tasty olives and tastless digs

Tasty Olives and Tasteless Digs

Back in Malmö after a few days of great weather and interesting explorations along the south east coast of Spain. Particularly Tarifa was a very pleasant experience. Very chic. When I look through my folder structure in Lightroom (the application I use to organize and “develop” my images through), the folder within “Europe” that has the most destinations after Sweden is Spain. I must really like Spain.

And yet I have a hard time defining my feelings for the country and if I actually want to live there – again. On the one hand, I really love the climate and geography – which remind me of my native southern California. The sun, coastline, mountains and palm trees make me feel right at home. I also enjoy much of the Spanish cuisine. Especially the stuff on sale at local markets – like the olives above from the spectacularly beautiful Mercado Central de Atarazanas. And I find most Spaniards to be both friendly and good-natured. Despite (or, thanks too) our linguistic differences. One day, I hope to be able to speak fluent Spanish.

On the other hand, there’s a brutally shabby side to Spain that makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Driving up and down the coast we saw some of the most horrendously ugly villages – most of which were seemingly inspired by Sovjet era urban planning (or, rather, lack thereof). Even in the middle of Malaga, where one would think someone within the city’s administration would at least take a peek at design proposals before granting construction permits, we saw mucho samples of architectural misfits. Still, Malaga is like I wrote in an earlier post, considerably more pleasant today than just a decade ago. And yes, there were numerous areas we walked through and that I could consider living in.

I’ve thought a lot about Spain’s architectural mismatching, and why, in a country so naturally beautiful and famous for its design gurus as well as architectural wizardry from the likes of Gaudí, Calatrava and artists Dali and Picasso, it continues to thrive.

The conclusion I came up with is simply, corruption. Pay enough to the right folks and you get to do pretty much anything you want in Spain. That said, I’ve also come to understand from folks that do business in the country that corruption isn’t at all as blatant or upfront as it once was. Today, corruption is masked and camouflaged by an extreme bureaucracy reminiscent of a pyramid scheme; the higher up you are in the bureaucratic pecking order, the bigger the feed gets. So, as long as you’re willing to grease the inner workings of permit committees, regional and local government officials, it’s fairly easy to fill a hillside or a coastal valley with an armada of hideous high-rise towers.

I’m not arguing that Spain is any more corrupt than say, France, Italy or practically any county I’ve ever visited (close to 100). It’s just more visibly obvious. Especially along Costa del Sol, around Barcelona, the suburbs of Madrid and surrounding Palma. In addition to being standalone eyesores, the landscape these concrete monstrosities inhabit and dominate, however stunning, live in the shaddows of and become so “uglified”. But the corruption/beauracracy aspect of doing business inevitebly titls the playing field in favor of those that are in the know and have the greasing capabilities.

Maybe I’m just being snobbish and unfairly comparing more purposefully designed and economically built housing solutions to my comfy, esthetically pleasing, exotically heterogenous bubble here in Västra Hamnen. Yeah, that’s probably the case.


Be Bop in Tarifa

Shot this little snippet in the ancient city of Tarifa yesterday – just after Charlotte put on her new dress which we found at a local design shop called, Bebop in the old town.

Limonero BnB in Spain

Limonero BnB

From yesterday’s afternoon visit to friends Christian and Malin Gordin’s newly opened Bed & Breakfast Limonero in the ancient and scenic village of Gualchos – about 15 minutess above the seaside town Castel de Ferro and an hour and a half from Malaga.

Charlotte and I were impressed by both how charming Limonero is and the multi-level challenges Christian and Malin certainly have taken on by leaving careers and a comfy social life in Sweden to start fresh as BnB owners in the south of Spain. We wish them all the best and feel confident they’ll succeed.

Malaga in Spain

Málaga • Andalusia • Spain

Spending a few days in Malaga to research for what will inevitably be a richly illustrated travel story for Charlotte’s airline site ASR. I’ve only been to the airport here on my way to a video shoot at a yoga retreat in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia.

Málaga has for a decade or so gone through an extensive makeover. We just got here yesterday, but from what I’ve seen so far, it seems a lot cleaner, greener and a less touristy than say, Barcelona and Palma. Málaga is more like a smaller version of Madrid, somehow.

We’re staying in brand new, one bedroom apartment smack in the middle of the trendy Soho neighborhood. Heading out to see the Banksy exhibit later today.

Happy Midsummer!


New Book: Turning Torso

This is a short ‘n sweet launch video for my new book, aptly titled, Turning Torso and produced in collaboration with HSB Malmö. The new book is the same size as my series covering Västra Hamnen, yet has a slew of new photos  from inside and outside Santiago Calatrava’s magnificent creation.

I’m obviously biased, but without Turning Torso, Malmö wouldn’t be remotely as interesting and as optimistic as it is today. The skyscraper is a beacon for greatness and an unequivocal symbol of how important it is to allow big ideas to flourish. Being commissioned to create a (second) book about the Turning Torso and thereby document an important chapter in the ongoing story about the “new” Malmö, makes me feel proud and provides me with a solid sense of purpose as an artist.

You can flip through the new book here.

catharine murat and her daughter Merecedes

Lovely Chat with the Murats

Catharine Murat and her daughter Mercedes – and Vincent, her cute French bulldog – dropped by yesterday evening for a chat. We’d never met before, but Catharine was once upon a time close friends with my aunt Lillemor and to a degree, during her time living in L.A., also with my mother Ina (known by her friends as Cissi). And as if that wasn’t interesting enough, Catharine’s parents and my maternal grandparents were once close friends. This was in the 1940s up in Mellerud, Dalsland, and several years before grandfather Eskil and grandmother Agnes moved to Trollhättan. I forgot to ask, but I’ve always wondered why they moved to Trollhättan. What was the draw? Perhaps to give their four daughters an opportunity to attend better schools than what Järn and Mellerud could possibly have been able to provide at the time.

It was mostly as a sidenote, but Catharine mentioned how family history becomes increasingly interesting the older we get. I agree – at least to the extent that there isn’t too much tragedy involved. I feel that quota is filled to the brim.

Catharine’s daughter Mercedes, is a visual artist with an inspiringly unique portfolio of glass painted with noble metals and a wonderful collection of furniture art. I would love to visit her studio and galleri in the village of Valle, between Skövde och Skara. Hope that happens sometime soon. 

I’ve recently had a few extremely productive collaborative painting sessions with my buddy and neighbor, the artist Johan Carlsten. Suffice to say that I’ve [finally] seen the light [matured] and the apparent creative benefits of cooperating with fellow artists.

Photo credit: Charlotte Raboff


Yoga talk with Louise H

Sorry all you non-Swedish speakers/listeners. This is a conversation I had last Friday with Louise Hedberg, an outstanding yoga instructor and an overall inspiring individual. We spoke of travels, architecture, yoga and a lot of other stuff. We sat on a park bench here in Malmö with a symphony of more or less audible background sounds. Definitely worth a listen.


The Creative Beast

Here’s a digital painting I created this morning after an invigorating visit to our local gym. It’s a composition of 30 or so photos taken on the side streets and back alleys of Hyderabad, Bangkok, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Though my main objective with visits to these remarkable places is usually to document inspiring views and vistas for travel stories, I also spend a significant amount of time photographing patterns, crusty and rusty walls and textures on doors and pavements. I then use a bunch of these to mix, mesh and compose imagery.

I am lucky insofar that I have been able to explore and channel my creativity through a wide range of mediums. Each with its own specific tools and possibilities. I don’t prefer one over the other. On contraire, I think it’s the mix of mediums that keep me curious and challenged. I work fluidly and organically, allowing for “mistakes” and “fuckups” to clear the path towards something that is hopefully interesting – or, in many cases – hopelessly meh.

Creativity is something I believe everyone possesses but few explore in-depth and even fewer can endure the preposterous irregularity of which it can be harnessed. It’s like riding on a wild beast. Once in a while, when you’re in sync, it can take you places you’ve never been or seen before. And even when it bucks and throws you off, eventually you get back on to go for yet another masochistic ride.

Yoga-by-the-Sea in Malmö, Sweden

Good Vibes-by-the-Sea

From the morning’s yoga-by-the-sea session with Louise Hedberg and then breakfast by Vibes  When I woke up this morning, sometime around 07:00am, it was drizzling and I was skeptical about the outlook for the second of June’s four outdoor yoga classes and went back to bed. An hour later the rain had stopped and Charlotte and I headed to Scaniabadet for yet another excellent yoga experience as Louise guided us through a dozen or so poses and stretching exercises. There ain’t nothing like a downward facing dog pose by the sea.

Lars-Widar Fossen and his wife Maria together with their children, Felix and Josefin during the twins graduation party on June 14,2019

Fossen’s Graduation Party

From yesterday’s wonderful graduation party in the picturesque village of Svarte for the Fossen family’s youngest, the twins, Felix and Josefin. Tasty food, a steady flow of bubbly and mingeling with old friends and acquaintances kept us busy for a good six hours before boarding the train that took us back to Malmö C.

Like for a lot of teens here in Sweden that start working directly after their High School diploma is secured, including our Elle who’s now typing PLU numbers and exchanging smiles with customers at a nearby supermarket to finance her gap year, last night’s graduation party was not just a celebration of completing a dozen or so years of schooling. It’s also kind of a send-off party or an initiation fest to mark the start of a life less innocent and slothful. Which to some, but not all, might come as a delight mingled with terror – on top of the morning’s hangover.

I suspect the next time we see Felix and Josefin at such a festive occasion will be when either of them get married. Hopefully, they’ll have weather as gorgeous as it was last night. These first few weeks of summer down here in Skåne are just amazing. Nature is so prodigiously chlorophyllic this time of year.

Photos from Nösund Havshotel

Update & Refresh

Finally got around to updating some areas on this site. Like this slideshow from Nösund Havshotell. 

The client list needed a refresh and I’ve also added some new work related slides. Not to compare with Charlotte, but I too have a small collection of sites to maintain and with so much going on in life right now, it’s easy to forget/neglect less crucial stuff. Maintenence work is definitely necessary, but I tend to prioritize and point my creative efforts towards new projects, big or small, rather then updating/refreshing my various websites. How great wouldn’t it be if I could outsource that part of my workload? Tremendously great.

Podcast

Podcast Galore

I’ve been hooked on podcasts for close to 10 years. Can’t imagine life without my daily fix. I listen while cooking, emptying the dishwasher, making the bed, before I go to sleep, during walks and workouts and while traveling. Especially while traveling. Tuning in to a podcast on short or long-haul trip is a splendorous way to forget how excruciatingly boring flying is.

I loved listening to radio as a kid and have always seen podcasts as the medium’s natural evolution. It’s basically radio-on-demand but without any of public radio’s ridiculous restrictions and commercial radio’s mind-numbing predictability. And though advertising on podcasts isn’t much different than any other kind of advertising, it’s easy enough to fast-forward and skip ads.

The podcast gamut is widening exponentially and there’s practically a show about any given subject. In my subscription library you’ll find an equal measure of comical and topical podcasts. “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross and the New York Times excellent podcast “The Daily” with Michael Barbaro are just two of a dozen news or “magazine” podcast I listen to with great amusement.

Among my absolute favorite is Conan O’Brien’s’ interview show called, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend”. I find listening to Conan is so much funnier than watching his show. He’s like the Jack Benny of podcasting. The latest episode with Martin Short is hysterical and only second to the conversation Conan had with David Sedaris a few months ago where among many topics they chat causally about the perks of going through a colonoscopy.

Not sure most people know this, but the medium’s name “podcast” stems from Apple’s original mp3 player introduced in 2001, the “iPod”. Podcast is basically a semantic amalgamation of what Apple christened the tiny device and an abbreviation of traditional media’s term for mass-distribution > iPod > broadcasting ≈ podcast.

I haven’t owned an iPod in many, many years, but had several iterations, starting with the very first white one with a capacity of roughly 1000 songs and a 10 hour battery life. Just like those old, almost pocketable transistor radios, of which I owned at least one in the late 1970s, it was the combination of the iPod’s enormous capacity, simple functionality and extreme portability that made buying one so irresistible. Not entirely unlike the Sony Walkman, which Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, accordingly to a degree modeled the original iPod after.

My most recent podcast favs include the suspenseful, To Live and Die in L.A. Phil in the Blanks with Doctor Phil and Hidden Brain with NPR’s Shankar Vedantam. I made the above abstract collage earlier this morning.

Visby

TCOB

The other day I did something I’ve been meaning to do for about 20 years. To make matters a little bit worse, I can’t really explain or defend putting it off for so long.

While scrummaging around in our large storage closet at home, I discovered an old CD in one of those think plastic covers. I’d borrowed this still shiny Compact Disc from a friend whilst living in Visby on the island of Gotland. in 1994 or 1995.

I don’t remember the context, but it could have been my friend insisting that I borrow it so that he could hear me play a few tunes from the album (which I want to recall had a reggae theme) during one of yesteryears many DJ gigs.

Even after taking the CD to the studio, it still took another week for me to put in my pocket along with my friend’s new address, and walk over to our local post office and send it off.

I doubt I’ll ever hear from my old friend, even if he does remember lending it to me and appreciates the gesture of me returning it. You see, we haven’t spoken in about as many years as I’ve had his CD in storage. Albeit long in the making, it still sure feels real good to have finally done the right thing.

TCOB = Taking Care of Business.

Photo = Almedalen in Visby, Gotland

Yoga by the Sea

Yoga by the Sea

Sharing is caring. Sharing my enthusiasm for how Yoga (and Qigong) has helped ease my reoccurring rheumatic discomfort is important. So a few weeks ago I did some matchmaking between the inspiringly gifted instructor Louise Hedberg and the energetic entrepreneurs/owners of our neighborhood’s beach-front restaurant Vibes, Rickard Nilsson and Joanna Hartey.

And so, this morning, in the first of four outdoor sessions throughout June, just shy of 30 yogis stood on a large weooden deck near the sea while Lousie guided us through her flow of poses. After about an hour, Vibes served up a sustainable breakfast with coffee/te, a cheese sandwich of freshly baked bread and a ginger shot. Will be at Vibes at Scaniabadet again next Sunday at 09-10.

myanmar

Myanmar

I can feel how it’s itching in my Far East nerve again. After having regularly visited the Asian continent –  particularly to South East Asia – for more than three decades, it’s a reoccurring itch for both Charlotte and myself. Hopefully we’ll be back within a few months. I miss the convenience of street food, the friendly smiles beaming from most locals and all the fascinating and mystifying idiosyncrasies that make being a photographer there so wildly inspiring.

One of my favorite trips was when Charlotte, Elle and I spend a few weeks traveling around Myanmar (Burma) a few years ago. I’ve collected a tidy batch of images from that adventure here.

Elle Raboff Graduation Party

Elle’s Graduation Party

Here’s a few of Charlotte’s and my snapshots from Wednesday’s graduation party for Elle. As if the occasion wasn’t heartwarming enough, the fact that so many of our friends flew in from Stockholm, travelled down from Göteborg or other places to celebrate with Elle and us was just amazing.

The weather was fabulous (25C/77F), the food apparently tasted great; pasta salad, french and classic potato salad, two kinds of veggie pie, a ton of sushi, hummus, salsa, guacamole and for desert, local brand, “Lillpop” ice cream on a stick and a variety of macarons and cakes. And since we earlier today returned about half the booze we’d bought, we can surmise that guests drank moderately.

If you were there, thank you for joining us. It was a special evening and we loved sharing it with you. The Raboff’s are fairly well-known for throwing fun gatherings once in a while. The next one might just be when Elle gets married. Hopefully that’ll happen a ways down the road. Because as pleasurable and memorable as Elle’s high school graduation festivity was to arrange and be part of, Charlotte and I are both feeling a little weary (but mostly happy and relieved).


Malmö Borgarskola – Elle’s Graduation

From yesterday’s graduation ceremony, or, rather celebration at Elle’s high school, Malmö Borgarskola. The vibe was amazing, albeit a little on the hysterical side. Made me think of vikings and how they must of partyed, a thousand years or so ago. Regardless of ethnicity, all students absorbed and embraced the idiosyncratic graduation traditions of wearing white hats with black rims, all white garb, hanging a half dozen odd mascots around their necks and singing a bunch of more or less explicit songs while dancing erratically.

I don’t remember what it was like when I graduated from High School in Göteborg. 1981 is just too distant, I suppose. But I’m sure it wasn’t that dissimilar from what Elle survived yesterday afternoon. And had I continued to Fairfax High after graduating from Bancroft Junior High in L.A., instead of moving to Sweden in 1978,  I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a much less intoxicated experience. Not that Elle was even remotely tipsy when we celebrated her graduation. On the contrary. She was among the few sober students in the schoolyard and stayed completely coherent on the truck and later in the evening during our party for her.


Opening of Kockum Fritid’s Outdoor Seating

I don’t remember who, but someone recently said (during a podcast) that creativity is beautiful. I endorse that 100% and though I often tell people that being creative is both a blessing and a curse, there is no question that the creative process – regardless really of what the end results are – is certainly a magical, mystical tour de force.

Here’s a short video from last week’s inauguration of Kockum Fritid’s outdoor seating area. Most of the clips were captured using the drone, the rest were shot on my iPhone Xs Max.

Turning Torso

Graduation Party Weather

The weather gods are with us. At least insofar that they’ve promised warmth and mostly cloudless skies during Wednesday’s high school graduation party for Elle.

If everyone shows up, we’ll be a merry 75 folks celebrating our daughter’s last day of secondary education at Borgarskolan here in Malmö. It’ll be the biggest gathering of friends and family since Charlotte and I got married in Mölle by the Sea back in 1998, 21 years ago. One huge difference is that Elle will enjoy much better weather than we did back then. We’re catering most of the food – but I’ll be making a huge batch of guacamole, a large bowl of spicy salsa and some cummin and sesame flavored hummus.

Though the occasion is obviously meant to celebrate Elle’s achievement of graduating high school – and sorry if this comes across as being self-congratulatory – I also see it as something we as parents and her guides/advisors should be permitted to commemorate as well.

Don’t get me wrong here. Raising Elle has been mostly super-smooth sailing. Easier and certainly less dramatic than say, what I experienced and more relaxed/exciting than Charlotte’s upbringing. That said, I ascribe much of Elle’s positive attitude and social competence to us being reasonably good role models – both at home and during all our visits abroad. Not that there hasn’t been a few speed bumps or the occasional hurdle along the road. That kinda goes without saying. Like most parents, we fuck up from time to time. But both Charlotte and I have good reason to stand tall and be proud of both ourselves and our beautiful daughter during the celebrations.

The graduation party indubitably marks the end of an era in all our lives. Even if she’s been 18 for six months already, Elle is somehow more of an adult now. It’s time to let go. Yet as most mothers and fathers know, parenthood is a lifelong commitment (emotionally and, hopefully, to a lesser degree, financially). And even when we later on this year venture off in different directions geographically, we all know that our emotional bond to each other will continue to be close and resilient.

Shot the above view earlier this morning, about an hour after returning from the gym at Kockum Fritid (my first serious workout in about two weeks).

disc jockey

Virtual Disc Jockey

As if Wednesday’s challenge wasn’t enough, I spent much of Friday and Saturday evenings playing soul and funk from spinning virtual turntables down by Vibes on the beach here in Västra Hamnen.

The software I’ve been using for the occasional DJ gig still doesn’t support Apple Music, so it was a bit of a bitch to pick and choose my playlist. My workaround was to alternatively play songs from iTunes and mix them with those in the DJ app’s tunes deck.

From an intellectual property perspective, I totally get why Apple had to use hardcore DRM (digital rights management) software to make playing songs from their huge catalogue through third party applications literally impossible. But I find it strange why there isn’t at least one programmer out there that offers a plugin for iTunes so that I could at least be able to perform som rudimentary DJ stuff within it.

In any case, it was great to reaffirm visavi compliments from a few of Vibes guests that my musical taste still hits home. And that autogenerated playlists from Tidal, Apple Music or Spotify will never, ever be able to outperform what a live DJ can deliver.