Thursday, 30 November 2006

Jack Macpherson, a key figure in the 1960s Southern California surf scene who co-founded a fabled group described in Tom Wolfe's "The Pump House Gang" has died. He was 69.

Macpherson died of liver and kidney failure on Nov. 16 at a La Jolla hospital, his son, John Macpherson, said Wednesday. He called his father "an old school surfer who had a great life."

"Mac" Macpherson was never mentioned by name in Wolfe's 1960s magazine article about Southern California youth culture that became the title selection in the book "The Pump House Gang." However, Wolfe did mention the Mac Meda Destruction Company in his chronicle about young surfers who hung out at the sewage pump house at La Jolla's Windansea Beach.

The Mac Meda Destruction Company was named for the antics of Mac and his friend, Bob "Meda" Rakestraw. Crew members wearing football helmets and wielding sledgehammers demolished condemned houses for fun (with the owners' permission, he said) and held wild parties.

At parties, Rakestraw "wouldn't just walk into a house, he'd run through the door and jump out through a window," Macpherson told the La Jolla Light in 2003. "People would say, `Here comes Mac and Meda. They're a walking destruction company.'"

Wolfe described the company as an "underground society" that "is mainly something to bug people with and organize huge beer orgies with."

The crew's logo was a mushroom cloud. Macpherson stenciled it on T-shirts and it began showing up on cars and windows around town. Even now, Mac Meda shirts and car stickers are produced in La Jolla.

But at the time, police suspected the young people were involved in some kind of dangerous gang.

"The cops hated us so much that you could get arrested for walking down the street in a Mac Meda shirt," Macpherson told the surfing magazine Longboard.

Macpherson was a postal worker for years, retiring in 1991. He also was a bartender at a Pacific Beach pub, London's West End, which features Mac Meda memorabilia.


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