Looking Back at 2009 – Ten Things We Did at the OB Rag

by on December 30, 2009 · 19 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Environment, Labor, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Reader Rant, San Diego


Two thousand nine was a growth year for the OB Rag blog. We added a whole bunch of new voices, posted more often about more things, and still managed to keep a good eye on what was going on in our community. Our readership grew by leaps and bounds and our unique brand of citizen journalism gained significant local and national recognition. We had our hits and flops, made a lot of new friends and a few enemies along the way.

Frank Gormlie and I have been talking back and forth over the past few days, trying to figure out how best to recap the year. We tried collectively writing about all our coverage and it quickly got unwieldy. So here’s my stab at writing about the impressions that reside in my memories of the last twelve months.

I’ve boiled these impressions down to ten topics that graced the pages of the OB Rag during 2009. I’ve limited the topics to those that came from our writers and our commenters, as opposed to issues and stories that we shared with our readership that originated from outside the Rag.

This is NOT intended to be a “Top Ten” list: these are my impressions and they are presented here in no particular order. I’ve included a short paragraph summarizing our coverage on each topic, followed by the relevant story links. We have a lot to be proud of here at the OB Rag, and the thing that I’m most proud of is the engagement we have with our readership.

oblibrarysignsThe Ocean Beach Library Saga

The City threatened to close the OB Library as 2008 was winding down in the face of massive budget deficits.  There were demonstrations, petitions, hearings and promises of civil disobedience.  And then… the Mayor heard the rumblings and, voila!, the closings went away.  Now, as another budget crises looms, there are plans in the works for deep cuts in the library’s staffing and hours.

OBfarmmarketflowersThe Farmers Market

A visit to the weekly Farmers Market in OB leads to the discovery of what some feared was a plot to end the market.  The merchant behind the campaign about the Farmers Market responded to those fears in an interview.  OB Main Street responded to many of the concerns raised about the Farmers Market.  A lot of passion emerged in our comments.  And then, later in the year, another merchant decided that he, too, was unhappy with the market.

foodstampcouponsThe Food Stamp Crisis in San Diego

Lane Tobias revealed that San Diego holds the dubious record of being last in the country for food stamp availability & tells us how to get them:

rockpaperscissorsbest‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ Abruptly Closes

The closing of a local crafts store, Rock Paper Scissors, left many vendors angry amid accusations that its owner had ripped them off.

Graffiti Wars

It all started out as a hot tip from a reader that local merchants were upset about Pepsi’s Nutrisoda tagging the sidewalks in the commercial district with so-called “guerrilla marketing”.  Nutrisoda apologized and said “drinks on us”; OB’s merchants said “thanks, but no thanks”.  And then we started talking about all the other tagging that was going on around the community.  One thing led to another and OBceans mobilized to scrub and paint the shoreline walkways. Oh, and we picked up a bunch of trash, too.


Celebrating Life

A significant part of OB life is the many celebrations that take place in our community.  The Kite Festival, the Street Fair and Chili Cook Off, the July 4th Fireworks, Oktoberfest, the Howl-O-Ween Parade, and the Christmas Parade are all events that bring out the creative, amusing and merrymaking aspects of zip code 92107.

OBstreet fair-longviewOB Street Fair

This year the Rag elected to give blanket coverage of the OB Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off: our people wrote a grand total of eighteen posts, before, after and during the event. We actually won an award from the OB Mainstreet Association for coverage of this event even though we said mostly nice things:


The OB Kite Festival celebrates its 50th year with lots of aerial doings.


OB’s 4th of July and the traditional Marshmallow Fight were their usual greatness but left a bad taste in some people’s mouth.


Then there was Oktoberfest, the Howl-O-Ween , and of course the Holiday Parade here and here.

sdtentcity1Homeless in Our Community

Homeless in OB – see here and here, and in San Diego:

Hoopers & Burners Busted, Fight Back and Win


OB is a community rich in burners, known as such because a number of them perform at the annual Burning Man festival in Nevada, as the San Diego Fire Conclave.  Dog beach, after dark, has served as a practice spot for these serious and involved burners for the past 2-3 years.  These burners and hoopers (dancers with flaming hula hoops, essentially)  practiced without incident until the SDPD decided there was a problem.

The Battle for Healthcare Reform

It ain’t over till it’s over.  This story isn’t over by any means, but when all is said and done it will go down in history as a struggle that will define this year for decades to come.  Locally there were confrontations between progressives and the so-called teabaggers that centered on town hall meeting held by our Congressional delegation.

town-hall-meet-hillcrest-8-11-09-007smThe national battle on Healthcare reform comes to San Diego:

pitadoptionBudget Cuts, Park Benches, Rest Rooms, and Fire Pits

Hizzoner the Mayor of San Diego seems bound and determined to make the citizenry pay as he shops for shiny new toys to play with.

Thank you all, and Happy New Year!

Frank Gormlie and Patty Jones contributed to the posting of this article.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Molly December 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Whew! That was a looooooooong year!


Patty Jones December 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm

You’re quick Molly! There’s no way you could have read that whole thing! But hey, you didn’t really need to, you’ve been coming ’round here the whole time!


Patty Jones December 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

There ya go, blowing our horn again!


Editordude December 30, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Here’s an idea of how our readership has expanded in 2009: in July 2008 we had 3,000 unique visitors; in July 2009 we had 23,000.


jon December 30, 2009 at 5:13 pm

23,000 unique visitors, 1 average Joe, 3 plain Jane’s and 17 conformists.


Frank Gormlie December 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Jon , is that sung to the “Twelve Days of Christmas”?


jim g December 30, 2009 at 6:03 pm

You do a great job, glad I could be a small part keep up the good work !!


Frank Gormlie December 30, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Jim Grant – your photos have been amazing and thanks for allowing us to grace our pages with them. Your contributions have broadened our appearance and their brilliance speak for themselves.


Jan Raabe December 30, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Good year ender DP. Keep up the good work. Happy 2010.


annagrace December 30, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Jim Grant- Thank you for the wonderful, memorable photographs. They are stunning and taste like more.


jon December 30, 2009 at 10:44 pm

I never knew Jim’s photos were tasty. Anna…..can you please pass whatever you’re smokin over here?


Danny Morales December 31, 2009 at 5:25 am

“May 2010 bring Peace, Love and Hippieness to all things OB RAG!”- Sum Dum


lane tobias December 31, 2009 at 8:43 am

this year really flew by. A big thank you goes out to everyone in the OB Rag community for making 2009 a year of accomplishment, twisted humor, and positive change to our community.


mr fresh December 31, 2009 at 10:01 am

especially the twisted humor part.


Dave Gilbert December 31, 2009 at 11:42 am

Wow! That’s a lot of stuff to fit into a single year, especially one that flew by as fast as it did.

Happy New Year to all in OB and OBeyond!!! ;)


doug porter December 31, 2009 at 2:24 pm

the funny thing is, that’s the really pared down summary of what went on with the OB Rag this past year… it could have easily been three times longer. frank, patty & i all got serious internet fatigue putting that piece together.


Editordude January 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

KUSI (Channel 9) will rebroadcast this morning’s interview with Frank Gormlie and Doug Porter about the adopt-a-fire- pit campaign sometime between 6 and 7 pm tonight.


Editor January 2, 2010 at 3:43 pm

The OB Rag wants to thank the news station KUSI and their staff for their out-standing coverage of the OB adopt-a-fire-pit program, and the firepit issue in general. The interview of Doug Porter and Frank Gormlie by reporter Steve Bosch was run on their live New Year’s Day program at about 8:15 a.m., and then rebroadcast again yesterday at 6, 9, 10 and 11 pm, and then again this morning (Saturday 01/02/10).


Shawn Conrad January 3, 2010 at 10:44 am

That is quite a bit. No wonder Frank did not have time for a haircut and a shave. It all makes sense now.


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