10 Questions with ... Ocean Beach community mainstay Mike James

Mike James with his children, Cat and Jack.
(Provided by Mike James)

For five decades, James — one of the James Gang brothers — has had a big hand in local business and a long list of events and organizations.


Ten Questions is a series in the Point Loma-OB Monthly that shines a spotlight on notable locals we wish we knew more about. This month’s featured personality is Ocean Beach businessman and community advocate Mike James, who has played a key role in a long list of local events and organizations.

Here is what James has to say about himself:

“Over the past five decades, I have been involved some way or another with Ocean Beach. In 1978, as a business owner, I was a founder of the OB Merchants Association (later MainStreet). At age 22, I was the very first vice president of the organization, then served as president in 1980 and 1983. During my first term as president, I proposed that the association sponsor the Fourth of July fireworks off the pier.

“Also in 1980, my late brother Rich brought down the first OB Christmas tree from Mount Shasta. I have been an announcer for the [lighting] event ever since.

“I served as Ocean Beach Town Council president in 1988 and entertainment booker for the Street Fair in the 1990s.

“Last year I founded Luminosity, a project to replace the no-longer-viable Fourth of July fireworks with a drone show and light festival” because of the pier’s structural problems, as well as environmental and noise concerns.

Now on to the 10 Questions:

Q. What attracted you to the Ocean Beach-Point Loma area as a place to live?

A. In 1976, my older brothers, Ron, Rich and Greg, started James Gang custom T-shirts in Ocean Beach.

I had just finished junior college in my hometown of Redding, Calif., and moved to OB that summer to go to San Diego State University. I worked at James Gang during the first semester.

That Christmas, the older brothers gifted my younger brother, Pat, and I a percentage of the business and we both began working full time. It was just meant to be that we would end up here.

Q. What are your favorite places to go in Ocean Beach and Point Loma?

A. I love just walking up and down Newport Avenue and visiting with new and old friends. There are a lot of great past and future memories on those last three blocks.

Currently my favorite thing is going to hear my favorite band, Tecolote Canyon, on a Friday night at California Wild Ales.

Q. If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add to improve Ocean Beach or Point Loma?

A. A solution for the homeless problem. Affordable housing for all OBceans.

Q. Who or what inspires you?

A. My brothers have always inspired me. Our shared passion of giving back to the community, which in turn over the past five decades has in some ways inspired others in Ocean Beach.

I am inspired by my brother Ron and late brother Rich and our shared love for travel.

Q. If you hosted a dinner party for five guests, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

A. On the top of my head, I would say my brothers and my sister Kelly, but for fun here is an alternate list:
Bill Murray, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo and Jesus.

Q. Tell us about what you are currently reading or watching on TV.

A. I don’t have time for reading or TV. I am too busy working on Luminosity, the drone show and light festival coming to Ocean Beach in July.

Q. What would be your dream vacation?

A. My friend Susan recently posted this: “Haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

I love Colombia and Mexico. I hope to explore more of Latin America and then Southeast Asia.

Q. What are your five favorite movies of all time?

A. The standard classics: “The Godfather,” both 1 and 2, “Casablanca,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Roadhouse.”

Q. What is your most prized possession?

A. They are really not possessions but definitely prized: my kids, Jack and Cat.

Q. What is your motto or philosophy of life?

A. Life is a journey, not a race. Enjoy!

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