A week ago, Daily Grindhouse and the world entire lost Mike “McBeardo” McPadden. This was an awful shock and a devastating loss, because Mike was a true force of vitality and energy and positivity. It’s not just the case that only the good die young. This sure makes it feel like it’s only the best. In a year of too many unkind cuts, this cuts deepest.
Here is one must-read tribute from one of his closest collaborators. I am just one of many people who have been feeling heartbroken. The fact that Mike’s death has affected me so profoundly only goes to show what a special person he was to every person he touched, no matter what level of closeness. In truth, I didn’t have occasion to know Mike anywhere near as well as I hoped to. I worked with him as DG a contributor for the past few years, but we never did get to meet in person, and while I always imagined we’d have more time to get to become better friends, I guess now that will never come to pass. I’m mourning the friendship we could have had as much as the one we did have. That is to say that if I’m feeling this bereft, I cannot imagine what his family and his longtime friends are feeling right now. My thoughts are with you all. I’m sending you all the strength and love I have in me. If it’s okay, I’d like to say a few more things to remember him on this site that he so kindly supported.
It’s funny to use such a polite word to describe such a heavy-metal guy, but McBeardo was a delight. I wish I could express in words the joy I felt whenever a new piece written by him arrived in my inbox. He addressed me in emails as “Juan.” Even doing the drudgery of pitching and attaching submissions in correspondence was occasion to have fun for him. And when you read what he sent in… good god, again, what a delight. I collected them in (I think) their entirety below, for your reading pleasure — and it will be pleasure reading them, I promise you. I don’t think Mike was capable of putting sentences together that weren’t entertaining. He was like a set of encyclopedias got mixed in a lab with a grab-bag of comic-books.
I was an admirer of Mike’s work before he came to Daily Grindhouse, which I believe happened courtesy of my pal Mike Vanderbilt, who surely has his own reminiscences to share. This website is a labor of love for me and everyone else who works on it. As busy as McBeardo perpetually was, he would always come back here periodically to offer something incredible. I never asked him what he liked about the site. I like to think we have an independent streak and a roving curiosity that made us kindred spirits to him, because he surely did have those qualities in abundance. This isn’t an easy business. It’s a crowded field, and not always a kind one. The fact that someone whose talents were as in-demand as Mike’s were would keep coming back to DG to contribute such terrific work was something that I valued beyond my current ability to communicate. He didn’t have to, but he did. I will forever be grateful, and inspired to pay it forward.
Mike was one of those rare people — I’ve only known a couple, and my grandfather was one — who knew something about everything. He wrote brilliantly — and accessibly — about even the so-called stupidest things. A sincere love of underdogs, and entertainers and works of art that were themselves underdogs, is one of many things that drew me to Mike’s work. Take Anna Nicole Smith as one example. A real-deal American sex symbol with screen presence that couldn’t be denied, even when she fell out of favor with the public, she spent her final years as a reality-show punchline to most. But not to me, and not to Mike. Periodically, I go reading up on some of my pop-culture fascinations, and about a year or so ago, Anna Nicole Smith crossed my mind for whatever reason. I went looking for writing that treated her with respect, without misogyny or weight-shaming, and found one terrific article on her under-discussed B-movie film work, only a little surprised by the name on the byline. Of course McBeardo wrote smartly and lovingly about a performer for whom nobody else was doing that. I knew I could count on that guy.
That’s not to say McBeardo and I agreed on everything. In fact, we frequently diverged, on all sorts of topics, but to me, the highest compliment I could pay another writer is that I love to read what they are thinking despite my total disagreement with their thesis. More than ever, readership appears to be trending towards the echo chamber, not just politically but in the field of cinema. People want to see their own ideas and values confirmed in everything they consume. Mike stood in opposition to that. He knew how much could be learned from opposing points of view and he knew how much fun it can be to disagree. It was a pure thrill for me to run his hatred for MANDY and his love for CATS, even though my own feelings on those particular films fall closer to the opposite side of the orchard. I don’t expect or need anyone to love everything I love, and I sort of appreciate that the stuff I don’t love still has someone else to love it. I have the feeling Mike was the same way. His distaste for STAR WARS was well-documented, but I never heard him begrudge or attack anyone for feeling differently, and even that distaste was often leavened with appreciation for the earlier, less conventional work of George Lucas, just to take one example. It’s one of many examples worth following.
Mike had the qualities I most value in a person: Honesty, bravery, loyalty, sincerity, and enthusiasm. I admired how up-front he was about what he was into. It’s very low on the list of issues about American life in 2020, but for straight white men of advancing middle age, it can be a delicate dance to write and talk about exploitation films in an open and honest way. Times are changing; yes, for the better, but that does make the kind of work we do trickier to navigate. Mike didn’t worry much about that, or if he did, it sure didn’t show. He was upfront about his appetites and likely learned from his time writing for Mr. Skin that there’s nothing wrong with being a little naughty. A guy can be a red-blooded male with carnal urges without being angry or aggressive about it, and at the same time a guy can also be loving and kind and truly enjoy women for their intellectual perspectives. I couldn’t name a personality of his stature who did more to elevate non-straight-white-male voices in this field. There are many better-equipped to bolster this assertion than I, to be sure, but it’s true that he was good to a whole lot of people. He sure was good to me. Search his name anywhere online and you’ll see nothing but kind words and affection. I have been fortunate to connect with many great people even in this saddest of moments, all because of our shared appreciation of this phenomenal dude. Even in his absence, Mike McPadden is introducing people to each other.
In the end, what can you say about missing someone? My own life was better for him having lived. The fact that he acknowledged Vanderbilt and I in his incredible book Teen Movie Hell remains one of the fondest moments in my decade or so of working with film writers online. I couldn’t have expected that level of recognition. I never would have thought I made that much of an impression. He didn’t have to, but he did.
In chronological order, here are McBeardo’s contributions to Daily Grindhouse.
by Mike “McBeardo” McPadden
TEEN MOVIE HELL: A Crucible of Coming-of-Age Comedies from Animal House to Zapped!, by Mike “McBeardo” McPadden
- [THE BIG QUESTION] WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE ENSEMBLE IN MOVIES? - July 22, 2016
- [IN THEATERS NOW] THE BOY (2016) - January 24, 2016
- Cult Movie Mania Releases Lucio Fulci Limited Edition VHS Sets - January 5, 2016