Fountain of Youth

Fountain of Youth

This is from a fountain in the old town of Marbella. I tried capturing the fountain’s water drops just a few short weeks before the pandemic shut down Spain and much of the known world. For some reason unbeknownst to me, when I saw the image in my archive yesterday – and because associations often work in mysterious ways, I linked it with the mythological Fountain of Youth.

Shortly after, and mostly on a curiosity-fueled whim, I spoke with a couple of representatives from Sweden’s Department of Retirement. Both sounded conspicuously young and I think I would have been considerably more comfortable talking to someone roughly my age. Whatever.

As I was told by a polite woman from Luleå named Cecilia, it turns out that I’m eligible for retirement payment, Sweden’s National Pension Fund (Social Security in the US), when I turn 64, i.e. in four years.

Hm. Re-reading the above paragraph kinda freaks me out. Retirement? WTF?

I don’t think I’ll ever retire. Not in a traditional sense. It’s not like I have a choice. Creativity is a Pandora’s box. Once opened, I don’t think I can ever really close it. At least not until the mortician has powdered my nose and my coffin’s lid is nailed down or, more likely, I’ve been shoved into the furnace.

Some of my older friends have already retired and after some adjustment time, they seem to be enjoying their newfound freedom just fine. We’ll see.

New Painting: Artificial Delirium

New Painting: Artificial Delirium
Here’s a new painting aptly titled Artificial Delirium. It’s 60 x 90 cm and I painted it on traditional canvas with traditional acrylic paint. The idea for the painting came to me after reading several articles about Artificial Intelligence. While I’m far from smart enough to understand the inner workings, I have no problem whatsoever immagining some potential applications.

Like a lot of people, I can’t help but wonder (and worry) about where Artificial Intelligence is going to take us. Is it another Y2k hoax? Skynet? A mix of both? Some really smart science folks are very concerned about how the accelerated evolution of the technology might go so fast that it could be too late to do anything once we realize the shit has already hit the fan.

I’ve used ChatGPT on multiple occasions and feel lucky not to have to compete for writing gigs anymore. And with Adobe’s latest release of Generative AI in Photoshop, it’s clear to see (at least to me) how professional photographers and filmmakers will eventually become less important in the visual storytelling process.

According to Geoffrey Hinton, a scientist formerly employed by Google and considered to be the “Grandfather of Artificial Intelligence”, if we don’t regulate this rapidly evolving technology immediately, it will become an existential threat to the human species. Geoffrey Hinton paints a dismal future and several doomsday scenarios in this interesting interview.

I just got done watching Netflix’s excellent documentary “Chimp Empire” While following the intrigues within and between the two groups of chimps in the series, I kept thinking about how sparingly humans have evolved from our distant relatives. Financial, political, and physical threats and brutal acts of violence are still our preferred way to settle disagreements and manifest perspectives, and opinions. Nuts!

What happens when a not-too-distant future version of AI comes to a seemingly logical conclusion that humans can no longer be allowed to roam freely on a planet they so clearly are incapable of managing without destroying?

What if we humans, which quantifiably are a relatively small species on Earth, have reached our peak potential? Maybe it’s time for artificial intelligence to take over the steering wheel, to, you know, sort out and start solving the mess we’ve created. The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Aerial view of canola fields in southern Sweden

Blooming Canola Fields in Sweden

Here’s an aerial view of the canola fields in southern Sweden with Malmö and Västra Hamnen in the background. I’ve not had an opportunity to enjoy the canola flowers up close this spring, but there are plenty of images stored in my archive with photos and footage of the beautiful, blooming yellow flowers captured from both the air and ground throughout southern Sweden. I’m considering a book totally dedicated to canola flowers which I might be tempted to give a title along the lines of “Mellow Yellow” or “Raboff’s Rhapsody in Yellow”.

Making salad with a Kitchen Aid food processor

Kitchen Aid and Long Lasting Brand Loyalty

If you know me well enough, you’ll know that one of my creative pursuits is cooking. While I’m not particularly interested in making fancy or too complicated meals, most of my signature dishes are usually appreciated and most arguably qualify as tasty comfort food.

I am of a generation that tends to be almost ridiculously loyal to a few choice brands, including Apple (computers, phones, earphones), Levis (jeans, Patagonia (sweaters), Uniqlo (socks, tees), Muji (storage), Scarpa, (shoes) Winsor & Newton (paint), Paderno (cookware), Red Wing (boots), Clark’s (shoes).

I just realized that several of my all-time favorite brands are related to cooking, including a couple of chef’s knives from Wüsthof, a trusty blender from Vitamix which I use on a daily basis to create our morning smoothie, and, the above pictured, decade-old Kitchen Aid food processor. The photo is from when I was just about to blend a bunch of veggies for our Sunday evening dinner salad.

What distinguishes all of the above brands and the only real reason why I continue to be loyal to the companies behind these utilitarian products is the simple fact that they’ve provided a level of durability and usefulness that makes them worthy purchases. Not always, but I mostly still believe that you get what you pay for.

A tribute to my Swedish Grandmother Agnes on Swedish Mother's Day

Mother’s Day (in Sweden)

It’s Mother’s Day here in Sweden. So many great tributes from loving daughters and sons to celebrate their mothers. I can’t help but feel a little blue on a day like this.

My Swedish mother was never really my mother. Biologically, yes. But not much more than that. When so many friends congratulate their mothers, all I feel are the jumbled emotions of emptiness and anger. Emptiness because I can’t relate to the whole wonderful mother-child thing and anger from being assigned such a lemon of a mother.

But at some point during my brief self-pity session today, I remembered Agnes Andersson, my mother’s mother. A woman who was often more of a mother to me than she was my grandmother. She could be that too, but most of my memories of Grandma Agnes are from the many moments when she helped me understand what unconditional love was, which has ever since helped me accept and share love.

As unlucky as I remember feeling as a kid about having been dealt such a terrible mother, today I feel all the more fortunate to have at least had such a wonderful grandmother. Agnes was an amazingly strong woman with a beautiful, contagious smile and the most gentle, kind eyes. She also had great hair. Agnes laughed often and would never get angry at me. She obviously knew where I was coming from emotionally and decided that I wasn’t a lost cause. That I could learn to accept love and eventually give it away just as unconditionally as she did.

As one often does in hindsight, I am probably glorifying Agnes Andersson. So be it. But honestly, I have zero memories from my time with her that are anything but loving and joyous. No big surprise that I insisted on giving our daughter Elle her name.

In addition to what was certainly a tough life in the various farms she and my grandfather Eskil had in several areas of southwestern Sweden during the 1940s-1970s, Agnes also gave birth and raised four daughters. As far as I know, only Lillian is still alive. Be she excommunicated herself from the family a long, long time ago. Ce la vie.
So, today, I’ll raise my glass to Agnes Andersson. Grandmother, mother, and a generous, compassionate human being that gave me the greatest gift of all, love.
New painting: The Loyalty of Mister Matsumoto-san

The Loyalty of Mister Matsumoto-san

This one of my latest paintings, a fairly large acrylic on canvas, 88 x 116 cm. The painting’s title, “The Loyalty of Mister Matsumoto-san” stems from one of my favorite film noir flicks, Ridley Scott’s “Black Rain” with Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia and the always splendid Japanese actor Ken Takakura who plays Assistant Inspector Matsumoto Masahiro.

Two Square Acrylic Paintings

Thoughtless vs Thoughtful Paintings

I painted these two square acrylic paintings a few weeks ago but I’ve not shown them publicly before. The more I look at them, the more I like the colorful abstraction they represent. There was no particular conscious thought or feeling when I painted them, yet of course, there was. Sometimes it’s hard to know if I’ve painted what I might have been feeling at the time, or if I read something into it after it was finished. I think of autumn and the colors of leaves and trees when I see them now.

Hotel Indigo Larnaca

Hotel Indigo in Larnaca, Cyprus

Here’s my Google Review from the hotel we stayed at in Larnaca, Hotel Indigo. I see my reviews on Google as a mere writing exercise, a way to keep my English honed and maintain my lightweight travel journalism. Here’s the link to the Google Review version of this review.

As soon as the airport taxi van pulled up to the curb outside Hotel Indigo in Larnaca’s Old Town and I saw the hotel’s beautiful facade, I had a feeling that I’d made the right choice.

While the hotel’s exterior looks somewhat aesthetically connected to the neighborhood in regards to architectural style and color scheme, once I entered the lobby, there was very little that subsequently reminded me that I was in Cypress.

Hotel Indigo is a highly conceptualized yet still tastefully designed boutique hotel. It could literally be located anywhere in the world. In fact, I’ve actually stayed a few nights at a Hotel Indigo in Bangkok (Thailand) with similar interior decor and facilities.

Though my room’s (104) balcony didn’t offer a particularly interesting view, the property is located in Larnaca’s charming albeit partially crumbly old town. So the 360 views from the hotel’s lovely rooftop pool were all the more impressive. Especially the stunning view of the Mediterranean a few blocks beyond.

Upon my arrival, I soon discovered that this former British colony has the same archaic wall socket connectors as in the UK. So, I kindly asked the receptionist if she could help me with an adapter.

Instead of trying to locate one for me, she suggested that I find a store in town the following day (a Sunday) where they sell adapters. Why the hotel doesn’t have a few adapters in a drawer is a mystery…

I found most of the staff at Hotel Indigo to be extraordinarily friendly and helpful. Especially in the restaurant where an exceptionally service-minded team promptly and elegantly served delicious coffee and a very nicely presented and thoroughly tasty a la carte breakfast.

The hotel’s housekeeping staff did a really good job of making up our room and they were always smiling and friendly whenever we interacted.

The front desk staff was also friendly… but when we politely asked to checkout at 1:00 pm, i.e. an hour later than what their 11:00 am policy dictates (we had a late afternoon flight back to Europe), the young woman on duty said that the hotel was fully booked and that it was not possible to provide us with an extra hour.

It typically takes 20-30 minutes to clean a room of the (small) size we stayed in. Since checkin time is 3:00 pm, that would have given housekeeping almost 2 hours to clean our room before the next guest(s) arrived.

I stay at 25-30 different hotels every year and 95% of them offer an extra hour without discussion (or, pointing out a silly, inflexible policy).

Also, as I was waiting in the lobby for my airport taxi at about 1:00 pm, a few other guests were clearly checking out. Why I was discriminated against and not allowed to enjoy the same checkout time is another mystery.

All said, I really enjoyed staying at Hotel Indigo in Larnaca. It’s located in a relatively quiet part of Old Town, the breakfast is really, really good and the rooftop pool and pool bar are fabulous.

So, if you don’t need to stay on the beach (which is super busy and not really much to write home about), Hotel Indigo is a superb choice.

With the exception of a minuscule gym and my somewhat disappointing encounters with the front desk staff, I had a nice guest experience.

Hotel Indigo is definitely recommendable

Cyprus Inter Rail Tour 1983

Greek Food Fix in Cyprus

Between previous visits to Greece and our current trip to Cyprus, where we are for the very first time, I’d kind of forgotten how much I like Greek food.

Yesterday, we indulged in a delightful Sunday dinner at family-owned Militzis, a charming and traditional tavern situated by the sea in Larnaca. The place was bustling with local families, savoring their meals and relishing in each other’s company.

We rounded off the dinner with a couple of glasses of Ouzo which then reminded me of a beach party a long time ago on a completely different island in the Mediterranean….

I can’t recall if I’ve shared this story before, but during my month-long Inter Rail tour across Europe in 1983, I boarded a ferry from Brindisi (Italy) and found myself on the Greek island of Corfu, accompanied by a lively group of blonde Danish gals and some cool dudes from New York.

Once we arrived on the island, we claimed a portion of the relatively unknown Agios Gordos beach on Corfu’s west coast. We spent our days swimming, playing frisbee, and enjoying carefree parties throughout the nights.

One afternoon, my newfound friend Todd bought a large watermelon and a bottle of Ouzo. He skillfully created a small hole in the melon and poured the Ouzo inside. We let it marinate in the fridge for a few hours, eagerly awaiting the flavorful outcome. Once ready, we sliced the infused melon and devoured it with great enthusiasm.

I can’t recall the number of slices I had or the specific details of the rest of that evening. However, I do vividly remember the throbbing headache that greeted me the next morning. Apparently, I had drifted off to sleep inside Todd’s compact beach tent, just below the terrace of our hotel, where everyone was now enjoying their morning meal.

Bathing in sweat and feeling unbearably hot, I stumbled out of the tent and made my way to my hotel room. To my surprise, both Todd and an unfamiliar girl were fast asleep and snoring on my bed, devoid of any clothing.

It took nearly a decade after that wild party before I could even fathom sipping Ouzo or any other pastis. But last night, it brought back fond memories and tasted absolutely delightful!

New book: Silhouette Surfers

New Book: Silhouette Surfers

So my goal before officially becoming a “sexagenarian” – a person who is between 60 and 69 years old – is to have three new photo books available for sale on the Amazon (print-on-demand) bookstore.

My long-time trusted book designer and fellow photographer David Pahmp is making the final tweaks to Silhouette Surfers and it should be available for purchase within a couple of weeks.

Laura Raboff's new book Little Memoirs.

My Cousin Laura Raboff

This is the beautiful cover of an amazing book of memoirs by Laura Raboff. Laura’s my cousin on my father’s side of the family. She’s an accomplished artist, art teacher, writer, and a reliable source of creative and intellectual inspiration. I remember Laura mentioning her book project a while back and was happy to be among a small number of people to receive it. It is such a gem.

Laura’s a bit older than I and though we rarely met when I was a young boy living in L.A., the emotional and creative connection we’ve made as adults has at least partially made up for lost time. Laura and her husband Barry came to visit us a few years ago and the reunion was a real blast.

I’ve always had a thing for strong, stubborn, creatively gifted women like cousin Laura and my wife and partner Charlotte, whom I’ve been living happily and working collaboratively with for almost 27 years. 

For what it’s worth, both my mother and father were creative folks. But where my father likely suppressed my mother’s artistic talents and needs (she was a really good illustrator), I’ve always encouraged and been supportive of Charlotte’s ideas and creative pursuits. And vice versa, of course.

Västra Hamnen 1999

From a film project in 199 for HSB Malmö in Sweden. The objective was to showcase the views from the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s then yet-to-be-built skyscraper, Turning Torso.

Across the Öresund with Skipper Hans-Jörgen

From last summer’s boat trip to Copenhagen with an old buddy, skipper Hans-Jörgen Hansson on his vintage Monark 670. Hans-Jörgen’s boat is designed by boat designer and competitive sailboat racer Pelle Pettersson who apparently dabbled a bit in the motorboat design genre. In my youth, I sailed quite a few times on Pelle Petterson’s Maxi series, including the infamous “tub” Maxi 68. Heck, I’ve even experienced what it’s like to run aground in a Maxi 80 Racer (not fun).

Hans-Jörgen and I spent a good chunk of that sunny day in Copenhagen with a picnic in Nyhavn and a tour of the Danish capital’s many bridges and canals.

Hiking at Axeltorps Naturreservat in Båstad

Hiking at Axeltorp

From yesterday’s 12k hike in a nature reserve near Båstad. Like all the other trails on the hills of Hallandsåsen, the Axeltorp route was stunningly beautiful and surprisingly empty of other hikers. This is such a beautiful time of year to hike in southern Sweden. Spring leaves are a bright, chlorophyll green which contrasts wonderfully with last year’s reddish brown leaves on the ground.

Industrial Fetish

I clearly have a relatively severe case of chronic Industrial Fetish. It’s not as bad as it once was, but it nonetheless still lingers and demands a fix now and again. I got a nice dose on Thursday when a friend of a friend invited me to a low-level basement in downtown Malmö. I’ve collected a few images from that excursion, most of which you can see here.

Large Format Photos for Whilborgs Fastigheter

Large Format Photographs

This is from early this morning as I inspected the eight ginormous prints of my photographs from the Dockan area in Västra Hamnen. The client, Whilborgs Fastigheter, has purchased the images to decorate the walls of their new corporate headquarters.

Heavy Metal in Talat Noi's Sieng Gong, Bangkok, Thailand

Just Published: My 20th BooK!

After a few initial hurdles due to print quality with Amazon’s Print-on-Demand (POD) service, Heavy Metal in Sieng Gong’s Talat Noi – my 20th book – has just been published. Such a perfect way to finish this long-running project. I’ll probably visit Sieng Gong next time I’m in Bangkok, but only out of curiosity as to how far the gentrification process has gone since last fall. I’ve not got access to any reliable crystal ball, but at some point, the Sieng Gong I’ve documented in my new book and mini-documentary will likely cease to exist. Ce la vie.

Silhouette Surfers exhibition at Clarion Hotel Sea U in Helsingborg, Sweden

Silhouette Surfers Art Exhibition

Here’s yours truly yesterday, standing in front of a couple of my new, surf-themed acrylic paintings and my trusty old retired shortboard at Clarion Hotel Sea U in Helsingborg, Sweden. The exhibition opening was a cozy affair with plenty of friends and guests stopping by to say hi and take a look at the collection of photos, paintings, and the surf film I’d produced for the show. I love being able to exhibit and share my creativity through different mediums so that a show like “Silhouette Surfers” becomes a more immersive, conceptual experience.

Surfing in Waves of Euphoria

With all the buzz about AI and the wonderful benefits we’ll soon be enjoying, I wonder why Apple Inc and other tech companies aren’t using it to block the spam emails we get every single day.

No, I don’t want to find a Russian doll. No, I don’t need an expensive juice to reverse erectile dysfunction. No thank you, I don’t have sleep apnea. No, I don’t think having sex five times a week is a reasonable expectation at my age. At least not most weeks.

What I do want to do more of is surf.

The above film is a collection of scenes from Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Los Angeles, Hawaii and Portugal. It’s part of the exhibit “Silhoutte Surfers” that opens tomorrow at Clarion Hotel Sea U. Hope to see some of you there tomorrow!

thinking, mixing colors, painting

Thinking, Mixing Colors & Painting

I’m in the midst of a really optimistic, creatively productive flow right now. Hopefully, it’ll last a few more days, at least until my exhibit on Friday. Above is today’s palette. I probably spent about an hour of my 7-hour session just mixing colors and figuring out what hues would work for the two paintings on my easels right now.