Celebrate the OB Rag’s 9th Birthday!

by on October 31, 2016 · 3 comments

in Culture, History, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics

OB Rag birthday cake

The OB Rag just celebrated its 9th birthday this past weekend. The online newspaper for Ocean Beach got its start in late October 2007 when Patty Jones and Frank Gormlie got serious about creating a political blog for OB.

The online OB Rag is a take-off of the original grassroots underground newspaper, the OB People’s Rag, which began publishing in 1970 – and continued for 6 years. Gormlie was the original publisher of the newspaper.

The 9th anniversary was quietly celebrated over the weekend with champagne amidst a small crowd of Rag Ocean Beach supporters at a house above Sunset Cliffs.

And as always, the staff of the OB Rag is always looking for new writers, bloggers, artists, reviewers, photographers and poets – let us know if you’re interested at obragblog@gmail.com

Here are some excerpts about the OB Rag from our “About” page:

The OB Rag blog and website was first initiated by Frank Gormlie and Patty Jones in late October 2007 and our original intent was to ply the San Diego scene with news and commentary from a distinctively progressive and grassroots perspective, and to also provide a forum for those views.

Importantly, we also wanted to provide some kind of web platform for the Ocean Beach community. And in the Spring of 2013, we opened up a small office within the Green Store on the 4800 block of Voltaire Street.

Every October we celebrate that we’re still going strong. We’ve changed a lot – writers and bloggers have come and gone – but the Rag continues to provide a web platform for OB residents and merchants, and covers local OB and Point Loma news, issues and events – and more.

Significantly, the OB Rag staff began publishing a new online journal for all of San Diego – the San Diego Free Press. It jumped out in June 2012. Many of the people who were then writing for the Rag didn’t live in OB and were eager to begin writing about their own neighborhoods or about San Diego more in general. (By the end of 2013, the San Diego Free Press matched and surpassed the readership of the OB Rag – as it has its own very-involved editorial board and more contributors.)

Some brief history about the OB Rag website: Besides providing a news site for OB, we also wanted to be a resource for San Diego’s peace movement – as the Iraq War was still going on. At our year anniversary – late October 2008 – we had a daily “visitor” or reader average of over 250. Around that time, we decided to focus more of our attention and energies on OB itself.

By October 2009 we had a daily visitor count somewhere between 500 to 900. And we were taking advertisements and sponsorships and selling hot-looking T-shirts. Our stats just continued to rise dramatically over the months.

In March 2010 we are averaging between 750 and 1,000 visitors a day, and with over 26,000 visitors for that month. That June we had 34 visitors short of 40,000, and by that Fall it was 1,200 to 1,400. Then in October 2010 we had 43,000 visitors.

In the Fall of 2011, and our very best month – October 2011 we had 108,000 visitors – this was during the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Other milestones: we had our one-millionth page hit in mid-December of 2010, and our two-millionth hit in November 2011. Since then, our stats have leveled out due to the impact of the publication of the San Diego Free Press.

We’ve had a plethora of writers, bloggers, contributors, photographers, and close supporters over the years – some of whom continue to write and contribute. (Go to the original About page for a listing.

In the Fall of 2008, we were joined by Doug Porter, who now writes on a regular basis for San Diego Free Press, and who wrote for the original OB Rag back in the seventies.

We were also joined around that time by Anna Daniels, who has been very active on city-wide issues over the years, and who currently writes about her own neighborhood of City Heights on the San Diego Free Press. Porter and Daniels are both very involved in the day-to-day operations of the SDFP.

When we started this blog, we were disgusted with the state of things: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bellicose and war-mongering President Bush, a Constitutional crisis, the environmental and global meltdown, as well as local corruption and government incompetence on all levels. We believed then and still believe now that things can and should be a whole lot better.

Things have changed since we first started blogging. We initially supported the candidacy of Barack Obama for President, and we celebrated with champagne and tears the night he was elected. But our eyes were not then and are not now shut. We remain critical – and hopeful – of our political environment.

We have come to deeply understand that progressives need to keep pressure on the White House, no matter who is in it. And it’s important to develop broad coalitions of activists and like-minded people, to not be hampered by some restrictions of our political traditions, and be willing to work across different parties and communities.

Plaque on building at corner of Newport Avenue and Bacon Street, commemorating the past. The original OB Rag had its office upstairs, circa 1974. (Click on image.)

… However, with Obama’s electoral sunset came the GOP chaos of the 2016 presidential election campaign, and the rise of Trumpism, led by a proto-fascist, along with the first democratic socialist to enter the mainstream in generations – Bernie Sanders.

Meanwhile …

This website attempts to keep OBceans, other San Diegans, and readers from across the country and from across the oceans informed on issues and changes around us. We try to share all news and reports about the village of Ocean Beach, from other sources, but primarily from our in-house bloggers, and we try to publish news and perspectives about activists and grassroots goings-on within San Diego County. “Views and news of Ocean Beach and beyond.”

When we first started this blog, we felt that we needed “to rebuild a sense of community, not only on the neighborhood level, but also amongst those of a kindred spirit.” We have expanded our circle of friends and readers, as we have a solid base of Ocean Beach readers, a San Diego, national and even international audience. We have nearly 2,400 names on our email news and support list.

It’s ever-so clear to us that, as we originally stated at the beginning:

With mainstream media becoming more and more monopolized and centralized, there is a need for information and opinion outside the corporate media monolith. Blogs are helping to fill this role. Like during an earlier day, when underground newspapers filled the void, blogs today enable grassroots journalists and commentators to counter mainstream propaganda.


Page 1

OB Rag – March 1972, Vol. 2, No. 8

The First OB Rag

The first OB Rag, actually the OB People’s Rag, was an alternative grassroots newspaper for the Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Diego during the first half of the 1970s, with its first publisher, editor and writer Frank Gormlie. It published from late Summer 1970 to early 1976. The Rag’s volunteer and dedicated activist staff succeeded in fueling the community organizing in Ocean Beach during those years with their underground publication, taking on the establishment while giving voice to the burgeoning counter-culture.

The very first issue of the OB People’s Rag – September 17, 1970.

The OB Rag was once described by Art Kunkin, the then-publisher of the LA Free Press – the grandparent of alternative newspapers – as “the best alternative grassroots community newspaper in the country.” [See our page “1st OB Rag” for more complete history of the first OB Rag.]

Plus, many of the original OB Rags are now available for donations. [Go here for those Rags that are available.]

Much later, in the early years of this century, folks associated with the Ocean Beach Grassroots Organization (OBGO) and the Save Ocean Beach Coalition published several editions of a new version of the OB Rag (see below for a sample front cover of this version). There are at least two issues of that version of the OB Rag scanned here in our blog.

So, here we are, with a third version of the OB Rag. Please peruse our posts, comments, and satire and join in. (For information of another San Diego progressive publication put out by some of the same writers of the current OB Rag, see below for “the Pie Shop.”



OB Rag – October 2002, Vol. 7, No. 2
This version of the OB Rag, was published by members of the
OB Grassroots Organization and Coalition to Save OB

“The Whole Damn Pie Shop”

A number of the current writers for this OB Rag published a left-wing magazine in San Diego during the first half of the eighties. Called “the whole damn pie shop” the magazine proudly announced on each front cover:

Our name is from a quote of a Brixton, England demonstrator who when asked in 1981 if he wanted a larger share of the pie, replied, “No, we want the whole damn pie shop!”

“the whole damn pie shop” No. 10 page 1

Describing itself as an independent left and progressive newsletter, the Pie Shop was initially sponsored by the Borderlands Education Committee – itself a creation of an Ocean Beach political collective. Current and occasional writers for the OB Rag, Frank Gormlie, Rick Nadeau, Michael Steinberg and Gregg Robinson all wrote for the Pie Shop from its inception in 1981 through the end sometime in 1986.

Issue Number 10 has been scanned and added to the site. Click the image to the left to view the whole issue.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

South OB Girl October 31, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Happy Birthday OB Rag!!


Elliott Blackwood October 31, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Great read. Congrats and best of luck on your continued success!


judi October 31, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Hey! I thought you were celebrating in Sedona. Did you have a party I missed?

Keep up the work. It may be harder after the election!


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