Ouch! We hit a nerve in exposing The Black’s anti-OB attitude

by on June 21, 2010 · 133 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, Popular

black protester

Greg Sullivan's brave solo protest against The Black head shop Saturday, June 19th. (Photo by Jim Grant)

Yeah, ouch! We really did touch a nerve with our posts and coverage about the anti-homeless sticker and merchandise the Black is selling in OB, and our subsequent call for a temporary boycott of The Black. Our posts and the coverage by local media have created a major story about this community.

The story went national on last Saturday, June 19th, what with the 10News story and the front-page article on the Union-Tribune / signonsandiego . The Drudge Report picked it up, the Associated Press picked it up, – I even had a friend from Petaluma in northern California tell me he read about it in his local newspaper.  (Here is the most recent coverage by 10News from today.)

One of my favorite comments to our posts about all of this was by a guy who said,

“The story has gone national. I just talked to my mother who lives in a small town in Missouri.  And she asked me if I was going to boycott the Black.”

With all the discussion – with the hundreds of comments left on 10News and the U-T and our blog here – the talk has gotten nasty at times, I have been personally attacked as if I created the homeless, and many have just simply shown their vitriolic side, blaming homeless people for all their ills, discounting the worst economy since the Great Depression and unemployment rates as high as 20% – the topic of the talk has progressed.

Through it all, the discussion about the anti-homeless graphic, the semantic games (“bum is not homeless”) or claims of it just being a spoof (‘it’s just a sticker’, “we just meant it as a spoof”), through all of this, we’re finally talking about the homeless and homelessness.  And we need this discussion.  Ocean Beach needs this discussion. San Diego needs this discussion. This country needs this discussion.

And we don’t discount the complaints by merchants. Not at all. Many of them are valid. The homeless also have complaints, and many of them are valid.  We do have a problem, Huston, but selling stickers and merchandise with messages of hate are not the solution.  And the problem is not just here in OB, of course, but is a city-wide problem, a regional and national problem

Homelessness is a social issue and we have a social responsibility to deal with it.  We should be aiming our proverbial guns at City Hall about all of this, and not toward each other, and not at the homeless.

One of our concerns is that the hatred, the vitriol against the homeless, is being legitimized. Being down on the homeless while not being down on homelessness, is now okay.  We fear this could lead to violence against the homeless. In fact, one homeless commenter to our blog talked about a rise in assaults against homeless here in OB.

Is the sticker something we are proud about enough to show our children? Is this how we handle problems like adults? Does the anti-homeless sticker represent a grown-up way of doing things? Will our children now feel it’s okay to speak smack against homeless people? Or despise them?

The Black Is Being Anti-Ocean Beach

Yet with the sales of the sticker, the T-shirts and now the hats, The Black is making a tidy buck off this anti-homeless bias that has been stirred up.  Earlier this week, I asked Ken Anderson, a co-manager at The Black, if he would consider taking the stickers off the shelves if we presented him with a Petition asking The Black to do that.  He said he would consider it.

It was only a couple of days later, he started selling the T-shirts and the hats with the same image. This was an ‘in-your-face’ escalation by The Black, pouring gas on a simmering BBQ grill.

What The Black is doing is not Ocean Beach. This sticker and graphic are not what Ocean Beach is about. They have gone beyond the pale in terms what this community represents and what its history has been.

It is not OB to tell people not to feed the homeless. It is not OB to punish an entire group for the rudeness and aggression of a few.  The Black – in going to the dark side – has forgotten what it means to be in this community culturally. The store is showing us its true side – all for the almighty buck. “Want some hate? $2.50 please.”  This is not what we are about.

OB stands for tolerance. OB stands for peace and love, OB stands for getting along with your brothers and sisters, with your neighbors. OB is an attitude of ‘live and let live.’ Look at all the peace signs around, in windows, as car decals, on people’s shirts. Look at the community spirit, the camaraderie.

OB has had this history of tolerance, of a tolerance for different lifestyles for decades. Over the years, OB has had college students, surfers, hippies, weird artists, musicians, bikers, barefoot beach lovers, uppity women, professionals, former professionals, ex-punk rock groups, rednecks, socialists, retired WWII vets, sailors, gays and lesbians, straight middle class families, druggies, judges, doctors, unemployed, the homeless.

We tolerate each other – that’s our creed.

OB has also always had its corners of intolerance. We’ve had our Klan members with white sheets marching down Newport – all 2 of them, we’ve had our violent bikers, our posse comitas members, our racist skinheads. But overall, the community as a whole, has always been tolerant.

This bias that has erupted over the last while is against the traditions of Ocean Beach.  This is not what this community is about. The Black is doing the community a disservice and is smudging the good name and reputation of OB. Shame on The Black and shame on them for being so greedy.

Boycott The Black – Sign the Petition – Picket on Wed June 23

This blog is now renewing our call for a temporary boycott of The Black – until they take down all the merchandise with the messages of hate.

Here is the Petition to have the merchandise removed.  Download it, have friends and neighbors sign it, and either mail back to us at PO Box 7012, OB 92167, or scan it and email it to us at obragblog@gmail.com or leave a message in our email and we’ll pick it up.

We are upping the ante also.  We will be having a Picket of The Black on Wednesday, June 23rd at 4pm. We will be asking people to sign the Petition and not buy anything in The Black.

The Black Should Donate Profits from Hate Merchandise to Churches Who Feed Them

We have heard that The Black has sold a 1000 of the stickers.  At $2.50 each, that’s $2500.  We hereby call on The Black to donate that – or part of it – to the churches in OB that feed the homeless.  There’s an Ecumenical Council  – a council of all the active churches in OB – and they take turns feeding the homeless.  One church allows Lupe to feed hungry people each Monday. Other churches have allowed homeless to sleep in their courtyards or use their restrooms.

So, come on owners and managers of The Black.  Give some of that money you’ve just made at our expense back to the community, to the churches who feed YOUR BUMS, back to the homeless and the bums you so delicately disparage. Give back to OB since you’ve just besmirched our community to the nation.

Frank Gormlie June 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Watch my interview and “confrontation” with Black owner on 10News tonight at 5 and 530 and whenever they show the news this eve. It was not a confrontation as the news makes it. We were both civil and shook hands at the end. I asked Curt if he would consider taking down the merchandise in dispute if we gave him a petition with hundreds of names, and he said he would.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Check out the comments from the people of San Francisco.

Not many who agree with you, Frank.

justmy2cents June 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I think if you take all the buisness owners in Ocean Beach put them in a room and have them anonymously fill out a form and give their opinion on the sticker ….Most will say they agree with the message…..They may not 100% agree with the terms or wording but they would agree with the take home message.

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Ignorance likes to display more ignorance.

Tracy June 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm

You’re absolutely right! I know for a fact that most of us are for those stickers. There is nothing worse than before opening your storefront every morning having to clean up the feces and wash it down from all the urine.

Every one of my neighbors agrees with it but we won’t openly admit it because then we’re asking for trouble. We’re not able to protect our business 24/7 so most of us are worried about bricks through our windows, etc if we did openly support it.

justmy2cents June 22, 2010 at 7:35 pm

So anyone who agrees with the take home message is ignorant?
Ouch !!

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 7:54 pm

sorry, I think there’s been a misunderstanding … I wasn’t responding to something you wrote. I was replying to the other comment and it seems it looked like I was replying to yours …..

mr fresh June 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

“Is the sticker something we are proud about enough to show our children?”
Obviously some parents felt proud enough about hating the homeless to allow their children to pelt a lone protester with water balloons out in front of the Black on Saturday. A picture of one of these misguided children taking aim appeared on Channel 10 news today. I guess it’s too much to hope that any of Mayor Saunder’s minions would be upset with this.
So I’ll be at the Black on Wednesday. And as many more days as needed.

Rich June 21, 2010 at 3:49 pm

You go, Mr. Fresh! That’s right – bring even MORE attention to The Black – they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank!

P.S. – see my post one minute after yours…

mr fresh June 21, 2010 at 5:12 pm

so you’re proud of your bigotry?

Rich June 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

And…there we go – don’t have a rational response to an argument so you resort to name-calling. Good one! In logic, this is called a classic “ad hominem” attack – attack the person rather than the issue at hand. Come on people – if you’re going to jump into a debate like this, at least show that you have some mental moxy!

Rich June 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Ooops – I apologize for the duplicate post – computer froze on my post…

Rich June 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm

You all WISH you exposed some “anti-OB attitude”. What you and other media have really done is bring to the forefront what the large majority of people are really thinking and feeling, but are too bullied by you and other “politically correct” sources to say out loud. WE’RE TIRED of being sponged off by people taking advantage of those of us who actually work for a living. I went down to The Black this weekend just to spend some money there and support them. An employee there (the owner?) commented to me that the protesters bring in even MORE BUSINESS because people come over to see what the fuss is about. I bough 2 stickers and a $35 Zippo…even though I really didn’t need one, but hey – that’s $35 of my hard-earned money that’s NOT going to go to some drug addict, drunk, or spoiled “entitled” young person who doesn’t want a job so I’m ecstatic about it.

Ironically enough, as I then sat down at a local ice cream shop outside, my wife and I struck up a conversation with two grandparent who were there with their grandkids eating ice cream. They were tourists from Minnesota. Some strung-out, scantily clad woman (appeared to be in her 20s) came up onto the patio, right in the middle of their grand kids and asked for money. You could see the uncomfortable expression on the grandmother’s face mixed with concern over who this strange woman was so close to her grand children. They politely told this woman they didn’t have any cash on them and she finally went away. They were obviously uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say. I broke the ice by showing them one of the stickers I just bought. Immediately, the grandfather chuckled as he passed it to his wife and they were put at ease, knowing that it was ok to feel uncomfortable with this kind of intrusion into their privacy – they’re not the only ones!

And that’s the point: OBRAG – you’re going to loose this fight and only serve to bring more publicity to The Black (I really hope so!). Oh, and by the way Mr. Gormlie – don’t get too excited about your conversation with 10News – they must not think you’re all that important as they spelled your name wrong in their article!

JMW June 22, 2010 at 11:49 am

Rich, or should I address you as Mr. Logic? The problem with your post is that you use ad hominem to attack ad hominem. What’s that called in logic? Bullshit?
Additionally, where does “money that’s NOT going to go to some drug addict, drunk, or spoiled ‘entitled’ young person who doesn’t want a job” fall in terms of generalizations? You seem to have fixated on a segment of those who do not have doors of their own and generalized to all. That’s not good logic either.
I have just three other comments about your post: 1) “two grandparent?” Did you mean to say “grandparents?” and 2) “you’re going to loose this fight?” Do you mean let it go or do you mean fail to win? If you’re going to “jump in,” better check for typos. There but for fortune, pal. Don’t get laid off.

Rich June 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm


Hmmm…guess you really knocked out my argument by pointing out my typos… Wow…I’m humbled. Guess I’ll completely change my mind now…NOT! Oh, and by the way – in pointing out my typos, you also are going ad hominem on me. So, you used and ad hominem to point out that I was using an ad hominem while pointing out others were using an ad hominem argument. So, why don’t we just stick to the issues at hand…

However, JMW with what small part of your post you actually did use to address the issue you make a good point (i.e. – “generalizations”). There is a need for clarification here. I am not against homeless people per se. In fact, I have contributed – and will continue to contribute – to the genuinely homeless and organizations that help them. I believe that what myself, and most others are tired of are those who choose to be homeless and sponge off of others as a life style – whether that be because they are too lazy to work or because they choose alcohol or drugs over being a productive member of society.

Greg Sullivan June 21, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Wouldn’t it be something if they took that ill gotten tainted cash that they made and gave it all to local groups and organizations that feed the homeless. Ouch is right!

Shane Finneran June 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Hats off to you for your protest, Greg! I admire your bravery. Sometimes it ain’t easy to fight for what’s right, and it definitely takes cojones to do fight the good fight on your own.

By the way, I saw pictures of your protest, and thought it was interesting to see one of a kid holding a sign that said “this guy isn’t from OB.” I think it’s a long-shot that the kid created the sign himself. Instead, I’d wager that some spineless adult made the sign and recruited the young fellow to hold it. Which speaks volumes.

Greg Sullivan June 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Hey Shane,

Thanks for the kind words. Whoever made the sign–it was in haste. It was just a piece of cardboard torn off a box.

So while we were standing out there–the kid and me–heh, I’m telling him how I myself–as a homeless guy mind you–would be a bit embarrassed to be holding such a sorry example for a sign.

Anyway, I try to find the humor in some of this shit.

Catherine June 21, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Talk about your punk street kids. Does anyone know the kid throwing water balloons? If that’s not assault, I don’t know what is. I passed this protestor on Saturday. I’m on the fence about this boycott. I think the businesses have a valid concern, although I don’t approve of this sticker. And I wonder whether a boycott just escalates the tension. But I gave this protestor a thumbs up because I have much respect for his willingness to stand up there on Newport and make a stand. I didn’t realize the kid next to him was a counterprotestor at the time. And when I walked by, there wasn’t anyone heckling him, but there were several silly girls taking photos next to him. I imagined they were tourists capturing a “real live California protest,” but who knows.

Meanwhile, I noticed one of my favorite local stores displaying this sticker in their window and was surprised. Again, I think the willingness of a number businesses to display this sticker is a signal they have a real issue that we should acknowledge and try to address.

Frank Gormlie June 21, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Okay, Catherine, but what about all the businesses that are NOT displaying it? I had a couple of business owners tell me privately that they don’t like the sticker but because Newport Ave is such a small world, they don’t want to come out publicly against it.

Greg Sullivan June 21, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Hello Catherine,

“…there were several silly girls taking photos next to him. I imagined they were tourists capturing a “real live California protest,” but who knows. ”

Yeah, I’m a little puzzled at that myself. Reactions to me pretty much ran the gambit–but the pictures–hmm, we live in interesting times.

Anyway, you raise an interesting and important point in your comment:

“I think the businesses have a valid concern, although I don’t approve of this sticker.”

I think what’s going on now in OB is pretty much what has happened previously in other communities–and in the rest of the country at large. That is, the values and concerns of business–profits, competition, market share etc., have eclipsed the values and concerns of the civic community: freedom, justice and equality etc.

So the question people nowadays seem to be struggling with is–which set of values and concerns takes precedence?

Catherine June 21, 2010 at 9:03 pm

THese are certainly both valid points too. I’m sure there are mixed views among the business community. Would be nice to get more of an understanding of how businesses feel and what precisely they’re dealing with and the real scale of it. I’ve been a bit bothered by references in the media to “reports of violence or threats of violence” when people don’t give money to the homeless street kids. I walk around OB pretty much every day and I encounter homeless young and old everyday. I’ve been asked for money. I’ve never once been threatened. But I don’t own or run a store on Newport and I’m not there all day. So I’d be interested in some reporting on what’s the real scale of the problem. I would guess these are very isolated incidents.

Greg, I get what you mean and I agree — certainly the rights of all people to be treated as human beings trumps business, profits, jobs, etc. But people who are trying to run a business are not obligated by any rights bestowed on their fellow human beings to tolerate said human beings loitering outside their store intoxicated, high or bothering customers. To the extent that that’s happening, I think store owners complaints are totally legitimate even if they are being expressed in a way that is just inflaming the situation and not doing anything to help anyway.

Greg Sullivan June 22, 2010 at 10:35 am

Hi Catherine, I would agree that “…human beings loitering outside their store intoxicated, high or bothering customers”–are certainly all valid business concerns.

The problem is, as you relatedly mention, how those business concerns–when taken up by those in the businesss community, as the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association has clearly done–are then used to influence and manipulate the rest of the community to create an environment where the more vulnerable among us are treated as less than equal.

I mean, that’s the upshot of all this–a community that, from all accounts, was for years pretty accepting of others as equal human beings has now become, to some extent, one that ranks its members according to job and employment status and where ones ability to consume in the public market place determines human worth, dignity and status.

Shawn Conrad June 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm

First, I am openly and honestly impressed by your first big story. Congratulations!

How much of your ad revenue goes to the churches? I am mostly curious if you have even been known to be hypocritical? Make sure no one ever sees this so your “news” remains unbiased!

Thank you!

Shawn Conrad June 21, 2010 at 4:26 pm


I did not bother correcting spelling or grammer as my messages usually await moderation eternally. I think I am back.

I’ll be good.

Kenloc June 21, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Are you boycotting all of the businesses that display the sticker? They obviously have the same feelings about the houseless that the black management has. Is it the message of the sticker you are protesting or the fact that the black is making money from it. If it is the sentiment then you should also boycott south coast and every other business in town that has it on their window.Why just the black? If they did not sell the sticker but had it on their front door would you still boycott them?What if they didn’t sell the shirts but all of the employees wore them? Would you still picket? If you would then you need to start organizing alot more boycotts.

mr fresh June 21, 2010 at 5:27 pm

perhaps other businesses will see the light, particularly if the protests become ongoing and spill over into the OB’s Street Fair this weekend. Getting that “Bigot” branding message out there might not look so smart.

Kenloc June 21, 2010 at 5:35 pm

the sad thing is mr fresh,I bet the stickers and shirts are gonna be one of the best selling items the day of the street fair.controversy sells

mr fresh June 21, 2010 at 6:29 pm

the acrid whiff of intolerance will hang in the air long after the few dollars profited on the backs of the homeless have been spent.

Rich June 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm

There you go – keep branding people as “bigots” and that will really show them! How about a different approach – why not engage people on an intellectual and issue-focused level instead of acting like children with all the name calling?

Frank Gormlie June 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Uh, Rich, didn’t you just call us names? Check out the discussions at the end of the various posts on this issue – there’s plenty there.

Rich June 21, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Did I? I’m not finding it, but if I did, I apologize. I think you’ve got a great forum going here, Frank and I think we all (myself included) will benefit if we keep from the name calling and stick with the issue at hand.

Frank Gormlie June 21, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Okay, just a little shell-shocked from all the bombardment lately. I’m being a bit over sensitive maybe.

Space-Pedestiran June 21, 2010 at 5:59 pm

So how “live and let live” tolerant would you have been when Hitler’s Nazi’s came knocking on doors? You people are missing the big picture. Malcolm X had it right when he decided that African American’s need not play victim to whites and take their handouts. He said people should work for what they have and earn the respect they expect from others. For little whitebread hobos with mom and dad’s cellphone and credit card to be trolling OC for cash is laughable. One of these morons was actually asking for tampons out on the sidewalk the other day.

Frank Gormlie June 21, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Being a little spacey there, Space Pedestrian – bigotry was a mainstay of Hitler’s Nazis. Excuse me, but you have your argument backward.

Space-Pedestiran June 22, 2010 at 12:19 pm

My point is that one should only ‘tolerate’ so much. I would not tolerate a Nazi, Jihadist, or anyone else espousing hate; and those opposed to validating the behavior of the ‘homeless’ here do not do it out of hate.

Also, the notion that the stickers are ‘hate’ merchandise is erroneous. It is not hate of bears to refrain from feeding them. It is not hate of homeless that would lead to such a stance regarding them either. The point in both matters is that able bodied bears and migrant teenagers alike should seek out sustenance on their own merits, which is in turn good for them.

Rich June 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

When it comes down to it, those who are truly the MOST intolerant are those who say we should tolerate all views. Those who preach tolerance are insanely intolerant of those who choose to have personal convictions (i.e. – those who believe that one religion is correct, etc.). Just sayin’…

Frank Gormlie June 23, 2010 at 7:45 am

And it’s a good thing we’re not a Christian nation, otherwise those bums would be fed.

Goatskull June 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm

“our racist skinheads”. Off topic but keep in mid that “skinhead” does not by itself mean racist. In the beginning, skinheads were very anti racist, listened to ska, reggae, and later punk rock. Skinheads were white, black, middle eastern, all colors. The racist thing came later. Most skinhead you’ll see are non racist(at least the ones I come across.

Frank Gormlie June 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm

That’s why I placed “racist” before the word to qualify it, my editor friend.

Goatskull June 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Got it. Muchos thank you.

Chris Moore June 22, 2010 at 10:16 am

Proper term for the Nazi skins is “bonehead”, that’s what the normal (non-Nazi) skins call them.

justmy2cents June 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Why not stay on subect? People in Ocean Beach ARE frustrated with the ” I choose to be homeless ” crowd. The others well we can debate that at a later time. For now its the kids who think they are so cool drinking, smoking , selling dope and bumming cash at the wall and up and down Newport……It a fact get with it.
I find it VERY curious that the REST OF SAN DIEGO homeless advocates are invisible in this whole discussion….hummmm wonder why ?
Maybe somebody should go interview Father Joe or the Alpha Project….

Rich June 21, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Nicely put, justmy2cents!

Shane Finneran June 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I understand that some people are intolerant of other people who engage in behaviors that some of us find offensive. But the sticker doesn’t comment on this…instead, the sticker criticizes all people who are homeless, doing so in a de-humanizing way. And de-humanizing is an early step down a frightening road. OB is better than this.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 1:56 pm

How is it de-humanizing?

mr fresh June 22, 2010 at 2:11 pm

it portrays “bums” in the same context that yellowstone uses to portray bears.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Do you think the people of Yellowstone hate bears? Are they bigots because they don’t want you to feed them?

Why do they have signs that say “Don’t feed the Bears”? Could there be a reason?

The sticker doesn’t portray bums as bears, it says not to feed them. For good reason.

Shane Finneran June 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Ian, are you trying to say the “bums” stickers are written with the same concern for their subjects as their “bears” equivalents? That seems pretty ridiculous.

Shane Finneran June 22, 2010 at 3:09 pm

By the way, with your equation of bears with bums, you answered your own question about how the sticker/t-shirt is de-humanizing.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

So what you are saying is that any comparison of humans to animals is de-humanizing? That would mean that a great deal of scientific research, and literature is de-humanizing. Shakespeare is de-humanizing. Pretty ridiculous.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm

No, that is not what I am saying. The main reason not to feed bears is because they learn about the easy food, and come back for more in droves.

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Ian, you are not making much sense. You are comparing humans to bears for one, and that’s enough.

RB June 23, 2010 at 8:52 am

The sticker does not comment on the homeless.
Bum and homeless are not synonymous. The leaders of the protest are ignoring this important point.

Frank Gormlie June 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Ah yes, but in our wisdom, we have everyone discussing the homeless and homelessness. Aye! Thar she blows, matties!

RB June 23, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Ah yes, the end justifies the means.
No need to have a constitution as long as you get what you want.

Chris Moore June 23, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I wasn’t aware Frank was out there trashing the Constitution…

Speaking out against other speech is not the same as censorship.
He isn’t calling for the government to ban the sticker and come close down the Black.

The First Amendment says we have the right to speak freely without government intervention, it doesn’t mean other individuals can’t call you out for something you’ve said, and say their own piece.

We all need to tone down the hysteria a bit here.

Jim Dent June 21, 2010 at 8:21 pm

The only thing new about this entire situation are those controversial stickers. Maybe a bit harsh, yea, but the “be nice” approach hasn’t worked for over 30 years. Hard working merchants on and around OB, not to mention the rise in a more “well off” citizenry, are about fed up. I don’t fully agree with the content of those stickers, but our society in general has demanded that we as a whole become so damn poltically correct that everybody just gets way too upset and way too much small stuff. Reword those stickers to a more politically correct message. I’d just say something a little more docile like “Get the hell away from me!” If I don’t like it, why don’t I just move away? I already did…. But I still love OB!

Hipster June 22, 2010 at 5:49 am

As a former resident of Brighton Ave., I can say I truly love OB. Although I live in New England now, I heard about this kerfuffle on tv news.
Last time I was in OB (few years ago, 2006), I was put off but the numbers of homeless. There were always SOME, and they kind of had their charm. One guy used to go to the laundry (was next to the former Safeway) and strip down andcwear newspaper while he washed his clothes. The crop of BUMS on the streets in 06 was quite different. My son, then 9 yrs old, was actually afraid to walk nearby. We had to dodge several of them on the way to Hodad’s.
It’s a bumper sticker, come on. And I’m sure you’d have no trouble with The Black selling stickers poking fun at Bush or Christians or many others. Sorry, I have to side with the shop owners. The sticker doesn’t spread hate; it pokes fun at a horrible situation.

Sunshine June 22, 2010 at 7:56 am

wondering where the OBMA stands on this issue. will they still get their “government-issued business improvement grants” if they tolerate/represent/promote “hate” speech.

and what the hell is Obama doing to address the increasing homeless community in this country?

does anyone know of a community that has implemented a workable solution for their homeless population?

personally, I think it all boils down to manners (or a glaring lack of them). There are homeless folks in ob
(and in other cities) I would gladly assist and then there are those that have boldly demanded money from me that i simply give a resounding and assertive “NO” to. i am not afraid of their anger and will not be intimidated by their demands.

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 8:26 am

I will not even reply to someone with an online handle of “hipster” who makes that kind of comment. Anybody who would do that has no idea of what being a hipster or hippie was /is all about. Go back to your world of hate and bigotry.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 11:37 am

Tell us what “kind of comment” that is….

How is it bigotry to be put off because your young son was scared of the bum who stripped naked in public to wash his clothes?

hipster June 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I’d like to know that, too.

I said nothing about hating the bums, unless, of course, the word “bum” is hate-filled. I’m 53 and we called ’em bums when they came from the rail yard to my grandma’s to get free food. Heck, they called THEMSELVES that.

OB_Warzone June 22, 2010 at 9:41 am

Thank you for drawing negative attention to our community. OBRAG has stained Ocean Beach in the eyes of many San Diegans with their spreading of this story. We all know OBRAG contacted these news sources to spread this story, in an effort to gain new followers. It is one thing to point out an issue, it is another to stain your community.You should be ashamed in opening our community to such ridicule. I will no long be reading this blog & will be spreading my thoughts to other OBeacians.

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 9:45 am

Actually it goes deeper than that. We contacted The Black a month ago, and arranged for them to buy the stickers and for us to diss them, driving their sales up and driving up our readership in order to sell more ads.

Rich June 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

You’re hilarious, Frank! :)

OB_Warzone June 22, 2010 at 10:18 am

Having spent many years in the newspaper business, this is EASY to spot. And your “hey I’m just a concerned citizen with a sense of humor” shtick it wearing thin. Ocean Beach is no longer known as a laid back community, but one of intolerance and hate because you decided to target one sticker versus the others I am the one who initially brought up the OB out of US comparison. What about the ones targeting out working citizens as stoners? You aren’t fooling anyone Frank….it’s all about getting putting you in the spotlight. You’re 15 minutes is ticking.

OB_Warzone June 22, 2010 at 10:26 am

Hey, maybe we can get TMZ to cover it!?!?!

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 10:30 am

Oh,warzone, you’re so right, dude I am busted! All I wanted was my 15 minutes of fame. All I wanted was my name to be besmirched and ridiculed. That’s all. All I wanted was for the community that I’ve worked for years to improve was to reject this current round of modern bigotry. But the sticker is soooo cool. It’s not about the homeless, it’s about the bums, it’s not about the homeless we know and love but about that new generation of hardened youths. That’s why the graphic sticker displays a young punk handling a machete and whose dog just ripped someone a new one. I didn’t even notice. So sorry to have disturbed your pristine image of what OB is all about.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 11:32 am

I don’t think you know what a bigot is. It is not someone who disagrees with you, sorry.

OB_Warzone June 22, 2010 at 10:28 am

What about a Justin Bieber Benefit Concert?!?!?!

OB_Warzone June 22, 2010 at 10:36 am

Alright, we couldn’t get Bieber. Maybe we can contact Jewel, since she was homeless and all in Ocean Beach. Yeah, then she’ll right a homeless anthem and it’ll be a hit. And maybe…just maybe they’ll even mention it on Terriers. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

alguien June 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm

jewell? ick! bitch can’t sing for shit.

OB_Warzone June 22, 2010 at 2:38 pm

wait….are u knock the way homeless folks sing?

doug porter June 22, 2010 at 10:40 am

how about some facts to go with all this bs?
OB Crime Index per 1000 people
2009 = 38.16
2008 = 45.39
2007 = 57.68
Source: San Diego Police Department
oh, and for 2010, thus far it’s STILL down.

Shane Finneran June 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Unfortunately, I don’t think too many sticker fans are skilled at incorporating facts and statistics into their perspective on the world.

psd June 22, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Crime is down because the cops have simply stopped responding to calls and taking reports. Had a friend’s car broken into while sitting in my Coronado driveway last week, gas siphoned from a car in the street 3 weeks ago, and my fiancee’s mom’s car was vandalized in front of her apartment on Cape May last month. Another friend was assaulted outside a bar a few months ago. That constitutes more crime than I’ve been the victim of in the last 4 years living in town and 20 years hanging around combined.

I’m not saying these crimes are necessarily linked to the homeless (I know for a fact that the bar assault wasn’t, and I don’t know what use someone with no car would have with stolen gas), I’m just saying that the view from my perch doesn’t paint the same rosy picture as official crime stats.

Ernie McCray June 22, 2010 at 10:56 am

This is what has gone straight to my soul:
“Is the sticker something we are proud about enough to show our children? Is this how we handle problems like adults? Does the anti-homeless sticker represent a grown-up way of doing things? Will our children now feel it’s okay to speak smack against homeless people? Or despise them?”
So The Black makes more money in all this? Is that to mean we abandon our responsibility to our children to model for them civility and caring?
The children are, indeed, watching and it won’t be long before they’re grownups. And the way this world is going we can’t even imagine the ratio of homeless to prosperous a few years down the line.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 11:31 am

How about the children of OB who grow up seeing belligerent bums pissing on the side of a building?

Or the children that see a bum cuss at their parent because they ignored the request for “some change”?

What about the children that see people incapable of caring for themselves mistreating dogs?

What about “our responsibility to our children to model for them civility and caring”?

psd June 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Those people are the best role models for my child that I can think of. Not all role models necessarily have to be good ones, and I can’t think of a better teaching opportunity to explain to my daughter why she needs to keep doing well in school, stay away from hard drugs, and show respect for other people, even when that might only mean declining to acknowledge their coarse language/behavior.

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Well then, I am sure you feel the same way about the sticker and the Black. It is a great teaching opportunity on how to bring light to a problem situation (as the panhandling transients are clearly a problem) through creative marketing and product placement.

Furthermore, you can also use Frank and Ernie as negative role models to teach them that calling everyone who you disagree with a bigot, does not help solve problems but creates further divisiveness and animosity.

psd June 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Well, it’s a good example of how to get attention by exaggerating a situation. Or how making overly generalized statements tend to hurt your argument more than help it. But she’s 6 – right now we’re sticking to the basics of maintaining civility…marketing, idea manipulation, and other concepts like that can probably wait a few years…

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I think you will have a smart one, if you follow your current path of educating your child, and teaching her how to think. I applaud you for that.

alguien June 22, 2010 at 1:06 pm

hey ernie!

are you the same ernie mccray who was principal at john muir alternative?

Chris Moore June 22, 2010 at 12:20 pm

These discussions tend to hit a brick wall because the homeless are not some homogeneous entity.

They’re distinct individuals, like any other group.

It seems one side wants to think they’re all sainted victims of society, and the other wants to think they’re all creeps out for a free ride. Neither generalization is true, some are decent people with intractable problems, some are obnoxious jerks.

I’ve had plenty of WTF moments with aggressive panhandlers & the severely mentally ill (including a loud temper tantrum or two on my part), I’ve also given a hand to people (not cash, but food, cigs, even a blanket here & there) to people who really needed it and appreciated my efforts.

“Don’t feed our bums” stickers (while IMO more an attempt at snarky humor than an actual crime against humanity) are not a solution – deal with the specific individuals causing the problems.

psd June 22, 2010 at 2:54 pm

I agree wholeheartedly – but when forced to either demonize or defend everyone, the bleeding heart liberal in me comes out and I’d rather defend a few who don’t deserve it than demonize others in the same way.

doug porter June 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Don’t forget those “beautiful people” that had their kids throw water balloons at, cursed and threatened the poor guy who dared to show up at the Black last Saturday with a picket sign. That behavior pretty much said it all for me as to who the haters were in this situation.
FYI: since I’m sure that you’ll bring it up, we didn’t “know” the guy, didn’t know that he was picketing the Black and only found out when Jim Grant posted the pictures on Facebook.

psd June 22, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Well I’m not throwing the ‘bigot’ word around except in jest (at least at this point). But I think the supporters of the logo in question are promoting the idea that we should hate all homeless because of the actions of a few. I don’t buy into the backpedaling with statements like “Well sure it might look like we hate all homeless, but what we really meant to say was that we hate some and we’re okay with others – you guys shouldn’t assume that we hate them all just because we make up a logo that conveys that idea!”

If Frank is hating on people trying to demonize all homeless people, I’ve got his back on that. If he’s saying that no one is allowed to be concerned with the actions of SOME of the homeless population, I’ll tell him he’s off his rocker. But I haven’t seen or heard that sentiment from him…

Ian Rammelkamp June 22, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I have yet to meet anyone (especially OB locals) who hates all homeless people. That is an inference that simpleton Fox News, and MSNBC followers would make, not educated analytical minds.

I don’t know how long you have lived here, but there is a long history in O.B. of celebrating the strange and less fortunate, like Maroudis, the OB Spaceman, or even Ross. Most people that support the sticker, and dislike the trolls, also have an affinity for such “locals”. I guarantee the owner and the workers at the Black feel the same way.

The trolls are different, if you cannot make that distinction, the problem is in your analysis of the situation, not those who can.

psd June 22, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I’m just saying the sticker implicates all homeless people as being part of the problem. I’ve only lived in town about 4 years, but I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time in town since back in the ’80s when my parents would take me to the beach a couple times in the summer…

I remember back in the ’90s as a teenager, ‘troll’ was a common term, used specifically to describe a certain class of houseless person – you had your bums who’d bum change, you had your dealers who’d hang out at the wall sampling their own wares, you had your couch surfers who’d cruise the fire pits looking to make a friend to hang with for ‘a few days,’ and you had the trolls. These people were aggressive, foul mouthed, and quick to resort to (or at least threaten) violence. I understand that term is no longer the preferred nomenclature, mainly because people started applying it to anyone without a roof and four walls.

I don’t see this as a movement to try and eradicate the rabblerousers, who always have and likely always will exist, though hopefully in smaller populations as was the case through most of my life. If the conversation The Black was trying to start was more along the lines of “we need to do something about these aggressive panhandlers,” rather than “anyone that’s homeless deserves to starve,” I’d be a lot more receptive to their message.

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Ian, then how come the sticker doesn’t say ‘don’t feed the trools’ with an image of an aggressive, knife-wielding punk? Your stance falls flat.

Tracy June 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Frank, it says “Don’t feed the bums”, NOT “Don’t feed the homeless”. As I said earlier, there is a distinct difference between a bum and someone who is homeless. A bum chooses that lifestyle. A homeless person – rarely does.

And in all my time in Newport Ave which is A LOT of years, not one homeless person has harassed me or my customers. However, the bums always do.

In fact, the OB homeless, who most of us know by name, rarely even ask for food or money. I usually offer it first by asking them when they last ate. And they’re always honest. Sometimes they tell me they haven’t eaten in a few days, whereby I’ll go get them something from a local restaurant, and sometimes they tell me they were just fed and thank me and ask me for nothing more!

I normally go to the Old Townhouse and if I tell them it’s for one of our regular homeless guys they won’t even charge me for it. All of the businesses support and feed the homeless, even The Black, on Newport – they just don’t want anything to do with the bums.

Rich June 23, 2010 at 9:09 am

Good distinction, Tracy! You have really “hit the nail on the head” as to where this debate should be focussed!

Shane Finneran June 23, 2010 at 9:52 am

The “distinction” argument reminds me of my college days in the 1990s. Two of my fraternity brothers were from the South, and they thought it was OK to use the N-word here and there. They both would say “I’m not talking about all black people, just some.” It was a sad rationalization for a derogatory term – just like what you’re trying to pull here.

psd June 23, 2010 at 11:19 am

psd and 18 more liked this.

Ian Rammelkamp June 23, 2010 at 11:45 am

It is not a semantic distinction, it is an actual distinction between different types of “street people”.

You can try to justify your lack of clarity on the issue, but that doesn’t change the facts. There are too many transient panhandlers in OB, and the locals and businesses are fed up with it. It is not bigotry or derogatory to support an effort to prevent OB from becoming more of a sanctuary town for them.

Frank Gormlie June 23, 2010 at 11:54 am


Kenneth Legg June 23, 2010 at 12:05 pm

lol…someone else equating calling an idiot a bum to calling a black person the “n word”! cmon dude.it’s nowhere near the same. i don’t feel calling someone a bum is that derogatory.the term is used for alot of other peeps besides people that live off of others because they want to,not because of circumstance.

Kenneth Legg June 23, 2010 at 11:58 am

Well said….

justmy2cents June 22, 2010 at 7:38 pm

The sticker is not talking about ALL homeless people , thats the point you missed.

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I know, just the bums. Oh, and the sticker only applies to bums from the Depression of the Thirties. ‘Course they’ve all disappeared. However in case you see the sticker applying to any homeless, then it applies to all. It’s not a sticker of a knife-wielding punk with a snarling dog, it’s a graphic of a downcast hobo with his dog slumpin along. Look, it’s meant to be a dehumanizing graphic and statement, and that’s exactly what it does. It makes it okay to despise homeless people, and by god, if this leads to violence either against some homeless (more likely) or against a storefront by some homeless, then we as a community that stood by while the sticker was accepted will be responsible.

RB June 23, 2010 at 11:43 am

Get yourself a dictionary. Bum does not mean homeless.
The use of homeless instead of bum in the original article title was an unprofessional distortion. ‘Those Bums’, the Brooklyn Dodgers, were not homeless.

Shane Finneran June 23, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I checked several online dictionaries, and there are several definitions of bum. Some are as simple as “A homeless person” or “a homeless person or beggar.” Other definitions incorporate attributes of laziness or drunkenness.

Clearly, the term means different things to different people, and also clearly, some people find the term offensive. Personally, I think that most people who don’t find it offensive can probably understand why others do. And I think it’s a pity to see a term that is offensive to many being associated with Ocean Beach.

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm

big bump as lane says

Space-Pedestiran June 22, 2010 at 12:21 pm

This is a South Park episode waiting to happen. OB will be inundated with bums due to all of this coverage.

hipster June 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Um, Frank, way to make assumptions. Hipster refers to music, not to hippie-dom or anything.

Now who’s bigoted?

Frank Gormlie June 22, 2010 at 12:48 pm

We have used “hipster” not so much as a music-related label but more of a pre-hippie bohemian. But also as a hippie. (How is that being bigoted?)

hipster June 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Well, we have used “hipster” to mean that pre-hippie bohemian, too, as my father was in the fifties when he was into jazz and other mainstream alternatives. I’m by no means a “hippie,” though I lived next door to quite a few on Brighton Ave and went to many parties.

You don’t even know me, so I used your MO to beat the word “bigoted” to death. You weren’t being bigoted, really, but you did make a faulty assumption.

People like me who don’t appreciate aggressive panhandling aren’t necessarily bigoted or full of hate, so don’t assume such a thing. I fully realize that some of the “bums” might be emotionally or mentally impaired, but that doesn’t mean I want them asking me for money on a street or peeing in public or any other such behavior.

psd June 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Hipsters hang out in North Park bars and coffee houses, listen to ‘indie’ music, and wear girls’ skinny jeans (both sexes). Or at least that’s my prejudicial assumption – can I be a bigot now too?

Brian June 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Only if you hate them.

psd June 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I’m too fat to wear skinny jeans, so I hate them for that. Close enough?

hipster June 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I’m a forme, or aging hipster, and I was only a hipster for a few years in the 80’s.
I hate skinny jeans, too. We can be bigoted against skinny jeans.

Brian June 22, 2010 at 5:35 pm

As long as there’s hate involved. And, I think you have to be obstinate.

Steve A. June 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm

During the seventies, (from 1970 to 1980), I was one of the co-owners of The Black.
As of late, via the evening news (I no longer reside in the area), I have been made aware that there has been considerable discussion regarding the homeless or bums in O.B. and that The Black is smack in the middle of a controversy and possibly even on the wrong side of the fence in the matter.
During my years at The Black, one nagging issue we had to contend with was the O.B. scene. Generally, O.B. was pretty quiet and come closing-time, except for a few bars and a couple of poker parlors, the town went to sleep. It was never a rowdy or dangerous place, even at night. However, like clock work, as soon as the weather warmed in early spring, the riff-raff would start trickling into town.
There were three distinct types, as I recall: 1) there were the loonies, those who were in need of psychiatric help, 2) the low-lifes, who were just bumming around and 3) the dope peddlers.
For the most-part, neither of these three groups were a specific threat to us, but, in the general overall picture, they were a blight on the community. The loonies and the bums were not our customers. With rare exception, the mentally ill and the bums usually had no need for posters of Bob Marley or imported tapestries. Occasionally we’d have to run a dope peddler out for trying to make a sale to someone inside the store.
Nearly all the businesses in O.B. and specifically on Newport Ave. relied on tourist dollars and customers coming into O.B. from other outside communities to spend money. If tourists or potential customers from neighboring areas felt threatened or unsafe by the presence of derelicts or mentally unstable persons or drug peddlers, it could only hurt business and the reputation of the community. This is basic to every business owner.
At that time, we didn’t have an issue with pan-handlers. There were pan-handlers in O.B., but, they weren’t hurting anybody and we just didn’t have a problem with them. Maybe, the pan-handlers of today are a completely different breed. It’s been mentioned: aggressive, knife wielding, verbally abusive. Well, that’s not something I personally want to be subjected to. I’m aware that professional pan-handlers, people that take in a considerable sum, I mean a hundred plus dollars a day by hitting people up for money, do exist. That’s not the same thing as asking someone for spare change or a quarter so they can buy a sandwich to eat. There is a difference.
During my tenure at The Black, I don’t think we would have printed up and sold a “Don’t Feed the Bums” type of sticker. Joke or otherwise. I don’t think Jack Odegard, (our senior partner and founder of The Black), would have approved of such a controversial undertaking. I think he would have nix’d that idea. Jack was a very anti-establishment, “live-and-let-live” kind of guy and we generally always deferred to his wisdom.
However, contrary to it’s prima-facia (at first glance) appearance, that of being a “very cool hippie headshop” right out of the sixties and seventies, The Black is a Capitalist Enterprise. One where the loudest voice heard over the roar of the crowd is always the all-mighty buck. I am not surprised nor am I upset, at all, over the printing and selling of the sticker, hats and shirts. It’s a very Capitalist thing to do. In fact, from a purely business point of view, I would say it was a very ingenious thing to do. It is the perfect model for Capitalist Enterprise. Controversial as it may be, they (The Black) took Something from absolutely Nothing and made something people “want to buy”. That is the height of Capitalism. Capitalism is what makes this economy run. And, we really need it to start running again. Unfortunately, the subject matter they chose has proven to be a political-correctness hot-potato. And, I really think that is the main point here. The stickers are not “Politically Correct”.
It’s not about “run the panhandlers out of town”, or “let’s starve the homeless” as the media would make it out to be. It’s more about staying within the politically-correct boundaries. And, The Black didn’t do that, in the opinion of some. How much political-correctness must we allow to affect ours lives?

On the flip-side, Kurt, (the now owner of The Black for nearly 30 years, (wow!…has it really been that long?)), could do the right thing and pony-up some of the profits from the sales of those stickers, hats and shirts and publicly make a donation to the organizations that help the homeless and those truly in need of help.

In the long-run, I think the controversy and national news coverage can only benefit The Black, (albeit in a twisted way). This is free advertising you just can’t buy. On a national scale!

Faced with the controversy and threats of boycotts, I can only wonder, “what would Jack do?”
This has only been my humble opinion.
Steve A.

Brian June 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

“In the long-run, I think the controversy and national news coverage can only benefit The Black, (albeit in a twisted way). This is free advertising you just can’t buy. On a national scale!”

In general, I’m a believer in “no such thing as bad publicity”… but, could The Black be a possible exception? While head shops are obviously businesses, and desirous of profit, don’t they also want to maintain something of a low profile so as to avoid getting Tommy Chonged?

Greg Sullivan June 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm

“I am not surprised nor am I upset, at all, over the printing and selling of the sticker, hats and shirts. It’s a very Capitalist thing to do. In fact, from a purely business point of view, I would say it was a very ingenious thing to do. It is the perfect model for Capitalist Enterprise. Controversial as it may be, they (The Black) took Something from absolutely Nothing and made something people “want to buy”. That is the height of Capitalism. Capitalism is what makes this economy run. And, we really need it to start running again.”

Steve A., like many if not most boomers today, you sound like Gordon Gekko. I know you are quite happy to sound that way–and that’s the problem.

Because I suspect somethings gone quite wrong with the boomer generation. I mean, just look around what’s happened to our country over the last 40 or so years.

Speaking of which, our country was not founded as a “capitalism”–it was founded as a democracy. But these days, and given your words, you wouldn’t know it.

Unlike capitalism, democracy is based on a fundamental principle of human worth. That’s one of the main reasons why so many folks have a problem with these stickers. It’s about priniciple–not political correctness. Something you apparently have lost grasp of.

What would Jack do? No, what would a citizen in a democratic republic do.

hipster June 23, 2010 at 6:20 am

Now you’re picking on boomers, as if we caused the downfall of our country. That’s choice.
It’s a long-standing American thing to blame the previous generation. Your day will come, if we last that long.

Greg Sullivan June 23, 2010 at 9:36 am

“Now you’re picking on boomers, as if we caused the downfall of our country.”

I’m sure the boomers in question aren’t too worried about being “picked” on by some homeless guy.

But they’re a good group to take a closer look at because of the influence their numbers have had in our society and because so many in that generation started out so right. To paraphrase an article I just read recently by Steven Higgs (link below):

How could a generation that came of age during the Great Society and who were among the most educated and enlightened generations in history who engaged politically in their youth to oppose and eventually stop an immoral war and help drive the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights agendas and ushered in eras of unprecedented creativity, freedom and expression–come to this?

Who’s Really to Blame for the Gulf?
America’s Worst Generation

Anyway, I have some ideas as to how such a generation could come to this. And not to to “pick” on Steve A., but I think his particular viewpoint has something to do with it.

hipster June 23, 2010 at 12:49 pm

What a cop-out!
Engaged politically in our youth…then grew up and had to help out our aging parents and raise our kids. Trying to preserve whatever we have so that we can survive the push to “redistribute” our wealth, while listening to a younger generation do nothing but whine about how tough they have it.

Screw Steven Higgs.

Shane Finneran June 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm

I thought the article was a good one. The analogy of Reagan ” swinging a bright, shiny object before” the boomer’s eyes is priceless.

From FDR to Reagan, America’s prosperity surged, and the wealth was captured more and more by average people versus the already-wealthy. Come 1980, the boomers are in their 20s and early 30s, taking charge of the society…they eat up Reaganomics hook/line/sinker, and the Great Reversal begins. The nation’s wealthy begin taking back their piggish share of the nation’s fortunes, risk begins being shifted from the society (which can bear it) to the individual (who so often can’t), middle class jobs begin trickling and then surging overseas, and on and on…

IMHO the telling stat on boomers blowing it is their average net worth. Check the data…the median household with a boomer in it, after all debts are subtracted from all assets, is worth less than $150,000…most of the wealth among the boomer cohort has been soaked up by the richest 5 or 10%. To quote Scarface, “Somebody f**ked up.”


Greg Sullivan June 23, 2010 at 10:02 pm

“…the median household with a boomer in it, after all debts are subtracted from all assets, is worth less than $150,000…”

That says a lot.

You would think those circumstances would cause or even require someone to reevaluate and seriously challenge the system in which they operate. But I suppose instead there’s also the tendency to sort of block it out, double down and commit even further to the magic of the free market.

Tracy June 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm

The sticker does not say “Don’t feed the homeless”!!! Can we move on about this? It says “Don’t feed the bums”. There is a distinct difference between the two. Bums CHOOSE the life they lead. Homeless rarely do!

justmy2cents June 23, 2010 at 7:21 am

Just wondering with all this back and forth on the ” laid back attitude ” of Ocean Beach . Or in some remarks the lack of the ” laid back attitude” .
And after reading 600 posts on channel 10’s web site….500 on sign on san diego’s web site….and several hundred on this site …It actually appears many , many people agree with the sticker or at least with the message…some calling OB “a $hit hole anyway who cares” or similar remarks.
Maybe Ocean Beach like many others community has experinced a changed climate reguarding the homeless or bums or urban travlers….
With a more stressful life style everyone lives ,people just don’t want to put up with the BS from travlers who want to mooch.
The poll on 10 news is deceptive…I did my own yesterday I asked 10 people on the street and in a local restrauant their opinions…. EIGHT said ” its out of control” …… TWO said ” give them a break” ……
I also met a man who is doing his second freelance documentary on street kids. His thoughts were very insightful. In a nut shell: many choose the lifestyle. Of course not ALL…but many.

psd June 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

I guess I’m just stupid for not seeing the crystal clear distinction between ‘homeless’ and ‘bum,’ which has been widely used as a derogatory term for homeless since long before I was born.

Ian Rammelkamp June 23, 2010 at 9:43 am

You probably haven’t been around town enough to know that historically many of the local homeless are revered, and the transient panhandling trolls are despised.

Instead of fighting the distinction, that is clear to most reasonable people, why not accept it and use it to inform your position on the issue?

Frank Gormlie June 23, 2010 at 11:54 am

Ian, why don’t you accept that there is no real distinction between “bum” and “homeless” in the current context? You are the one fighting the distinction. Transients have been panhandling in OB probably before you were even born. You know, Ian, you come on this blog with a lot of fierce opinions and diss others who don’t agree with you. Yet we know nothing about you – where you live, what you do, how old you are – yet you sit there at your keyboard and diss everyone here at the blog and what we’re doing. How can we argue back and forth without knowing something about you?

Ian Rammelkamp June 23, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Frank, I don’t accept it because there is a distinction, ESPECIALLY in this context. You are correct, transients panhandle everywhere, and have been doing it for all of history. The problem is the influx of them in OB, it has become a sort of sanctuary city, and tolerance can only go so far.

About me: I was born and raised in OB, and still live here. I went to Sunset View, Correia, PLHS, and UCSD. I am a small business owner. I am 30 years old. My grandparents moved here in the 40’s, and my parents still live here. I like to discuss/debate social and political issues, and I find the politics and history of OB to be interesting.

I am trying to provide an opposing point of view. If you do not value that, and don’t want me “making noise” on your blog let me know and I won’t post again. I realize that I am opening myself up by posting under my real (distinct) name, but I stand behind my arguments, and think that my views are very reasonable.

Business is slow right now, as it always is during the “dog days of summer”, so I have some time to discuss. I am quite productive, thanks.

Frank Gormlie June 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Ian, now that I know something about you, I feel much better about our dialogue. Let both of us keep to the issues and rise above name-calling, shadow arguments, red-herrings, and tunafish. JK Anyhow, let’s try, okay? Sometimes I get caught up in the heat of the discussion and don’t always stay focused. BTW, will ya let us win one once in awhile in your opinion?

Ian Rammelkamp June 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Frank, I try too, and will continue to try harder. It is a constant battle against my initial knee jerk emotional response. All-in-all I think that the dialogue is good for developing our continually evolving world (and local) views, and our mental longevity.

Frank Gormlie June 24, 2010 at 6:14 am


psd June 23, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Ian, I’ve said before and I’ll say again (speaking for myself, not for the owners/operators of this site) – you’re a royal pain in the ass because you’ve got the courage to come on here and spout off contrarian opinions and the intelligence to argue them with enough skill that you can’t easily be written off. Thanks for that, and even if you annoy us all sometimes I for one will say I don’t want to see you chased off.

Shane Finneran June 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Word up. I knew Ian in the late 1980s when we were on the same team in Point Loma Little League, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know him again as he’s emerged as this site’s resident libertarian and an often contrary but always classy voice.

Ian, if you do have some spare time, perhaps you could contribute an article to The OB Rag? Maybe a resident’s guide to distinguishing between “bums” and other homeless folks? ;) In any case, please do stick around.

Ian Rammelkamp June 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm

Shane, I was wondering if you were you, and was kind of waiting for you to figure it out.

In fact, I never would have posted here (or with my own full name) if I didn’t see your name. If I remember correctly my first post here was in response to one of your comments, where I slightly hinted that I knew you. Since you didn’t recognize my name I figured you were a different Shane Finneran.

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