For a long time Ocean Beach has been notorious for the independent and rebellious spirit of its people. The countercultural mix includes hippies, bikers, surfers, skaters and artists among many others. There are political activists and environmentalists. There is an air of libertarianism that is less than subtle; I've always gotten a laugh out of seeing a 60's VW bus with a bumper sticker that reads "U.S. out of Ocean Beach" or "Die Yuppie Scum".

Also in the mix are fairly mainstream folks, even conservative folks who have been in the military and keep their lawns neat. I always found it touching how people seem to get along just fine in spite of the cultural gap. As a volunteer poll clerk for many elections, I always felt a sense of pride in my neighborhood when everyone would show up to vote whether they were wearing skate shoes or Armani loafers.

One of the interesting products of the Spirit of OB is the OB Rag, a community newspaper founded by countercultural members of the community. I'm glad to see the OB Rag has been reincarnated in electronic form as the OBrag.org blog. The people behind the OB Rag are former members of the OB Grassroots Organization, a community-based group that was politically active in the defense of the environment and social justice issues.

As OB becomes increasingly "gentrified", I worry that the Spirit of OB is being diluted by a changing demographic brought on by an economic environment that is literally pricing OB out of the range of its stalwart bohemians. Many have already been forced to move out of what was the last affordable beach community by sharp increases in rental costs. For the mostly working-class OBohemians, buying property has become virtually impossible in the hot-air bubble market of the oh-oh's.

The VW buses driven by long-haired hippies are being replaced by Hummers driven by Starbucks-binging yuppies. The charming craftsman-style single-family homes are getting torn down by the legion to each be replaced by 2-4 cookie-cutter-style condo conversions. The mom-and-pop coffee houses and eateries are being threatened by the corporate kitsch that defines the cultural vacuum of the United States of Generica.

Yet the OBohemians are not dead yet. They may smell funny, but they are still around, alive and kicking, and one place you can still find them from the comfort of your home, wherever that may be, is OBRag.org.

Check them out at http://obrag.org. If you like what they do, give them a couple of bucks. For the price of a mocha java from Starbucks you can keep the Spirit of OB alive for another day.

Comments

OB_Rag_Patty July 12, 2008 @ 10:12 a.m.

Wow dude, thanks for the plug!

As our blog nears its nine month anniversary we have seen a great increase in readership and interest. After meeting Frank last year, seeing the old OB Rags and hearing the passion in his voice when he spoke about it, I started pestering him to start a website with the same name. Having had some experience with blogs and Wordpress myself, I registered the domain obrag.org and told him it would be there when he was ready to start writing again.

His first post was born out of the firestorms of last fall, a critique of the local media coverage of the fires that seemed to be swallowing the county. We had, only days before, sat on the edge of Sweetwater Reservoir and watched the flames creep over Mount San Miguel and burn towards my mother's house.

Since then we have learned a lot, been able to connect with many different people, have included posts from other writers and continue to grow. We hope to continue to fill in the gaps, covering issues that San Diego corporate media ignores or simply refuses to report.

Peace and respect, Patty @ the OB Rag http://obrag.org

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WT_Effman July 14, 2008 @ 10:54 a.m.

Patty, many thanks for the comment with more background on OBRag.org.

More than a plug, I would say my post is a tribute to people like yourself, Frank, and the entirety of the membership of the Ocean Beach Grassroots Organization throughout the years. You have all been the real keepers of the Spirit of OB and deserve credit for it.

By the way, Frank may have taken exception to my comment about OBohemians smelling funny. I did not mean that in a personal hygiene way, I was alluding to a comment made by Frank Zappa in his song "Bebop Tango (of the Old Jazzmen's Church)", when he says that "...jazz is not dead, it just smells funny."

The funny smell from the OBohemians is kind of like patchouli on cedar wood -- or something like that. The scent is fortunately still in the air in spite of the suffocating plastic stench brought in by the fog banks of gentrification.

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