OB Walkabout Returns with No. 6

by on February 28, 2018 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Egret hunting at the river. All photos by Joaquin Antique

By Joaquin Antique

A perennial issue

Looking forward to it!

Gophers fleeing Robb Field for West Point Loma Blvd. Build a wall!

“Jump like a Willys in four wheel drive”

Vine ripening tomato in February!

Now just another non-descript OB garage door with a rusty handle, this garage off an alley at the foot of Cape May has some stories to tell.

Now just another non-descript OB garage door with a rusty handle, this garage off an alley at the foot of Cape May has some stories to tell.

In the early 1970s when the OB Rag was an actual printed-on-paper alternative journal, the garage served as its darkroom or photo lab.  The darkroom was set up by our main photographer at the time who lived in one of the apartments up front along with a rag tag group of other commie pinko activists.

The edges of the garage door were taped over so that no light could leak in and ruin the sensitive paper that was being enlarged, cropped, and printed under a single red “safety light bulb”.  The other door that accessed the garage had a thick blanket draped over the inside ensuring total darkness.

Of course, the hidden and secure nature of the darkroom made it perfect for something else:  Getting high!  Many is the time that some of the freaks that lived in the fourplex up front or their other neighbors on the block would pile into the darkroom to break up a kilo of Mexican dirt weed ($150 for 2.2 pounds back then!) or just to smoke a joint or two, free from the prying eyes and nostrils of the Man.

It was also the home of Big Blue, a nitrous oxide tank purchased from an outfit called, I believe, San Diego Medical Gas.  One of our budding Einsteins bought the tank and regularly got it refilled under the guise of “Armstrong Research”, an imaginary bio lab which he had invented.  As far as the medical gas company knew, we were using the nitrous to sedate small animals prior to performing unspeakable acts of vivisection upon them in the name of science, not that they gave a shit.

Actually we were using the nitrous to fry our brain cells and experience the euphoric wah wah wah that accompanies the appropriately nicknamed “laughing gas” high.  We’d hook up a giant rainbow colored balloon to the tank’s valve, fill it until it was about three feet long, and pass it around, taking hits until someone got so numb that he or she let go of the balloon and it shot around the room like a jet, to generalized hilarity.

In retrospect, someone could have been killed in that garage.  If we had conked out and the gas had continued to fill the room replacing the oxygen, we could have been asphyxiated. It’s happened to others!

As it was there were some minor injuries.  One friend chipped his tooth while taking a hit directly from the tank’s valve, a risky proposition in any case because you could freeze your lip to the valve which became super frosty as the expanding gas left the tank.  Another time we went into the darkroom to visit Big Blue and found a dude pinned under the tank, blissfully filling balloon after balloon, too altered or unconcerned to fix his situation.

Big Blue made a field trip to a party once and a friend who was sitting on the railing of a deck got so blitzed inhaling the gas that she went over backwards five feet to the ground, so relaxed that she was uninjured.  It’s amazing that we made it alive through those crazy times.

A couple years later, when I was living in Northern California, a dentist’s kids stole one of their dad’s nitrous tanks and were hitting on it in a confined space, their car.  They blacked out and died.  When I heard about it, I thanked my lucky stars that none of us had done the same in that tiny garage off the OB alley.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie February 28, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Hilarious anecdote, Joaquin! I missed out it appears on some of those gigs in the garage. Fun times.


Ol OB Hippie February 28, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Glad to see OB Walkabout back.


Molly February 28, 2018 at 5:35 pm

Crank up the wit there boy!


Kate Bell March 2, 2018 at 8:23 am

Wild and hilarious memories!


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