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Mendocino County Will Miss This Guy

Shane McCarthy, Paul’s son, announced his father's death on Saturday:

I don't know how to best post this, and truthfully, I wish more than anything I didn't have to. But I would rather you heard it from me.

Sometime last night, my father, Paul McCarthy, Passed away.

I'm in shock, and ... disbelief. Part of me is expecting a phone call from him reassuring me this is all just a big misunderstanding. I really wish that call would come. I really wish this was him just pulling one over on us.

But it's not.

My dad was a force of nature, who deeply cared for his family and every community he was apart. He touched more lives than I will ever know, and never hesitated to help others, even if it was at the detriment to himself. He was a true friend to many.

He once told me he did his best to help people out, as a “McCarthy Boys” way of life. He wanted to ride life on a wave of laughter, and I think he accomplished that, truly.

I lack the words to say how much he meant to me. I'm grateful that we had the time we did. My life would be far less rich without it. He was always there for me, sacrificing a lot as if, as he put it, “Noooo big deal”.

I know he would want us to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death. He took the end so lightly when I broached the subject he would look at my worried face and say “just throw me over the cliff in garbage bag”. We would both laugh breaking the tension before moving on.

I'll miss those moments more than anything. These words aren't enough, and I was never good with goodbyes.

But I'll miss you Dad. Rest in joy, rest in laughter. Rest in peace.”

Paul McCarthy's sudden death is a major loss for Mendocino County journalism. Paul was an old fashioned news hawk, a guy who seemed to be everywhere, whose energetic reporting on everything from current events to high school sports who parlayed a facebook page into a county-wide must read. Who was this guy who would drive from Elk to Covelo to report a high school basketball game while also commenting on a local controversy, throwing in a mention of the new In 'N Out Burger in Ukiah, a weather report, and a drive-by visual of Big River? Paul was a unique blend of amiability and truculence housed in a portly frame whose Boston brogue was developed in New Hampshire where he spent forty years before moving as far west as he could go, landing in Elk, an unlikely site for what became a daily, one-man newspaper from early in 2012 until last weekend. Paul was also a veteran of paper newspapers, an experience he put to good use in the new cyber-world of daily reporting.  

McCarthy (r)

When he died last weekend at his Elk home, cause not yet revealed, Paul's reporting had become so popular he'd just moved from Facebook to a website, managing to keep both as vital as any local daily newspaper ever was. No one around here could beat him on breaking stories. Here at the Boonville weekly we'd often joke, "Let's see if we can get this one up before McCarthy." We seldom did. 

Mendocino County journalism, such as it is in the twilight of paper newspapers, is much diminished. Paul represented the newspaper future — a daily on-line presence that is constantly updated to keep pace with events. This isn't a new idea but one Paul brought to life to the benefit of vast Mendo. His next step would certainly have been monetization, making his hard work pay money for his effort, which was huge every day all day. His successor, if there can be one, will have to have similar drive and discipline, not to mention the round-the-clock commitment Paul brought to his project. Paul's work ethic truly deserved the overworked superlative, awesome.

McCarthy somehow, hour-to-hour, managed to be on top of events from one end of the county to the other, Gualala to Covelo, Westport to Spy Rock. From his unique MendocinoSportsPlus you got a real sense of what wildly diverse Mendocino County is like, and few people loved the county like he did, as he posted everything from links to obscure public meetings to the handwritten lunch menu on the door of the Elk Store. And he covered, from his home sports base at Mendocino High School, boys and girls high school sports. SportsPlus was never false advertising. You'd call up MSP's facebook page and the world came rushing in. 

Old timers will remember when the Press Democrat not only paid two full-time reporters to cover Mendocino County, one in Ukiah, one on the Mendocino Coast, but all employed the great Herb Dower as full-time high school sports reporter. Mendo print media has deteriorated considerably since and is now on life support, just barely registering a pulse. But McCarthy knew instinctively how central to the life of this place high school sports are, and he faithfully made that grueling late night trip from Elk to Covelo to Point Arena to Boonville to Fort Bragg to Laytonville to bring the ball game home to Coast fans, of whom there aren't a lot but they make up in enthusiasm what they lack in numbers. As a measure of his influence, I noticed on a Covelo facebook page tributes to McCarthy, some others from Point Arena, at least one from Laytonville, and lots from the Coast. All this inspired mostly by his commitment to high school sports but, as time passed, he attracted large numbers of Mendo people who loved the array of information he managed to accumulate, and he was boldly outspoken, too, often delivering a big horse laugh at the insufferably pious liberals dominant on the Mendocino Coast, few of them accustomed, and all hostile to, in their self-regarding echo chamber, to the impiety Paul served up.

Mention of Herb Dower reminds me that Coast am radio, KMFB, featured a heavily audited morning talk show hosted by Ed Kowas and Lindy Peters. Nothing like it now, and when Ed turned out to be a Wisconsin judge who'd gone on the lam to hide out (where else?) in Mendocino County,  and the long arm of the feds reached out one day and snatched him into the federal pen for a couple of years, Mendo, as the passing of Paul McCarthy has done, was suddenly a less interesting place. Some of the glue was gone. All of these people and institutions put real community into the county, which is what McCarthy also did. His sudden passing has shocked and saddened this vast place like no other has in some time.


The salami in the Mendocino Coast's media sandwich (Mendocinosportsplus - yes it's only one person). He tortures people, he raises the rabble, he goes over the line sometimes (and he knows it, he's not a monster), he once photoshopped a… No I won't tell that one. He said terrible untrue things about me and my boss. But he always offers me a smoke so, WTF. Another thing he does is keep the media feed and a very important part of actual freedom* going strong when it's faltering so many other places. Morning to night, local news, emergency news, all kinds of crazy sh*t, scanner gossip - hey: you love it as long as it's not you. Don't lie - seven days a week, and of course he covers local high school sports like they were the 1920s New York Yankees. Hey Paul McCarthy: Who holds the record for spikes in a season for Mendocino High School volleyball? In a game? Who was the coach in 1997? He knows all that. He bailed my ass out a million times (full disclosure). 

But he is the Fourth Estate (Fifth? Or is that the Fifth Dimension? Diane Bessette? Do you remember? ) around here. Anyway, it means we're like equal to government and can fk with them (and anyone) mercilessly and there are no rules for us. It's against the Constitution. Isn't that what Mrs. Pepper taught us, Diane?

You think Second Amendment people are fanatics?

So you're lucky you have him, Mendocino Coast, and not some weird ahole.

Live Free Or Die! He's from New Hampshire. So are my cousins. They make them tough as sh*t there.

— Chris Calder

Whoa, just walked in and saw this post, damn SAD.

I never met Paul, but we had periodic email exchanges when I'd send him tips and such, and he'd occasionally Thank me for some of my posts to the Announce list. He was a big part of our coastal community, and through his consistent efforts it became much closer knit. Where Paul found the time to keep MSP vital and timely I don't know, but he did and it was a valuable resource for us on the Mendo coast. He was our own Kym Kemp/Redheaded Blackbelt, and he'll be sorely missed. May his family find much love, support and solace during this tragic time.

— Derek

I just got the sad news that Paul McCarthy of Elk passed away Friday night, according to a post from his son Shane McCarthy. Paul lived on the north side of Elk Creek at Hwy. 1. He created and maintained the MendocinoSportsPlus (MSP) news page on Facebook, with multiple posts daily with his own coverage of school sports or news gleaned from scanner listening and his own roving up and down the coast with his camera. He was a good guy and always sought to serve and help the community. He started MSP as an outlet for his coverage of his son Shane's school sports events, and soon expanded it to include bits and pieces of community news. After Shane's graduation and departure for college, Paul continued to travel to and cover high school sports, but his page was more and more filled with non-sports news. Paul grew up in New Hampshire, and his accent gave away his roots.

— Nick Wilson


Lindy Peters interview with McCarthy:

KGUA Interview, 2013:

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