It’s the OB Rag’s 15th Birthday Today – Oct. 26, 2022 – Here’s How It All Began

by on October 26, 2022 · 6 comments

in History, Media, Ocean Beach

That’s right, today and tomorrow are the OB Rag’s 15th birthday! We launched online over the two-day period, October 26 – 27 in 2007.

Here’s how it all started:

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 now, it’s fifteen years later. Whew!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle October 26, 2022 at 11:07 am

Happy Birthday, The Rag!
Everyone who made this publication possible has made a difference. You have been here to bear witness and inspire; outrage, joy, pride and anger!!! The world needs voices like yours, thank you. And it makes sense you’re a damn Scorpio.


laplayaheritage October 26, 2022 at 11:17 am

Happy Birthday OB Rag

Lovely origin story


Judi October 26, 2022 at 2:12 pm

Been with you a long time. Congratulations!


St October 26, 2022 at 2:40 pm

Congratulations A great publication for the alternative very Very needed in San Diego Thanks


Mat Wahlstrom October 26, 2022 at 4:46 pm

¡Feliz fiesta de quince años!


Steve z. October 27, 2022 at 2:42 pm

Always a fan!


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