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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the retro branded SAS plane I mentioned in the post below (shot on an iPhone through a terminal window). I don’t remember what type of aircraft I flew in back in 1967 when I, as a four year old, journeyed from Los Angeles International Airport, via Seattle, London and Copenhagen to Torslanda Flyplats, but it could of been a DC-8.
While the sun leaves the Chamonix valley in a shivering, cold shade at around 5:30pm this time of year, the day’s last light still illuminates the peaks for at least another hour.
Charlotte and I walked around the village for a few hours after returning from a magnificent day on the slopes today, discussing what we really like about Chamonix and compared our notes from last year’s trip to the considerably smaller village of Zermatt below the Matterhorn.
Though an unfair comparison when measuring sheer volume and size, both destinations still obviously have plenty of commonalities. Where Zermatt caters to a more exclusive group of patrons willing to spend more time getting there and budgeting a bit more for accommodations, dining and just about everything else connected to a Swiss ski resort, Chamonix is much more accessible (an hour and change from Geneva), socially relaxed and dare I say, charter-esque.
Don’t get me wrong, Chamonix is a picturesque village in a surreally beautiful alpine environment. A destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited both resorts twice in the last five years and hope to return some day. After checking off a few other ski resorts from my list…
Another glorious day on the slopes with mostly fabulous weather. After checking out the pists in Flégère for a few hours, we headed over to Le Brevent and ate a hearty (vegetarian/vegan) lunch at one of Chamonix’s most popular hillside bistros, the rustic Bergerie de Planpraz. It was a bit too cold to sit outside when we arrived, but after lunch, the sun had heated up the outdoor patio (above) rather nicely. With the Mont Blanc massive as a dramatic backdrop, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a more scenic setting.
From today’s excursion to the very top of Aiguille du Midi and the glass bottom terrace at 3,842m aptly dubbed, “Step Into The Void”.
With views of some of the tallest peaks in Switzerland, Italy and France – including Mont Blanc (above left) from one single place, this has to be the ultimate alp spotting venue.
Despite sunny weather, the air at this altitude was thin and cold (-18C/-0,4F) which made it a little challenging to film and shoot stills. At one point, I thought my left index finger had gotten frost bitten. After returning to Chamonix, we spent the rest of the day exploring the many excellent pists at Grands Montets.
The weather today provided a mix bag with patches of sunshine, a light snowfall and a generous amount of fog or mist. Not that stopped us from skiing and thoroughly enjoying about a half dozen pists.
Back in the alps again. And this year, we chose to produce a story about the classic French ski destination Chamonix. It’s been five years since my last visit to Chamonix.
As the driver pulled up to the hotel shortly after lunch, the clouds hovering above parted and let the valley bathe in bright sunshine. After renting ski gear, I spent most of the afternoon shooting stills and getting some footage around the village.
Tomorrow we hit the slopes of Le Brévent with cameras, a small ski friendly stabilizer and a small drone.
Shot this with model and yogi, Tora Rosenkjaer a couple of weeks ago in Skanska’s Studio building here in Malmö. It was project aimed to help Altitude Meetings visualize how excellently their Black Box is for filming and still shoots.
Most of the footage was shot on a Canon DSLR using Canon’s brilliant 35mm f1.4L glass which was wide open pushed to ISO 640. The smoke, spotlight rays and most movements were achieved in post (FCPX).
Speaking of Bangkok and old and new norms, here’s a short video I created for Thailand Living a few years ago. Shot handheld on an iPhone 5 in the Thai capital’s bustling Chinatown.
Though a life-long proponent of peaceful solutions and a firm believer in diplomacy, reluctantly, I still have to be rational about that weapons, in one shape or another, will always be a part of human history.
The photo above is from the political unrest in Bangkok, Thailand in 2009. I was there on a press trip and instead of traveling to the far north in accordance with our busy itinerary, the government agency responsible for our safety determined it was unsafe to leave the capital. We were told that the risk for military action to bridle the increasingly violent demonstrators was imminent. And so, they checked us back in at the Intercontinental, a most comfortable detention center, I might add.
A while back, I wrote about how bewildered I was with all the norm shifts I notice each time I visit the United States. That I often feel that the country I grew up has changed more drastically than those living there seem to grasp. Obviously, some changes are evolutionary and stem from cultural, financial, scientific and technological development in society. But some of the new behaviors and opinions represent truly dramatic shifts. Yet they have permeated the collective consciousness so subtly, almost sneakily across years or decades, that few seem to take notice. Instead, many unabashedly subscribe to these new norms so wholeheartedly, that everything preceding them instantly becomes unrecognizable and even weird. That’s happening right here in Sweden with cash being displaced by Swish and other phone payements and the popular credit card swipe. Today I rarely see any cash, let alone pay with it.
One of the most current and dramatic norm shifts in the US is how increasingly normal it has become for Americans to not only buy weapons, but to also openly carry handguns (like in Texas, where it’s perfectly legal). How has this norm shift come about? Is it “smart” and persistent marketing from gun manufacturers? The National Rifle Association’s tireless campaigning to seduce their members into thinking that only when a Glock G19, S & W 38 Special or an Uzi is in the hands of all red-blooded Americans from age 9, can we secure the country’s long-term existens? Or, is it perhaps the media that through sensationalistic/exploitive reporting has managed to hypnotize folks into thinking that they really do need an AK-47 under their bed and an advanced alarm and CCTV system installed in their homes to feel safe and sleep well at night?
While the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms, the right to buy military grade rifles and other weapons clearly designed for shooting en masse, was surely not what the founding fathers had in mind back in 1791.
I can’t wrap my head around how so many folks in the US feel so strongly about their right to own military grade firearms at home yet don’t make the connection to the country’s increasing mass killings. Have these shootings become the new norm and with them the tolerance to buy and own such powerful weaponry?
In my opinion, it’s still too easy to a) sell these types of weapons to consumers and b) to let anyone with a valid driver’s license walk into a hardware store, a gun and ammo shop, or, even a Walmart, and literelly within minutes, leave with a weapon so powerful, they could use it to kill dozens if not hundreds of people in a matter of minutes.
And this boggles my mind even more: if you’re at one of the many, many gun shows spread across the US in the course of a year, a background check isn’t even required!
To add insult to injury, here’s a few of the questions someone looking to leave the gun store with an assault rifle under his or her arm needs to answer:
• Have you ever been convicted of a felony?• Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?
• Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any other depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
• Are you a fugitive from justice?
• Have you ever been committed to a mental institution?
How can questions like these possibly be intended to smoke out and prevent consumers with nefarious intentions from buying a seriously potent firearm?
I’m both sad and bewildered. As a father and a human being, I feel so much empathy for the many parents and families that have lost loved ones in the recent Florida school shooting. How many more massacres before the NRA, Congress and interest groups sponsor a bill that to begin with removes military grade weapons from consumer store shelves?
Here’s a list of all members of the US Congress that took campaign money from the gun and weapons lobby and then tweeted that their prayers were with the victims and their famililes in Florida. Appauling.
There is no fair way to translate the Swedish expression, “Mumsfilibabba”. At least I can’t find one that does it justice. Mumsfilibabba is used as a playful way to verbally pronounce when something tastes extraordinarily great. Usually confectionery.
When Nina, a fellow freelancer and long-time friend of the family, decided to commercially pursue one of her many passions, developing and marketing homemade, naturally flavored caramel, both Charlotte and I applauded her entrepreneurship and decided to support the project. The photo above, shot with the “Q” on our dining room table with LED lights from Rotolight, is just one of the many available flavors.
As you, tender reader, might of guessed, after the shoot, I tossed back a few of these tasty temptations. And yes, they taste absolutely wonderful.
I’m not much for sweets these days, but as a child, I endulged in all kinds of sugary candies, including, but not limited to the ubiquitous Tootsie Roll. Especially during the fall and leading up to Halloween where Tootsie Rolls were among the most popular treats neighbors would offer us kids when being “trick or treated”. And while Tootsie Rolls are a peculiar hybrid of taffy and caramel, Nina’s Mumsfilibabba are made from a secret recipe with ingredients that result in unapologetically bonafide caramels. She’s already soft-launched Mumsfilibabba, so check it out here.
If you live in Sweden long enough, eventually you’ll bite into one of these creamy buns, called “Semla”. According to legend, the not-so-onomatopoetically dubbed bun was mentioned as far back as when the bible was first translated to Swedish by Gustav Vasa in 1541.
I’m not a huge fan of dense marzipan, suger infused whipped cream or ever-so fluffy bread. But after all these years, I have to concede that once a year I’ll surrender to any health concerns associated with this obvious calorie bomb. And while some prefer to fork and knife them, I literally inhale my yearly intake. Shot the one above for a local café about a year ago. Need a recipe, here’s one.
I’ve known Erik Schneider, his wife Mia and their family for as long as we’ve been living in Malmö. Like myself, Erik has an ethnically eclectic background. His interest and knowledge about all things wine has not only earned him a respected reputation among colleagues, peers and restauranteurs, late last year, it also awarded him the prestigious title of “Sweden’s Sommelier of the Year”.
So, when Erik called to hire me for a conceptual shoot on the ice covered shores of Ribersborg with Västra Hamnen in the background, I put everything else aside and headed out into the cold but sunny afternoon to execute his concept.
Erik’s day-to-day gig is managing his extremely popular wine bar, l’enoteca in Malmö’s old town.
We’re in the unusually sunny British capital for a couple of days. While Charlotte attends an affiliate conference, I’m here to shoot for a story about the super trendy neighborhood Shoreditch in East London. It was such excellent weather yesterday, that I went for a long walk along the embankment down to Tower Bridge. Hence the slideshow above (shot with the Leica Q).
We’re staying at a relatively new chic hotel called Leman Locke. Impressed by the generous room size here and more importantly, the thought-through, light hued, modern (and functional) decor. A diametrical opposite to the decrepit Strand where Elle and I stayed during last year’s visit.
Last night, Charlotte and I ate an amazing dinner at a wonderfully funky eatery called Yuu Kitchen in Spitalfields. We sat in the restaurant’s bar just in front of the open kitchen and enjoyed watching the chefs prepare a bunch of small albeit incredibly flavorful Asian-Mexican fusion treats for us. We left full and happy and mused all the way back to the hotel at how much we love popping over for a few days of work in London.
A composition from today’s test shoot in Altitude Meetings’ Black Box Studio here in Malmö with the always reliable model and yoga practitioner extraordinaire, Tora Rosenkjaer.
These images are from last night’s inspiring movie, “The Darkest Hour” with the always excellent, Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. in his rise from First Lord of the Admiralty to Prime Ministor and the political turmoil and emotional struggles he went through days before WWII.
We saw the movie at Spegeln/Mirror here in Malmö – a beautifully decorated and well-kept boutique theatre with a currated repertoire focused on an adult clientel and where they among many tasty treats – including homemade popcorn – also serve beer, wine and cava.
The whole family has been glued our screens watching “The Crown” for the last several weeks and though John Lithgow’s Churchill is arguably more entertaining, Gary Oldman’s enactment is possibly more realistic. I think it’s his career’s finest work – so far.
Aside from the phenomenal prosthetics and makeup that provide a stunning resemblance that help augment his brilliant portrayal of WC, no actor I know of is capable of commanding as much rage as Oldman. Like in “Léon: The Professional” with another favorite actor, Jean Reno) from 1994, in this his latest role, Oldman’s given several opportunities to show us what being genuinely unbridled anger looks and sounds like.
The film’s cinematography, together with wardrobe and set design make this film a fabulous feast for the eyes. Every frame looks like a masterfully composed painting. And regardless of whether or not you’re interested in the historical aspect, the film is worth seeing for it’s homage to cinema as a form of creative expression.
I’m heading to London for an extremely short & sweet gig next week, and after seeing “The Darkest Hour” I can’t wait to be at least in the general vicinity of where it all took place, almost 80 years ago.