Salmonella & Rice

Salmonella & Lice

Nine Piece Sushi for Bengt-Göran, cried the chef. That was the name of the elderly gentleman that sat next to me during lunch today at Sushi & Salad, a restaurant a few hundred feet from my studio in Malmö’s latest square, Masttorget.

This is crazy. We will soon have six sushi restaurants here in little Västra Hamnen – an area similar in size to Vasastan in Gothenburg, Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm or half of what Santa Monica is in L.A.. Five sushi restaurants! And as opposed to hair salons, which often have cheeky names that range from Hairport, Hairley Davidsson and Hairoscope, the sushi joints here often bear boring names like, Sushibar, Sushi For You or Harbor Sushi. Such humdrum naming should be outlawed! Unfortunately, most of them also have really bad sushi. With the exception of Salad & Sushi, where I often eat lunch and which is exceptionally good for Malmö. Had I opened a place that served sushi, I would of called it, Salmonella & Lice, Raw n’ Ready, or Mouth Sticks.

Back to Bengt-Göran.

While I was drowning my rolls in the soy/wasabi concoction and wolfing them down as if it were the last supper, my neighbor BG sat calmly and cut his nigiri and maki pieces with surgical precision. Sure, he seemed a little misplaced wearing an old pullover and suspenders – but it was clearly visible that he was enjoying the moment more than I. Though I wonder if he really understood that it was raw fish he was eating
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We were the restaurant’s first lunch guests today, and I’d barely just finished my last piece of sushi on the now soy-drenched wooden cutting board when a small army of hungry office workers formed a long line at the counter. That’s when Bengt-Göran turned to me and said, “It’s a good thing we arrived when we did, right? Otherwise, we probably would not have had any fish today. ” I nodded in agreement and added, “Yeah, cause you really want your fish on Wednesdays. To myself I thought, heck, I could eat fish every day of the week. The shot of BG was taken with an iPhone XMax and those to the right with a Canon 5Ds during a shoot with a client.


New Film Site

Earlier this week, I launched a new website entirely dedicated to my short film ventures. It covers my most recent commercial productions as well as personal projects, like the instalments in my time capsule series.

The site’s tongue is Swedish, but should stilll be easy enough for English speakers to get around/navigate through.

Now, mosey on over and take a peak:

www.kortfilmsproduktion.se

Gotlands Konstskola

My First Love

One year in my early twenties, I was given two unusual birthday presents. One was the size of a shoebox, the other much larger in height and width, yet thin like a picture frame or something. When I opened the smaller of the gift-wrapped presents, I saw a neatly packed row of small, white tubes. Each tube had a round black lid and was labeled with a logo juxtaposed over a vibrant color. There might have been twelve different colors in all.

The larger package contained a canvas, about the size of an LP album cover. Behind the canvas were three or four art brushes of varying sizes and a large wooden palette. I can’t remember who gave me these presents, it could of been either my brother Tyko or my aunt Lillemor. Or, maybe they both pooled resources for my birthday that year. In any case, I was excited to begin what would evolve into a life-long relationship with painting and quite frankly, the genesis of what would turn out to be a career of creativity.

I mention this because I have allocated most of the space in my new studio to painting. It feels wonderful to be able spend time with my “first love”. And at this stage in my life, I much prefer standing in front of a giant canvas and less time in front of a giant, glowing screen. After such a long hiatus from painting, I feel almost giddy about creating something in the physical world again.

The photo above is from Gotlands Konstskola – the now defunct art college I attended on the island of Gotland.

Oresundsbron

Foggy Constitutional Rights

I lived and went to school for a while in Thousand Oaks in California. So the recent killing of 12 people in a club there, saddened me deeper than any of the other mass murders of recent years. I find it appalling that so many Americans still hide behind the shallow shield of the Second Amendment that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

The amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, which makes it more than 200 years old. Folks, this was a time when owning slaves was an integral part of society (in the north and south) and keeping African Americans in indentured servitude was considered a birthright for the white race – of which only men had the right to vote in the fledgling country’s elections.

In my worldview, to still keep the Second Amendment on the Bill of Rights is just proof that the Constitution needs an overhaul.

And that there are so many tens of millions of Americans that in 2018 still believe it’s their protected right as citizens to own and carry firearms – based on a 200-year-old piece of paper, is just madness.

No other country in the world has as many firearm related deaths as the US does.

According to GunPolicy.org, in 2010 there were 3.78 guns per 100 people in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, there are approximately 101 guns per 100 people.

Roughly 50 to 60 people die from gun-related violence or accidents in England and Wales each year.

In 2016, 38,000 gun-related deaths were reported in the United States. An increase by 4000 from the previous year.

How can this not be related to the mass killings? How can you not see the connection? How is it possible that educated, smart people don’t get this? Mind-boggling stuff.

The image above is from a flight over the Öresund Bridge in a Diamond (turboprop aircraft)

Elle Raboff

Today: Elle’s 18th Birthday

Today is our daughter Elle’s 18th birthday. We celebrated her according to family tradition with an early Champagne breakfast in bed – which, by the way, made the bottle of French bubbly Elle’s first legally consumed alcoholic beverage.

I still have very vivid memories of the day our baby girl was born. I suppose most parents do. We had been living in Malmö for a couple of years and started feeling at home in our spacious apartment on Erik Dahlbergsgatan in the center of town. I was working as a freelancer and Charlotte had her day job at Malmö Aviation as manager for the airline’s call center. We enjoyed a mostly carefree life with a lot of traveling, regular dinners with friends and family and what not. Before committing to the concept of parenthood, we promised each other that we’d continue our adventorous lifestyle and bring our new family member along with us as we explored new places – which was a promise we’ve kept ever since.

Sometime after midnight, in the wee hours of November 7th, 2000, it was time for Charlotte and I to get over to the maternity ward at what was then called Malmö Allmänna Sjukhus (MAS), I phoned a local cab company from our bedroom at the apartment and specifically asked for a driver who was fluent in Swedish and knew exactly where to pick us up and, more importantly, where the entrance to the maternity ward was. As far as I remember, the driver was on time and new his stuff.

Well there, it turned out that Elle needed more time before she was ready to grace us with her beautiful being. We had a fairly quiet night at the hospital, but just after 11:00 a.m. the following morning, Charlotte delivered Elle. I had the honor of carrying our newborn to an examination room where a nurse gently cleaned her lungs from phlegm and I nervously released her from the umbilical cord hanging from her belly button. Yup, it was surreal.

Fast forward 18 years later and here we are, November 7th, 2018. Charlotte and I have long been proud of what a wonderful human being Elle is. She’s got her heart in the right place and a good dose of street smartness to boot. And our daughter continues to inspire us in multiple ways. Not in the least being her ethical perspectives and views on animal rights.

Exactly where Elle’s biggest talent lay is too early to conclude. There’s a lot of stuff that grabs her attention and keeps her busy when not at work or school. Heck, I was closer to 25 before I realized that creativity in some shape or form was going to be my knack and calling. We’ll obviously be her biggest fans forever and whatever she decides to do.

If you’re reading this, Elle, know that we love you and congratulate you on the most auspicious of birthdays, the 18th.

The South Bronx

The South Bronx

Here’s one of the first things I saw upon entering the South Bronx late last week with my excellent guide, Alexandra Maruri at bronxhistoricaltours.com. It had been close to 10 years since I was there to produce an article for a magazine (either Allt om Resor or Inrikes) and I was way beyond curious about how things had developed in the area.

While most of Manhattan seems to be under siege by construction companies renovating old buildings and erecting new and impossibly tall glass towers, in one of New York’s most legendary boroughs, the neighborhood called the South Bronx or SoBro, isn’t getting nearly as much attention as it needs and deserves. Not that nothing had changed for the better, just not as much as I (naively) had expected. Sometimes, I’m just way too optimistic (and impatient).

The good news is that I did see quite a bit of positivity, mostly from within the community itself. Spoke with police officer while I was visiting the 40th precinct and he seemed optimistic. And a rep named Joe for a developer called Somerset went into some detail about his company’s committment to developing a big chunk of land near the Harlem River and will be hiring locals for the commercial and residential property project.

The South Bronx a.k.a. Boogie Down Bronx is a survivor and I am confident the neighborhood will thrive once again – as it did when folks like Al Pacino, Edgar Allan Poe, Colin Powell, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and many others lived there.

The Impossible Burger

The Impossible Burger with a Catch

I visit the States at least once a year. It’ll be three times before 2018 comes to an end and if there’s one thing I can almost always count on during my visits, it’s the excellent dining experience I have at the vast majority of American restaurants I eat at. Especially in New York where over the years I’ve enjoyed hundreds of absolutely terrific meals from high-end to low-end.

But then Catch came along…

Taking the elevator from the dark, ground level entrance up to the restaurant’s dining room is in itself a clever means to retain customers. I don’t think it was a deliberate strategy when the owners opened the place, but regardless, once there, you feel like you’ve already made a commitment and kind of give in to whatever awaits once the elevator doors close behind you. Especially when you’re hungry.

Our party of five were seated reasonably fast on the lush terrace but then had to wait about 10 minutes before one of the half-dozen servers showed up at our table. In the meantime, a friendly busboy provided us with water but couldn’t offer us more than that – and an embarrassing smile as the wait prolonged. Such is the hierarchy at most a la carte restaurants and diners in the US.

Once the 30 something server did appear, he offered us only a smile and a promise to return »in just a minute« before rushing off again. We all looked at each other in sheer disbelief. Was he joking? The restaurant had only a few other lunch guests, so we didn’t understand why he kept us waiting – or why customers that had arrived after us were being taken care of before us. Was it perhaps because the maître d’ assumed we were European (i.e. poor tippers) and intentionally un-prioritized us?

After an additional five minutes, (yes, I was timing his promise), the server finally showed up to take our orders. I politely let him know we were a little disappointed about the 15-minute delay. But instead of apologizing, he unabashedly decided to contradict me by claiming that no, our wait had been less than 10 minutes. As if even 10 minutes wasn’t pushing it already. WTF?

We all chose the much-hyped vegan alternative, The Impossible Burger as well as a few batches of truffle fried fries.

Personally, I found the laboratory-derived burger to be surprisingly juicy and flavorful. My taste buds might have been way off due to high expectations, but I don’t think most people would be able to discern whether or not an Impossible Burger is made from plant-based ingredients or USDA Prime Ground Beef. I know I couldn’t. Insofar of taste, texture, and smell, I’d easily guess it was the real deal. Which is a little scary and for some reson reminded me of the 1970s Sci-Fi dystopia, Soylent Green.

Perhaps our server was just having a bad day. Maybe he was a little hungover. Who knows, right? In any case, we felt that for our $200 lunch at Catch we should have received much better service and less attitude.

There are plenty of really good alternative eateries in the Meatpacking District and several places on Manhattan that offer the Impossible Burger for much less than the $19 they charge at Catch.

We all felt that the restaurant’s poor service coupled with an ambitious positioning on New York’s culinary map was nothing short of a total mismatch.

Catch certainly needs to catch up with its prestige.


A Wall in New York

I say forget about shopping in New York. It’s not going to be much cheaper than in Europe and much more importantly, we all need to chill out when it comes to our out-of-control consuming habit/addiction. The planet is already threatening us with some serious consequences if we don’t get our act together.

Anyway, after breakfast with my friend Siddarth at the Roxy Hotel in Tribeca this morning, I stumbled onto this fella in Chinatown. Apparently, a painting like this one can cost an advertiser up to $10k/week to expose their product or service on a wall. Shot entirely handheld on the new iPhone Xs Max.

new york city

Back in New York City

Back in Gotham. It’s been a couple of years…but it didn’t take more than a few minutes on the Williamsburg Bridge late last night for me to be in awe again. How can you not be? I’ve actually lost count of my visits to New York City. At least 20. Maybe even as many as 30. In addition to absorbing the art scene and an intention of revisiting the South Bronx and an artist friend in Washington Heights (where btw HBO’s The Deuce is filmed), I’m primarily here to shoot material for a travel story – and some b-roll for a music video I’ve been hired to produce next month.

I love arriving at this city at night. Especially when flying into JFK. After about 8 or 9pm, the lines through immigration move much faster and traffic towards Manhattan is usually wonderfully light. We took an Über XL to NoLita and got dropped off just outside the apartment we’ve rented which is literally right next door to the popular vegetarian restaurant Butcher’s Daughter and Black Seed Bagel. And just four blocks along Houston, at the north end of the Lower East Side, there’s a nice big Whole Foods. Which in itself is almost a good enough reason to visit New York?

That and the breathtaking diversity here. I often use New York as »Exhibit A« when talking about Malmö’s integration challenges. The sheer disparity in size certainly makes the two cities hard to juxtapose at first glance. But there are actually enough similarities, at least for me to predict that in time, Malmö will also take advantage of its tremendous potential – that lay within the current integration issues – and slowly see how they will metamorphize into extraordinary strengths. In time, perhaps a generation or two ahead of us, Malmö will ultimately become the envy of most other cities. Just like New York is today.

More photos from New York City here.

Joakim-Lloyd-Raboff-Kortfilmproduktion

New site for my short films

Might need a few minor tweaks, but in essence, my new short film focused site, www.kortfilmsproduktion.se is now live. It’s in Swedish, because though I’d love to work even more abroad, the reality is my work comes from domestic, local companies and organizations, most of which are right here in Malmö.

Over the last few years, I’ve produced a bunch of advertising and marketing videos for my clients. Four that I know of have been broadcast on regional television (TV 4) and the rest were uploaded to corporate websites and pushed out through social media channels.

Being born and – at least in my most formative years – raised in Hollywood (West Hollywood), I guess it was inexorable that I’d one day end up working with motion pictures. My parents did so for a while in the late 1950s and in the mid 1980s, my brother Tyko and I both worked on a few of that decadent decades most commercially successful TV shows, including, Cagney & Lacey, Moonlighting and Hunter. I particularly remember one episode of Cagney & Lacey that took place in a nightclub somewhere in North Hollywood and where one of my favorite musical artists, Chaka Khan had a cameo guest appearance. I was an extra on the set and my “role” was simple; get Chaka Khan’s autograph. We must of re-done the scene ten times and for every new take, I had to walk up to Chaka, who was sitting on a barstool next to a tall, round table just off the dance floor, and ask for her autograph. Before the eight or ninth take, I wrote on the cover of the autograph pad, “I’m going to go crazy if I have to do this again”. When Mrs Khan saw my little comment, she looked up at me, smiled warmly and wrote, “ME TOO!!! on the pad. I might still have that pad somewhere in the archives.

Working as a non-union extra and stand-in back in 1986 was interesting, albeit a bit boring. Hours were long and after a while, the dream of being “discovered”, offered a role as a cast member and membership into the Screen Actors Guild, waned. Still, the experience opened my mind to how intriguingly complicated it was to produce films, television shows and commercials. And just how much the initial, rudimentary concept of storytelling through moving pictures had evolved. Back in those days, everything was captured with either film stock or directly to video tape, all depending on what the budgetary constraints were like. I am convinced that my current iPhone offers better resolution and dynamic range than the video cameras used on Cagney & Lacey or Hunter did.

My unique selling point as a producer of short films is that I’m like a Swiss army knife, or, a Leatherman if that’s your preference. While most film production companies need up to a half dozen employees for each small assignemnt – and charging an arm and a leg to produce it – I usually only need one assistent to get more or less the same results. But I’m not comparing quality here. It’s just that when film projects get too complicated, i.e. overstaffed and exuberantly expensive, it’s usually because there are more people involved than the project really demands. So now I’ve got this website for clients that have come to this exakt same realisation.