The Coast News Group
Albert, a 600-pound silverback gorilla at the San Diego Zoo —and Mac Meda president. Courtesy photo

Branding Mac Meda

It’s Meda, not Media. Mac Meda Destruction Company, an organization, if you can call a group of wackos who drove cars off cliffs and destroyed abandoned houses just for the fun of it an organization. This was a group of misfits who found each other and helped make Windansea a welcoming home you never wanted to leave — or a place you were terrified to go near.

Those who weren’t there should either be eternally grateful they missed it or regretful of being born in a time when it is illegal to even have such thoughts as those fermenting in the brains of co-founders Jack “Mac” Macpherson and Bob “Meda” Rakestraw.

Neither Macpherson nor Rakestraw considered themselves worthy to be president of such a noble endeavor. That distinction belonged to Albert, the 600-pound silverback gorilla at the San Diego Zoo. Albert, whose name was listed in the La Jolla phone book, was public enemy No. 1. According to longtime Windansea surfer/T-shirt guru Doug Moranville, “The cops would pull you over and ask if anyone had seen Albert. I don’t think they ever did figure it out.”

Mac Meda Conventions occurred as spontaneously as a grease fire and were legendary affairs that made animal crackers of “Animal House.” They might start at the beach and move to Borrego or the then-undeveloped Sorento Valley. Cars were pushed from 300-foot cliffs, abandoned houses demolished and the edges of freedom knocked back beyond all acceptable boundaries.

Most who were closely involved with Mac Meda were not surfers but part of the infamous Pump House Gang, where so-called journalist Tom Wolfe had his leg pulled to the shoelaces and somehow managed to get everything, EVERYTHING wrong!  You had to have the right stuff to get an audience with the locals at Windansea, and Wolfe did not.

Other places for a non-surfing Windansea local to hang out were the wall, the penalty box or the lot. It was there, in the lot, that geniuses like Wayne Land, Al Nelson, Billy Graham (no, not the preacher) and Tiny Brain Thomas drew plans for their crazy world.

As you may or may not know, I am writing a book about Windansea. Stories of surfers like Tiny and non-surfers like Albert fill the pages. Albert was not available for comment, but I was able to interview most of the significant players from Windansea, including the spot’s first surfer, Woody Brown, who passed away in 2008, and modern-day ripper Chris O’Rourke, who died shortly before his 23rd birthday in 1981.

Among those who have helped in my research is Moranville, a longtime Windansea surfer. Moranville has donated his brilliant archival photos from times past along with his priceless memories of Windansea. Thanks to people like Doug, I realize that Windansea is more than a great wave. It is a way of life on the endangered species list.

Through Moranville’s Branding Iron T-Shirt company behind Mitch’s Surf Shop in La Jolla, the legends of Windansea live in the designs of “Not When the Surf’s Up Construction Company,” and the Windansea Surf Club. Mac Meda shirts are also available for those brave enough to wear them in public.

Leave a Comment