Walking in L.A.

Just what it says.

Walking in L.A. Hollywood., originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

Walking in L.A. Downtown., originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.


Found Persimmon. Dec 2010

I saw this on the sidewalk while walking in my neighborhood this morning. Yes, it's a bit gross to pick up partially-eaten food (or any food) off the ground, but I felt compelled to add it to my found objects records, because this particular object was a poignant reminder of a recent occurrence.

Found Persimmon. Dec 2010, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

A few weeks ago, my mom was rushed to the hospital via ambulance, because she couldn't breathe. Her airway had closed up due to an allergic reaction to eating a persimmon.

(She's fine now.)


Found Page. Nov 2010

Found in a driveway on a walk in my neighborhood.

Translations, anyone?

Found Page. Nov 2010, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.


Found List. Nov 2010

I found this list in a grocery store checkout aisle. I love the organization of it, and that "ANNIVERSARY CARD" seems a priority...

Found List. Nov 2010, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.


Kings as Saints

Wow, how I love this body of work by Linsley Lambert--specifically, these dear old Los Angeles Kings;

God of the Ice (Wayne Gretzky)
40" x 30" 
Oil on Canvas, 2006, by Linsley Lambert

Avenging Angel (Marty McSorley)
40" x 30" 
Oil on Canvas, 2006, by Linsley Lambert

King of Kings (Dave Taylor)
40" x 30" 
Oil on Canvas, 2006, by Linsley Lambert

AND, although he is not a King, I must include Joe Sakic, my all-time fav player;

Persero (Joe Sakic)
40" x 30" 
Oil on Canvas, 2006, by Linsley Lambert


keep sharp

...or at least try.


Lynelle in the Sun

...aka Portrait of a Best Friend, edition 2. [See ed. 1 here.]

Lynelle in the Sun, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

Kung Fu master, Master of Fine Arts, Lion Dancer, rescuer of kitties, and "that cute girl who works in the cigar shop." Would you ever guess any of this if you saw her? Probably not. Oh, and I forgot to mention that she is also one of the funniest, most warm-hearted and caring people in the world. Lucky me.


i made that

i made that, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.


tumors and mice

tumors and mice , originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.
Yes, been readin' the ol' 1 Samuel...



I've known of the album A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed is Inconceivably Mediocre…  by Yonlu for a little bit now, but was reminded of him tonight when a friend sent over some home-made music that was reminiscent of this.  Yonlu's music is more than deserving of a dedicated blog post...

It's already a pretty melancholic collection of home-made songs, but that is overshadowed by Yonlu's suicide at age 16.  Apparently, in a last note, he told his parents to listen to his music when they missed him.  Ugh. Heartbreak.

This is a really lovely album with some beautiful yet simple melodies, sound exploration, and hauntingly sad lyrics.  Take off your hat and give it a spin.


Psychological Suspense... Documentary?

Yes, folks, that is what the film Catfish is. It's a crazy story of a boy and girl falling for each other--over AIM and Facebook communications.  My jaw dropped (literally) several times whilst watching this film, and my emotions were taken on a wild ride.  It's one of the best directed psychological thrillers I have seen, and the only one that calls itself a documentary.

There is drama and much speculation as to how much the filmmakers knew while documenting the virtual relationship of the lead subjects.  There is such a controlled unfolding of details that it seems to be scripted--or at least anticipated and expected by the filmmakers.  Alas, even the most neutral documentary cannot escape the fact that it stands on some biased vantage point.  I am personally not too concerned with Catfish's manipulation of the story.  In fact, I think it is apropos.  Because of its calculated direction, the audience is swept into the emotions of the story, giving this cautionary tale a sharp hook.  At the end of it, you walk away with this little internet-age ethnography haunting your thoughts.


let's get [site] specific

In excitement for an impending camping trip, I am imagining pitching my tent right by this thing:

Flame (Gate) 
 Light installation, 2009
850 x 530 cm

see more installation images of this work...
See more from artist Yochai Matos...


What's going on in your life?

Wait--don't answer that question. Take a break from your world and go to Docu Weeks (NYC and LA). There is nothing quite like a well-made documentary to remind you that you are not the center of the universe. To be able to see the joys and struggles of people from a faraway place or histories that never made the books is a blessing of living in our time.

Last night, I got to see Louder than a Bomb, which was followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. In the film, they told the stories of four urban Chicago High School students and their experiences being on school-sponsored slam poetry teams. These kids are incredibly bright and passionate, and in poignant ways, mature. From classroom, to home, to stage, these four lives (and teams) were shared in such a humbling way. It's crazy to think that this doc was made because the filmmakers happened to be driving by the theater hosting Louder Than a Bomb 2005, and wondered what it was that had all those kids standing in line for poetry on a Saturday night...

I hope to go back to the Arclight in Hollywood to see a few more films before Docu Weeks ends on Aug 19. Treat yourself and do the same!



Unicorn, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.
Here is the first of a series of large format shots I took in a local urban forest. This image depicts a massive puppet I helped to make, which was used in a performance at the grand Kulakoff wedding. If you poke around a few posts back, you'll find some scans of the Polaroid tests from the shoot.

Large format film, I love you. Never leave me.


Jamie Drake + Palace

Last week I had the honor of dusting off the ol' 4x5 cam and photographing this poster project for Jamie Drake and Palace.

Jamie Drake is a super-talented songwriter, singer, and snazzy dresser. She will be starting a residency at Hotel Cafe every Wednesday in August.  Give yourself a preview here.

Palace is the design haus of Erik Buckham--a typography and illustration wizard, who moonlights as a popcorn busker.   

Two great/wonderful/special people, check 'em both out.


art morsel

Check out this delicious still-life by Theo Mercier. Photography is all smoke and mirrors...
"The Regrets of the Fish Head" 
Theo Mercier, 2008.


Collaboration Benefit

I'm pretty excited about this one. I just downloaded a collaborative album by the Dirty Projectors and Bjork, by donating toward the effort to protect international waters for the sake of marine life. (It's for all our sakes, really).

Here is the image of Nor Cal's Mt. Wittenberg that goes along with the project:

The album is called Mount Wittenberg Orca,  inspired by the sighting of a killer whale from atop a ridge on the Mount. Check it all out for yourself at MountWittenbergOrca.com.


Wedding Portraits

This morning, at an undisclosed forest location, I was given the honor of making a series of wedding portraits for Mark and Jehoaddan Kulakoff. A group of friends (myself included) had made these man-sized puppets for a surprise performance at the Kulakoff reception last month, and the couple loved them so much we brought them back to life once more. These are some of the test Polaroids.

Here is the bride in the Orb Master's robe. The Orb Master was the narrator in the original performance.

Here are Mark and Jehoaddan wielding the scepters of fire and snow. May they reign together for all their years to come.


checking in

Hey, amigos!  I've been busy with work and a basket-full of projects--sorry for not keeping up with the blog!  A special little parcel of my time has been spent with the Paperbacks (Myself, Dianna Park and Gena Peterson), rehearsing and recording with Jason Diaz.  Here is a sweet EPK from the Diaz camp, in which we have a little cameo appearance... 

Jason Diaz EPK from Jason Diaz on Vimeo.


Happy Mother's Day

by Dorothea Lange, 1939

Dorothea Lange was a documentary photographer who worked under the Farm Securities Administration (USA) during the Great Depression. Her work is recognized in part by the many images of mothers and children in the harsh context of migrant agricultural life and homelessness. I've always admired her for documenting the fullness of experience of the people she sought to portray--from the iconic "Migrant Mother" photograph to this, lesser-known, image of a smiling mother. Lange was a mother herself during her FSA work.

God bless all you mothers!



I'm trying to get better at drawing crows, but I'm still not very good at it.   I decided to try cutting one out, and that went o.k.  I used the handout from Boadrum 2008, which made for nice plumage.


judging by covers

I totally judge books by their covers. The cover is the shell of objecthood for the book. When you crack open a hard-bound work, reading becomes not only an intellectual endeavor, but a palpable physical experience as well. I appreciate publishers that give/allow special consideration to the physical/visual aspect of their books. To hold a beautiful thing in your hands is one of the little joys in life.

My love for beautiful books was awakened from its nap when I found this little gem last week:

 It's from an anthology series published in the 70s--the textured gold paper cover is right on for the era.

Here's another book from my humble collection.  This one is a bit older, printed in 1911.  The cover features a letterpress design on traditional book cloth.

Here's another old guy.  I'm not sure when it was printed, but the novel was copyrighted in 1899.  The cover is laminated with wood!  Is it weird to cat-call at a book?  I just did.

Anyone else have some fancy covers lying around?


glass music

I'm totally digging on this album from Glass Ghost (Brooklyn!). I dig the bizarre narrative lyrics, which is a writing approach that is usually a hard sell for me. But they are just the right kind of quirky, with just the right kind of homemade beats behind them. Don't let the word 'beats' throw you off, though--the overall feel is pretty low-key. Oh, and a really cool thing about this album is that each track features a number of musical contributors--the fab Sharon Van Etten being among them. So rad. I love a good, friendly collaboration.

If I had to throw some "sounds like"s out there, I'd say this has tinges of Bjork, Animal Collective, Air, and Sunny Day Real Estate.

Fave tracks are: "Violence," "Divisions," and "Time Saving Trick."

Over and out.


Come one, come all!

I'll be singing back-up for Jason Diaz this Friday @ the Roxy. The last show was such a blast. Come out and kick off your weekend!


fun times in rehearsal

Jason Diaz Band, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

I may or may not have personally told you, but I am one third of a Motown-inspired vocal trio. We are called The Paperbacks, and we will be singing backup for Jason Diaz and his band at his next few shows. We just got out of rehearsal, and we had a blast all by ourselves--but we want *you* to have a blast with us, this Thursday at the Viper Room and next Friday at the Roxy.

4/1 at the Viper Room we'll be opening for Jonathan Tyler + the Northern Lights; 4/9 at the Roxy we'll be opening for Nikka Costa. Both our sets at 8 PM.



Aaron is a Church DJ...

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday--the commemoration of Christ's dramatic return to Jerusalem in his final days before crucifixion. For my church, it was also the first Sunday holding two services (which we will be providing henceforth). I was asked to photograph the occasion--specifically, to document the intermingling of people coming and going between services.

I arrived to find Aaron Ballard, member of The Parson Redheads and owner of Ballard's Artwork Framing, spinning some major, smile-inducing, old-time gospel music.

I went up to chat with Aaron, and he asked if I wanted to see an album his Father and Grandmother recorded. I made him hold it up for this snap: (his Father is hidden by the glare, his Grandmother is on the lower left.)

What an amazing family legacy, no?? Needless to say, it was super sweet to learn that little tidbit about my amigo and his fam. Also, he said he'll be DJ'ing more during the between-service slot in the future, so come on over and hang out. Next week would be perfect, in fact--it will be Easter! The best service of the year! I'll be singing in the choir during both the 9:30 and 11:15 services. It's Ecclesia Hollywood, right on Hollywood Boulevard in the thick of it. Location and parking/metro info can be found here.



succulent design

succulent design, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

I painted a pot to provide a fancy home for this handsome "Indian Corn Cob" cactus, who was to be a birthday gift.


Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick's Cathedral, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

In 2004, I got to travel to beautiful Ireland. I saw so many amazing things; Saint James' Gate, the Book of Kells, the Blarney Stone, the Black Abbey; and the astoundingly beautiful St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.

Tomorrow, the world honors the famous Scottish Saint, who devoted most of his life to serving a people who originally captured and enslaved him. Cheers to Saint Patrick!



So, I've been branching out into drawing these days, trying to start a regimen to get good. Truth be told, one of the reasons I started off in photography is that it was a kind of "automatic drawing." (As it was conceived/pitched back in the 1800s...) I had images I wanted to make, and I didn't want to wait and suffer my time-consuming, incompetent hand, poorly translating the vision of my mind's eye. Fortunately, I grew to love the photographic medium for much better reasons, and adore it now for all that it is.

That being said, I also adore illustration. As I quiet my mind and attempt to re-orient my workflow to a much different pace, I am seeking out inspiration to shut up my frustrations. Lucky for me, I have an amazing Hannah Stouffer print hanging outside my bathroom door, and it reminded me to check out what's going on with her. I didn't realize all she was doing out there in the world, with both her personal art and her commercial endeavors. She's pretty amazing, pretty wild. I can't get enough of her snakes, birds, and elk in their spacey, psychedelic wilderness. With Marty Stouffer (Wild America!!) as half of her immediate gene pool, it's no wonder the root of her work is the natural world. [sigh] I pretty much love everything she does.

'Black Roses Tell a Story' ink on paper 20 x 20" 2008 Hannah Stouffer

'The Lost Stormr' ink on paper 20 x 20" 2009 Hannah Stouffer

You know how much I like sharks, right?

Oh, and she also did this wolf illustration for Nike Snowboard team rider Laura Hadar. Will someone please buy these for me? *L*


good morning

good morning, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

This is my first true day off in a while. Even though I have a ton of housework to do, I get to be home. I get to stay in my PJs and go about my day at a relaxed pace.

As I was finishing a breakfast of spiced oatmeal pancakes and coffee, I had the random urge to sharpen a nearby pencil. Not wanting to hover over a trash bin, I let the shavings fall into my empty cup. Looking into it made me feel like I was reading tea leaves.

Yes, I will draw something today.


white wolf

Back in December, I got to shoot stills for an indie music video for the band Kitten. Here are a couple images from the batch...

"white wolf" video shoot

"white wolf" video shoot


portrait on film

Joseph Barkley, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

Here's a recent portrait I took for Joseph Barkley. Music composer, performer, speaker, and all around nice guy.

Also, he's the Lead Pastor of my church, Ecclesia.


golden kelp

San Diego, originally uploaded by Secret Ultra M.

I went to San Diego last Thursday, and had a mini photo safari sesh with Kate M...