Ocean Beach is like a "Time Capsule," dating from the 1960's to the Present and it's citizens reflect that aspect more than any other community of San Diego. Individuality and creativity are second only to the concept of freedom. Of the earlier adage, "Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll," it is drugs that have taken the forefront role, or at least that is the prevailing feel while in OB. Not long ago OB'ceans went door-to-door asking people to sign their petition to legalize marijuana. They are basically pacifists, but are ready to revolt if the wrong kind of change--such as Starbucks trying to open a store on Newport Avenue--threatens their sense of individuality.
The attitudes of the people, their dress and their stores reflect their uniqueness. It is not surprising that their style becomes the norm, making way for some pretty unusual characters to standout in the crowd. OB'ceans are tolerant of the homeless and other characters, like the Maurader or the "OB Spaceman" who gravitate towards the environment of this community as long as they are peaceful and harmless.
If what I have just written makes you re-think the idea of visiting OB let me tell you about the gentleman pictured here.
He was not on the OB Pier when we walked up the stairs. We encountered him on our return. I use the "un-official" name, "The Gospel Singer" because that is what he is doing, singing Gospel songs on the pier for all to hear and even join him in song. If you enjoy his songs, drop something into the hat to help him. What I admire most about him is, that he offers his talent freely and is not "begging for a hand-out." He seemed to be a bit of a "character," was very pleasant, sang well and IMO deserved a generous tip.
In OB there are at least eight pet supply/service businesses. Of these choices, the most interesting--and to me, unique--is:
Dog Beach Dog Wash
4933 Voltaire Street
They are open seven days a week from 7 am to 9 pm and besides offering supplies and services for your dog, they offer a "self serve dog wash!!" Their location, about two and a half blocks east of Dog Beach on Voltaire makes this an ideal solution for anyone who can't stand the idea of sand in their car or a dog that smells of fishy salt water.
Didn't bring your cleaning supplies? Don't worry, they have it all there!
Ocean Beach is not a unique area when it comes to having a sense of community, but the message in OB is more noticeable at a casual glance. Almost every place you go in OB you will see some sign of this desire to share information.
At the People's Organic Foods Market one of the windows serve as a bullentin board for neighbors to put up notices, ads and various bits of information they want to share. At Dog Beach, a big metal paw stands at the entrance and is usually littered with notices about lost animals or services offered regarding your pet.
There are signs in windows warning about the evils of giving money to panhandlers and there are signs for sale that may be serious or funny. As you walk along the streets in OB notice these signs and get to know the things that are important to OBceans.
On my way up to the OB Pier, I saw a cordless phone and what looked like a cell phone on the fire wall under the Pier. There too was a bicycle near this guy taking a nap. I wouldn't have left my phones or bike out in the open like that because I'd be afraid that they would be stolen while I slept. Okay, I wouldn't have taken a nap on the fire wall to begin with, but the point is, it caught my attention because it is something I'm not used to seeing.
On my return, the phones were still there, as was the bike, but the guy was no where in sight. Remember that Volleyball net with the stuff left behind while the players ran off for a swim? No one bothered those items either.
There are few places where you could leave your valuables out in the open and count on them being there when you returned. I think OB is one of those places. However, I don't advocate that you should test my assessment.
The "Think Outside The Box" campaign is a popular effort to encourage OB'ceans to shop, dine and choose services offered locally. In OB the majority of businesses are independently owned. This means that there are very few chain-type businesses in this community and that is the way OB'ceans like it.
However, the downside for the community with so many individually owned shops and restaurants is that they can be severly effected by a drop in business. Of course, the upside is that when things become difficult, the community will "circle 'round" and help in any way possible.
The banner hanging over the doorway of the Olive Tree Marketplace encourages everyone to support the OB business community by shopping locally, instead of shopping outside the area.
This method works and for the most part the economy is healthy enough. However, keep in mind that some places may have gone out of business since you were last here or between the time you read these tips and the time you arrived for your vacation.
Olive Tree Marketplace
Hollywood has its "Walk Of Stars" and Ocean Beach has it's "Tile Project."
Along the curb of Newport Avenue you'll see six inch square tiles with various messages written on them. Anyone who pays the price, about $120.00 per tile, can leave a message of their own or honor a loved one. This is a pretty interesting way of sharing information about the people living or maybe even just visiting OB.
I also noticed a few tiles on a small concrete wall next to the co-op market, but don't know if these are part of the "Tile Project," or just something started by the co-op people in the same vein as the tile project. Whatever, it is something unique to OB and gives further witness to the sense of community OBceans have.
Take a few minutes to read a few.
Time seems to stand still in OB, at least it moves very slowly! A wonderful place to walk down memory lane--1960's and 70's--for us older folk.
In my time the two biggest draws was Surfing during the day and hanging out at "The Bath House,"at night.
If you are older than me, I don't mean the bath houses on the beach where you'd clean up after swimming in the ocean.
If you are younger than me I don't mean the bath houses that gays frequent.
The Bath House was one of the hottest night spots around. It was dark and OB dingy, they only served beer and wine and "acid rock" was the music of the times.
Honestly most everyone there was stoned except me, but what I really liked about it is that everyone was friendly, mellow and would not hassle you, if you weren't interested. Though the Bath House is no longer there, the friendly, mellow, no hassle feel still dominates Ocean Beach and the young people of today seems to have inherited the mood.
These days surfing is still the popular thing to do and there are night time hot spots that appeal to the younger generation so don't worry.
Ocean Beach is right in the flight path for San Diego International Airport, so jets often fly directly overhead. The noise of their engines can be loud enough to drown out conversation on the ground.
A friend who lives in OB says that the locals have become accustomed to the interruption and simply stop speaking mid-sentence and continue when the plane has passed. They call this "The OB Pause."
I'm told that actors in San Diego's Balboa Park do something similar, where they freeze until the engine noise has died away.