From one very early morning as I dove into the unusually calm Öresund Strait with my drone hovering a few meters above me in order to capture the moment.
From yesterday’s live concert with Toto at Sofiero, the gorgeous park in Helsingborg where the band 10cc warmed up and Steve Lukather – with a mostly new set of memebers – took us on a sweet musical nostalgia trip that lasted well into the beautiful, late summer evening (about 11:00 p.m.).
I noticed that the majority of the audience was around my age (59) and that there were probably about the same amount of he, she, and hen at the lush park. In a few days, Toto will play at Partille Arena in a suburb of Gothenburg. What a contrast!
I’ve seen Toto live a few times at different venues and although the sound could have been better, yesterday’s concert was still a worthwhile experience. I rarely listen to them these days, but Toto has clearly played a significant role in my musical life. Especially as the band’s original troupe appears as instrumentalists and producers on hundreds of other artists’ records. The fact is, Lukather, for example, has contributed his talent on albums recorded by Barbra Streisand, Michael McDonald, John Mayall, Ted Gärdestad, Elton John, Alice Cooper, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell. Spinal Tap, Roger Waters and Eric Clapton.
Back in the 1980s, a group of friends and I often got together before a night out in Gothenburg, and not too infrequently, we’d play air instruments to “99”, “English Eyes”, and “You are the Flower”. And even if our lives developed in different directions and we individually discovered new musical inspiration and genres to devour, to this today, Toto’s earliest songs and other artists from the “Westcoast” genre are a recurring topic in our WhatsApp group.
Yesterday it was fun to hear a really funky iteration of George Porgy, in my opinion, one of the band’s grooviest tunes. Last night’s playlist was sprawling and offered many Toto classics, but also some surprises, including a slightly weird tribute to former members and a somewhat oddball tribute to…James Brown. Sadly, there were no tracks from the band’s third LP “Turn Back” and only White Sister from Hydra made the show’s setlist.
Presumably, many of us fans were at Sofiero to see and listen to Steve “Luke” Lukather and to a lesser extent hear if Joseph Williams’ pipes still held up. And both delivered as they always have. Lukather with his typical sound, delicious licks, heavy riffs, and stylish solos. I think Lukather is just as sharp, energetic, and humorous as a 64-year-old as I remember him on October 1st, 1982 at the Johanneshov ice stadium when he as a 25-year old was on tour with Toto for the record Toto IV with Bobby Kimball on lead vocals. Incidentally, Kimball had broken his foot or leg before the gig and sat at the piano during the entire performance. In some strange way, it feels comforting that Toto is still touring. It was like Steve Lukather said yesterday just before the band’s encore if they don’t go on tour, who the hell is going to play their songs?
Admittedly, Toto has produced a lot of turkeys, tunes that don’t move me in the slightest. But that’s normal. It’s part of the creative process – regardless of what you do. You just have to give birth to a few turkeys to allow a shiny pearl or two to bubble up to the surface – if I may mix metaphors wildly.
But the musical skill, the “craftsmanship” and the ability to create beautiful written and performed melodic pop and “rock” cannot be taken away from the members of Toto. Neither in the current incarnation nor the original 1977 set with Jeff Porcaro, David Hungate, Steve Porcaro, Bobby Kimball, and Steve Lukather.
#toto #stevelukatherofficial #stevelukather #jeffporcaro #josephwilliams #rosanna #holdtheline #georgyporgy #youarethflower #africa #sofiero #liveconcert #totoafrica #guitarheroes #totohydra #totoiv #tototurnback #totofanclub #westcoastmusic #yachtmusic
When I was a very young artist, sometime in the mid-1980s, I came across the extraordinarily inspiring master artist George D Green. He had an exhibit at a gallery in Göteborg, not more than 20 feet from where I was living at the time. I was definitely not artistically talented enough to copy his style. Still, I did study it thoroughly enough to apply and integrate some of his trompe l’œil techniques into my own fledgling art output.
To a degree, I’m still influenced by trompe l’œil art, and nowhere is this more obvious than in my Resurfaced series where so much comes to life even though my pieces have been flattened from 3D to 2D. At least in their current incarnation. I have toyed with the idea of recreating some of the Resurfaced pieces to add three-dimensionality to the visual experience.
Shot this night photograph above Västra Hamnen in Malmö last night. I still find it amazing how enabling technology can be for visual artists. The drone’s ridiculously tiny sensor, let alone its ability to fly stable enough to capture an image at 1/8th of a second at f1.7 and ISO 1260. Mindboggling.
#dronephotography #malmö #turningtorso #santiagocalatrava #sweden2022 #summer
With some hindsight, our winter months in Costa da Caparica, the sleepy coastal town just south of Lisbon, were so peaceful. We were there from December to March and the pandemic was still at large. I can’t even imagine what it must be like there now. Packed with locals and tourists, for sure. I vividly remember walking to and from the beach and our rented house every day and being mostly on my own along the town’s sidewalks and narrow streets. And it was there that I found a few resurfaced surfaces. Like the one above.
Our pal Kerstin, a full-time prosecutor, and part-time farmer, hosted our annual crayfish fest last night here in Vejbystrand. Pleasant as it was, this year’s party will fortunately not be recorded as an evening overflowing with excessiveness in the annals of history. A half dozen of the usual suspects and I sat outdoors in Kerstin’s idyllic garden with her three beautiful horses prancing about nearby – all the while entertaining ourselves with one or two herb-infused snaps and other adult beverages – as well as an abundance of crayfish, pies, and cheeses. And while possibly an embarrassment for both an onlooking Viking and a Teetotaller, today, I’m certain we’re all thankful for last night’s measured consumption.
Captured this Resurfaced specimen somewhere in Europe and when I chose it for this post, I was somehow reminded of how much of my life has been lived in Europe.
Today’s philosophical question is: should one be ascending or descending at this stage in life? When I look around, I see plenty of peers still trying to climb up their career ladder, still yearning for more money, fancier vehicles, and adding additional knots of prestige to their pistol belt. Possibly because they don’t know what else to do with their self-competitiveness. I feel increasingly relaxed about all of that stuff and content with whatever happens – yet not entirely rudderless. My gut feeling is that the view is pretty good somewhere in the middle of that old rusty ladder.
Summer is almost over and autumn is near. As a kid, that’s the kind of “glass is half empty” perspective I had once July came to an end and just a few weeks remained of summer vacation. For the most part, I enjoyed my earliest summers in L.A. Barefoot, pool-hopping, munching on a slice of slippery pizza, making some fast cash after washing a neighbor’s car or mowing a lawn for a couple of bucks.
It was freedom with a capital F and there were almost no boundaries of where to go, what to do and who to hang out with. And as long as I wasn’t home too early, my mother would be fast asleep by the time I snuck into to my bedroom.
Today, I see the end of summer as somewhat of a relief. Don’t get me wrong, I fully embrace the few summer months we get up here in northern Europe. But my ongoing projects are more or less in a lull once the year’s most sociable season kicks in. Not that I don’t work on them, just not nearly as much as when the weather is less hospitable and our social calendar is less full.
I love this image (captured in Vejbystrand) as it reminds me so much of the forthcoming fall.
I captured this inside the operator’s cabin of a vintage crane in the old Lenin Shipyard of Gdansk, Poland. The view was marvelous but being in the cabin also reminded me of an ancient moral qualm I feel a need to share here.
Once I’d reached the highest level of the enormous crane, I thought of what it must have been like back in the day when the sprawling shipyard was at its most active. I pondered if crane operators were figuratively and literally at the very top of the workforce food chain or hierarchy. Maybe they were.
On the way down the crane’s rusty, rickety stairwell, I remembered something from my younger years, somewhat related to what I had just experienced.
Just a couple of years after moving to Sweden in the late 1970s, I got a weekend job working at Beckmans, a small-ish hot dog and newspaper stand in a posh suburb of Göteborg. It was located adjacent to the government’s local television and radio station. So this is an era way before commercially funded broadcasts were allowed on the airways in Sweden. While not nearly as restrictive and oppressive as in Poland, there was no shortage of pretty hardcore socialism in Sweden back in those days.
The hot dog kiosk was an immensely popular pitstop, especially for folks on their way home from a night out. I mostly worked evenings and nights there, flipping burgers, grilling hot dogs, pouring milkshakes, and frying fries. Some of you might remember that I had a big ball of curly hair then and it was no easy task washing the smell of deep-fried food from it once I got home after an eight or ten-hour shift.
If memory serves me correctly, the owner, a dude with almost blinding white hair named Kent Beckman, had once been a crane operator at Götaverken-Arendal, one of the city’s biggest shipyards.
According to a rumor spread among us teens working at the kiosk back then, Kent had married a woman who came from “high society” in Göteborg, By tying the knot with her, he’d married into considerable wealth and climbed several rungs up the city’s social ladder. Which was something he made very little effort to conceal yet had no qualms at all about paying us a meager SEK 20 ($2) an hour – under the table no less – and keeping his hot dog stand’s minions (mostly teenagers) on a very short and tight leash. Working there was usually fun, but it could also be swelteringly hot and ridiculously intense when a steady stream, often hundreds of hungry, impatient customers, ordered food throughout an entire shift.
I am certainly not proud of the last part of this post. Still, since the statute of limitation has long passed, I will now publicly admit that it was just a few hours into my very first shift when several of my coworkers at Beckman’s confided in me that the entire workforce of burger flipping and hot dog grilling teens made sure they were reasonably compensated for Kent’s notoriously unabashed cheapness.
The parallel might be a bit stretched, but around the same time as I was working weekends at Beckman’s kiosk, the shipyard workers in Gdansk, Poland began their general strike. It was initiated on August 14, 1980, because the workers were exhausted from living under the weight of rigorously and brutally enforced restrictions on their civil rights and civil liberties. I am obviously not arguing that what we did was by any means righteous or justified. But, in our own way, we also felt a level of oppression and exploitation, financially speaking.
Dave, I feel much better now.
#göteborg #gdansk #hotdogstand #moralqualm #beckmans #gotaverkenarendal #kubrik #1980
A quick post from Lech Wałęsa’s Gdansk.
I’m sure that my personal list of places I want to experience live is longer than most folks. I can’t back that statement up with any scientific stats, but it might be true for most visual artists. Inspiration comes from all kinds of sources, and for me, travel is certainly my preferred fountainhead.
I’ve wanted to visit Gdansk ever since hearing about Lech Wałęsa, famous for his political activism and the Solidarity movement he founded in the Polish city’s sprawling shipyard. I vividly remember being almost as intrigued by the industrial scenery shown on television and in newspapers as I was by his formidable success at ushering in a new era in Poland and eventually, the entire Eastern Bloc.
Yesterday was my 59th birthday. A year shy of an arguably more significant milestone. Since SAS screwed up our plans to celebrate my birthday with a few days in Tromsø, true to our ability to always figure out a good “Plan B”, Charlotte and I flew to Gdansk instead. It’s my second trip to Poland (I was in Krakow last year) and I am really enjoying each new visit to this country. Gdansk seems to be a thriving place with a young, energetic population and a ton of inspiring visual experiences.
Yes, notwithstanding the level of preparedness, the initial flood of pain inevitably fills our hearts and almost drowns us. But in due course, the ebb arrives and the sadness recedes into a gentle sea of seemingly perpetual, yet overcomable sorrow. Hesitantly at first, we slowly begin to nourish the memories of lost ones, somehow encouraging their souls to linger secretly in the depths of our hearts, and, conciseness.
Why would we allow remarkable friendships to ever be forgotten?
While the healing process often begins long before the inevitable final act has been revealed, we are left with a deep emotional laceration – collateral damage from life itself – one that we must accept and endure as it is a contribution to the human experience.
At some point in life, the cumulative departure of family, friends, and contemporaries, it begins to dawn upon us; the ephemerality of our existence, the mysterious realm of mortality, and, if we are humbled by our fate and destiny, perhaps even genuine gratitude for the allowance of time we were granted life in a physical form. Of being a being.
Sorrow and emptiness must certainly give way to cherished memories of those who have moved on but quietly continue to fill our lives with inspiration and, ultimately, love. Eternal love.
We’re enjoying a rare heatwave in Sweden. It’s not nearly as humid as I’m relatively accustomed to in southern Europe or in South East Asia. It’s a dryer heat here that reminds me more of places like Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and New Mexico. I’m certainly not complaining and I’d gladly give up the terrible winters here in Malmö for this kind of weather all year round. That said, I was hoping for a trip to the far north of Norway. But, due to the SAS strike, that isn’t going to happen. Instead, we’ll look to the east to celebrate my birthday…
The above image is of course part of my ongoing Resurfaced art series.
I captured this gorgeous flower recently and as gentle and fragile as it seemed when I looked at it, somehow, it also broadcasted so much strength, confidence, and fertility. The flower must have looked completely irresistible to the nearby hovering bumblebees. So powerful – real flower power!
I can’t explain it, but for some reason, like most boys and men, I have a fascination with just about anything that has a motor and moves. Is it the soothing soundscape a car evokes while idling or the loudness from a revving motorcycle? Or, is it the high-pitched frequencies of a jet engine during landing and takeoff that create the almost hypnotic allure?
Maybe, just maybe, it’s genetic. Perhaps men are programmed to find loud noises intriguing somehow. That we get some kind of hormonal reward from confronting (and mastering) the mechanical beast.
Due to the traveling lifestyle I’ve led for the better par of two and a half decades, summer vacation is a weird concept. And to be totally honest, I don’t think I’ve had a fixed 4 or 5 week summer vacation since high school or college.
Tourism has definitely returned to Stockholm and the main shopping streets are relatively full of both Swedish tourists and visitors from across the globe. Not nearly as much as pre-pandemic and especially when it comes to Asian vacationers, which are a rare site here.
Plenty of Americans in the Swedish capital, though. But not the archetypical loud, entitled kind. Overall, I’d venture to say that the vibe here is softer, maybe even humble. As if folks are – finally – aware of the world’s fragility.
Once again in Stockholm to work on the Resurfaced project, meet friends and reunite with my cousins. For once, I’m not staying at a hotel in the capital as one of my oldest friends here is traveling abroad and very generously provided her apartment in the cozy Söder neighborhood.
The ride up from Malmö was relatively smooth. I sat with my back towards the direction of the train – which was fine – and enjoyed viewing all the lush summer landscapes swishing by.
This piece, “Pink Pool Ripped Nylons”, originated from a photograph I took of a swimming pool in Greece a while back. Naming or titling my work has never really been much of a challenge. I’ll usually allow the art itself provide me with at least a part of the title and then add something that I associate it with. In the case with the above artwork, it was a scene at the start of the excellent Sophia Coppola film “Lost in Translation” with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. I watched it again recently and my deconstructed pool reminded me of the pattern in Japanese actress’ stockings (“Lip my stockings! Lip my stockings!”).
Here’s an abandoned house somewhere on the outskirts of Sorrento along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I’ve collected some of my images from that visit over at www.raboffphotography.com/amalfi-coast