“OB Time” – the Old OB Hippie Says Speed, Meth and Pollution Kill

by on January 6, 2015 · 5 comments

in Culture, Environment, Life Events, Ocean Beach

Old Hippie ob time

OB Time – a sad time

There’s some very sad circles of families and friends in and around OB and Point Loma these days. I was going to write about something else, but am troubled by the loss of life.

The lives of three local men have been claimed by various causes recently. But the tragedies show us that speeding down a street in a car and careening off the cliffs will kill; they show us that ocean pollution off the cliffs – whether from the storms or locally-sourced – will kill; and again, we’re shown that meth will kill.

Scott Bowles died swimming in the ocean “intoxicated” on meth on Halloween, 2014.  A fine young man and strong swimmer, with a rich and personal history, with a child waiting for him, with family who adored him, took too much meth, went swimming in rough waters and never returned alive. His body was found days later by a kayaker off Mission Beach.

And now, two local men, Kyle Witkowski and Barry Ault have passed – both for reasons to do with the ocean and Sunset Cliffs. Kyle drove off the cliffs and Barry surfed  in polluted waters off the cliffs. Both were surfers and both left families and friends devastated.

Oh, those beautiful Sunset Cliffs – so gorgeous, wealthy in color and prominence – but so dangerous and fatal to those not careful.

The year that just ended, 2014, began with a Sunset Cliffs tragedy, when graduate student Anna Bachman fell  to her death from Sunset Cliffs while apparently taking a picture.

When this old hippie was a young high school student living near the cliffs, a young, 3-year-old child, a daughter of a Union Tribune newspaper columnist, fell to her death from the cliffs not a block from where I lived. So, this old hippie is well aware of the dangers and enticements of our  natural wonders that buttress the sea. The Cliffs have a lot of wonderful elements – and are not just all danger. But you have to keep  your head about you when around them.

Pollution in the surf waters is not a new discovery, of course. In fact, it’s exactly that which propelled Donna Frye – the woman who should have been mayor – from being a grassroots organizer of STOP – Surfers Tired Of Pollution – into San Diego City Council politics. She became energized when her husband Skip kept coming home from surfing and getting sick.  Barry Ault died from a staph infection from  surfing those waters off of the cliffs.

Meth is a death drug and has destroyed so many lives. How many times can you rail against it without giving up?

It’s so easy for young people to not appreciate and value their own life. This old hippie remembers when I had all my teeth and good eyesight. When I was young, I felt I was invincible. And of course took plenty of risks.  That’s youth, for you.

But life can be so fragile, so fleeting at times. Someone is with you – and then … they’re gone – never to return. Let’s hold onto our loved ones and ensure they don’t play with speed, meth or pollution – as they all can and do kill.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

genie January 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm

So well said. …old hippie


Lulu January 7, 2015 at 4:41 am

Word. ???? ???? ???? !!!!


Frank Gormlie January 6, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Old hippies and media junkie lefties will remember the saying that used to appear in underground newspapers: “Speed kills” – and was all about the then-current trend of speed in the late 60s and early 70s.


Geoff Page January 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

Ah yes, I remember “Speed Kills.” Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Frank Zappa. How speed ruined the scene. I guess I’m old leftie.


Jan January 7, 2015 at 11:11 am

beautifully written and expressed – I hope all who read it listen to your words – Thank you…


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