The Coast News Group
Doorman Diaries

Not all beach towns are the same

The band I’ve been playing with has been practicing down in Ocean Beach as of late, and the things I’ve observed down there never cease to amaze and entertain. 
It seems to be a little microcosm of society. A crazy mixed up society that’s only slightly less frightening than Tijuana. 
Even the studio we rehearse in isn’t immune to the requisite oddness. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is a big shaggy grayish white dog that lives in the studio. 
It also smells as though a  big shaggy graying white dog lives there. The poor thing is blind and just bumps its head as it walks down the hallway. Apparently its husky sonar isn’t working so hot. 
The bars are a bit different down there, too. They have a few larger, more popular places but those are always boring and predictable. 
The bassist lives in O.B., so he always takes us to seedy little dives where the real denizens congregate for social interaction. That’s where I watched two girls with dreadlocks duke it out over a pool game. 
Then I watched two trucker hat wearing gentlemen smoking inside the bar and putting those cigarettes out on their arms in some form of crude testosterone contest. Their toofless girlfriends were standing by their brave bar soldiers, cheering on the Darwinian rejects in a battle of brain damage and Jagermeister. I don’t know if they were acting on bravado or stupidity, but some carnival is missing its freaks. 
Occasionally, some of the bands from the studio play on the street next to the building. One mellow night while the streets were fairly busy, everyone was enjoying the music until all the homeless people stood right in front of the bands and started dancing. Wildly flailing their arms and carousing to Janis Joplin and Lynard Skynard covers, they were as entertaining as the bands themselves. I almost felt envious.
When was the last time you danced in public and didn’t care who was watching?
I don’t even dance when I’m alone for fear of catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror and offending my reflection. It was like Homeless Dance Party USA. I could see Ryan Seacrest with a bottle of Boone’s replacing his ever-present microphone. Disheveled and tipsy, he slurs his introductions of the urban dwelling dace phenoms. What sight indeed. 
Even police officers in O.B. are laidback. People are walking the streets with open beer bottles, cans, various forms of alcohol, guzzling away while the officers just kind of space out and watch the circus.
I watched three drunk girls stumble up to a male officer, give him a big hug and then hang on him for 10 minutes. Talk about community-oriented policing. 
Ocean Beach is an interesting place to spend some time. You can watch Hippie Olympics or homeless dance contests and then be ringside for the occasional female rasta boxing match.
It’s a place where police officers act more as baby sitters to the drunken masses and direct them to safe sides of the street, like crossing guards with guns.
So, the next time you travel to Ocean Beach, don’t forget to bring your patchouli and remember to dance like no one’s watching …