The Tsukiji Market (築地市場)

This is from one of my visits to what was the Tsukiji Market – according to Wikipedia, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Tsukiji opened on 11 February 1935 as a replacement for an older market that was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. It closed on 6 October 2018 and moved to the new Toyosu Market, 2.4km away – which I hope to be able to visit for the very first time sometime this fall.

A few years ago, I spent an early morning at the Fulton Fish Market at Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. While not nearly as gritty as when it was located adjacent to the East River on Manhattan and not even 10% as big as Tsukiji in Tokyo, I was still stoked by the size and all the activity. Despite it being 4:30 am, I was far from alone there. Two or three dozen local buyers and fishmongers scuttling about with this really thick smell of fish and seafood hovering a few feet off the wet concrete floor. Upon returning to our Lower East Side hotel, Charlotte immediately ordered me to put  my jeans (that I’d worn during the morning’s shoot) in tightly tied plastic bag.

More of my photographs from visits to Tokyo here.


At Kockum Fritid

Seem to be in a strange sleep cycle where I wake up every second day at 5:00 am. On my “off” day, I’ll sleep in until 07:00 am and not feel the least bit guilty about it.

Today was one of the early mornings and I strolled over to Kockum Fritid and put in a good 90 minute workout with both weights and Qigong to get me flowin’ and ready for the day. Took the two last pieces of sliced bread and made tasty avocado toast with some paprika, chopped leek and few strips of cabbage to add some crunch.

Currently working on a prodigious collection of photos and footage shot at Kockum Fritid, arguably Malmö’s premier sports center which was originally built for the laborers that worked at Kockum Industries, the shipyard and related workshops located just a few hundred yards away. As that era came to an end, the center’s doors opened to the public – which I walked through for the very first time roughly 20 years ago.

I reckon I’ve photographed and filmed activities at Kockum Fritid for about a decade now and have always had a really great relationship with the folks that work there – both as a member and as a supplier of visual goods. Over the years, I’ve also hired a few dozen amateur models to help showcase all the different activities at the center. The two above, Kalle and Lillemor, are the most recent and together, we had a really enjoyable shoot in the gym..


From Malmö Upside Down

I was zonked last night and fell asleep at 10:00 pm. Woke up reseted and ready for the day already at 4:00 am this morning. Before I walked over to our local gym, I added a slideshow gallery with all of my images from the ongoing show, Malmö Upside Down. You can view it right here.


New Show: Malmö Upside Down

From Saturday’s opening of my new show, Malmö Upside Down at the park (Slottsparken/Slottsträdgården) here in Malmö. We didn’t count all the visitors, but in addition to friends, family and others that had RSVP’d and said they were coming, I’d guesstimate another 150 people joined us. After a couple of weeks of more or less constant rainy weather, the sun showed up yesterday and provided great light and warmth reminiscent of the summer passed.

Of the exhibits I’ve ever had in recent years, I think yesterday’s went the smoothest. Maybe it’s accumulative experience or that I don’t let myself get stressed as much anymore. Probably a little bit of both. But I kid you not, it’s been a hitch-free production from start to finish. In no small way thanks to Master Gardener, Linnéa Dickson and my co-conspirator and wife, Charlotte.

It’s obviously unintentional, but I just realized that the acronym for my new exhibit Malmö Upside Down is MUD. As “mud” means damp soil and the exhibit’s venue is literally in a public garden/park and shows earth down perspectives of Malmö from sky-to-ground, the abbreviation is indeed quite fitting.


Malmö Upside Down

Here’s a short animation I made to visualize to visitors from afar where my photo exhibit Malmö Upside Down will be. Officially, the show starts tomorrow. There will be a pre-show showing this afternoon between 3:00pm and 5:00pm. If you’re in the vicinity, welcome by.


Dubrovnik

It’s been a couple of years since my last visit, but publishing some of my favorite photographs from two back to back visits to Dubrovnik has been long overdue.

The first time was when the Hilton in Dubrovnik invited me and a half dozen travel journalists from all over Europe to experience a weekend in town. The second visit was when a local tourist organization drove me and a dozen travel industry professionals from Zagreb to Dubrovnik in a caravan of 19 vintage Fiat Abarths. It rained, snowed and was incredibly cold during most of that press trip, but it was inspiring nonetheless. Especially one evening somewhere up near the Serbian border where we ate and drank all night long while being entertained by a band of Romany musicians. While we were driving southward towards Dubrovnik, I couldn’t help but think of how fortunate Croatia is to have such an amazing coastline – as opposed to their landlocked neighbor Serbia.

Here are my pics from Dubrovnik.


Quality Hotel View

I don’t do much event photography these days. Some videography, but not much still shoots. Ten years ago it was actually one of my primary niches and I’d take on a dozen or so events a year.

As a genre, event photography can be both incredibly thankful and a bit thankless. Thankless insofar that you’re expected to deliver a plethora of decent portraits but without much time to do so. Ccovering a big event can also be stressful, sweaty and fatiguing all at once.

On the other hand, when approached the right way and with the right attitude, an event can also offer a great opportunity to shoot a wide gamut of stuff; food, drinks, cool environs as well as dressed up guests and dignitaries. I’ve used events as an occasion to network and generate potential leads for future gigs. Such is the life of a freelancer.

Last week, I was asked to shoot an event at Nordic Choice Quality Hotel View here in Malmö. That’s where and when the above shot of a father and his daughter was taken. As with all my work, I approached this assignment enthusiastically – and this time, with a most capable assistant, my wife and partner Charlotte. The event was to inagurrate a long-term, local cooperation between Real Gymnasiet, a private sector vocational high school, and Nordic Choice Hotels. Together, they had tailor-designed a three year high school program. View our shots from the event here.


I’ve lived in Malmö since 1997, three years before our daughter Elle was born. Initially, Charlotte and I moved here from Göteborg without thinking much of how long we’d end up staying. A year? Two, maybe?

While Charlotte had a full plate in her new position as Internet Business Manager at Malmö Aviation’s head office, I was working long hours at Broberg & Co, an ad agency that primarily created marketing campaigns for retail clients like Nestlé. The years before Elle arrived, we lived large and traveled wide, never even considering a move back to Göteborg or anywhere else, for that matter. Life in Malmö was good and we thrived, eventually transitioning into a comfortable, urban family lifestyle in an old, somewhat gritty city with an unusually bright future.

We found that living so close to Kastrup International Airport, just outside of Copenhagen, was a huge practical benefit that allowed us to continue feeding our travel addiction without much fuss. Elle learned early on to make new friends during our many trips and had stamps in her passport from four different continents even before her third birthday.

Meanwhile, the powers that be were forcefully upgrading, restoring and reinventing Malmö. By the end of the first year of the new millennium, several enormous infrastructure projects were in various phases of completion, including an underground subway network, the Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark and the construction of a whole new, seaside neighborhood on the westside of the city, aptly named Västra Hamnen, the western harbor. We’ve lived in Västra Hamnen for 17 of the 22 years that Malmö has been our home, albeit in almost a half dozen different dwellings. But if you include the times we’ve relocated abroad, it’s more like 14 years.

The summer is slowly metamorphosing into autumn and it’s soon time for yet another adventure to begin. This time, far, far away from the view above which I shot the other evening. Admittedly, I have a bit of separation angst, as one tends to feel when it’s time to leave the comfort zone and head full speed towards the unknown. But it’s certainly no worse than usual. See, of all the places I’ve ever lived, L.A., Göteborg, Riksgränsen, Visby, Koh Samui, Bangkok, Palma de Mallorca and Malmö, I have always maintained fond memories of each – and tend to return time and time again. I’m not throwing away the book, just slowly closing a chapter.


Malmö Gallery Night

Today I received the above poster (which I’ve modified a tad) for 2019 Malmö Gallery Night – which together with other local artists – I’ve been invited by Malmö’s Art and Culture Association, MKK to exhibit my work at. The annual event takes place at galleries and museums all over town on September 28-29 2019 with partaking venues open 6:00pm to 12:00am on the 28th.

Here’ a link to a downloadable map for the event and a link to the dedicated iOS app.


The Birth of American Music

I’ve been a music fan for almost as long as I can remember. I can’t recall how I got it or who gave to me, but I know I had a small transistor radio sometime in the mid 1970s. It had a short, foldout telescopic antenna (which I likely broke off after a day or two) and even came with a white plastic earplug so I could listen to my favorite stations KHJ and KEARTH way after I was supposed to be sleeping or while riding the bus along Santa Monica Boulevard on my way to Bancroft Junior High in the morning.

In the beginning, I was an indiscriminate consumer of music, enjoying everything I listened to but not really understanding why. Then one day after school while I was working extra at Mayfair Market, our local grocery store, one of the cashiers showed me how to play a few chords on her guitar during a break. It was a lofty, partially acoustic song called Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin and I fell head over heels in love with it (and probably the cashier as well).

When I moved to Sweden in 1978, I was introduced to what is sometimes referred to today as “Yacht Music” where acts like Toto, Supertramp, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers and Kenny Loggins played immaculately produced and slickly performed white soul.
My musical taste has certainly evolved since and though I don’t feel any distaste, I rarely listen to the yacht genre anymore. Electronic instrumental music is my preference when writing and if I’m editing video or stills, I can listen to just about anything from the eclectic playlists of KCRW’s excellent deejays, Anthony Valadez, Aaron Byrd or Jeremy Sole, Jason Kramer, Ann Litt or Liza Richardson.

Of all of the shows available at KCRW, I felt the late Bo Leibowitz’s Strictly Jazz was usually the most challenging and therefore intriguing. I don’t really know squat about jazz, but the genre has always fascinated me – especially the instrumental, improvisational sub genres (which I know even less about) where artists seem to always veer inspiringly off the rails. There’s also something inherently beautiful and sad about jazz where pain and happiness, constraint and freedom are part of a long, winding, musical history.

Speaking of history…I just heard an episode of The Daily, the New York Times popular podcast, titled, The Birth of American Music. If music plays a role in your life, I urge you to listen to it. Click here to start listening.

Shot the above streetcorner band on Prince Street in New York City.


Bus Stop Fame

Yesterday, on our way to Höllviken for a causal dinner with friends at their new gorgeous house, I noticed a photo of Turning Torso that seemed familiar. I knew I wasn’t the only one to have captured the building during the Eurovision Song Contest final in Malmö 2013. I’ve always assumed that there were other photographers that didn’t appreciate the musical spectacle and instead of sitting glued in front of the tube, were like me out documenting the colorful spotlights projected onto the facade of Santiago Calatrava’s magnificant skyscraper.

But once I looked closer, I was reasonably sure the image was one of mine. I remember having sold a series of photographs from that evening in May to a few different companies and at least one department at our local municipality, Malmö stad. But I’m not clear who’s behind the info spot thing that we saw last night. Regardless, I’m glad whoever it was credited me properly. Interesting how a six year old photo finally provided me with bus stop fame… More photos of Turning Torso – including the one above in a full, uncut version – can be viewed here.


Harvest Fest At Malmö’s Slottsträdgården

From early this morning as the yearly harvest fest at Slottsträdgården was about to open. I was there checking out the venue for my exhibit next week, Malmö Upside Down. I hope I am equally lucky in regards to the weather.


Hyllie

From what I understand, Västra Hamnen is about a decade away from being completed. Malmö’s newest development on the other hand, Hyllie, is still pretty much in its infancy. I’m heading out there tomorrow for an assignment and will likely be overwhelmed at how much has changed since my last visit a month or so ago.

Sometimes I wonder if those planning areas like Västra Hamnen and Hyllie have hard statistical evidence that there is a surging demand for all the new residential and commercial buildings – or, if it’s a kind of, “if we just build it, they’ll move here and rent it” mentality that prevails. Maybe a little of both.


Boardwalk Doggies

For a photographer living so close to an immensely popular boardwalk like Sundspromenaden has its advantages. There’s always something going on, literally all year round.

Mostly, it’s the scenic view of the sea and Öresund Bridge surrounded by unusually beautiful cloud formations – or a phenomenally colorful sunset, that grabs my attention. But every once in a while there’ll be visitors that demand to be documented. Like these Icelandic dogs from last night’s walk. More of my favorite dogs can be view here.


September Morning

Took the drone out for a quick spin this morning. The sunlight hitting the Turning Torso was irresistibly spectacular.

We had a dramatic drop in temperature this past weekend. It was hot and humid Saturday morning and within just a couple hours, the weather changed and it got chilly. As if the weather gods timed it for the coming month of September.
September is a favorit time of year. When it’s not raining, mornings are usually crisp and clear. And as the sun rises later, the direction and angle in which it lights up Malmö shifts.

Most folks are back at work and we have the neighborhood much to ourselves. Hopefully the water will stay warm a little longer this year – so Charlotte and I can enjoy a few more morning swims.

I have shy of three weeks before it’s time to pack my stuff and leave the studio. It’s been a really good year, creatively speaking. This is the fourth creative space I’ve rented in 12 years and by far the smallest. It’s going to be interesting to see where I set up shop next…


Heading For Another Freeze?

I saw this on a screen at an ATM recently. I am completely clueless as to what all those acronyms or code represent. But the System Freeze headline certainly grabbed my attention and demanded to be photographed.

I doubt the ATM’s inner workings had suffered a sudden drop in temperature. Instead, the money machine’s operating system (Windows NT or some other dysfunctional Microsoft product?) had broken and needed a reboot.

I recently watched this documentary about the housing and financial crisis of 2008 and how the US economy just about froze and spiraled completely out of control into what looked like an inveitable financial abyss.

A quick glance at the current astonishingly positive employment statistics potrays the US economy as stronger than ever. But there are a few issues not spoken about that worry me. Stuff that might not immediately cause a financial crisis like the most recent one, but still disconcerting since they don’t seem to be a conscious part of the Trump administration’s sprawling agenda.

• The government’s ginormous deficit has never been bigger and absolutely nothing is being done to reduce it. Raising debt ceiling is not a remedy. It’s a symptom of apathy.

• Nobody will argue that the country’s infrastructure is crumbling and desperately needs to be upgraded. A friend recently took a road trip from New Orleans to Los Anglees and was appalled by how poor the roads were during much of the ride. Lead leaking into ancient water pipes in Flynt and Newark are just two of the most publisized catastrophes where entire cities drinking water has been poisoned, in no small way due to unbelievable ignorance and negligence.

• Despite unemployment being record low, more than 8 million Americans still can’t (not even by a long shot) support themselves financially with a full-time job. Minimum wage is still way below what most folks need to survive. In Sweden, it’s $13.56/hour as compared with in the US where it’s $7.25/hour. That’s a friggin’ ridiculous difference. And if they can’t make ends meet when they’re healthy, what happens when they get sick?


Three Things About Me

Here’s a 3 things I thought of in the shower this morning after my workout. Completely random stuff.

1. This is probably more information than you bargained for when you visited my site today, but for some odd reason, I feel compelled to share that when I’m at home alone, I often strut around completely naked. I’ve been doing this ever since moving to my very first apartment, 38 years ago. Though some may deem this a bad habit, I feel incredibly comfortable when I’m undraped and quite frankly, I don’t give a damn should anyone happen to see me through our large living room windows. But to be clear, I’m not walking around in the birthday suit just to exhibit myself.

2. If it’s too early to run our powerful but extremely noisy smoothie blender – and only if we have the right alternatives at home – I’ll make crunchy peanut butter and banana toast for breakfast. I’ve not tried it yet, but I can totally see how a couple of thick slices of kosher pickle would work beautifully in such a sandwich.

3. Part of my longterm health goal is to become entirely independent of all training facilities and equipment. I believe I will accomplish this by practicing Yoga, Qigong and by walking and hiking (and possibly even jogging).

Charlotte shot the above photo yesterday evening.


Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Here’s a view of the film company Universal’s soundstages and prop warehouses just north of the famous Hollywood sign and close to the San Fernando valley. I shot it while strapped in a harness and hanging outside of a really small and jerky helicopter. The front passenger door had been removed upon my request – so that I could get a really spectacular view during the 90 minute flight over Los Angeles.

Last night, a friend and I saw Quentin Tarantino’s latest and ninth film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. I had several reasons to want to see it. Firstly, it’s a film about an era when I was a kid. However changed or different L.A. is today, a “story” based on a time when I at least physically was there (I was 6 years old in 1969), and that at least partially played out in the vicinity of my neighbourhood, was simply too irresistible to forgo. Secondly, fellow Angelino Tarantino’s star-studded cast was a huge draw with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Madsen, Lena Dunham, and Kurt Russell as marquee headliners.

So, how was it? Well, once the lights were turned back on after two hours and forty-two minutes, my buddy spontaneously exclaimed, “What the fuck was that?”. I couldn’t agree more. Had we witnessed a meandering masterpiece or am I just not culturally cultivated enough to fully grasp the genius of this plotless orgy of beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes and riding in beautiful cars in beautiful, sunny Southern California? I think I need to see this film again to be able to answer that question fair and square.

When I got back home from the the movie theatre Royal (best place to watch any movie in Malmö), I checked how the film had done on IMDB.com (8.1/10) and read in the Trivia section that Once Upon A Time in Hollywood had received a 7 minute long standing ovation at the premiere in Cannes in the spring. Go figure.

More images from my hometown can be enjoyed right here.


Elevation of Street Food

To me, it’s a whole lot easier to eat healthy, fresh food when I’m in Asia. The abundance of outdoor markets and street stalls make it simply more convenient to fill the gaps between proper meals with good-for-you snacking.

Yesterday, my wife and I went to a relatively new, upscale restaurant here in Malmö called Pink Head HQ where we enjoyed a couple of tasty appetizers and entrées created from Asian recipes and seasonings. Sort of. However delicious last night’s food was, what we ate was still no better than what you are served at just about any sidewalk restaurant in Penang, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh or Bangkok.

Pink Head Noodle Bar, which opened a couple of years ago in a nearby food court location, has been wildly successful. So I totally get that the owners assumed the market was ready for an additional restaurant under the brand name “Pink Head”. What I don’t understand, though, is why the heck they’ve chosen to not offer any of their famous, fresh noodles at the new place (which they alternatively call Pink Head Headquarter, Pink Head Headquarters or sometimes just Pink Head HQ). That’s just plain silly if you ask me. But one of last night’s (many) servers hinted to us that it was likely just a matter of time before at least one noodle dish showed up on the menu.

Though I’ve fallen into similar traps a few times before, I’m not thrilled about contributing to restauranteurs with a business idea built on elevating street food into a fine dining experience. Why? Cause you’re paying for the fancy interior, trendy location and social media hype and not anything the chef cooks for you. Fact is, it’ll only take a few visits to Pink Head HQ, untill you will have  spent about as much it costs to fly to one of the aforementioned destinations – where you’d enjoy real street food on a real street, sans the creme fraiche and fancy cocktails.

The shot is from a favorite sidewalk eatery in “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”. Or, in plain speak, Bangkok.


Industrial Art
Today I’ve been working on two wildly different projects. Not that that’s unusual. I often juggle 3-4 commercial or self-imposed assignments during the course of any given day. It’s more of a bad habit than something I’m proud of. My attention span is often in wide-angle mode.
This afternoon, I’ve been editing video footage which will evenutally become dozens of 10-15 second “shorties” for a client’s social media channels. Much of this morning I spent creating new pieces for the Gallerinatten/Gallery Night exhibit at the end of next month. While both of today’s projects have been challenging, I’ll admit that creating completely new art pieces from scratch is definitely the more mentally demanding.
I’m one of several other artists that have been invited to participate in this year’s collective, city-wide, nightly exhibit. I’ve been visually fascinated and inspired by Malmö’s industrial epoch for a long time. So, while my other exhibit is focused on contemporary places in Malmö, for the aforementioned Gallery Night show, I’ll be exhbiting six large-format and two smaller pieces themed on the city’s recent industrial era.
In the fall of 2017, I was invited to document several of Kockum Industries abandoned and destined to be demolished giant assembly halls and workshops. So I have a plethora of both wide and detail photographs at my disposal. As often is the case, I have too many ideas and not enough time or exhibit space to showcase them all. Which means that I’m spending a lot of time selecting and ranking my work to finally have candidates I feel aptly represent the theme.
The image above didn’t make into my top-ten-list. But I like it nonetheless.

Unlocking Dreams

It was raining when I left home to go to the studio this morning. The weather’s been sunny and warm since I returned from Asia on Monday. Some say maybe a bit too hot, even. So the temperature drop that came with the rain was probably welcome.

I dreamt a lot last night. At least two different dreams with lively conversations in both. I can’t remember what was said, only that they took place outdoors in an urban environment, somewhere in the world.

It’s really strange how when you fall asleep, the body goes to work autonomously on repairs while – for whatever reason – the mind is like a mad scientist, creating vivid, weird dreams without any realtime consent or prior agreements. Unlocking the door to our own little dream factory would certainly be something.

What if you were able to simulate forthcoming scenarios? Project and play out different outcomes in your mind, analyze each and then when you woke up, base a decisive decision on the simulation that had the best possible outcome. Now that would be a powerful tool to harness. But what if the mind is already doing exactly that – and we’re just not aware of it?

I’ve passed, possibly even shot this door before. It’s somewhere on Silom Road in Bangkok, not far from the Hindu neighborhood I stayed at last year by the popular Mariamman Temple.


Cheating Jetlag?

I’m possibly over-optimistic, wouldn’t be the first time, but I might just have managed to have cheated the usual jet lag issues from my flight out of Asia. Even though I took a long nap yesterday afternoon, I still enjoyed a full night’s sleep. I can’t point to a strategy to evade fatigue from crossing multiple time zones. At least not one that has ever worked consistently. But I did wake up crisp and clear at 05:00 am this morning. Began the day by practicing my newly acquired Qigong poses and moves for about 45 minutes before waking Charlotte up so we could go for a swim in the considerably cooled off – but not yet bone-chilling cold – Öresund Strait. Man, have I been wanting to do that for almost a month. I’ve also been craving egg and avocado toast for a couple of weeks, so I took care of that urge today as well.

So, what else is up?

Well, I’ve got a ton of footage from filmning just about every imaginable sports activity at Kockum Fritid – which I will be editing during the next couple of days. I’ve also got two forthcoming exhibits to prepare for and promote and I also need to start packing away stuff in the studio before the lease is up at the end of the month. September will be a busy month.


I’m Lounging, Lounging

The Priority Pass lounge at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport is called The Miracle Lounge. I’m writing this from there. From one of many rooms. My flight’s not until 1:30 am, but I’ve been so conditioned by my wife Charlotte over the years, that I got here an ambitious four hours before takeoff.

While the food offerings are far from reaching miracle status, the size of the lounge itself compensates more than enough. It’s really big and as per usual here In the land of smiles, wonderfully overstaffed. So when I asked if they had any vegetarian alternatives in addition to the usual lineup, the hostess was eager when she suggested the kitchen make me a stir-fried vegetable and rice dish a la minute. It was pretty good, too.

Earlier, at the checkin counter, I asked, more or less jokingly, if there were any seats available in Business Class. Thai Airways is notorious for their upgrade pricing, so I wasn’t even seriously considering it. The soft-spoken airline rep that checked in me and my bagage, smiled and told me the flight was fully booked. She still managed somehow to reassign my seating to so that I got an exit chair. If you haven’t been seated by an exit on a Boeing 777, the legroom is on par with what you get in Business Class.

For whatever reason, I found the immigration process unusually smooth tonight. What typically takes about an hour, was completed in under half that. It’s still very serious business and I never feel as far removed from the country’s renowned gentleness and politeness as when entering and leaving the country. Once in a rare while, I’ll get a richly decorated official to share a smile with me. But not tonight.

Just learned that my flight to Europe has been delayed an hour. Which is a bummer, but a manageable bummer as long as I’m in the Miracle Lounge. It’s gonna be a long flight home…


Chinese Cemetery on the Move

I met and had a brief chat with a biking Bangkokian earlier today as I was just about to enter an old Chinese cemetery below the towering Mahanakhon building in the Saladeng/Bang Rak area. The friendly chap worked as a sales and marketing rep at the Bangkok office for Holiday Inn’s waterpark resort in Hua Hin, a few hours south of the capital.

With it’s overgrown crypts,looming gargoyles and mini-mausoleums, the overgrown cemetery was kinda spooky, even in broad daylight.

According to my cycling acquaintance, the cemetery used to cover a much larger area and that what ever is left of it now, will likely be relocated to a patch of land near Pattaya to make way for more property development in the area.

With that in mind, I ended up spending an hour documenting the grounds as much as I could (much of it is semi-sunk in an urban swampland. 

I wonder how the kinsman of the Thai-Chinese buried their feel about the move. Maybe they’ll be compensated somehow by whoever’s going to be placing what will inevitably be another skyscraper there.


Lollipops at the Car Wash

Stumbled onto this old car wash place just off Sukhumvit Boulevard the other day. Not entirely convinced it’s been totally abandoned, but probably. It’s hard to know for sure in this ever-changing and evolving megatropolis.

On a few occasions, I rode my fire engine red Schwinn home from Saint Victor’s – the elementary school in West Hollywood I attended between first and fifth grade. The school was just below Sunset Boulevard, so fairly near the Hollywood Hills. I’d first ride down a insanely steep street and turn left on Santa Monica Boulevard and then bike eastward on the sidewalk all the way to La Cienega Boulevard. There I hung a right and two blocks later turned left on Willoughby Avenue and arrived at 849 N. Alfred Street, where we lived at the time, one block later.

I never took that way to school, as I would have had to walk my bike up that steep-ass hill to get there. I mention this since on the route home, there was one of those old school car washes. It might still be there, but I doubt it. Anyway, there was a big basket full of multicolored, flat lollipops that they gave to customers waiting for their clean and shiny vehicles to arrive after the wash team (which consisted mostly of African Americans and Mexican Americans all dressed in bright blue overalls). At the time, I was short enough to sneak just below the cashier’s counter and grab a couple of those tasty lollipops as an after school treat for myself.


Durian & God TV

Back in Bangkok. Feels good after almost three weeks in the relatively rural north. My relationship with the capital has evolved over time. I still love exploring Bangkok, but today I am dependent on my abiity to be inspired by what I find and photograph or film while going on long, long walks, discovering interesting compositions and challeing myself creatively. Few people seem to appreciate that once you put aside the heat and pollution (often intertwined), Bangkok is actually quite walkable. Two of my favorite stretches are from Thong Lor along Sukhumvit to Siam and Silom Road and from Taksin Bridge to Chinatown or even Rattanakosin.

Had breakfast this morning with a friend from Sweden who’s just moved here with her family. Managed to mix up the restaurant I had chose, but it worked out anyway and the food was delicious. These days, most restaurants serving western dishes here are really good at it. Not like when I first visited Bangkok in 1988. Back then, you had to either eat at the Mandarin Oriental, Sizzlers or, the last resort, McDonald’s, just to get a burger that at least visually resembled and tasted somewhat similar to what most Americans were used to filling their bellies with.

I got in much later than I expected last night. The flight from Chiang Mai was smooth. But we had horrendously slow flowing traffic in from the city’s old airport, Don Mueang. Which was most likely due to an afternoon rainstorm that flooded the highway’s outer lanes and created total gridlock on turnpikes. After arriving at the “aparthotel” in Thong Lor, I just barely had time to grab a Grab (Über) and head in to La Monita Taqueria to order a juicy veggie burrito and a cold San Miguel (they charge exuberantly for a Corona these days, something like 11 bucks a pop).

Shot a ton of walls during today’s 11k walk around town. Weather’s been quite favorable – as long as it was cloudy. As soon as the sun showed up, even for just a minute or two, the thermometer spiked and the temperature soared. And when that happens, it’s literally like opening up the door to a heated convection oven.

I have more than 800 TV and radio channels to choose from in my hotel room. I’ve flipped through a couple hundred of them and was blown away by how many Thai stations there were. Noticed only a handful of English language channels and several Chinese, Hindu and Arabic stations. Stumbled onto an American channel called “God TV”. As one might be inclined to assume, the channel broadcasts non-stop Christian programming 24/7. I have to admit that I’m a little fascinated by this stuff and just had to watch for a little while. There was a lot of sermonings and preachings in palatial halls with massive audiences yelling, crying and likely speaking in tougnes. And to think that the current president, the dude that honestly thought he could buy Greenland and have US businesse sever ties with China all in the same week, has spellbound so many of these religious folks. on a really.

There’s also a channel called “Fight” where they at least during the segment I saw promoted a rifle that shot burst of highly pressurized water and was positioned as an anti-demonstration, anti-prison riot weapon. Russia Today (RT) was available on the “dial”. I rarely turn on a hotel room’s TV and today’s exception reminded me all too well why. Apparently, the remote control is the filthiest thing you can touch in a hotel room. I think Charlotte had read somewhere that that remotes are rarely wiped clean and just accumulate disgusteness.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the river to explore Thonburi for a few hours. Will hopefully return with a bunch of new textures, patterns and interesting surfaces. Like that of a durian pictured above, one of few fruits here that I avoid – but not because of the smell. I just don’t find the fruit’s layered fleshiness particularly appetizing.


Time to Ramble On

Nearing the end of my 20 session, two week intensive Qigong course. It’s indisputably been a challenge, both physically and mentally. Most of the other participants are already instructors or heading that way. So, I’ve been practicing together with quite an esteemed troop – which in turn has provided me with the opportunity to learn and understand the foundation of Medical Qigong at a much deeper level than what most new arrivals are privy to. Learning by doing has always been my life’s motto and so I feel very excited about returning home with a mind full of mindful Qigong knowledge.

Now, I’ve only scratched the surface and will need oodles of hours practicing and additional guidance to absorb and integrate what I have learned to eventually reap the benefits of Medical Qigong. But the journey has most certainly begun. The question is, is there, or, rather, can there ever be an end to this path I’ve stepped onto? Probably not.

The above photo is from just outside my homestay, Stay with Brite. I still don’t know exactly where the house is located (even if I look it up on a map). But it can’t be all that far from Chiang Mai airport, now can it?
I’m going to be genuinely sad about leaving this place. After these two very pleasant weeks with the genuine Thai family at Stay with Brite, I will definitely consider “homestay” as a sensible option when I want to get away from the often superficially, antiseptic hotel experiences. That said, I am kinda looking forward to checking in at the roomy “aparthotel” I’ve got lined up for my few days in Krung Thep. Time to ramble on…


Therapy or Musical Chairs?

One day, I just happened to arrive about a half an hour early to one of our Qigong sessions in Chiang Mai at a local University (which I was told was entirely funded by the US government). And since the chairs were organized in a proper circle, it reminded me of what a group therapy seating might look like. Maybe even an AA meeting or something. Perhaps something less serious, like musical chairs but on a high, academic level. In any case, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to somehow make use of the room during my wait.


Tonight’s Dinner: Pad Thai Tofu

Just had to share tonight’s dinner, a homemade Pad Thai Tofu dish that tasted exactly as splendid as it looks. I had kindly requested that Pak Chi Farang (Long Leaf Coriander or, Sawtooth Coriander) would be added to the meal. And then all I had to do to get it exactly where I wanted it to be spice-sour-sweet-wise, was to sprinkle a few generous pinches of chili flakes and squeeze some zest from a half a lime over those crushed peanut covered noodles and I was good to go. As the homestay’s “resident photographer”, I’ve kinda taken it upon myself to document each and every meal my gracious host serves me (with my iPhone, so it’s a little bit of challenge). Tonight’s dish was extraordinarily photogenic.


Sunday Market in Chiang Mai

There’s no course for me on Sundays, so I waited for my clean laundry to arrive and then  went to Chiang Mai’s popular Sunday Market in the old town.

The trick to getting the most out of any kind of open-air, tourist-focused market is to be an early bird and get there just as the shop owners are opening up their stalls. That’s what I did yesterday and as soon as the hordes started pouring in, I booked a Grab (Über here in SE Asia) and went back to my quiet little teak house.


September Exhibits

In September, I’m having two separat exhibits. Both in Malmö. One is an outdoor show between September 15th and the 29th in our beautiful Slottsträdgården, an area dedicated to flowers and other flora and located in Castle Park (Slottsparken). The other will be held during Gallery Night (gallerinatten) at Rådhuset at Malmö’s Stortorget (the city’s Big Square) on September 28th and daytime on the 29th.

While the theme for the first exhibit will be aerial photographs of some of Malmö’s most iconic places, aptly called “Malmö Upside Down”, the second – and unnamed – show will be entirely dedicated abstract images inspired by the city’s industrial past.

Hope to see some of you there!

 


Qigong: Infusing Healthy Confusion

It’s been an incredibly interesting week at the Qigong course where confusion is at times replaced with clarity and understanding, only to be smothered later with yet more confusion.

I don’t mean confusion as in what’s being taught is by any means nonsensical or, that I ‘m not getting it. Not at all. It’s just that there’s so much to learn and that even when I try hard, I still get confused as to what to prioritize and how to store the knowledge I’m exposed to in a sequence that helps me lower the inevitable steep learning curve and perennially improve my training.

Our teacher, Arjan, works through his system in an organic, non-linear way. Which, when coming from Sweden, where everything is organized and structured in absurdum, was initially a little perplexing. But within a day or two, I had let go of that excessively orderly approach and decided to go with the flow. Instead of forcing my projected expectations (based on how things are done elsewhere), I decided to just listen, replicate what I saw and had heard and merely accept that time will eventually come when I’m ready to understand the answers to my many queries. That answering them now in the inception phase would only add to my incertitude and probably make even learning incrementally more difficult.

I am curious by nature and conditioned by the society I live in. This new perspective on implementing something before actually understanding what it is, based at least initially only on faith and trust, certainly makes for an interesting, intellectual challenge. My gut feeling tells me this could be a healthy way for me to learn new things going forward.

At 56, taking on something so wide and deep as learning (even the basics) about Qigong is invigorating. For even if I sometimes feel like my head is going to explode from the constant stream of new things we go through during each session, I am already conscious of the tangible, positive physical effects the training is having on my arthritis.

One may think Qigong would not be anywhere near as exerting as, say, a long run or a spinning class can be. But let me tell you, after a five hour day filled with various full-body stances and movements as well as arm blocks and kicks – all done repetitively in slow, controlled sequences, I’m as exhausted as if I’d run 15k, but without any lasting muscular fatigue that I usually associated with jogging. One of the key upshots I noticed today (when we spent most of the afternoon doing slow motion kicking) was that it took only minutes to recover – and that afterwards, I was super energized, albeit still very, very sweaty.

It’s interesting – and possibly a cultural issue – how much exercise has come to be defined by a level of almost debilitating exertion. The immense popularity of crossfit training being just one of many examples of ways for folks to get a few hours of hard, physical activity integrated into their often stressful, jam-packed lives.

From what I understand so far about Qigong, especially medical Qigong, is that what one can learn will have positive physical, mental and possibly spiritual implications on a timeline that extends far beyond what just goes on whilst practicing. And it is exactly that prospect – the width and breadth of benefits brought forth from Qigong, as a means to both heal and to stay healthy in the long-term, that got me here in the first place.

The umbrellas above are totally unrelated to this post. Well, as they’re probably made in China, the origin country of Qigong, I guess one could argue that there is after all, though far-fetched, a connection.


Thai Market

Some afternoons after class, I walk around the old town and shoot textures and basically anything that grabs my attention. There’s something very meditative about photography when it’s unhinged from any particular mission or objective. Very enjoyable, indeed.

If I’m in town long enough, I’ll then hitch a ride with my host, Khun Dow, the mother of the family where I’m staying. She runs a small vegetable shop at a medium-sized market a few blocks outside Chiang Mai’s old town.

The market is in the middle of a busy residential neighborhood and you can buy just about every imaginable variation of fruit, vegetables, fish and flowers there. I love Asian food markets and especially those in Thailand where there is always an abundance of smells, colors and sounds to keep me busy.

I got to “Kit Kom” market a little early yesterday and walked around the block a couple of times. It was about 7:00 pm (we leave for the homestay at 7:30 pm) and the area’s sidewalk shops were about to close. The sun had just gone down and the day’s heat was slowly dissipating. Folks were just hanging around, chatting and I guess getting ready to head home. During my wait, I walked passed and smiled at the flower lady, complimenting her beautiful arrangements (with my limited Thai vocabulary). Like most people here, her default facial expression was covered in a smile, so she beamed back and thanked me politely.

I’ve always wondered why it’s so easy for some people to smile so spontaneously and so seemingly hard for others.

I am now into my second week at the Qigong course and things are intensifying. Which is good, as long as I can replicate my learnings upon returning home…


The fifteenth of August, 1998. Twenty one years ago today. That’s when Charlotte and I exchanged rings just before we were pronounced man and wife by the family priest, Ola Stålnacke in Brunnby Church, near Mölle-by-the-Sea in Skåne. It rained most of that day, and boy, was I nervous before and during most of the wedding ceremony. But afterwards, as we climbed onto the horse driven carriage, or, perhaps it wasn’t until the Rolls picked us up a little further down the country road, that I started to relax. We had an amazing wedding party during the evening with a whole bunch of great friends and plenty of family.

Our marriage has been consistently smooth, with only minor bumps and hicups along the way. I know of only a few other couples that have been married as long as we have and that still enjoy each others company as much as Charlotte and I do.

It’s certainly a little sad being so far apart on our anniversary. But thanks to FaceTime, we’ll chat later this afternoon about our wedding 21 years ago today.

Charlotte, happy anniversary, my love!


Medical Qigong & Detox

Got to the morning session a little early today and took a few photos around the clinic’s garden. It’s called a clinic because of the focus on benefits gained from learning and practicing the Chinese Medical Qigong system taught there.

Today a lovely couple in their 80s joined us for a few hours and I understood that both have been helped tremendously by practicing Qigong.

As part of this journey, I am detoxing from all kinds of deleterious habits. For one, there is very little stress in my life right now and I’m eating just about as healthy food as I can get my hands on. Just fruit and nuts during the morning and midday break, and then a sumptuous, hot meal for dinner after returning home. I drink plenty of water and a few rounds of green tea during my 5-6 hours at the clinic. But nothing stronger than that. It feels good to eat less and yet not feel hungry or be without energy. I can also tell that I’m slowly shaving off some of that “spare tire” I’ve been carrying around for a while.