Conventions – Keg Party – Drunken Beer Orgies and Wild Women

mac meda convention

The first Mac Meda Convention in Sorrento Valley in 1963 - Photo by David Osborn

A Los Angeles Times reporter once wrote, “ … drunken beer orgies and wild women” when referring to a Mac Meda Convention.

No doubt, Mac Meda perfected the keg party, if not invented it.  And the greatest technical advancement to the keg party was the invention of the plastic trash can. Lightweight, somewhat strong, could hold a keg perfect and most important; it provided the right size container to pack about 100lbs of ice to keep the keg cold on a hot Sorrento or Carmel Valley or WindanSea day.

When plastic trash cans started disappearing around La Jolla, the town knew Mac Meda was getting ready to have a Convention. It was Mac Meda’s lingo for a keg party and one that started to get Mac Meda their wild and debaucherous reputation.

Pacific Beach’s Chips Liquor or La Jolla’s Dicks Liquor or The Liquor Box once they heard a Convention was being planned, stocked up on their kegs. At the time, a keg of beer cost, $40, with a $15 deposit for the keg.

What separated Mac Meda keg parties, sorry Conventions, from all other keggers was very simple Meda mentality or logic. It was not how many people were coming … but how many kegs were ordered.  In other words, the number of kegs, determined the number of people. Hummm! Here is a typical conversation on the next Convention.

Meda #1: “Convention, Carmel,  Sunday.
Meda #2: “Kegs?”
Meda #1: “Eight.”
Meda #2: “Bitchen!”

The keg tap or pump was rarely rented, that’s because most Mac Meda Convention organizers already have a few stored in the trunks or underneath the seats of their cars for those sudden beach keggers or like what Butch Van Artsdalen did one time.

Browns Ranch Mac Meda Convention in 1968

Carmel Valley, Browns Ranch - Mac Meda Convention in 1968 - Photo by David Osborn

The concept was simple. Get a few kegs of beer and several hundred Dixie cups, find a nice quite location, charge $1 for all the beer you could drink, and just do it! Word of a Mac Meda Convention spread faster than the clap in a whorehouse.

And screw all those that frowned at such rakishness behavior, including the cops who would spend a God-amount of time searching for where the next Convention was being held.


Mexico Mini Convention in 1968, which eventually became known as Mac's "Summer Camp." Check out the wooden kegs. Photo by David Osborn

Sometimes a mini Mac Meda Conventions were held in Mexico,  and eventually became what Macpherson called, “Summer Camp” which is a whole new category on its own.  Others were held in Sorrento Valley but finally to  the back country of Carmel Valley, with their big annual one on the 4th of July, which was held either at  La Jolla’s  WindanSea, Sea Lane and/or the Pumphouse beach.

Back in the 60s and early 70s Sorrento Valley was the back country. Take the Carmel Valley road turnoff off Interstate 5 in Del Mar and head east.

Turn left at the T (later a Dennys was built, which made a perfect landmark and a place to sober up at) and take the first right  … follow the road (or just follow the cars) pass Rosendo’s Hideaway to the split in the road. Take the right on the dirt road until one got to a straight road lined with Eucalyptus trees. It was that section one would looked for the rundown gate that looked like it was the turnoff for Grand Central Station.

This was the entrances to Browns Ranch and the legend grinds into second gear.


  1. From Davy Jones Locker says:

    Jack had the BEST laugh! He sometimes would be choking from laughter. He even laughed in his sleep…you’d hear him chuckling away, dreaming of a joke he was going to tell the next day…one time, I was watching Michael Bovee’s Liquid Stage on PBS (an added plus, music by Jon Close)…there was a section on Butch Van Artsdalen…towards the end, the announcer’s voice grew somber and he said, ‘And Butch died of complications from alcoholism’. Jack was passed out on the floor, snoring up a snore…piped up “there you go” and continued snoring, without missing a beat…miss him

  2. Tom Barber says:

    Sorrento Mac Meda Convention
    The sorrento valley convention was Jan 10 …. my birthday. We had around 16 cases of Red Mountain Rose. The girls used them as seats.. Our “Afternoon Delight” was two quarts Squirt to one gallon of wine, coarsely blended in an open keg (add dry ice and limes)…… If anyone ends up caring about the recipe.
    We wound up with about 85 gallons. It should have been closer to 98 gallons but some went up in the air.
    It was too good……… someone has a picture of Eric Carpenter who can be seen shooting bird across the radiator of my ’53 Chevy Flatbead.
    I am fairly certain everyone got absolutely and completely ripped…..a blackout. Everyone told me that it was delightful…. A kind soul politely drove the truck back to Jacks.
    A few days later, Richard Barber(at that time the principal of La jolla High) had a colorfull lot to say about “Misfits and Juvenile Delinquents” in the la jolla light.
    Jack would be in absolute stiches when he brought that story up. He would always finish. saying that my dad “never had a clue”.

    The Grub

  3. Harry Marriner says:

    When was the Cuyamaca Park Convention? It must have been 1963 or 64, but I can’t remember. I still have a MacMeda Tshirt stenciled in red letters by Mac himself from that party. (how can I send you a picture of that classic? Copy and paste doesn’t work in this comment section)
    The rangers tried to kick the convention out of the park, but Eric Carpenter poured a beer in the bed of their pickup and they took off and left everyone alone.

  4. Harry Marriner says:

    To: Gary Wickham-Isn’t the pickup in this video the same black pickup that’s in your classic “Wickham Movie” in the part about the party in Baja Calif? Remember our trips to TJ around 1961 to the Long Bar, Aloha Club, Cherry Hill, Blue Fox and ? Harry
    (P.S. Gary was the main source of Tom Wolfe’s information about The Pump House Gang.)
    To: Harry Marriner-Why yes it is, and the guy driving is named Grant and the guy trying to kill himself we called “Indian”. This was taken from Bob (Atkinson)Madrone’s van leaving Rosarito Beach.
    Not only that, the ENTIRE ” Mexico Convention” film was footage that I shot. In my complete film there is old footage of Maynard’s Bar and lots of other LJ stuff.
    Peace Gary Wickham

  5. The best scorpion anecdote involved TD’s quote…”I like the bite of a scorpion…it reminds me a shot of tequila,”.

  6. There are tons of Summer Camp stories. Mac’s truck got bagged on the way home from Hussong’s parking lot, never to be seen again. I will post some photos from Summer Camp one of these days. Mac with a Halibut he speared, Anton with a major black eye from a beach chair he was struck with, watermelons spiked with vodka and the results from it, group photos ect. Got lots of em.

  7. PS. The first baby to attend Summer Camp was Bobby Moranville…Jack shook his head. Babies at Summer Camp.

  8. From what I know, there was only one Mac Meda Convention held in Baja…in January 1966, a Convention was planned for the Tijuana New Old Bullring. At the last minute, the location was changed to Rosarita Beach.

    1967 was at Palomar College and was part of the San Diego landscape…Neil Morgan mentioned the location…sort of a forerunner of Rob Hagey’s Street Scene.

    1968 was Windansea…Jon Sarrett’s classic photos recorded this one.

    1970s…Bill Decker and his brother-in-law Robin Crosby dominated these…with music and good times.

    On Summer Camp. The location was discovered by ??, who was flying over the coast south of Ensenada. They looked down and spotted a beach with white sand. A quiet, idyllic beach…a site which would host Fantasy Island.

    A trek was planned…there were no roads. Everything went over rough terrain. This was 1974. The 3 originators of Summer Camp were Mac, Hammer and TD.

    Summer Camp went from 1974-2002. Always in August. A lot of ethyl alcohol was consumed. A lot of halibut was speared. Cliffs were dove. Limericks were recited. Scorpions bit someone. The Mac Meda stories were told.
    And then it was time to pack it up. Stop by Hussong’s on the way home. And get ready for Labor Day and the Fall party schedule.

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