Exactly 10 Years Ago the OB Rag Was Launched

by on October 27, 2017 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

Many don’t realize this image was hand-drawn by Patty Jones on her Toshiba Portege laptop.

It was early October in the year 2007 – George Bush was still president and the war in Iraq was in its 4th year.  I lived in a small cottage on the 4600 block of Long Branch with Patty Jones.

I remember watching the news in the livingroom and yelling at the anchors and pundits for parroting the Bush administration’s lies . It was upsetting and that anger had propelled me to be involved in San Diego’s peace movement.  The newspapers – especially the Union-Tribune – were no better. The truth, it seemed, had no outlet, both nationally – and locally – and the media only presented the corporate narrative. Progressive ideas were being stymied – I think there was just one liberal news caster on TV at the time, for example.

I recall this one program on TV – it was a documentary about the counter-culture and “the hippies” narrated by someone who should have known better, Peter Coyote. It was so bad – hippies, the movement, anti-Vietnam war activists were totally disparaged in a lopsided account of the late 1960s. I found myself literally yelling at the television and cuzzing out Coyote – (he had been a member of an early hippie network called the “Diggers” who distributed free clothing).

Patty – over in the dining area – had been putting up with all my ranting – finally said,

“Why don’t you start a blog.”

“A blog?” I responded. I knew what blogs were – sort of.

“Sure. I’ve been doing blogs for years – for my family, for work, … I know how to do them,” she said confidently.

“And,” she continued, “you could use the name of your old underground newspaper, the OB Rag.”

Boom. The idea was born.

(The OB People’s Rag was the name of a grassroots community newspaper I helped to start which flourished during the first half of the 1970s – see below.)

Over the next couple of weeks we prepared ourselves. Patty found a web platform we could use, hooked up with a reliable server and began doing the techy stuff that launching a blog out into the ether of the internet demands. She also began hand drawing the image on her old-school Toshiba portege laptop – an image we still use in our masthead today.

I began writing up articles to post for the launch and began circulating the idea to good friends who I knew could express themselves.

We didn’t know exactly what we were doing – but we thought people were using the internet more and more for their news – and the idea was to publish a platform run by progressives. And to reach out to other progressives and have discussions on important issues. Originally, we wanted to provide the San Diego scene with news and commentary from a distinctively progressive and grassroots perspective, and to also provide a forum for those views.

We wanted, as we stated then,  “to rebuild a sense of community, not only on the neighborhood level, but also among those of a kindred spirit.” Importantly, we also wanted to provide some kind of web platform for the Ocean Beach community.

Then the fires began – October 19th through the 27th or so. It was the Witch Creek Fire that devastated good parts of the County. Far from the flames, we could only watch on TV with some frustration at government’s response.

And during that week of the fires, we launched the OB Rag on October 26 – 27. There was no champagne or fireworks but it was still exciting.

We told our readers 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.

I began building a readership from all the emails I had already or received – and I would send out links to the blog. Gradually, we expanded our circle of friends and readers, established a solid base of Ocean Beach readers, with a San Diego, national and even international audience.

Psychologically trapped by the fires, our critiques began – and it’s true, some of our very first articles were about the fire, the extent and false expectations of “mandatory evacuations”, why it took so long for aircraft to be authorized to fly at night in order to attack the fires.

We suffered through that first year, slowly attracting sympathetic OBceans and San Diegans to our cause. We actively attempted to be a voice within the peace movement locally and tried to fire up discussions on the direction of the movement itself. We had only limited success as San Diego had only so many peace activists.

At our year anniversary – late October 2008 – we had a daily “visitor” or reader average of over 250.

And that Fall, we were joined by Doug Porter, who now is one of the primary writers and an editor for our online partner, the San Diego Free Press, and who also worked on the original OB Rag back in the seventies.

Also around that time, we were joined by Anna Daniels, who had been very active on city-wide issues over the years, and a community activist in her own neighborhood of City Heights. Today, she continues as an editor on the San Diego Free Press.

It was that Fall of 2008 – after nearly a year online – that we decided to focus more of our attention and energies on OB itself, the local businesses, very local, uber issues.

And it worked – our readership began to spike. Local OBceans it turned out craved news and info on what was going on within the nooks and crannies of the village, of local controversies, of the comings and goings of local businesses. We began to attract more writers and our readership just jumped by leaps and bounds. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ten years later the OB Rag continues to provide a web platform for OB residents and merchants, and covers local OB and Point Loma news, issues and events, meetings of community groups, with a special focus on local development and planning, restaurant reviews, and news from the merchants of the business districts.

Here are some of our milestones:

  • In November of 2008 the OB Rag along with the OB Historical Society, OB Friends of the Library, People’s Food, led a long but successful campaign to save the OB Library – threatened by city budget cuts;
  • By October 2009 we had a daily visitor count somewhere between 500 to 900.
  • Fall 2009 we began advertisements and sponsorships from local businesses; we began selling hot-looking T-shirts.
  • The OB Rag made national (even international) news in 2009 for our successful campaign to save OB’s firepits and our efforts to make local homelessness a human rights issue;
  • March 2010 we averaged between 750 and 1,000 visitors a day, and with over 26,000 visitors for that month
  • June- October 2010 we reached 40,000 – 43,000 readers,
  • Mid-December of 2010 we had our one-millionth page hit.
  • Fall of 2011 – we had our very best month – October with 108,000 visitors – during the Occupy Wall Street movement which we covered extensively.
  • Our two-millionth page hit in November 2011.
  •  In June 2012 OB Rag staff began publishing a new online journal for all of San Diego – the San Diego Free Press. .
  • Spring of 2013, we opened up a small office within the Green Store on the 4800 block of Voltaire Street.

While we’re tooting our horn, see here for more.

Ten years is a long time for anything, especially in these days of instant news.

We couldn’t have done it without the material and psychological support from good friends, readers and local businesses. So …..

Here’s to the next ten!


The OB Rag has had a plethora of writers, bloggers, contributors, photographers, and close supporters over the years – some of whom continue to write and contribute.

They include (alphabetized by last name):

  • 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.)

    Jon Christensen “JEC”,

  • Judi Curry,
  • Anna Daniels,
  • Bob Dorn,
  • Jim Grant,
  • Meredith Houlton,
  • Patty Jones
  • Mary E. Mann,
  • Ernie McCray,
  • Brenda McFarlane,
  • Jim Miller
  • Rick Nadeau,
  • Geoff Page
  • Doug Porter,
  • Dave Rice,
  • Gregg Robinson,
  • Michael Steinberg,
  • Jeff Stone,
  • Lane Tobias
  • Brett Warnke
  • Matt Wood

Others who penned or typed an article or two or took photos for us include:

  • Brittany Bailey,
  • Mercy Baron,
  • Jon Carr,
  • Kristin Condon,
  • Colleen Dietzel,
  • Stephanie Denton,
  • Chris Dotson,
  • Dave Gilbert,
  • Gary Gilmore,
  • Nate Hipple,
  • Barbara Houlton
  • Rich Kacmar,
  • Steven Kindrick,
  • Kip Kruger,
  • Annie Lane
  • Sarah Little,
  • Danny Morales,
  • Jim Noble,
  • Abby Normal,
  • OB Cindi,
  • Bill Ray,
  • Genie Sapienza,
  • Stu Seymour,
  • Sunshine,
  • Wireless Mike Williams,
  • John Williams.

The First OB Rag

Page 1

OB Rag – March 1972, Vol. 2, No. 8


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.



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


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Patty Jones October 27, 2017 at 6:18 pm

What a wonderful adventure it has been. Here’s a toast to the OB Rag!


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