I have two announcements to make. One is that today marks the end of the ULTRAsomething site; and two is that today marks the beginning of the ULTRAsomething site.
Each announcement warrants a bit of exposition.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. I had every intention of shutting down this site on 14 Dec 2018, which will be the 10th anniversary of the first ULTRAsomething post.
When I started the “blog” (an anachronistic term at this point), I pledged to myself that I would write at least one post every calendar month. No matter if I was sick; or busy; or grumpy; or simply had nothing to say — I was going to be no less disciplined than the folks at the utility company, who never once failed to present me with my monthly electric bill.
Unfortunately, I neglected to set an expiry date for this little exercise. Looking back, I think I expected the site to last no more than a year or two. Surely, by that time, I would have sold the movie rights; Ryan Gosling would have won an Oscar for his portrayal of me; and I’d be pimping my latest collection of bound essays on the late-night talkshow circuit.
By year three, it was apparent this scenario might have been a wee bit optimistic. So I trudged on and continued to honor my pledge. It wasn’t always easy, and I had to get a bit creative on occasion — once going so far as to post an article on the final day of the month, which stated simply that I was posting an article just so I could say I posted an article. Think what you want about ULTRAsomething, but I’ve never been afraid to go ‘meta.’
I believe it was at this exact point, seven years in, when I finally faced facts: ULTRAsomething was an albatross, and I needed an exit strategy. So I decided to give myself three more years, and then pull the plug on the site’s 10th birthday. Ten years sounded like a masochistically impressive number — one that would hopefully convince someone to bother writing me an obituary one day.
The dream of ULTRAsomething’s cessation sustained and nourished me for a full three years. “31 more articles to go.” “30 more articles to go.” “29 more articles to go…”
Earlier this year, when the countdown reached “9,” I started to think more seriously about the finale. Should I simply surprise everyone with a “Sayounara Suckers!” post on December 14th? Or should I have a protracted farewell in which I express heartfelt thanks to my 17 faithful readers, and ride into the sunset on the back of a few ‘greatest hits’ and ‘fondest memories’ posts?
The more I planned for ULTRAsomething’s demise, the more I realized I couldn’t picture my life without it. Without ULTRAsomething, how would I artificially justify my existence? What would happen if I finally took a good photo, but no longer had a place to post it? What if I had a thought, which I knew would appeal to at least 6 of those 17 readers? How would I share it with them? What would be my new, post-ULTRAsomething identity? Would I even have an identity?
Fear and uncertainty were beginning to taint my feelings of jubilant anticipation. So I asked myself a difficult question: Is pulling the plug really the best solution?
I am at the corner of yesterday and tomorrow. I know where I came from; I know where I am; but where will I go? I have three choices. One, I can terminate the site as originally intended, allowing ULTRAsomething to die with dignity and a modicum of grace. Two, I can let it live as it has — watching it dodder and drool to a feeble and insignificant conclusion. Or three, I can have it murdered!
The lurid sensationalism of the murder option is simply too attractive to ignore. So here’s what’s happening: Rather than heroically pulling the plug on December 14th; and rather than gutlessly watching ULTRAsomething stagger and stumble towards oblivion; I am going to strip it naked, cover it in wildebeest blood, strap a parachute to its back, and drop it smack into the middle of the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in Maasai Mara.
In less metaphorical terms, this means I’m shedding myself of the old notion that articles must somehow tangentially relate to photography, music, or the creative process. Rather, the site is simply going to be the creative process. I’m going to write what I want, when I want, as often as I want. If I don’t wish to write an article one month, I won’t. If I wish to write three articles one month, I will. If I wish to write a detailed compendium on the history of the slide rule, you’ll get to read it. A collection of gluten-free cricket recipes? Why not? I might even get around to finishing my dissertation on the comparative charms of various 1970’s Italian cinema genre actresses (spoiler alert: Edwige Fenech comes out on top).
Freed from its self-imposed tyranny, ULTRAsomething will no longer pretend to be a niche site. Instead, it will pretend to be a frothy, general-interest, lifestyle and entertainment site. Which means it will compete head-to-head with other such sites — most of which seem to thrive on salacious celebrity gossip, fashion tips, and a miles-long stream of food photos and selfies. If you’re wondering how something as contrarian as ULTRAsomething can possibly survive when pitted against such banality in a battle for internet traffic, then you understand the metaphor — it can’t! And therein is the genius of my murder plan.
Practically speaking, I’m still me. So every topic, no matter how serious or consequential, will be approached with the usual flippantly sardonic irreverence. Which means the majority of my 17 readers might not actually notice much of a change — save for an even more pronounced absence of words like “f/stop” and “focal length.” But just to make certain this titanic shift in direction doesn’t go completely unnoticed, I’ve designed a new site logo to replace the one I’ve used since 2002.
I’m sure some of you have questions. So as the new ULTRAsomething’s first order of business, I’ve prepared a detailed, relevant and hopefully helpful FAQ.
Q: Do any of these changes affect me at all?
A: Yes. Your life will become demonstrably better in every possible way, but you will inevitably fail to connect your newfound happiness to ULTRAsomething — misattributing it to your new promotion; your new lover; or your recent lottery winnings.
Q: I’m filthy rich and already own a Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita, Bugatti Veyron, and an Aston Martin Valkyrie. Rather than sullying my collection with something as pedestrian as a McLaren P1, I’d prefer to invest in ULTRAsomething, which I’m sure will give me far more enjoyment. How should I do this?
A: You can donate small sums of cash through the site’s DONATE link — easily the ‘best kept’ secret in the 10 year history of this site. Sums of six-figures or more may be wired directly from your bank to mine. Contact me.
Q: If I donate to ULTRAsomething, does that mean I have the right to request topics for articles?
A: Yes. But your requests will have absolutely no bearing on what I choose to write or publish.
Q: I couldn’t be bothered to actually read this article. Are you saying that ULTRAsomething will no longer be a photography blog?
A: ULTRAsomething was never a photography blog. It was always an exercise in existentialism, which I linked clumsily to photography as a way to trick people into reading it. ULTRAsomething will continue to be an exercise in existentialism, minus the blatant photographic pandering. However, there will still be plenty of photos integrated into the site, and perhaps even the occasional article about those photos. I consider the language of photography to be every bit as important to this site as the language of words. It’s just that those words don’t need to be about photography.
Q: I’m so glad you’ve decided not to pull the plug on ULTRAsomething come December 14th. Do you have any idea how much longer you’ll continue to publish it?
A: No. But if all goes according to plan, pronounced reader apathy should effectively kill it on or about that same date.
©2018 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS:
There is absolutely no mystery to the photos accompanying this article — but there is a side note. Should you ever wish your life was blessed with more public consternation, scornful scrutiny, and contentious conversations with security personnel, I’ve found the solution: Stand on a corner 6″ from the edge of a building and take photographs of it with a 10mm lens. Your blessings will come.
REMINDER: If you find these photos enjoyable or the articles beneficial, please consider making a DONATION to this site’s continuing evolution. As you’ve likely realized, ULTRAsomething is not an aggregator site — serious time and effort go into developing the original content contained within these virtual walls.