Electric Wizard

This is English stoner doom band Electric Wizard, live at The Warfield in San Francisco (April 30, 2018), complete with crushingly high volume and seizure inducing video accompaniment comprised of flashing, brightly colored psychedelic artwork superimposed over biker movies and Satan worshiping smut films from the 1960s. It all worked really well together.

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These three photos were taken with Lightroom Mobile on an iPhone 8 from the back of the lower floor of the theater. They were edited in Lightroom Mobile and then finished in VSCO. They're super grainy, and shot from to far away, but I think they still deliver.

And just because I was interested in how wel the Squaresapce mobile app worked, I wrote and published this post on my phone as well. Nifty. (Update: I had to go back in via the computer and make some tweaks to the post. The mobile editor's not that hot.)

New Sounds: Late Night Old Man Jam BS

When I’m not holding down the fuzzed out, fucked up low send in The Loyalists, I have some occasional musical inclinations that lean toward something different.

I started work on this mellow little joint last year, and got lost along the way (not that there’s much to it to get lost in, but that’s just how life goes). I jumped back on it this weekend, and spit out this two-minute jam.

The drums are programmed — because I don’t have anything like an MPC right now to sample and chop sounds — but I played the bass and guitar, though an Ampeg V4B, and did the recording and mixing through a Presonus Firebox into GarageBand on an iPad Pro. The result is pretty rough, but the process was fun, and I think the tune is too...

Familiar Paths, New Angles

I tend to traverse the same paths. My commute between home and work, the errands I run around town, and the tracks of my life are generally through streets that I'm very familiar with because I'm on them with such frequency. The trick is keeping my eyes open — a trick I'm still practicing most days — because even though they look like the same streets, that's not always the case.

With that in mind, I've been carrying a little digital point-and-shooter more often lately, and shooting as I go. The results have been mixed, but here's a recent collection of passable photos I've snapped in the streets as I've made my way through my various routines...

 San Francisco, CA. 2018

San Francisco, CA. 2018

 Oakland, CA. 2018

Oakland, CA. 2018

 San Francisco, CA. 2018

San Francisco, CA. 2018

 Oakland, CA. 2018

Oakland, CA. 2018

 San Francisco, CA. 2018

San Francisco, CA. 2018

Happy Accidents: Expired Film Fail

Some months back, I had a few rolls of film developed, and added a few shots to the black and white film gallery.

Most of these photos were shot between April and July of 2017, I finally had the film developed in early August, and then immediately left the country for a couple weeks. When I returned, I didn’t really look back at these (had lots of travel photos to go through, and lots of every day life stuff to deal with).

Fast forward several months, I was recently reminded of these shots while digging back through LightRoom. Among the black and white photos was an out-of-place roll of color film... Turns out that, when I was preparing for a quick trip to Los Angeles in April, I accidentally loaded a roll of Kodak color film I thought I had thrown away. It was one of a handful of rolls I found in an old camera bag, and they were obviously expired. When I realized what I had done (which wasn’t until I ran out of film at 24 shots, thinking I had 36), I figured I’d get the roll developed anyway, just out of curiosity — I had gone through the trouble of shooting it, might as well see what I got.

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Most of the photos were shit. The expired film was exceptionally grainy, the color was really washed out, and the overall effect was not just that of a Hipstamatic ‘70s camera filter, but truly that of long expired film. Bad.

Two images I made at The Getty Center, however, caught my eye: a photo of a hedge and rail (below; an image similar to one I made in digital black and white on the same trip), and a multiple exposure photo (above) that occurred at the very end of the roll, because the film had stopped advancing...though it took me a few snaps to notice because I accidentally loaded a 24 shot color roll instead of the 36 shot roll of TriX I had intended to use, and on top of that, the advance mechanism in the Minolta I was shooting with was breaking and about to fail completely. (It suffices to say that it's good habit to throw away old film, and not do 100 things at once while loading film into a failing camera.)

As far as happy accidents go, I like these two photos. I think the hedge shot has real texture to it, beyond just the extra graininess of the expired film, and a depth that grows the longer it's observed...if that makes any sense. I think the multiple exposure is cool, too — three (or maybe four?) shots from outdoor entry area at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, all washed out in grainy yellow, yet still somehow pretty well separated.

These two shots kinda made the whole roll and experience worth it.

Four Days in Los Angeles [a photo set]

I went to LA for a few days in July on a sort of mini vacation, to catch up with friends, eat, drink, wander around... pretty much find the sweet spot between vacation levels of lazy, and still doing cool stuff.

That weekend was really hot, like 100 degrees, in absolutely dead air, where I was staying — with friends in Echo Park for a couple of nights, and then in Downtown LA, where I spent a couple nights at The Ace

I jumped on a train and went out to Santa Monica and Venice to spend a day in the coastal breeze (what little of it there was), then spent a few more days eating, drinking, and making photos around DTLA, and soaking up the air conditioning at various museums — LACMA, MOCA (& MOCA Geffen), and The Petersen.

It was a good way to spend a long weekend...

 Dirty Habits. Santa Monica. 

Dirty Habits. Santa Monica. 

 New Money, Venice Canals.

New Money, Venice Canals.

 Lone Palm, Santa Monica.

Lone Palm, Santa Monica.

 Reflections, DTLA.

Reflections, DTLA.

 DTLA.

DTLA.

 Bradbury Building, DTLA.

Bradbury Building, DTLA.

 Gafler, DTLA.

Gafler, DTLA.

 Echo Park, Los Angeles.

Echo Park, Los Angeles.

 LACMA.

LACMA.

 "Levitated Mass," LACMA.

"Levitated Mass," LACMA.

 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, The Petersen.

1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, The Petersen.

 Lowrider [detail], The Petersen.

Lowrider [detail], The Petersen.

Lightroom for iPhone & "RAW" Camera Photos

I started learning and using Adobe Lightroom in earnest recently, and part of the deal with it is included apps for mobile devices. I was discussing some of the finer points of LR with a buddy who works at Adobe, and he told me that, on newer iPhone models, the native LR camera shoots in a "RAW" mode with quality that surpasses that of the phone's basic camera software, so I've been playing around with it a bit.

I'm been pretty impressed with the results — both the camera and the editing software — so I've set up an iPhoners gallery. It's sparse yet, but I suspect I'll be adding to it at a faster clip than some of the other galleries I've got going here so far (this whole site is a work in progress, anyway). 

Here are a few of my favorite early experiments with LR on an iPhone 6s...

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Black and white shot, converted from color, with fairly high contrast, pretty smooth, and has some nice detail.

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Downtown Oakland, view from the east side of Lake Merritt just after sunrise on a clear morning. The light at that time, under those conditions, often casts a golden glow on the cityscape that's pretty bold, with a similar reflection on the lake. I think the LR camera captured the scene nicely, and I was able to make it pop a little more in LR while retaining a natural look. 

My favorite buskers at the Grand Lake Farmer's Market in Oakland. Shot in color, converted to black and white. Nice contrast, clean details.

Thoughts on Saraceno & Sultan at the SF MoMA

One of my favorite perks of working in the City is the SF MoMA. I have a membership (totally worth the cost if you go with a guest just twice in a year), and enjoy the benefits of it as often as I can. Just strolling the collection early on a weekend morning before the crowds swell, or a Thursday evening is pretty great. Which is exactly what I did this past Thursday — grabbed some dinner nearby after work, then hit the MoMA with no plan, just wandered, and ended up seeing two really good exhibits.

Tomás Saraceno's Stillness in Motion — Cloud Cities is an installation of geometrical shapes constructed of wire frames, and in some cases mirrors and even helium balloons, suspended by tethers attached to the floor, walls and ceiling of the gallery space. The pieces themselves are architectural in nature, and represent, according to the museum's statement, "[Saraceno's] visionary proposals for airborne cities build upon the artistic and architectural experimentation, forward-thinking radicalism, and progressive social change of the 1960s and 70s." 

The overall effect of taking in the scene can be a little disorienting, because the installation pieces aren't constrained to the walls like traditional museum works of art, they're floating. The webs created by the tether lines that suspend most of the pieces contribute to the ethereal perspective of the experience.


I checked the the MoMA site that afternoon and saw that the new Larry Sultan photography exhibit, Here and Home, wasn't scheduled to open until 4/15 (Thursday was the 13th), but I was happy to find it open early as I wandered the museum after seeing the Saraceno show. Sultan's photography has always been a bit paradoxical to me — I find it equally kind of off putting, at the same time also very compelling and fascinating. There's a raw nerve element to his work, a naked realism that often feels uncomfortable but is beautifully devoid of pomp or pretense.

This show contains a couple hundred photos from throughout his career (Sultan died in 2009), including his famous The Valley series — photos of homes in the San Fernando Valley that were used as sets for porno films — as well as his Pictures from Home series, which features Sultan's parents and their Southern California home in the 1980s. The heaviness in much of Sultan's work is sheathed in the mundane, every day middle class trappings of suburban scenery, which belies the depth of artistic exploration that becomes apparent upon closer inspection.

I snapped a few iPhone shots as I hurried through the show (the museum closes at 9pm on Thursdays and it was about that time), but these photos — aside from not doing any justice to the originals — don't begin to scratch the surface of what this exhibit has to offer. I'll definitely be seeing it again before it closes in late July.

The Loyalists, "The Momo"

The Loyalists played a show at Winter's Tavern in Pacifica, CA a couple weeks ago (with our friends and rad bands The Tunnel & Color TV), and to celebrate we released another song off our forthcoming second album, Ride the Trashheap of Sound. This one's a lot less stoner-y than the last song we leaked from this record ("Shamfrancisco"), but it's just as ugly and noisy...maybe more so.

Also, we've got a little tour mostly booked in May, starting in Chico, CA on Thursday 5/11 and running up to Portland, Bellingham, and Seattle. I'll post dates and venues here as they're confirmed (a couple are all set, just waiting on final confirmation of the others).

Finally, we should be getting 7" records for a couple of these new songs in the next month or so. As soon as we have those, we'll release the full album on BandCamp. Stay tuned...good times for bummer jams.

The Loyalists, "Shamfrancisco"

I play the electric bass in The Loyalists, a noise rock band from Oakland, CA. We're a four-piece — bass, guitar, drums and cello (the cello player also plays guitar on some songs) — and we pride ourselves on making a pretty foul racket.

We've got a new album, our second — Ride The Trashheap of Sound — coming out in a couple months, and we've been playing the songs out at shows for a while, but this is the first recording from the album that we've let out of the box: "Shamfrancisco."

We're pretty excited to put this record out. We've been working on some of these songs since we recorded our first album, First of the Mohicans, back in 2013, so they've had some good time to marinate and mature. 

Our buddy Scott Evans (Antisleep Audio / Kowloon Walled City) engineered, recorded and mixed for us (again) because we love the guy, and we love his work.

I'll be crowing more about this when the album comes out (we're pressing up some 7" vinyl pieces too). In the meantime, this is just a taste.

Old Jams: Bustin' on Bullitt

Here's a quick & dirty jam with a crappy mix. I started by sampling the bass line from Lalo Shiffrin's Bullitt theme, and went from there. The drums are canned / programmed (not sampled), and the strange, funky chorus part was made with a Dave Smith Instruments MoPho — an analog, monophonic synth.

I'm going through some old music now for two reasons: simple blog fodder to flesh out this section; and a refresher / motivator on where to go from here.