of the larger city, the larger country. What is going down across this nation affects us here – at the end of Highway 8.  And OBceans have known this and have dealt with national issues over the past decades.

In fact, for the last half century, Ocean Beach has been in the forefront of most social and political issues confronting the country.  It has been an island of liberalism in a San Diego sea of conservatism. It has been a beachhead of progressive ideas and practices.  It is a community tolerant of different lifestyles, sophisticated culturally, with a tradition of housing rebels with causes.

If anything, OB has provided – at least since the Sixties – cultural space for alternative lifestyles that went against the grain of the establishment, of the “straight” world; lifestyles that were able to hold off over-zealous urban development, that provided an incubator for ecological awareness, and that demonstrated to the rest of the County a remarkable awareness of the changes that the general society was going through.

Bottom line, OB became a village at the same time that much of Southern California developed into a myriad puzzle of suburban sprawl, crisscrossed by freeways, constrained by an automobile-centered way of life, and a deeply-set middle-class alienation.


Longbranch Riot 02 sm-obtemple

Long Branch Avenue, police action, Labor Day 1968.


There were a number of conditions that allowed OB to become the way it is.  A huge youth population – whether college students, surfers, service workers, or navy personnel – coupled with a wide working class, renter-dominated economic base, were some of the more important conditions that paved the way for the village we now have.

Perhaps it was because of the staunch conservatism that ranged supreme since World War II in San Diego, there had to be an anti-pole, and our beach neighborhood took the job. But on every cultural and social level – art, music, social nuances that found expression here, and on political levels from urban planning to environmentalism to a disdain for military empire, this island, this beachhead – or whatever analogy you want to use – became the antithesis to a white-dominated reaction that has held this part of the country since the Fifties.



OB Spaceman.


Art – Since a half century ago, OB became home to noted artists and free expressionists.  Think of the OB Spaceman.  He wasn’t alone when he developed his particular traits of blacklight paintings.  There were other artists around – not as unconventional perhaps, but they’ve been here. OB also has held a tradition of public murals – look at all the murals painted on businesses around town, look at the murals painted by kids during our Street Fairs then mounted on visible walls.  Think of the Peace Sign on top of Peace Rock.  And significantly, think of the OB roots of the Comic-Con co-founders – Shel Dorf and Ken Krueger – both of whom just passed away this month. This community nurtures an artistic creativity and tolerance for the free expression of different lifestyles.



Cody Stone, tube at the beach, summer, 2009. Photo by Jeff Stone.


Alternative LifestylesSurfer Sub-Culture – Obviously OB as a beach town in Southern California was right there when the surfer sub-culture burst upon the scene in the early and mid-Sixties.  Surfers had long, bleached hair, were untidy and unruly, didn’t accept authority – and they usually went their own way – to the waves – and didn’t exactly go along with the program. OB was ripe for the surfers and the community ripened with them (not to mention we have damn good waves at the beach and at Sunset Cliffs).

Gays and Lesbians – Again, since the Fifties at least – OB has harbored and tolerated gay lifestyles.  Newport Avenue used to (perhaps it still does) have a network of gay businessmen,  prominent members of the community, still in closets until the Seventies perhaps, but it was there; we had one of the few gay bathhouses at the beach – on Santa Monica.  Support for gay and lesbian lifestyles expanded during the Seventies – the newspaper with this blog’s name led the way for an acceptance of those sexual orientations.  This still exists and was demonstrated at the polls during the most recent election that had Prop 8 on the ballot – the measure outlawing gay marriage.  OB residents voted 73% against the discriminatory statute.

The Hippies –  Everyone by now knows this analogy, that by the late Sixties, OB had become the Haight-Ashbury of San Diego – named after the San Francisco birthplace of hippies.  Due to the youth base of the community, the rebelliousness of the hippie sub-culture took root here unlike any other neighborhood in San Diego, and unlike any other neighborhood in all of Southern California.  Along with it, came its music, its drugs of choice, its costumes and slang.  The counter-culture took root here and has maintained itself ever since.

Other “abnormal” lifestyles were also tolerated – like bohemians, bikers, hard-core druggies, Klan-types, skinheads, intellectuals, cartoonists, computer-nerds, the list goes on.



Local Obcean John Trafolla on Newport Avenue.


Music – OB has had a rich tradition of counter-culture music, from the rock and roll of the Sixties and Seventies, to the punk rock of the Eighties and Nineties, to the pervasive underground music scene today in OB.  In the heyday of the hippies, local rock groups would play in backyards and in parks.  Today, Newport Avenue resonates with competing musical venues – and the scene is still growing.  Just this past summer, for the first time, the local merchants association sponsored a CD of music by Ocean Beach bands. OB’s musical underground is about to break out.

Along with the hippies, came an appreciation for healthier lifestyles and ways of living.  Organic food, vegetarianism,  non-synthetic clothing, the calming some achieved from “Eastern” religions and philosophies, a critique of Western medicine, finding “balance” in de-stressed living,  – were all part of this toleration for the unusual that our community developed. What later became People’s Food Co-op saw its birth during the early Seventies, as people clamored for better, healthier and cheaper basic foods.

A common thread throughout all – or most – of these cultural attributes of Ocean Beach was a genuine, grass-roots anti-authoritarianism and anarchistic libertarianism – a rejection of the mainstream, of establishment authority and values.  This then, in turn, found expression in the political issues that OB embraced.



Voltaire Park - before the bulldozers.


Ecology / environmentalism – Since Earth Day 1970 and the very-real battles that the youth of OB fought with the authorities – over the jetty in July 1970, over Collier Park in 1971, this seaside community has had a strong affiliation with the greening of America, of eco-friendly lifestyles and a respect for the earth.  Politically, this led to such groups as the OB Ecology Action Committee, the OB Preservation League, the Save OB Coalition, and more recently the OB Grassroots Organization (OBGO).  From stopping the destructive jetty, to saving land for parks instead of for apartments, to pressuring the City to build more parks – like Dusty Rhodes and Dog Beach, to forming and developing a community garden on wasted space at the corner of Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs, OBceans have been at the forefront of the new environmental awareness that has swept the globe.

Democratic Urban Planning – Parallel to the new environmental awareness and its political expressions, Ocean Beach took the front seat in creating a democratically-elected planning process and structures.  The OB Planning Board, the result of years of lobbying the city and of different groups working together, stands today as a first – not only in San Diego’s history – but in the history of the state of California.  Its forerunners, the OB Planning Organization, the Community Planning Group – both formed in the early and mid-Seventies – had worked with the Town Council and the Merchants Association to create this grandparent of all planning boards.


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OB Planning Board meeting, August 2009.


Underneath the impetus to form the democratic process in urban planning was an anti-development sentiment, a sentiment against over-scale construction projects, apartments and condos that dwarfed the rest of the community, that closed off corridors to the ocean, to the cliffs and to the eye.  Back in the Seventies, OB was faced with a development crisis – these were the days before the 30 foot height limit, before the Coastal Commission, before construction limitations.  The crisis was manifested in what was called the Precise Plan for Ocean Beach, an urban design drawn up by financial and professional elites, hungry for control of the beach and the seacoast. Ultimately thwarted by the citizens and small businesses of OB, the crisis was resolved in favor of the village.



Image from the original OB Precise Plan.


The Rise of Grass-roots Activism -The year 1970 witnessed the real birth of OB’s grass-roots activism – with the community standing up to the jetty that was proposed by the City and the Army Corps of Engineers.  Other issues and campaigns followed.  They included efforts to limit large developments on the cliffs, to save parkland as noted, to develop child care institutions where none existed, to counter excessive police conduct with the Town Council Police Review Committee and the Human Rights Committee, to form alternatives in such areas as schooling, media, heath care, community-based agencies, in community centers.

The victories of the early and mid-Seventies were later reflected in such movements as the fight against the Strand Theater being turned into a porno movie house in the Eighties, by the fight against a board walk across OB’s beachfront in the Nineties, and by the verbal fisticuffs of the wars against Mission Bay hotels, SeaWorld, a toxic dump site, and Starbucks during the Millennium.  This was also seen in 2003 after the shooting of a homeless man by police, as 500 protesters shouted slogans against police brutality.

More than any other single manifestation, the rise of OB’s grass-roots and street level activism signaled to the establishment and the community itself that this neighborhood stood up on its own.  And this has reverberated across the county.  Whether one agreed or not, many throughout this corner of the Southwest had heard about the ‘boycott Starbucks’ efforts in the early part of this decade.  And just one year ago, even the mayor of this city had to acknowledge the activism that saved the Ocean Beach Library.



Anti-Vietnam war protest down at the beach, March 1971.


Opposition to War – It is almost redundant to recount how OB stood against the Vietnam War.  Anti-war activists helped fuel the early community movement in the Seventies, as the youthful crowds that filled the beach shacks and apartments across the village echoed the attitudes of the activists in opposing the American military adventures in Asia. The famous Collier Park Riot of March 1971 began as an anti-war demonstration.  A couple years later, the then-Bank of America was targeted by protesters for being a sponsor of the blood-letting in Vietnam.



OBGO sponsored anti-Iraq war protest at foot of Newport.


Fast-forward to the early years of this decade, as President Bush geared up for the invasion of Iraq, numerous demonstrations against the coming conflagration were held in OB.  The activists of OBGO continued their opposition after the US occupied that country and gave a community base to the new anti-war movement.

Liberal Candidates and Initiatives – Reflecting the grass-roots activism, OB voters have always voted for the more liberal or progressive candidate or ballot initiative.  Back in the late Eighties, a local candidate for City Council ran on a platform that was anti-nuke, anti-development and pro- civilian review of police.  He won a plurality in this community – while losing the overall election – beating more traditional candidates.  And as noted earlier, 73% of Ocean Beach voters were against Prop 8, the homophobic statute.


Alternative Media – The new ecological, anti-war, and counter-cultural awareness that developed in OB from the late Sixties on also – and significantly – found expression in alternative media forms and press.  The Liberator was the forerunner to the OB People’s Rag – our name sake – and became the community’s first underground newspaper.  The Rag itself  lasted a long five years, with publication runs of 5,000 to 10,000 copies every 2 weeks.  And there were other lesser but still worthy attempts at media – The OBcian published by the OB Preservation League, the early Beacon had shades of being an alternate source of community news, The Whole Damn Pie Shop – published in OB but not necessarily a neighborhood rag. And today, we have numerous OB-based individual and group blogs – and of course – this website that you are reading.

This recounting of OB’s political and social awareness is meant to demonstrate that despite its laid-back and easy-going reputation, OB has been at the forefront of many of the issues that have confronted this nation over the last half century.  Whether it’s music, culture or politics, this “outpost of sanity”, this “People’s Republic of OB” has stood the test of time in being a counter to the alienating and commercial pressures forced on Americans in general.

We all know the sigh of relief as we approach the end of I-8 driving home to our coastal seclusion.  This is one place where we know intrinsically that community is important. It takes a village to be human and we’ve made such a place here.  Our sense of sharing with our neighbors, our outfront tolerance and progressive values are what makes this place worth living in. We see our values in the various neighborhood groups and treasures, whether its the Planning Board, the OB Historical Society, People’s Food, the Farmers Market, our library, our elementary school, our holiday parades, our surfing spots, in the liberal businesses that line the main streets, in the music scene that is exploding …


Yet, there is an uneasiness simmering across our country that we cannot ignore.  There are dark and potentially violent forces gathering on the horizon, who want to take this country – and our village – back to another time, a time when Negroes, Mexicans, young people and women knew their place, a time when one didn’t question authority – a time that would never elect an African-American as president.

Those of us who call ourselves OBceans and who say OB is a state of mind need to carry on the traditions that OB has experienced over these past decades, the traditions of tolerance and dissent and of questioning authority. We are politically and culturally sophisticated, we are community-aware, and we have become a model for other communities and neighborhoods.  But all this is threatened by the ugly head of something we don’t even want to think about – the rise of an American fascism.  There are things happening in our nation that are simply unacceptable, and we as a community need to stand with other communities who resist the reaction of the extremists of the right.

JFK treason poster

Many of us long in tooth and gray in hair remember the days so long ago when another president was threatened.  As he rode into Dealy Plaza in Dallas on November 23rd, wanted posters and signs calling John Kennedy “traitor” adorned telephone poles around that city.

That cannot happen again. That cannot happen to the current President, the man whom many of us here in OB voted for.  The man who is attempting to right the wrongs of the most recent past.  Our village must stand with him. It turns out that it does take a village to save a president.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

doug porter November 24, 2009 at 7:33 am

thank you for undertaking this series. this kind of thought and reflection is sorely lacking in our society full of sound bites and twitterisms.


Nate November 24, 2009 at 8:45 am

Great article, Frank! There are plenty of Newbies (myself included) who arrive in OB, thinking they’ve ‘discovered’ paradise’ without realizing all the hard-work that goes into preserving the undeniable diversity that makes Ocean Beach such a special place.

This stuff oughtta be ‘required reading’ for tenants, like me, before we’re allowed to sign a lease!


Shawn Conrad November 24, 2009 at 9:17 am

At the end of the day I think Frank loves OB more than anyone I have ever met. Good job!


lane tobias November 24, 2009 at 9:47 am

Doug is right – this kind of reflection is lacking in our everyday. Thank you for putting so much thought and time into this series Frank.


annagrace November 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Frank- thanks for showing how all politics are local. The over arching issues of our time are played out throughout all of our communities. OB has taken on those issues and changed the course of history in the way that we truly have the power to change history. Frank- you are OB. Hats off to all of the committed visionaries out there.


Dave Sparling November 24, 2009 at 9:39 pm

Great read Frank.


Frank Gormlie November 24, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Thanks all for your support and gratitude. I had notes and finally when I sat down, it all flowed … for hours.

A couple of things – I know I verge on being “pollyana-ish” about OB, and didn’t really touch on the negative aspects of the neighborhood, but I was trying to be polemical.

There certainly is the dark side of OB – when I was in high school at PLHS – a couple of guys on the football team with me used to boast of going down to OB to “roll queers.”… Oh, I knew at least 2 people who died of drug overdoses back in the fab Seventies. So, OB’s history is not all positive.

I am in that b&w photo of Labor Day ’68 “police action” – an event I totally forget that I was at until we were loaned a series of old photos from that day, and I discovered myself in a couple of the pics. I’m way in the far right, on a porch, almost cut off.

And, I was that “local candidate” who campaigned for city council in the late 80s. I did win a plurality in the primary in OB precincts, beating out both Ron Roberts and Byron Wear.


Debbie November 25, 2009 at 7:57 am

Great, great read. I love OB. Thanks Frank for all you do.


Robert Burns November 25, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Frank, this should be read by everyone who lives in, or loves, OB. Excellent. Thanks!


Doug Card November 26, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Frank, a really nice piece of writing. You covered the past and the present, the local and the national, the good and the bad, the personal and the political, and the ideal and the real. I’m glad I had the chance to work with you back in the early 70s, when we created the OB Planning Board and helped provide the structure which has allowed the OB vision to continue to evolve. Keep up the good work.
I’ve a bit of video here you might enjoy, some comments I recently made on a local program concerning the social history of our own communities up here in Eugene-Springfield, Oregon, “A Tale of Two Cities” on station KEZI TV. Happy Thanksgiving, Doug Card


Judith November 29, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I’m not a local; I live in the SF Bay Area and sort of surfed in here a few weeks ago. I have to hand it to Frank for a snese of place and perspective – makes me think I wouldn;t mind hanging out with you OB folk if I have half a chance!

as for the “dark side” of your wonderful town: no place, and no movement is “100% positive” and no one sane would believe it if you claimed otherwise. redneck jerks and stupid avoidable deaths from avoid-worthy drugs and all kinds of other needless causes are everywhere.

we’re human, trying to do the best we can. thanks Frank for doing such a consistent jo where you be.


anonymous OB guy November 30, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I agree that the Democratic Party is owned and controlled by corporate interests, and they are not nearly as far left as the Green Party or Peace and Freedom Party, but that’s as far as the agreement goes. As a practical matter, third parties do not have enough votes in Congress to get any legislation passed without the support of one of the two major parties. That may change in the future, but this is now. Of the two major parties, the Democrats are the best we’ve got, and the only one that will even talk about the reforms that the left demands (i.e. healthcare). I think we need to support President Obama and the Democrats in Congress, help defend them against the attacks from the fringe right, and pressure them to follow through and do what they said. This time we can’t just blow it off as empty campaign promises, there is too much at stake now. This is a critical time in our history. Religious conservative
fascism is looming like a storm cloud on the horizon.

The Democratic Party, as flawed as it is, needs to be protected from the fascist elements that have controlled the Republican Party since Nixon and before. The Republicans are a lost cause, but I’m not ready to give up on the Democrats. We should fix what we’ve got and save all that’s good, not just throw it away and start over. Anyway, that’s where I stand on that issue.

One thing that differentiates liberals from conservatives (as a gross generalization). Conservatives agree on nearly everything. Liberals don’t agree on much of anything. Conservatives do what they’re told, liberals think for themselves. Conservatives present a solid image of total unanimity. Liberals present a fragmented image of argument and confusion. Conservatives derive strength from conformity, liberals derive strength from diversity. Just an observation, for what it’s worth.


Wireless Mike December 3, 2009 at 10:14 pm

Frank, your article has the best description of the soul of Ocean Beach I have ever read. You got the essence of the place and the spirit of the people who live here or have passed through. OB is a unique place where people can be themselves without pressure to conform to somebody else’s expectations. Independent thinking has usually prevailed here against the odds. It has been that way for as long as I can remember.

I printed out this article and showed it to some friends around OB, to help them understand our community’s heritage.


BSC December 14, 2009 at 8:19 am

“tolerated gay lifestyles” Gee, thanks. I’m so glad I’m tolerated.


Frank Gormlie December 14, 2009 at 9:05 am

BSC – the full quote was that OB “harbored and tolerated gay lifestyles” – show me another community in San Diego in the fifties through the seventies that did. It was not present tense. The original OB Rag led the way in OB for the fight to accept gay and lesbian lifestyles and this blog has covered some of the current struggles.

Please re-read it and get the historical sense of it all.


Wireless Mike December 14, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I still experience anti-gay prejudice here in OB. It might be a wisecrack from a neighbor, or someone shushing me from talking around straight people. There have even been incidents of threats and intimidation from less-than-tolerant neighbors. So the struggle isn’t finished, there is still a long way to go.


doug porter December 14, 2009 at 2:18 pm

of course there’s lots of prejudice around OB. god forbid people actually saw who was really screwing them.


Frank Gormlie December 14, 2009 at 4:44 pm

It’s always been here. I did not intend to make people think it had gone away. When I was in high school, for instance, we had football players who would go down to OB “to roll queers.” And of course, there’s always been segments of the surfer culture that was overly-macho and anti-gay.

Part of the point is that there has been an active community here in OB even though it remained in the closets at least into the 1970s.

Still, OB showed its true self by voting 73% against Prop 8 a little while ago.


BSC December 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Being “tolerated” means to endure and put up with. If that’s what you’re writing (and you did write it) then you’re homophobia is showing loud and clear. Did we “tolerate” blacks too, Frank.

Dig this, you’re straight and have always enjoyed the benefit of walking down the street with your lover. without fear of being hit in the head, screamed at, spit upon etc. When you start writing about harboring and tolerating I think you need to get your head out of the sand. Sure we had the Feminist Communications rag, and maybe Nora Nugent felt safe in O.B., but for myself and many others who remained silent about their sexuality until recent years, we didn’t get any support from O.B.’s “progressives”. And we’re still not getting it when you use words like “tolerate” in your ” progressive” rag.


not a redneck in east county December 15, 2009 at 12:41 pm

wow, bsc, i hope you’re not as bitter as you sound here. i’m sorry you’ve felt you had to hide for so long but it seems to me a bit unreasonable to expect support for something you’ve been silent about yourself.

i’ve been called tolerant for most of my life and never considered it a bad word, but depending on where you live, just being tolerant can make you a target.


annagrace December 15, 2009 at 2:11 pm

BSC- the ObRag is “The Enemy?” You gotta be kidding me. Have you looked around lately? I am a B in LGBT. And a Feminist. And a Citizen. I encourage you to give some thoughts as to who are our friends and who are our enemies. Why don’t you write a piece for the OBrag? It might be one of the only places your voice is heard.


Frank Gormlie December 15, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Bonnie – I don’t recognize your name but you sound like you were around in the 1970s.

You have taken my words out of their context. Please look up the words “tolerate” and “harbor” – they have meanings that are not put-downs or minuscule.

Tolerate: : to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction.

Harbor: a place of security and comfort.

The original OB Rag – which I was part of – was on the front lines of the struggle for gay rights in OB. There were several feminists and lesbians in the leadership of the paper at the time. Perhaps your memory is selective. The progressives gave all kinds of support to them.

I have been in support of gay rights since 1970. Where were you? I stand on my record.


Doug Card December 15, 2009 at 2:10 pm

It’s sad to see this nitpicking among us when we need to be united against the common enemies. You have been a leader in the struggle for equal rights in OB and SD since the 60s. Though you and I sometimes disagreed, you have no apologies to make for your years of activism.

The 1976 OBCPG election program which we all helped write clearly states:
“It is important that Ocean Beach include a wide range of citizens on a social, economic, and philosophical basis. In its implementation of the Precise Plan, the Community Planning Board should take actions which enhance the living possibilities for various groups and types of people including single people, couples, families with children, people of all ages, people of various income levels, people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, people with divergent life styles, etc.” [ How many people understand how radical that was for San Diego 1976?!]
I remember during the campaign, meeting with leaders of the OB gay community, and feeling a sense of unity in our common struggle for a better society. Together we won the election, and OB was saved from the wrecking ball of “Miami Beach West” and the Yuppie invasion.
In short, we were fighting for a community which valued inclusiveness and a healthy society. As our platform added, “We believe that Ocean Beach is a unique community with many positive qualities which need to be protected.”
I hope that all people of good will, gay and straight, people of color and those who are white, women and men, young and old, surfers and professionals, workers, local business people, and students, continue working together for the good of the OB community.
Thanks to you, Frank, the OB Planning Board, and all the other individuals and groups who have worked over the years for a better OB! Keep up the good work, the struggle is far from over. Though it’s rainy up here, it’s nice to remember your warm beaches.
Doug, now up in Oregon


Danny Morales December 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm


No matter how well researched, how well written with good argumentation and a fair resolution, at the end of the day some people just need a hug. In the name of Allah, the merciful and compassionate, may the blessings of our community fall like the winter snow upon you and your spirit.

Peace, out!,
Ali Katz


annagrace December 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Really???? My Momma used to say “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.” My first generation Eastern European mother who remembered the KKK lighting torches at her church and neighborhood temple? My mother who changed her name so that gabachos could understand it????

I grew up without guns in my home- my parents were truly an anomaly in my Western Pennsylvania community. When my Mother talked about ammunition, it was the metaphorical type.

Hugs? I am not inured to the power of a loving hug… I appreciate a warm, loving hug from my friends- keeps me going. But how about Justice????

No Justice- No Peace.


Frank Gormlie December 15, 2009 at 4:51 pm

No peace, no hugs. There ya go, Danny.


Wireless Mike December 15, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Just my own observations here. I have been “out” in OB since 1970. Even though there has always been prejudice (and always will be), I feel safe, welcome and at home in OB. There have been incidents of threats and intimidation, but those are not the norm. Generally, OB has included the GLBT community as a part of the greater overall community. Unlike some neighborhoods that are considered “gay neighborhoods”, GLBT people are just regular members of the OB community, and not separated because of their sexuality. Of course, there are some people who are intolerant of gays, but they are a minority in OB, and the rest of the community tends to be supportive of gay rights and inclusive of GLBT people. And I think that supportiveness is reflected here in the OB Rag.

And yes, there was a gay bathhouse called Dave’s on Santa Monica behind Safeway (now Apple Tree). I went there a few times in the 1970s.


BSC December 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm

My point is the word “tolerant”. Look it up in Webster’s Frank. You make me a bit dizzy with your contradictions. First you say (incorrectly I might add, and I say so from the experience of being lesbian having lived in Ocean Beach for nearly 40 years — and really Frank, you cannot deny my experience, because it is mine, not yours) that ” OB has harbored and tolerated gay lifestyles” (and having a men’s bathhouse hardly constitutes harboring, since most of you never knew it was even there, snuggled up without a sign behind Safeway) then you write in your comments, how P.L football players rolled queers and “segments of the surfer culture that was overly-macho and anti-gay.” Where was the harboring then? My gay brother got the shit kicked out of him so many times in this town that between that and all the other anti-gay sentiment that was spat his way, he ended up taking his life. He was not mentally ill: he was sensitive and kind and compassionate, and he could not “tolerate” the cruelty. I’m certainly NOT attributing his death to O.B., but being gay myself and having had my own ass kicked at Collier Jr. High for my biology let me know early on, keep it to yourself, you’ll get no support in this town. Sure there was the paper version of the Rag and you could always count on staff to be accepting, but the community as a whole was just as homophobic as any other beach town. Why do you think so many gay people live(d) elsewhere, including Golden Hills, North Park and Hillcrest?
I remember years back when Peoples market hung out rainbow flags on their building’s facade (the rainbow flag was a symbol for the cooperative movement long before gays adopted it) and the shit hit the fan. Many members of Peoples, primarily those living in O.B. gave the market such grief and harassment over the flags, that the market had to take them down.
That said, I never said that the rag is the “Enemy” as stated by annagrace, but i do wonder about its claim of progressiveness. That’s my opinion and I do believe that i am entitled to it.


Frank Gormlie December 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm

BSC – One last point, then I’ll shut up. OB voters voted 73% against Prop 8 – higher than most communities in the City and State. How did your community vote?


Shawn Conrad December 16, 2009 at 3:32 pm


I hate to agree with you, but I do. OB proclaims itself to be so open and liberal, but I bet they would not like me wearing a “I’m gay. I love George W Bush. I love John McCain” t-shirt.


OB Bop August 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm

Thanks for the groovy article. Wandered down from the San Francisco Bay area in the mid-1970s and wandered San Diego. Enjoyed OB and The Black was just the niftiest place to look at outtasight stuff and sniffing the smells from so many smelly thing. Good smells.

Almost four decades and multiple states later I am atop the Ozark Plateau huddled in a hovel. This was the Beverley Hillbillies’ old stomping grounds before heading off to their concrete pond in Beverly Hills, y’all.

Though isolated by distance and interceding culture the wonders of the Web assist my mind in reaching back to long ago days and relishing those memories.

Entering the wild wacky Web in 1995 I took on the screen name Obbop and used it constantly. It refers to the awesome Ob Bop song found on the 1975 edition of the KGB-FM Homegrown LP. I still have the album and a spare OB seagull sticker and for further proof of the Webs’ niftyness the song Ob Bop can be found on You Tube.

All the best to you folks out there in my home state of California and the locals of OB. And thanks for the memories of a bygone era. May the memories created for you today be good ones for your future.


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