Mac Meda editors note: This is a strange interview – in fact we got a few emails and calls on it … now really, how could 10,000 people show up at the West End?
November 30, 2006 – This a Mac Meda radio interview by Luke Burbank, titled: Jack MacPherson, the Ultimate Beer Buddy – a Southern Californian surfer who became famous for organizing “beer orgies,” recently died of liver and kidney failure. MacPherson had been the inspiration for [that still a dork], Tom Wolfe’s novel, The Pump House Gang.
MIKE PESCA, host:
NPR’s Luke Burbank has joined us here in the studio with a story about a guy who seems to have embodied California – at least the sun, sand and suds part. Luke, take it away.
LUKE BURBANK: Well, I don’t know if you remember, but yesterday I was carrying around this obituary from the L.A. Times of a guy named Jack MacPherson, who passed away in La Jolla. What got my attention, and a lot of our attention, was actually the headline, which is Jack MacPherson, 69, La Jolla Legend Known for Huge Beer Orgies. And I mean I had never seen an obituary headline like that in a respectable newspaper sort of operation. So I decided I would call around and try to figure out who this guy Jack MacPherson actually was.
(Soundbite of telephone)
Mr. TIM McMULLEN(ph) (Bartender): West End, this is Tim.
BURBANK: Tim McMullen is a bartender at London’s West End pub, which is actually in La Jolla. For the past 20 years, the West End served as the backdrop to Jack MacPherson’s life. He drank there.
Mr. McMULLEN: He told me that he’s been drinking 18 beers a day for 50 years.
BURBANK: Then, when he retired from his real work as a postman, MacPherson, who everyone there knew as Mac, started working the 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. bartending shift at the West End.
Mr. McMULLEN: He’s an icon. You could see it from a block away. The guy was a total icon.
BURBANK: Brad, TB, or Tall Brad, as he’s known around the West End Bar, was friends with MacPherson for the last 30 years. They met when Tall Brad was just a teenager. He was medium-size Brad back then. MacPherson was already about 30 by then. He was the son of a San Diego surgeon, and MacPherson and his buddy, Bob Rakestraw, had already formed a sort of weird, pro-bono demolition gang known as the Mac Media Destruction Company.
Mr. McMULLEN: They just enjoyed demolishing things, and they would literally do it for free.
BURBANK: As long as the owner bought them a keg, the Mac Media Destruction Company would totally demolish an old house using sledgehammers, brute force and reportedly sometimes even a member of the San Diego Chargers football team. Mac Media grew and grew in the 1960s. Actually, 10,000-plus people would show up for birthdays at the bar where MacPherson would hang out.
Mr. McMULLEN: That’s pretty legendary. The FBI always wanted to know what, you know, what sort of gang this was. Everybody was totally perplexed.
BURBANK: It wasn’t actually a gang as much as a sort of loose affiliation of deadbeats, doctors, trust-fund babies and other assorted weirdoes. The Mac Media scene was even immortalized by Tom Wolfe in his book, “The Pump House Gang,” published in 1968. Jack MacPherson’s favorite foods, in order of how much he consumed, were Budweiser, Spam, chicken hearts, string cheese and pickled eggs. Still, says Tim McMullen, he was fit up until the very end.
Mr. McMULLEN: He could do a Chinese push-up like nobody – like my son can bench press 350 pounds, and my son couldn’t do a Chinese push-up.
BURBANK: A Chinese push-up, by the way, in La Jolla parlance, apparently being harder than a normal one. MacPherson certainly lived the life of a surfing party boy, but not all his friends were happy with the L.A. Times obituary headline saying he was legendary for throwing beer orgies. Tom McMillan(ph), who owns the West End Pub.
Mr. TOM McMILLAN (Pub Owner): Yeah, orgy. I mean, why do you throw that word into it? I mean, it’s synonymous to group sex and – I mean it’s horrible and just, you know, it killed me when I saw that.
BURBANK: McMillan remembers a guy who, however hard he partied, always showed up for his 6:00 a.m. shift no matter how late he’d been out the night before. He says McMillan was late two times in 20 years. Now Tim McMullen, who took over Jack MacPherson’s 6:00 a.m. shift, said his buddy loved to sing.
Mr. McMULLEN: And then his favorite song was “Your Feets Is Too Big” by Fats Waller. We’d sing it together.
BURBANK: Can you – I know it’s kind of early. It’s 6:32 in the morning. Can you give me a few notes of “Your Feets Are Too Big?”
Mr. McMULLEN: From the waist up, you sure are sweet, but from there on down, there’s just too much feets.
BURBANK: Jack Mac MacPherson will be remembered with drink specials all day December 10 at the West End bar in La Jolla.
Luke Burbank, NPR News.
Link and article supplied by Eric Masterson.
The mailman! He went out on his own terms. That is more than a lot of assholes out there who don’t deserve to wipe his dead ass. Dick Dutton and the Fireflies, and the MacMeda girls in capes and bikinis. Jack gave us lots of reason to have fun. Lots of beer,surf, lots of Sunshine. Go out in style…. remember those old folks home suck–no matter how much money you have.
Namiejay and Doug M – Thanks so much for the awesome posts on Scratch. It was great to read about his childhood. I never knew all of that stuff. He lived with us in our house in the Shores (it’s now a restaurant across from the 7-11) around 1969-71. When my mom (Laura Dalton) and he broke up, we went our separate ways and didn’t see Scratch for many years. But finally in the late 1980s we had a reunion. He got to know my sister, his daughter, Catharine Dalton, and I got to know him better. He was a wonderful guy. I was only five when he lived with us. But I remember him saying, “Ginny scratch my back!” Hence the name I guess! I visited him in the hospital at the VA when he was dying of lung cancer. I think he had a good life. Didn’t know about the wake. Catharine has since become close with his sister (her auntie) and her cousin Lynn. Catharine has been living in Bali near her cousin for the past year. Check her out on facebook. CathArine with an “A”. Named after her grandmother, Scratch’s mom, but my mom can’t spell! Cheers! 🙂
Boydd Galland (North County) says
In 1970 I drew Jack MacPherson in a “Drunk Draw Volleyball Tourney” held at Cardiff State Beach. We had to drink one beer before every game and we could drink as much as we wanted between games. Guess what? Jack and I drank more beer than anyone and we won the tourney like we were sober as a judge. Jack was my beer buddy that day and I will never forget him. “Have a cold one for me Jack”
Born Peter Haydyn Andrews in La Jolla, 1937. You don’t get a better La Jolla pedigree than this…his grandfather was Kingpin Nathan Rannells. His mother was Catherine Rannells and Gregory Peck was their cousin.
Scratch and Jack had been friends since kindergarden. Scratch was Best Man at both of his marriages.
His parents divorced. His father took Scratch to Central America in the late 1940s, where he attended the local schools, becoming fluent in both Spanish and Portugese. He then returned to La Jolla in the 50s (another close friend was Lee Evans). He parted company with LJ High and his mother was not too excited that Nathan Rannells’ grandson was no longer a Viking. “Maybe you can go up to Hollywood, like your cousin Greg, and meet a nice girl like Audrey Hepburn,”. The film ‘Roman Holiday’ had recently been made in Rome. Instead, he became a fisherman.
I met Scratch at the West End in January 1985. Totally unforgettable. Tall, rangy, too good looking…he reminded me of the character Lee Marvin played in ‘Cat Ballou’. He’d flirt with you and tell you all of Jack’s wives and girlfriends were beautiful.
You knew Scratch had been in town because he’d drop a chunk of fish at your doorstep. Later he’d drop by with tales of “Diff’s shop in Hawaii,” or tell you how to pronounce Gregory Peck’s wife’s name…Veronique (Ver. O. Neek).
His daughter, Catherine Dalton, a dead ringer for her dad…as children, they were both blonde, freckled and green eyed.
Scratch passed away March-April 1993. The wake was held at the West End. Art Haworth’s family, Donnie and Laurice Tomlinson, Liz Courtney were by his side all the way.
Scratch…one great La Jolla native son.
P.S. There is a future post regarding Lee Evans’ report card, but it can wait.
Doug M. says
Scratch was a good guy. Really cool, lots and lots of people liked him!
He was fluent in Spanish and one night when the TJ cops had us they liked Scratch so much they cut us loose. He and Jackie were the best!
Ginny, are you related to David Stokely?
Ginny…Your stepdad was one of my favorite people…He was the greatest! Mac had an incredible photo of Scratch…taken when he was about 18…I used to melt when I heard his voice…he and Gregory Peck definitely had similar vocal patterns.
Timmy Turtle…You had to be Mac’s best friend in the last years…when I wasn’t able to take care of business…you guys handled it. Best wishes always…Jamie (AKA Warden).
After bartending with Mac for five years, I never met a more wonderful guy and I’m sure everyone would agree with me…He’d help anybody that needed …Best years of my life thanks to you Mac , JK, and so many great people and you know who you are…He was very giving…Why do you think the Warden stayed with him for nine years….Thanks everybody
My oh My, Stop trashing and bashing. REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES, OR SHUT THE F— UP!
Wow the internet rocks. Mac was my stepdad’s best friend in high school (LJ High), Peter Andrews, they called him “Scratch”. He died of lung cancer in 1990. He is survived by his daughter, Catharine Dalton (my half sister). A surfer, alcoholic and fisherman till his dying day…I will find the picture I have of Mac and Scratch at Sea Lane in the early Mac Meda Destruction Company days… Cheers!!!
Having spent pretty much everyday with Mac , bartending and drinking after our shifts for five years..I know that everyone out there that knows him as well as I did would say that he was an incredibly kind and great man..He’d give anything he had, if it would help….Why do you think Jamie(The Warden) lived with him for nine years??..AND..By the way…It was a fricken blast to hang with Mac and Mike..I miss them everyday
I agree Doug.
In all my conversations with Mac I would have to say, I never heard him use a Derogatory term toward anyone or thing.
As life goes on some people need a few Hooks to facilitate a nap now and then.
Lisa S says
Mac never said a bad word about anyone–that was my experience.
As someone who lived with Mac the last 9 years of his life…the effects of beer finally caught up with him…in the last few years of his life, he hated everything…esp. me! He was racist, sexist, agist…his favorite activity was woman bashing.
Really…I’d forget the last 10 years of Jack’s life…that was a severe alcoholic. The only good thing that happened to him was meeting his 2 grandsons…
Doug M. says
LJ Womper says
Tom-Tom (thats what Mac called Tom) who is one of the owners of the West End,shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as Mac. Mac couldn’t stand him ( and would roll over in his grave if he knew Tom had a Mac-Meda shirt on!!). He hasn’t been around long enough to warrant mention in this article.He’s lucky to have known Mac period.