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
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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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 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

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

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.

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 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 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.

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 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

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.

New Exhibit: Silhouette Surfers

This Friday, May 5, my exhibit “Silhouette Surfers” opens at Clarion Hotel Sea U in Helsingborg. The vernissage is between 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and if you’re in the vicinity, I would love to see you there. My images will be shown at the hotel until June 30, in case you can’t make it.

Saint Walpurgis Night

This is what it looked like last night during the traditional Valborgsmässoafton bonfire celebration here in Västra Hamnen. I was expecting there to be some folks, but the turnout was surprisingly large.

Valborgsmässoafton is actually a German tradition and is celebrated in Germany and the Baltic nations as well. In German, Valborgsmässoafton is called Saint Walpurgis Night. Saint Walpurga was an 8th-century abbess in Francia hailed by the Christians of Germany for battling “pest, rabies, and whooping cough and witchcraft. In parts of Europe, like Sweden, people continue to light bonfires on Saint Walpurga’s Eve in order to ward off evil spirits and witches.

Leaving Stora Hult & Vejbystrand

Almost every summer for a quarter of a century, this is where Charlotte, Elle, and I chilled out for a few weeks with countless sunset-lit dinners, and visits to the harbor for swims and ice cream.

During the pandemic, we spent a lot of time here and provided the house with long overdue tender loving care. I also finally got around to producing a book filled with my favorite moments from Stora Hult and the village of Vejbystrand.

Soon, this chapter of our lives is coming to a close. Concurrently, a new one will begin. Where is yet to be decided.

While some get noticeably anxious and visibly nervous when things change, especially if they’re not in the driver’s seat, I typically experience emotionally charged situations like this to be an inspiring opportunity for something new and improved to come into my life.

Consequently and with the obvious exception of my childhood, there are very few chapters and decisions in my life that I feel remorse or regret about. Perhaps it’s my overly optimistic outlook or, that I subconsciously thrive on the drama that typically accompanies a life-changing rift.

In any case, it’s in a situation like this that I’m eternally grateful for having filmed and photographed so many of our cherished memories from Stora Hult and Vejbystrand. A few of these can be seen here.

Means to an End
With all the traveling I’ve done since my very first flight to Sweden in 1966 from Los Angeles to Göteborg, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that I love flying. Truth is, I really don’t. I don’t hate flying, but the only time I feel totally relaxed during a long-haul fight is when I’ve been provided with the rare opportunity to sit in business class.

For some insane reason, I just feel safer flying in that part of the cabin than in “monkey class”. Hm. Maybe “safer” is the wrong word. It’s more like I’m reasoning along the lines of, if life as I know is about to end, I just prefer sitting comfortably with a few cocktails in me when it’s time to go.

The big picture above was taken by a pilot friend named Peter. I don’t remember if it was before or after one of our many flights over southern Sweden where I was so preoccupied with photographing from the claustrophobically tiny cockpit, that I totally forgot how little I enjoy flying.

I don’t remember ever feeling freaked out when flying in the Diamond Star (pictured behind me) out of Sturup or in any of the Cessnas or beat-up bush planes I’ve had the dubious privilege of flying in during trips to Africa and South East Asia.

When it comes to being couped up in those smaller aircraft, I suppose I’ve always been so focused on filling my memory cards with new photographs and footage that I totally ignored any aerophobia-induced anxiety that might have been lurking in the shadows of my mind at the time. Yeah, it’s the classic idiom that as long as there’s a means to an end, the potentially dangerous distraction will triumph over the angst.

Letter to Mom

From my ongoing project, “Letters I Never Wrote nor Received”.

Dear Mom,
Today is your birthday and even if you passed away nearly 45 years ago, on the 26th of April, I still spend some time thinking about you. I’m not a huge believer in the whole heaven and earth spiel, but wherever you are, I hope you’ve found peace. And if you are at some kind of cosmic refuge and able to think about me from time to time, I thought I’d write to let you know that I’m doing ok.

In just a few months I’ll be 60. Who would have thought I’d reach that auspicious milestone, right? Tyko only made it to 36, but somehow I keep on truckin’ down life’s bumpy, twisty road.

Mom, in a way, your sudden death back in 1978 was a blessing in disguise. I don’t mean that frivolously or that I’m glad you died (well, not gleefully, anyway). What I mean is how the turn of events that followed upon your passing did lead me to a new and much-improved life. Most of which I’ve spent in your homeland Sweden. I’ve had a good life here and it’s a zillion times better than the substantially shittier one you put Tyko and me through before you croaked.

Your beautiful granddaughter Elle is doing really well. She’s going to be 23 in the fall and is studying at our local university, working part-time, and being amazingly creative. A kind soul. Too bad you never got to meet her.

In August, my wife and your daughter-in-law Charlotte and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. With Dad being married and divorced five times and you twice, I’ve clearly got this whole marriage thing down like you guys never did. Charlotte’s not just a wonderful woman, she’s also been a tireless supporter of me, a great friend, and a terrific mother to Elle.

The creative gene I got from you and Dad has turned out to be the only inheritance I’m thankful for. And now, after a long, and successful career as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker, I’ve returned to my roots as a painter and visual artist.

You know what? A couple of years ago, I spent some time in therapy figuring out stuff that I’ve apparently been suppressing for an unhealthy amount of time. My shrink and I spoke a lot about how you totally fucked up my childhood and how that mess is still lingering and impacting my life so many decades later. Yeah, it was cathartic to open that can of worms and yeah, I’m dealing with it. But I still can’t completely let you off the hook. No way, José.

A couple of summers ago, I visited the rural farm Moderud in Dalsland where you were born and raised. The new owners have renovated the place nicely and kept the same style and color scheme as when you lived there.

While I was looking at the farm with its small barn, main house, and tiny pond out in front, I realized something pretty profound. I realized that as a child, there must be some moments back in the 1930s and 1940s when you were a young, happy girl with a heart filled with innocent joy. Far from the angry, troubled lush I remember you as.

Being at your childhood home got me thinking about how courageous you must have been to leave that life and roll the dice in first London, New York and then L.A. Society is mostly focused on folks that succeed and doesn’t give any kudos for effort. Though I’m clearly still bitter from you destroying most of my childhood and contributing to Tyko’s pain and suffering, I have to give you a pinch of credit for taking on what must have been a monumental challenge for a young woman coming from the Swedish hinterland.

Anyway, I’ve spent more time writing this than you deserve. But since I fired my shrink (she started suggesting that we delve into some crazy-ass, hocus-pocus therapy crap), I’ll chalk up the time it took to write this letter to my annual mother-son, self-help therapy session.


Mölle & Sexagenarianism

This is the view of the harbor in the old coastal village Mölle-by-the-Sea, about an hour northwest of Malmö. Turns out that 2023 is the year of two significant milestones. 

Firstly, on August 15 1998, Charlotte and I were married at Brunnby Church, just a few clicks from Mölle. While I do remember fragments from the matrimonial ceremony, it was the dinner and party after the wedding that to this day fills my heart with joy and love. This is obviously highly subjective, but I have yet to experience a wedding party that’s come even remotely close to ours. There is also some sadness when I think about that evening as about a half dozen of our guests have since passed on.

The fact that Charlotte and I are already celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary (a silver jubilee, no less), is simply amazing!

The considerably harder anniversary for me to grasp is that in just a few months’ time, I’ll be 60 years old. A sexagenarian. No matter how I try to absorb this fact, the more abstract the “anniversary” becomes. I just can’t relate. Thankfully (he says with ill-concealed sadistic pleasure), I have a lot of friends that also turn 60 this year. Pain shared is pain divided, I suppose.

I wonder what it’s going to feel like when we all turn septuagenarians (70-79).

Surf Film in the Works

As long as I have some way to express my creativity during the day, I’m usually a happy camper. At my age and with the breadth of stuff I’ve worked with over the years, including writing, photography, film, and design, I have a lot of ways to satisfy this need. I find it interesting how I was able to be “away” from painting for so long. I mean, even if I often used to spend hours upon hours creating in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign, none of these apps provide anywhere near the creative satisfaction I get when I’m in front of a canvas applying (or removing) paint and seeing when both planned and spontaneous ideas take physical shape.

Today, I’m working on assembling a collection of surf scenes from beaches in southern California, western Costa Rica, and Portugal’s north coast.

Cherry Tree Blooming

Yep, it’s that time of year again. Spring never arrives casually in southern Sweden. It literally breaks out from one week to the next. A kind follower from this page let me know the other day about the courtyard where she lives and how beautiful the cherry trees are right now. I went over there today and the delicate pink and white blossoms certainly create a stunning, almost surreal sight for these winter-worn eyes.

While genuinely appreciated here in Scandinavia, cherry tree blooming is a really important cultural event in Japan, where it is known as Hanami. People gather under the blooming trees to celebrate the arrival of spring, and to enjoy picnics and parties with friends and family. A few years back, Charlotte, Elle, and I celebrated Hanami in Tokyo. It was nothing short of amazing!

In addition to their obvious aesthetic and aromatic appeal, cherry blossoms have symbolic significance in Japanese culture. They are seen as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of life, as the blossoms only last for a short time before falling to the ground. Cherry blossoms also represent renewal and the beauty of new beginnings.

In the United States, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is held annually in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the gift of cherry blossom trees from Japan to the United States in 1912.

Sold: “Built to Last”

A couple of years ago, I was invited to document the factory environments at Kockums Fabriker, a slew of enormous manufacturing and assembling buildings just a few hundred meters from where we live in Malmö.

Of all the scenes I captured during my three days walking around in those abandoned industrial spaces, this, piece, which was printed on a scale of 1-to-1 and aptly titled “Built to Last”, is by far my favorite.

The other day, a couple came by the gallery and bought it.

Through their purchase, the couple obviously shares my appeal for the motif and its history, which as an artist is by far the most important form of recognition.


Walked by this utility station the other day. Regular readers will know that I am always on the lookout for these stations, wherever I happen to be in the world. As far as I can remember, it’s the only original, old-school utility station that I’ve ever seen in over 25 years of living in Malmö. I love the design and above all, the old logo relief on top and on the manhole below.

There was no posting on it, and therefore only interesting as a relic of Televerket, the precursor of today’s Telia, Sweden’s partially state-owned telecom company. When I moved to Sweden in 1978, Televerket was a monopoly and omnipresent in society. With a fleet of bright orange vans and an army of orange-clad technicians, there was no shortage of critique and jokes about Televerket’s notoriously bad customer service which some would argue is only marginally better today. To a degree, I think the monopolistic mentality is still alive and kicking.

Here’s a little Televerket-to-Telia background (courtesy of ChatGPT):

Televerket was a Swedish telecommunications company that was in operation from 1853 to 1993. It was established as a government agency and was responsible for managing all aspects of Sweden’s telecommunications infrastructure, including telegraphs, telephones, and radio communications. In the 1980s, Televerket began to face competition from other telecom companies, and in 1993 it was restructured and transformed into the modern telecommunications company Telia. Today, Telia is one of the largest telecom companies in the Nordic region, providing a wide range of services including mobile and fixed-line telephony, broadband internet, and digital TV.

A Watchful Eye over Napoli

Everywhere I travel, I hope that when I leave, I’ll take with me a moment or a scene that in some way represents the core soul of the place. The humanity. The vibrancy or tranquility of life as it plays out there and then.

The image above of an elderly woman casually watching over her street in the Naples neighborhood Quartieri Spagnoli is just that. A friend pointed out how well-kept the front door is when compared to the rest of the building.

But look at her face. Disgruntled? Curious? Or, just tired? Maybe a combo of all 3. In any case, this street scene was what I was hoping to be lucky enough to take with me from Napoli during our visit to Italy last week.

A moment. A slice of life. A glimpse of everyday mundanity. What a privilege for me to have both seen it and to have had the wherewithal to take notice and capture it.

I’ve collected my visual impressions from our most recent trip to Italy here, here and here.



Clip of Re:Surfaced in Napoli

Shot this short video for the Re:surfaced art project while we were in Napoli. It’s an excellent example of a surface I fortuitously stumbled upon while walking down a busy market street somewhere near the city’s train station.

Re:Surfaced Napoli

Maybe it’s because “Naples” sounds too much like “Nipples” or, that there’s a Naples in Florida, a state I’ve visited a few times and which is currently going through some weird political stuff. In any case, I much prefer calling the southern Italian city Napoli, where the above  Re:Surfaced artifact was captured.

Detox: Italian Cuisine

Home again after three wonderfully intense days in Napoli and two on the island of Ischia. After indulging in way too much pizza and pasta, I am now swollen, inflated, and in desperate need of a dietary detox.

Returning home to our giant bed, which cushy comfort no hotel bed comes even close to, is always something to look forward to. Especially after flying with no-frills Ryan Air.

Castello Aragonese Ischia

Charlotte and I are currently working on a travel story on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Napoli. The above photos depict Castello Aragonese d’Ischia, an ancient castle that was originally built some 25oo years ago. That’s a mind-bogglingly long time ago. Even for this country.

My very first visit to Italy was in 1983 during a month-long Inter Rail tour of Europe. It started with a few hours in Ventimiglia, three or four days in Rome, and before heading to Corfu on a night ferry across the Adriatic Sea (when I slept on the top deck next to four Danish gals and two guys from Canada), I spent a day in sleepy Brindisi.

In the forty years since, I’ve been fortunate to have experienced Venice, Siena, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Sorento, Florence, Capri, and now Napoli and Ischia.

It just struck me that aside from Sweden, there is no other European country I’ve visited more or as often.

So, I asked myself why and came up with a few, reasonable answers.

• How could I not fall in love with the country that “invented” pizza, pasta, and parmesan?
• How can I not appreciate a country with a language so beautiful and full of drama that even when spoken casually, it sounds like an opera (or, a spaghetti western)?
• How can I not admire a country with such a rich, colorful history spanning at least two millennia and with a reach as far south as Egypt, as far west as Portugal, as far north as Britain, and as far east as Turkey?

• How could I possibly not be in awe of a country with so many world-class artists, designers, and architects?

• How could I not adore a country that has had close to 70 different governments in less than 8 decades, an average of one every 1.11 years?
Italy is certainly the gift that just keeps on giving.