Ten Years Ago to the Day: In Search of 420 in Ocean Beach

by on April 20, 2020 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Pier cliffs on 4-20 005-sm

Editordude: Exactly ten years ago today, on April 20, 2010, we published the following post “In Search of 420 in OB.” What a difference a decade makes, eh?

Closing in on the 4th hour of the afternoon on April 20th (4/20), I grabbed my camera and note pad and headed for the beach. I was in search of the 420 celebration, hoping to catch OBceans partying for the holiday at 4:20 pm. I also hoped I would have more luck than other reporters searching for the same.

Easing my car into the lifeguard parking lot, I scanned the beach for a cannabis style floatopia or some such event. Yet, I saw only a couple here and there on the sand, enjoying the last rays of a sun about to be gobbled up by in-coming clouds. No mass gathering of youthful civil disobedients on this beach, flaunting johnny law to light up on this holiday.

I proceeded towards the OB Pier. There must be something at the foot of the Pier – there always is, I thought, or at least according to those who cite young homeless around our Pier as the epitome of lawlessness. But alas, I only found a few folks sitting on the sea wall.

Actually there were some people I know filming high school surfers taking the great looking waves. After chit-chatting with them, I headed south.

Pier cliffs on 4-20 004-sealion -sm

Injured sea lion. The lifeguard said they had called SeaWorld.

Aha! I thought – there’s a knot of youngsters just south of the Pier. They must be up to no good. Upon arriving at this gathering, however, I realized they were all watching an injured young sea lion on the beach below. I joined them for a few minutes. A lifeguard drove up and told us he had called SeaWorld to come out and take care of the guy.

Glancing at my cell phone (who wears a watch these days?) I saw I still had time before the anointed hour. I asked a few stragglers heading north toward the Pier, “Where’s the 420 celebration?”

They pointed towards the cliff. One said, “Can’t miss it.”

All right, I thought. This is it. I quickened my step. I passed the sand pit, went down those ancient concrete steps, and headed out towards the cliffs.

Rounding the corner, I saw them. There they are! I walked up to the first group of ten or so, announced I was with the OB Rag and asked them if they were celebrating 420. I really didn’t need to ask, as I saw a half dozen pipes and short, suspicious looking cigarettes going. One girl was smoking from an orange.

All were friendly. Some had heard of our blog. So, I had no trouble being accepted, unlike that SDNN reporter I cited above.

At exactly twenty minutes after 4, a whoop went up. Nothing really exuberant but a shout out to the hour to announce its arrival. More pipes sprang into action. Just for the record, you should know, I did not imbibe.

Pier cliffs on 4-20 009-sm

The 420 celebration.

Many wished me and each other “happy 420”. I moved down the cliffs to another group and asked if I could take their photo. Most of them agreed. I said if you don’t want to have your photo taken, just look down or away. Some of the kids had medicinal herb cards so they didn’t mind. They effortlessly grouped themselves for the pics, some with pipes still going.

Pier cliffs on 4-20 010-smI thanked them and looked down the cliffs towards the coastal islands and I could see more small knots of people also celebrating. I really didn’t to venture any further as it was now past 4:20.

It wasn’t just a picture-taking adventure for me. I really did want to know if these kids thought the marijuana legalization proposal would pass on November’s ballot. So I asked everyone I could. Surprisingly, they were split on the issue. A bare majority didn’t think it would pass. Some, though, were certain it would. “They need the money from taxing it,” one thoughtful guy said. I wondered if most of them were old enough to vote or would even vote.

As I moved to leave a couple people even thanked me. “Happy 420,” I let out, and they returned the salutation. In seven months, I thought, it all could be legal.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

sealintheSelkirks April 22, 2020 at 12:55 pm

This OB-born surf kid was up the ridgeline behind my property sitting on a downed conifer with a full bowl of Trainwreck grown in my medicinal garden (yes I have a grow card) in my bubbler looking off to the west at the Huckleberry Mountains 8 miles away and several thousand feet higher still covered with snow on the tops of the 8,000 foot+ peaks. Practicing that social confinement with an old blind Husky girl, a couple of ravens, a bald eagle, and three whitetail deer.

Celebrating since 1966 during the World Surf Contest at OB Pier, baby!



Frank Gormlie April 23, 2020 at 11:02 pm

Michael Steinberg in San Fran sent this report:

No Contact High

Nothing can be normal now of course. This year’s 4-20 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was no exception. Hippie Hill was fenced in, surrounded by security forces who would have felt right at home in any other authoritarian regime exploiting the global pandemic for more power and profit.
As choppers hovered menacingly over the area, perhaps piloted by Agent Orange addled Nam vets, all that was missing was napalm silently descending on strung out freaks mistaken for latter day hippies when they were only deviant undercover creeps.
No matter that ganja was legal across the Cali landscape. Even keeping 60 feet apart earned you no pardon.
Meanwhile, not that far away in the Panhandle, adjacent to the Department of Motor Vehicles, dozens of denizens in tents tried to imagine a better life as they sprawled on cold hard concrete sidewalks, and carbon monoxide was the only thing smoking.
One cold water hose snaked thru the chain link fence from the deserted DMV parking lot. Not present: food sources, showers, masks and anyone who cared. As for virus test kits, they were, like for too many of us, just a pipe dream.
At the state capital the Governor’s mansion was under siege by flag waving red staters rallying to reopen everything that could further spread the virus and keep 45 in the Oval Office. Like their brethren in Michigan and Texas they screamed for their right to brandish weapons of mass destruction to conspire to carry more mass murder. Why wait for C-19 to slowly torture people to death. Let’s just get it over with!
And open up the massage parlors, pawn shops, no tell motels, all nite gin joints and all day anti abortion clinics-and we mean now!
Don’t forget we’ve got you in our sights and that’s all that matters. Elections, that’s so nowhere, totally obsolete. Open fire!


sealintheSelkirks April 27, 2020 at 2:42 am

Of course, Frank. Same as it ever was as a Talking Heads song lyric goes, but I do believe it is still appropriate in this context…

In most ways not much has changed at all since we were young. Not really looking behind the curtain. A new coat of paint over the rotting walls, a couple of new bushes out front to hide the crumbling foundation, some lawn fertilizer to green stuff up… It is so easy for those in power to flex the patterns that really have never gone away. But you know as well as I do what this country has always been based on. What has changed? Better weapons, MUCH better technology for delivery of thought control/propaganda,

The term ‘legal’ is so…quaint don’t you think? Men with guns have always had the last word when it comes to what is actually legal. Or moral. Or ethical.

Just like Wanker bush ranting about that ‘piece of paper’ years ago, or Biden railing at UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for telling the BBC that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was illegal under the UN Charter: “Nobody in the Senate agrees with that,” Biden sneered. “There is nothing to debate. He is dead, flat, unequivocally wrong.”

Same as it ever was. And again, our so-called ‘right to vote’
Imagine a group of longhaired hippy types, or wild-eyed surfers, or ‘menacing’ black people, or dirty homeless, surrounding the governor’s mansion carrying AR15s with pistols at their waists. Sure wouldn’t take long to be declared that an ‘illegal’ gathering don’t ya think? Got your ‘permit’ to protest corporate rule and the Oligarchy? THOSE get your ass beat as we well remember…



Frank Gormlie April 27, 2020 at 10:25 am

Seal! I used your 4 lines and now I’m getting hammered by one guy. How about playing some defense, dude.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: