The Nightfly

The Nightfly to Sophia

In late 2021, just as the pandemic was tapering off, Charlotte and I had an interesting fall remote working as “digital nomads” from a sleepy seaside town in Croatia called Zadar.

We made friends with a few folks while we were there, among them was Richard, a fellow nomad from the UK. One afternoon while chatting in a local bar, Richard mentioned that he’d spent some time in a relatively obscure ski resort called Bansko in the mountainous region of southern Bulgaria.

As Bulgaria had been on my bucket list for quite a while and I hadn’t skied since our last visit to Chamonix in 2019, I was intrigued. So here we are after an uneventful night’s flight to Sophia from Copenhagen.

We’re in Bulgaria to produce a story about the UNESCO World Heritage-listed village Bansko, the co-working scene, and what it’s like on the slopes.

After last year’s visit to Albania, several trips to Croatia and Greece, and a short stay in Serbia, I’m digging the Balkan Peninsula more and more. So far, the folks we’ve interacted with here in Bansko come across as being friendly, soft-spoken, and genuinely helpful. This is to be expected since this is a popular tourist destination among skiers from Great Britain, Romania, and neighboring Greece. But still, the politeness doesn’t seem contrived or forced. It’s there, somewhat hidden underneath a layer of shyness, which I find to be a positive characteristic of folks from the Balkans.

Fish

And then what? Fish?

It’s not exactly a new year’s resolution, but I have promised myself that before I hit the 60 mark this July 22, I’ll have published no less than three new books. One is already on the finish line and if I don’t let myself get too distracted with other stuff, I feel justifiably confident that I can accomplish this goal in the next 4-5 months.

Each book will be a companion to the three art projects I’ve been working on for several years; Resurfaced, Silhouette Surfers, and Heavy Metal in Sieng Gong. As much as I have loved working on each of them, I need to move on.

But then what?

I’ve been pondering whether or not to pursue an anthology, a large format book filled with images and accompanying stories from personal projects, assignments, and travels. Then again, I could also produce a book about fish and seafood, which I have a curiously large amount of images of. Including the one above.

Resurfaced on Beverly and Fairfax

Resurfaced: Beverly & Fairfax

I located this surface along the northwest corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue while in Los Angeles this past October. There was a long stretch of beautifully layered postings and I probably spent the better part of an hour capturing a series of potential artifacts along the wall. I didn’t visit DTLA during my short visit to L.A., so this was one of the few places where I found some truly interesting surfaces.

At the time, I was staying at a motel a few blocks further east on Beverly and walked one day all the way to San Vicente Boulevard and my old stomping grounds at West Hollywood Park. The park had changed so much since my childhood that I no longer recognized myself there, which was both a bit disappointing but also to be expected. After all, the last time I spent any significant time swimming, riding my old red Schwinn, playing catch or touch football in West Hollywood Park would have been when I was 14, some 45 years ago.

Big Wave Surfing

Big Wave Surf in Nazaré

It was about a year ago, while we were staying in Lisbon for a few months, that I took a regional bus to the ancient fishing village of Nazaré in the historical province of Estremadura where the world’s largest waves roll in during the winter.

It’s thanks to the “Nazaré Canyon”, a submarine geomorphological phenomenon that creates Nazaré´s enormous waves. The canyon runs about 170 kilometers along the Portuguese coast, reaching a whopping depth of 5,000 meters, by far the deepest in Europe.

The competition was quite an event that was streamed globally and I shared the live experience with people that had traveled to Nazaré from all over the world.

I’ve collected a gallery of images from my two days in Nazaré here


The Ginger Snuff Story

I’ve been off nicotine for about a decade now. I replaced traditional tobacco snuff in 2013 while we were living on the corner of Idaho Avenue and 2nd Street in Santa Monica Beach.

I had wanted to quit snuff for some time, but I always fell off the wagon, buying yet another round container of Swedish General or the dreadful American Skoal Bandits.

One evening, while cooking a Thai dish with a generous portion of fresh ginger root from our local Whole Foods, I ate a sizable chunk, chewed on it for a little while, and then instinctively pushed it up my top lip. It burned nicely and I suppose it was then and there that I realized how ginger quite possibly could be the silver bullet, the hero surrogate I so desperately needed to kick the habit and once and for all rid myself of traditional snuff.

A few years later, I made the above short film to show how ridiculously simple it was to create homemade ginger snuff.

The Deconstruction of Kyiv

Resurfaced: The Tragic Deconstruction of Kyiv

I literally stumbled upon this wall in 2021 while scouring downtown Kyiv for the Resurfaced project. It’s saddening when I think of how much suffering the Ukrainian people have gone through since the Russian invasion almost a year ago.

I wonder what all the people I met during my stay in the county are doing to survive mentally, physically, and financially. What are the two brilliant guides that showed me around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant doing now that their jobs are gone? What about the kind staff at the now-closed café on Bohdana Khmelnitskogo Street where I ate my breakfast and worked on the previous day’s images?

Shattered dreams. Lost hope. Seemingly futureless. So it would seem at present.

I hope to return to Kyiv and Ukraine one day and be able to walk around freely, enjoy the city’s street life, beautiful architecture, and once again experience the famous Kyivan hospitality.

Joakim Lloyd Raboff's book covers 2005-2021

All Book Covers Minus One

Here’s the current collection of books I’ve published and been commissioned to produce since 2005. Counting the 5000 printed for the Chinese version of the World Fair edition of my 2010 book about Västra Hamnen and the 5000 copies produced of the “Vad Sysslar Du Med?” interview book, there could be about 25,000 books with my name on them “in the wild”.

The one project not included here is the satirical guidebook I produced with a friend using the pseudonym Sebastian T. Armstrong called “Penile Photography: An Authoritative Handbook To Improve Your Penis Photography”.

Now you might be asking yourself right now, how the hell did you come up with that idea, Joakim? Well, one afternoon in early 2020, after several jugs of cheap beer in a dive bar somewhere in downtown Malaga, my buddy and I were chatting about how absurd the whole dick-pic debacle was. We couldn’t grasp how men could think that a shitty photograph of their genitalia would do anything but repulse a recipient.

At some point during our marvel of the phenomenon of penis photographers, my friend suggested in passing that someone should write a manual for these sad men to help them at least improve their images.

Maybe it was too many beers or just pre-pandemic boredom, but it was then and there that we decided to produce a satirically-minded, yet genuinely helpful manual for all the penis photographers out there.

You can buy the kindle and the printed version of the book from the Swedish Amazon store here.

You can buy the kindle and the printed version of the book from the US Amazon store here.

Baked Beans

The Menu: Art vs Food

Last night I saw the comedic drama The Menu and I absolutely loved every minute of it. It reminded me of both the excellent 1997 film The Game with Sean Penn and Michael Douglas and Peter Greenaway’s bizarre 1989 movie “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” with Helen Mirren and Tim Roth.

And with Ralph Fiennes playing the Executive Chef, The Menu also brought back memories of his scary portrayal of a serial killer in the star-studded Hannibal Lecter installment “Red Dragon” with Anthony Hopkins, Emily Watson, Harvey Keitel, and Edward Norton.

I’ve had the privilege of eating at a few fine-dining restaurants in Europa, the US, and Asia. I can certainly appreciate the inventive, creative process of unique combinations where smell, taste, and texture are at the forefront of the experience. But The Menu does an excellent job of highlighting how ridiculously theatrical dining can be in the culinary stratosphere.

I’m all for enjoying visually appealing food, like Japanese cuisine. A beautiful presentation of even the most basic dish is always preferable and finding new interesting combinations of contrasting or compatible flavors is something I often try. But at the end of the day, I’d be a happy customer with just a bowl of Heinz baked beans in tomato sauce in front of me. Or, a bowl of noodles which is what I’ve been eating while writing this post.

Sieng Gong Book Project

Sieng Gong Book Project

This a screenshot from the editing environment I’ve spent most of today in working on “Heavy Metal in Sieng Gong”, my latest book project. The new book will have about 150 pages and be the 20th thus far and the very first with photographs entirely in monochrome. The Gold Master should be ready by the end of this week and once it’s been handed off to my trusty book designer David, I can get back to editing the mini-documentary about the neighborhood on which the book is focused. While five of the 20 books have been filled with interviews and accompanying portraits, this one will be a mostly visual experience. That said, it will have a lengthy introduction for some context and to give readers a basic understanding of my fascination for Sieng Gong.

Chili Tuna Soba Noodle Soup

Chili Tuna Soba Noodle Soup

Sunday evening. Just finished dinner. Tonight I made a spicy soba noodle soup with seared tuna from two frozen steaks I had deep in the freezer. I marinated them for about 30 minutes in a plastic bag with some soy sauce, chili flakes, sesame oil, Szechuan pepper, and a few drops of lime juice. No need to salt as the soy sauce takes care of most of the needed salinity.

I made the soup’s broth with a tablespoon of miso paste, water, Midori Sriracha, chopped red cabbage, bell pepper, spring onion, and a diced clove of garlic. Finally, I topped the seared tuna with a generous dab of Hellman’s mayo spiced up a bit with a few sprinkles of cayenne and a pinch of wasabi. All the chili made both Charlotte (and me) a little sweaty, but she said it was by far the best meal she’d had so far this year.

Turning Torso i Dimman

Huddled in the Fog

The fog has rolled into town again. Might be the first time this year. I don’t mind the fog. It’s mysterious but also beautiful as it can only exist when there is next to no wind. And we certainly get enough wind here as it is. So I’m enjoying both.

Newspaper Wall

Chinese Newspaper Wall

It struck me just a little while ago how much I love communication and that I’ve now (as of 2023) worked within the field in a variety of roles for more than 25 years.

It’s been a long, wonderful love affair and one that has provided a wealth of creative and monetary rewards that I feel confident few other vocations could have provided me with. I’ve tried a handful of other professions and none came even close. This is probably why I love this newspaper wall so much – even if I can’t understand a single symbol. I don’t even know if the wall is actual news or merely fresh propaganda from the PRC’s long arm.

Regardless, I think it’s a beautiful representation of public communication, which, thanks to its location, makes it accessible and inclusive – as long as you can read Mandarin (I’m obviously guessing here that the wall’s newspapers aren’t printed in Cantonese).

I love Chinese characters as they remind me that the oldest form of communication was hand-painted on cave walls and not written letters, words, or sentences. The shapes and forms of the earliest Chinese characters (Shang Dynasty, 1600 – 1046 B.C.) were more reflective of what they represented and the oldest cave paintings (Indonesia, 43,000 B.C.) were rough but basic and concise. Inarguable as long as you knew what they represented. If you hadn’t seen a wild pig, you wouldn’t know what that thing on the cave wall was until someone showed you what a wild pig looked like. If you’d seen a lamb, you might be able to guess it was an animal, or, at least that it represented food. Kinda like the difference between two related languages…

It would be kinda cool if we once again had newspaper walls like the one above here in Europe. A public space where all kinds of papers could post an article or two. Maybe adding a QR code for those that wanted to read beyond the wall’s limited space. Yeah, that could be an interesting installation themed on communication.

Resurfaced: Jacksom Lamb

Resurfaced: Jackson Lamb

I’ve been a Gary Oldman fan since Sid & Nancy and True Romance. His performance as Winston Churchill is possibly my favorite. So it was a thrill to watch him in the final two episodes of Slow Horse last night. His cast members are good, some of them really good. But he outshines most actors in every scene he shares. Oldman’s character Jackson Lamb is easy to relate to. I’d wager that most men, myself included, can easily identify with at least a few of the sordid M-15 department head’s flaws and shortcomings, the imperfections, and cynicism that inevitably arrive with age and disillusionment. I’m sure Oldman – the man –  can, too. And that’s probably why he took the role in the first place and how he plays it so remarkably well. I chose to name the above Resurfaced piece Jackson Lamb because he represents the wonderful chaos and imperfection of life.

Joakim Lloyd Raboff on Sundspromenaden 2022. Photo: Elle Ingrid Agnes Raboff

Daughter & Father Collaboration

Daughter Elle captured this portrait of me, her father, late last summer. In retrospect, I was significantly more interested in our creative collaboration than whether or not the results turned out to be as good as they ended up being. Which is by no means a reflection of Elle’s capability to take a portrait of me, this is the second portrait she’s taken that I’ve published, as it is my inability to accept what I actually look like these days.

I think this particular version of me turned out really well. It’s compositionally excellent and my look feels emotionally, if not physically relatable. It mirrors one side of who I am: a serious, composed, and focused dude in his sixth decade. 

Resurfaced: Malmö 256

Resurfaced: Malmö’s Eastside

Here’s yet another artifact for the Resurfaced project that captured yesterday in Malmö’s Eastside. There’s definitely a correlation between these new pieces and that fact that I discovered them in a part of town populated with an overall younger demographic and considerable more ethnic diversity than in, say, our neighborhood. Posters and posting can be found all over the city, but since most cultural events happen on the Eastside, that’s where most of them are glued, stapled and pinned.

Resurfaced: Södervärn

Resurfaced: Södervärn

Captured this intriguing Resurfaced piece earlier today on my way to a friend’s book release event in a part of Malmö I rarely visit, Södervärn. On the way back, I located a long plywood wall full of riveting surfaces of which I hastily captured a few. I definitely need to return sometime next week to take a closer look.

Resurfaced: Nr 378

Resurfaced: Nr 378

This is from Sieng Gong, the neighborhood in Bangkok that I’ve been documenting off and on since 2011. I wasn’t there to discover new surfaces for the Resurfaced project, but sometimes I get lucky. The naming of this piece was extraordinarily obvious.

My dear cousin and amazing Berkley-based artist Laura Raboff recently suggested I reduce the collection of Resurfaced artifacts. I couldn’t agree more with her. But…it’s not an easy task as I have an unhealthy amount of favorites making it almost impossible to curate. Once I’m finished with the Sieng Gong book project, I’ll start the Resurfaced book project. Hopefully, both will be ready by the time I exhibit my Silhouette Surfers in April.

Resurfaced: Oficina Malaga

Resurfaced: Calle Oficina en Málaga

Three years ago today, we arrived in southern Spain, two months before the Covid-19 pandemic began. I remember the sun was shining brightly from a crisp blue sky and how we spent a good chunk of that very first afternoon enjoying a typical Spanish tapas lunch somewhere near Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Málaga’s formidable old market.

Málaga was a great destination for the Resurfaced project and though I still had to cover a lot of pavement before locating qualifying surfaces, our two months there provided a wealth of artifacts, several of which will likely be included in a future exhibit and book about the project.

I’m currently on the lookout for a popup gallery/studio/event place here in Malmö. As in all of the other cities and towns I’ve had the privilege of spending time working on the Resurfaced project in, my “oficina” in Málaga was in the city’s many cafés and from time to time, in a variety of Málaga’s infamous dive bars, as well as on the historical streets and along the winding, narrow alleys. One of my favorite spots to sit and write in was at Café Libo in Unicaja Concert Hall María Cristina which seems to be temporarily closed right now.


MyDOG 2023

Still kinda unpacking my experiences from our visit to Göteborg this past weekend. A few interesting revelations stemming from friends and a whole lotta love from hundreds of mutts, pups, and well-bred dogs at the trade show MyDOG 2023. This collection of clips for Charlotte’s popular dog-friendly hotel site www.hundvanligahotell.se was shot using “Cinematic Mode” on the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the old trusty GoPro Hero 7 Black mounted on a barebones basic €20 Manfrotto monopod.

Over Indulgence

Overdosing on Jellybeans

For the past several mornings, after what can only be fairly and squarely described as a breakfast for champions, I’ve unapologetically dipped deep down into the hotel’s jar of colorful jellybeans.There were Oreo’s, cupcakes and tiny marshmallows, but I abstained. Aside from the occasional chocolate treat, these days, I’m not much for sweets. My daily fistful of jellybeans is perfectly symbolic of the last few days over-indulgence. Back on the wagon tomorrow.