Organic Ginger Snus

About 5 years ago, I decided to quit snus. I’d been a user for close to 35 years and just wanted the habit out of my life. While cooking a Thai dish one evening in Santa Monica, California, I took a bite out of some fresh ginger root and started chewing on it. After a few minutes, I pushed the mashed ginger up under my lip as if it were one those tiny tobacco pouches. The ginger root not only tasted better, it provided me with almost that same “buzz” as I was used to. I’ve since then been perfecting the production and this short video shows mys simple yet efficient process. You don’t really need a fancy food processor, but a good knife is a required to be able to fine chop the ginger root. You can obviously peel the root beforehand. I’m just couldn’t be bothered by the tedious effort that would demand.

Scenes from Chamonix

On a considerably lighter note, here’s a few frames from our recent travel reportage trip to what is arguably the premiere French alp ski destination, Chamonix – Mont Blanc. About a minute long.

Öresund and Peter Madsen

With Madsen and Evil at Maxi

[This text is also available in Swedish here]

The other day, while walking up and down the isles in our local grocery store, a huge supermarket called Ica Maxi, trying to figure out something interesting to make for dinner, I was struck by a ghastly thought. A thought that wouldn’t subside for another week.

That morning, I’d read a few local and foreign newspaper articles about the first trial day of Peter Madsen, the suspected murderer of Swedish journalist Kim Wall. As I plowed through the various accounts, I felt uncomfortable  by how most of the journalists referenced Madsen, almost respectfully, with the nicknames that the Danish media has given him over the years. Sometimes he was called rocket Madsen, sometimes inventor Madsen or submarine builder Madsen. If he is convicted of all the crimes the prosecutor has accused him of, then shouldn’t he reasonably be referred with more relevant epithets, like, kidnapper Madsen, rapist Madsen, butcher Madsen or murder Madsen?

As a father to a daughter in her late teens with journalistic ambitions, it’s been tough to read about this case. The descriptions of what Peter Madsen is alleged to have done to Kim Wall makes me feel physically ill. And it didn’t get any easier when I realized how arrogant and disrespectful he was in court, especially when responding to special prosecutor Jakob Buch-Jepsen’s questions.

I also became aware of how tranquil he was – seemingly undisturbed by the horrific death of Kim Wall, the case itself and the fathomless sorrow among family and friends it continues to generate. Is it the apparent unbridled malevolence that helps him shield against having a guilty conscience, take inventory of his actions, and in essence enable Madsen to be so emotionally detached from what happened during the night between August 10 and 11 last year?

As I walked around Maxi with the plastic red basket rolling somewhat reluctantly behind me, I met several other customers and neighbors who looked as disinterested at the task at hand as I likely did.

Even though the sun had shown up for a peek during a few precious moments, spring still seemed mostly like a bleak idea. The afternoon darkness conspired with gusty, northeastern winds to keep an ice-cold winter’s grip on Västra Hamnen where we live, just a few miles from Peter Madsens’ workshop and where he had descended into the Öresund Sound, the body of water separating Denmark and Sweden, with his homemade submarine and its unsuspecting passenger Kim Wall, some seven months earlier.

Like many others in both Sweden and Denmark, we’ve followed the case from the very first day and often discussed it  during dinner. Not as an only topic, but it’s undeniably been one of our family’s more common dinner table subjects. Many of our friends have mentioned similarities to the Danish TV drama series, “The Bridge”. But since I haven’t seen it, I don’t get that reference. And even if I had, I know from first hand experience that reality almost always exceeds fiction.

I sometimes worry that we are slowly but surely becoming tainted by all the evil that surrounds us. That all the ongoing armed conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Myanmar and terror attacks as well as mass shootings in the United States will ultimately be too much for us to absorb. That we’ll stop caring and hide our eyes, ears and hearts from it all.

And it was just this, the thought of malicious, unrestrained evil which could inevitably lead us into a boundless, terrible darkness that mesmerized me as I walked under the supermarket’s bright lights. Can it be argued that the result of such abysmal perversity, which Peter Madsen seems to be so intensely consumed by, is within the realm of what we no longer get surprised by and can idly brush away – as if such horrific thoughts or events could never enter our lives?

Of all that has been divulged from the investigation against Madsen, I was particularly taken aback by how he and several friends from his Copenhagen workshop had cultivated an idealized fandom for the characters in the 1980s film, “Das Boot”, in essence a portrayal of the claustrophobic life seen from the crews perspective onboard a German submarine during World War II.

Together with the so-called snuff movies, videos where people are filmed while suposedly being murdered, which were found on one of the hard drives in the aforementioned workshop, the amount of violence Madsen consumed seems to have awoken a dormant psychosis which led to an addiction to the very concept of murder and, ultimately, an obsession to enact it.

Now I don’t think video games or even the most vicious movies evoking realistic depictions of violence affect the vast majority of “normal” people. At least not to the degree that they yearn to be physically aggressive.

That a few individuals with latent mental issues are influenced by immersing themselves into violence as their main source of entertainment over a long period of time, is at least for me, beyond any reasonable doubt.

Though perhaps a high price to pay, it’s something I suppose we just have to accept, at least in a free, democratic society. That a few people will take their liberties to an excessive, and unfortunatly sometimes tragically violent level, is, for lack of a more humble way to say this, inevitable.

While standing in line at the checkout counter, patiently waiting for my turn at the cashier, I more or less consciously scrutinized a few of those in front of me. On the surface, everyone looked perfectly normal. Neither happy nor sad, angry or visually displeased. We all had that bland, neutral look from what had been an unusually cold and windy spell.

No one seemed to be capable of any violence, except maybe when the person in front forgot to use the square rubber divider stick on the conveyer belt to separates their stuff they’d just taken out of their red plastic roller carts from the guy behind.

Pacific Coast Highway

PCH & Lincoln Blvd

Two super interesting film projects in various stages of pre-production and some other travel related assignments means I’ll have to postpone amassing new material for my documentary of Pacific Coast Highway (above) and L.A.’s ecelectic yet mostly unpopular Lincoln Boulevard, a throughway that runs from Santa Monica, via Venice close to LAX, for a few months.

Stockholm Fotomässa

Stockholm & More

I’m on the tail end of an intense, photography centrist weekend in Stockholm. Elle joined me and we’ve had an excellent time – despite the despicably cold weather.

Directly after my arrival on Friday morning (Elle arrived later on an evening train from Malmö), I headed out to the annual photography trade show in Alvsjö. Despite it being a much reduced show compared to previous years, I still only managed about two hours before feeling overloaded with stimuli.

Something that struck me as a bit odd while I walked in and out of all the booths, more or less consciously studying fellow visitors, was how many, primarily men, had brought their DSLRs with them to the show. My shoulders ached just looking at them lug around those huge cameras + lenses. Why would you bring your heavy gear to a photo show? I sure didn’t see much worthy of anything that a reasonably recent iPhone couldn’t capture.

I was a little “shocked” to see that neither Canon nor Scandinavian Photo had a booth on the show floor. Sony, on the other hand, had invested in a relatively large presence and I got some hands-on time with their new video focused camera, the A7III. I was so impressed that I ordered one right there and then. Sadly, the Norwegian sales rep from the German camera maker Leica discouraged all and any hopes of the “Q” receiving a rumored firmware update to enable 4k video.

After an excellent open-faced avocado-on-sour-dough sandwich and a couple of cups of java at the immensely popular Bageri Petrus in Stockholm’s Södermalm-district Saturday morning, I took an Über to the Hilton at Slussen where the Swedish Association of Professional Photographers had their yearly photo book conference. I think gatherings like these often get a little bit incestuous. Yet I felt compelled to participate and exhibit my latest book about Malmö Opera.

While there, I listened to the Dutchman Erik Kessels’ mostly entertaining talk about the importance of fuck-ups. However, this turned out to be a sneaky lead-in to the core of his talk which was about poking fun at family photo albums and amateur photographers snapshots. Half way through and two or three dozen slides later, I was bored and exited the auditorium.

After about 4 hours, I split from the conference and strolled over to Fotografiska where I, together with Elle, saw all three of the museum’s ongoing exhibits. Very inspiring stuff, indeed. Especially the South African photographer and activist, Zanele Muholi’s amazing work. The massive show with Ellen von Unwerth was a bit overwhelming, but inspiring nonetheless.

Slicing available time during a mere weekend here with all the things we must do, want to do, hope to see and yearn to experience – as well as eating well and meeting up with friends and family – is no easy task. I seem to always feel just a slight sense of guilt for not spreading myself thinner and meeting what is likely only imagined expectations. One day I’d like to live in Stockholm. In the summertime, when the weather is high.


Did Spring Arrive Today?

After a mere week of winter, albeit a pretty serious winter, this afternoon, an unapologetically confident spring sun parted thick clouds and within hours melted most of the fallen snow and the patches of ice that made sidewalks and cobblestones so deviously slippery. After a day of back-to-back meetings, it was absolutely wonderful to return to a calm, colorful sea.

Captured: Malmö Winter
Västra Hamnen Vinter 2018

Reaching Level 42

So, here’s a shot from Saturday’s short flight with my quadcopter. I wasn’t aiming to get much higher than this angle shows, but the wind, especially at that altitude, wouldn’t permit me getting any higher, even if I was.

Most drone pilots seem to desperately yearn to get as high as possible. I think that there’s a sweet spot somewhere in between what is obviously a shot taken at an otherwise unattainable level and a perspective that leaves you less focused on how it was captured and more so on the story you’re trying to communicate.

Snow in Malmö

Snow dumped

Last night, while we slept and were literally kept in the dark about what was going on outside, a massive dump of snow landed here in Västra Hamnen, Malmö.

It’s been about six years since we last had this much snow and cold temperatures this close to spring. In my twenties, I spent some years working up at the ski resort Riksgränsen in Lapland, so I really appreciate when we get some snow. It lightens up everything so beautifully.

Check out the entire collection of today’s (and tonight’s) photos here.


Sunny Welcome & Duncan’s Mute

This beautiful scene welcomed us back when the taxi pulled up outside of our place from Kastrup International Airport yesterday afternoon.

The journey from Chamonix started super early, yet there wasn’t much time for anything than a quick bite to eat at GVA before boarding the northbound SAS flight. I slept most of the way.

I have plenty of gigabytes of footage and stills for an inspiring film and an article from the week in the alps. Most of the footage was filmed handheld using only DJI’s Osmo Mobile stabilizer and in some cases, just one of my ungloved hands. During one of my runs down the mountain, I strapped my old Gopro Hero 4 to my ski boot – just to get a really low-level perspective. All stills (and a few clips) were shot with the Leica Q which with its 28mm focal length turned to be perfectly apt for the location.

Feel very inspired right now. Especially after listening to an interview with director Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son) and then watching his latest project, a film he’s been trying to get made for over 16 years, the very bizarre, noir-esque movie, “Mute” starring Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd and Justin Theroux. It’s available on Netflix. But be forwarned, as the story unfolds, the level of un-comfortability is at times almost unbearable.

Even if the reviews on IMDB weren’t even merciful, and despite the relatively low score and that it’s not intended to be a mainstream commercial film, I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually attains cult status. If for no other reason, I recommend Mute for the gorgeous cinematography – shot in Berlin – with plenty of visual cues and references to some other favorites, including Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (Mute was partially filmed in the same studio), Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and, yes, Robert Altman’s M.A.S.H.