“I Wanted to Write for the OB Rag and Had to Meet Editordude.”

by on August 11, 2015 · 10 comments

in Culture, Media, Ocean Beach

Terry Ratner FG Perry WBeing Frank

Editor: The following account referencing “Lois Lane” from Superman comics is not to be confused with the Lois Lane who writes regularly for the OB Rag.

By Terry Ratner

Lois Lane, the talented young journalist, sits in the office of Perry White, a crusty, straight talking, demanding and passionate editor of the Daily Planet. She regales him with her optimism and fresh ideas for stories dedicated to the people of Metropolis. Ever the curmudgeon, Perry questions the minute details of her pitch, leaving her tongue tied and frustrated, but still tirelessly pushing her novel approach to journalism. He dares her to prove her worthiness, hoping she’s up for the challenge.

This is how I felt when I met Frank Gormlie, editor of the OB Rag.

As a wannabe OBcean and Rag writer, I emailed Frank my proposal before suggesting we meet. After several rounds, he relented.

The interview took place at the Rag’s Voltaire Street news desk, located in a nondescript office building identifying itself as Ocean Beach Green Center— lending library and office front for the blog.

Terry Ratner Kip

Kip of Voltaire. Photo by Terry Ratner.

Kip of Voltaire, an OB sign painter who works out of the store’s front yard, welcomed me smiling through his scraggly silver beard as if we had known each other forever. Frank, sitting next to Kip, identified me as I walked toward him.

“I’m Frank, are you Terry?”

I nodded.

“Shall we go inside and talk?”

I followed him into the Green Store and sat in one of the three chairs available surrounded by pamphlets, books, and videos.

“This your first time here?” he asked, as though I had committed a sin.

“Yes,” I said, wishing I had browsed the lending library before the meeting, knowing how committed he was to environmental and social issues.

At first I responded nervously to his every challenge, but soon I found my sea legs and was able to stand my ground. But in truth, he made me uncomfortable and on guard. I didn’t know whether to start with pleasantries, personal achievements, ideas for the Rag, or asking about his editorial style, so I let him lead the way.

“Tell me about yourself. Where you been and where you’re going?”

“Have you looked at my website?” I asked. “I included it in my intro email.”

“No, never looked. Not yet. Just browsed your photo blog.”

I sensed an urgency to answer his questions, rattling off something about previous accomplishments, editing my response, shaving words, attempting to tease his curiosity to know more about me without sounding like an egocentric braggart.

“I’m mesmerized by the strangeness of OB—it’s rich, it’s queer, it’s made of a kind of phantasmagoria, the stuff of dreams, fevers, and hallucinations—wishing all my friends could be out here with me pissing in the ocean,” I replied.

When I pitched an idea, he questioned my intentions; whether or not I was in it for the money or if I had altruistic motives.

“I don’t care about the money,” I half lied.

After we talked briefly about why I loved OBceans and how much I have yet to learn about OB, he suggested I attend a community meeting. When I asked for a time and location, he ignored the question, causing me to wonder whether or not he was being facetious or if that was his way of saying, ‘research that information and show up.’ He then assigned two stories plus the OBserved photo gallery, and gave me deadlines before abruptly ending the interview.

“I have a Planning Board meeting at 6:00 PM,” he told me as he exited through paisley curtains to a back room. When he didn’t return after five minutes, I wondered if he went to the bathroom, needed to use his cellphone, or just wanted me gone, so I took the hint and headed out. As I walked toward the car, I spotted Frank driving away and waved goodbye.

My impression of Frank after the meeting: He, like Perry White, maintains high ethical and journalistic standards for himself and his writers. He’s the prototypical image of the tough irascible, but fair-minded boss. I wondered if Frank’s favorite catch phrases are “Great Caesar’s ghost” and “Don’t call me chief.”

As for me, a modern day Lois Lane, determined, creative, and strong-willed, known to go to extremes for a great story or photo, I left the meeting with an unrelenting drive to write and shoot. After rereading pages of Rag posts, I gained a better perspective of Frank’s doctrine and goals. I felt camaraderie with this editor knowing we were kindred spirits. I now bought his brusque persona and direct method of interrogation.

That night, I stayed up reflecting on our interview and working the story. Frank wasn’t going to be my kryptonite. I was ready for the challenge—to fight a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred Dobbs August 11, 2015 at 12:29 pm

I guess editordude is now superdude. Cool story. I like it.


Molly August 11, 2015 at 1:32 pm



Lori August 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Loved your story! Your writing style is entertaining and funny. You have a definite gift!


Jill August 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Love your writing style


Judith August 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm



unWASHedwallmartTHONG August 11, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Don’t let him fret you, honey; under all that kitten-like peach fuzz is nuttin’ but callousness & cut nails. Grrrrr! Go get him.


DiegoUK August 11, 2015 at 11:55 pm

Thanks for the story. I miss OB greatly and will probably never see it again, so this brought back great memories to me.


Jeanette August 12, 2015 at 3:49 am

Newspaper angle from Superman unleashed fond memories – great angle for your first story. Put the creative in creative writing!


carol August 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm

This if my favorite of all your articles! Shows your true colors!


bob August 14, 2015 at 2:57 pm

You might not want to put this on your resume for future possible editors to read. It will make them self-conscious. Just shows that a true writer is never away from her keyboard. Clever way to write yourself onto the paper. Nice going Lois Laner.


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