Porto’s Art Deco

Returning to Porto is beginning to feel like coming home, a sentiment I share with Lisbon and a handful of other remarkable cities where I’ve had the privilege of staying for extended periods. Among these, Porto stands out as one of the most vibrant and visually intriguing. Like the Portuguese capital, Porto’s terrain is super hilly. And though I’m ignorant in the fields of engineering, construction, and architecture, I can still appreciate the challenges that had to be overcome in this city’s undulating, urban landscape.

The construction of thousands of tall, stone buildings along the city’s steep roads, many leading steeply up from the Rio Douro river and adorned with intricately designed, colorful ceramic tiles – is nothing short of astonishing and what makes Porto so uniquely visit-worthy.

During the 1920s and 1930s, local architects in Porto, much like their counterparts in New York City and Miami, embraced the Art Deco movement with enthusiasm, which explains the numerous stunning facades, and entrances like the one above, so tastefully decorated with design elements from that aesthetically pleasing era.


Leaving Lagos

This is the tiny bridge that you walk over to get to the harbor and beyond that, the beach in Lagos. Leaving the Algarve yesterday felt fine. As beautiful as the nature experiences are in and around Lagos, the city itself is a bit boring and geriatric for my taste. We don’t need more reminders of how old we are, on contraire.

Renting a house next to a cemetery was interesting. The house itself wasn’t much to write home about, though. For what we paid, I found it a bit too dark and surprisingly impractical in many ways. But it still offered us a level of functionality that sufficed for a couple of weeks. It’s obvious to me that I’m getting pickier and pickier as I get older…

I did get a lot of writing done while we were in Lagos, so that’s good. And I’ve now complemented my collection of images from Algarve for the new book, which I am tentatively calling “Portugal Serendipitously” or, “Serendipitously Portugal”  and which should be out within a month.


Surfing Arrifana Beach

From yesterday’s amazing visit to Arrifana Beach near the village of Aljezur. Taking the train today from Faro to Porto and enjoying gorgeous landscapes as they fly by from my seat window.


Our Lagos Neighbors

                                                       Lagos. Saturday. Neighbors.

“Think about death.” That’s what the sign at one of the entrances to Stampen’s cemetery in Gothenburg in Sweden reads. During my youth, I passed this serious reminder daily while taking the tram to have coffee at either two of our favorite cafés, Jungans or Evas Paley, in downtown Göteborg.

In those teenage years, death was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I felt immortal. Today, more than 40 years later, the presence of death is much more tangible, especially now that we live next to a beautiful, old cemetery.

I’m moderately superstitious. I indeed avoid walking under ladders, always handle mirrors with extra care, prefer not to stay on the thirteenth floor of hotels, and I’m reluctant to open umbrellas indoors, even though deep down, I know that superstition is as irrational as believing in ghosts, Santa Claus, or Donald Trump.

Having a few hundred graves as neighbors still affects me. I suppose it serves as a reminder of life’s transience and the end of oour mysteriously undefined timeline here on Earth.

It’s like the ultimate cliffhanger.

We can see most of the cemetery from the house’s three small terraces, and we’ve also walked among the graves a couple of times. There are several impressive mini-mausoleums, and even the simpler graves are adorned with colorful plastic flowers. When we were walking around the cemetery the other day, I was reminded that my mother and grandparents no longer have a dedicated gravesite at the cemetery outside Trollhättan.

Several years ago, my now-dead uncle stopped paying for the grave care, and the Swedish Church has then the right to remove and destroy the gravestone, despite the family having paid for it and the grave’s upkeep for over 30 years.

In 2020, the Swedish Church reported assets of approximately 42 billion kronor. Their refusal to allow the gravestones of Agnes, Eskil, and Solveig Andersson to remain is sufficient proof that the Swedish Church (and all other religious institutions) operate just as ruthlessly profit-driven as any other corporation (or mafia family).

But the significant difference is that the church uses emotional blackmail and threats of going to hell as its primary selling points. When I occasionally choose to eat at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut, at least I know I’m eating bad food and that the advertising is heavily skewed and retouched. No one has yet been able to prove that the church’s lofty promises hold an ounce of truth (no one can disprove their claims either).

I understand why people still cling to religion, especially as we reach a more fragile age. Religion offers a kind of insurance for life’s final journey but without a deductible. Imagine if it turns out there is an all-knowing, all-powerful patriarch/matriarch in a gigantic, heavenly control tower, managing everything in secret, like some kind of Oz? And that death means you do get everything promised in the “brochure,” including semi-opaque angels playing heavenly snippets on sparkling harps.

In the new book I’m working on, among many other things, I touch on death and how we men can handle thoughts about the inevitable without becoming too depressed.

Charlotte suggested that I include the concept of “Swedish Death Cleaning,” which she read about in a book with the same name by author Margareta Magnusson. So now that’s in the book too.

One of the most beautiful cemeteries I’ve ever visited is on the outskirts of Havana, which is ironic considering that the Castro brothers’ version of Marxism doesn’t leave much room for hymns and religion.

Inside the cemetery that has been our neighbor for a few weeks, some of the area’s stately cypresses might be older than the cemetery itself. I wonder if their root systems penetrate the graves and draw nourishment from the bodies of the dead. Maybe the trees are so stately precisely because of the local food chain.

About ten years ago, my friend Jan Axel Olsen died. He and I got to know each other in Gothenburg’s commercial harbor back in the summer of 1988 when we unloaded banana boxes labeled Uncle Tuca, Del Monte, and Chiquita from rusty Russian cargo ships registered in Panama. After that summer, Janne and I kept in touch until his sudden passing.

Janne had previously worked at the large Kviberg cemetery in Gothenburg. When I asked what he did there, whether he dug graves, he replied as usual with quick wit: “Yes, but we called ourselves ‘departure assistants.’”

Long after Kviberg and the banana gig in the harbor, Janne became a lawyer and during his relatively short career, represented, among several other odd clients, the infamous Swedish rap artist Leila K.

About once a week, I visited his office next to the cathedral in Gothenburg, usually before we went out to have lunch. He often talked about his assignments and legal cases, probably more than he should have, and the lunches could sometimes drag on. Just as I now realize this post has done…


Sheltered

I saw this beautiful Art Deco sign during yesterday’s walk in the old town here in Lagos. The Portuguese word Abrigado means “sheltered” or “protected” and is not to be confused with “obrigado” which means thank you. Why the sleek iron sign was placed on that particular wall? I have no idea. But it served as an appropriate reminder that since the dawn of time, we all need to feel sheltered and safe to function in society. At least according to Maslow’s classic hierarchy of needs which I’ve condensed below:

• Physiological, basic human survival, including air, water, food, shelter, and sleep.
• Safety, security, income, health, and property.
• Love, belonging, friendship, and deep, meaningful relationships
• Self-esteem, status, recognition, strength, and freedom
• Self-actualization, realizing potential, self-fulfillment, personal growth, and peak experiences

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lagos Morning Beach Jog

We woke up bright and early this morning and headed down to the beach for a long run. The beach here in Lagos (just like most we’ve been to in Portugal) is so beautiful. The way the ocean smells, the sound of the waves, and the color and texture of the sand all remind me of the beaches in Southern California.

There seems to be a great deal of Americans here in Algarve. The few I’ve spoken with have been elated about Portugal, and how gorgeous, affordable, and peaceful it is here. At least this time of year.

As I am spending most days here writing and don’t have the option of standing while doing so, starting off this workweek with an invigorating jog will make sitting on my tushy for the rest of the day feel pretty ok.

Shot a few clips of Charlotte jogging this morning. Viewable on Instagram.


Round Trip To Portimão

Yesterday, we visited Portimão, a nearby seaside resort town with a cute train station, a few gorgeous Art Deco-era buildings (one of which is pictured above), and not much more. Most cafés and restaurants in Portimao, a much bigger city than Lagos – the town we are living in during our time here in the Algarve – were closed for the winter, which is one of the few drawbacks of traveling off-seasonally. Somewhat disappointed, we only stayed in Portimão for a couple of hours and took the train back to Lagos. The rest of Saturday afternoon we spent hiking along the dramatic coast.

After 20km, 25.000 steps, and 29 floors, we limped our way to a cozy harbor restaurant where we ordered a couple of beers, a plate of crispy fish n’ chips, and a juicy cheeseburger with fries. Needless to say, especially after our long walk and eating salads for a week straight, our meal was spectacularly delicious.


Lagos: Boardwalk Run

Back from a nice 5k run in optimal jogging weather. The beautiful coast of Lagos is lined with wooden boardwalks, which have become more abundant since our first visit in 2021. These boardwalks are sturdy, and sufficiently wide to accommodate both runners and walkers comfortably. Moreover, they provide an excellent means of accessing the beach without harming the local flora. Being elevated about a meter or so above the ground, they also offer great views of the sea and the gorgeous coastal landscape.


Lagos of Portugal
We’re in Lagos again and thankfully it’s nowhere near as busy/crowded as Lisbon was. The small house we’ve rented for a couple of weeks is perfect for our needs. Two bathrooms, a full kitchen, outdoor patios and a comfy bed. The house itself is literally sandwiched between a tiny local Portuguese BBQ restaurant and a beautiful old cemetery.

After a long morning run along the beach and then about five hours of focused writing yesterday, Charlotte and I ate leftovers for lunch before heading out for a hike along Lagos’s dramatic coastline in gorgeous weather.

The year’s first book has just gone live on the Swedish Amazon site. It will be available internationally in another week, hence my hesitation to link to it just yet.


Southbound: Lagos

Settled in the thirty-third and thirty-fourth seats of this train’s eleventh car,  we find ourselves en route to Lagos in the Algarve, embarking from the decidedly futuristic—albeit obsessively concrete—confines of Lisbon’s Oriente station. This enormous structure, a brainchild of the Spanish architect and sculptor Santiago Calatrava (the very same individual responsible for the Turning Torso in Malmö), serves as our departure point.

There exists, as is often the case, a certain melancholia in bidding adieu to the congenial environs of the Portuguese capital. Yet, with habitual optimism, we have pledged a soon return.

Our departure from the hotel in Principe Real was marked by wide smiles from yet another splendid breakfast courtesy of the dining hall’s Brazilian matron. Her ebullience, coupled with an inexhaustible reserve of laughter and warmth, stood in stark contrast to the previous night’s escapade—a foray into the maw of a classic tourist trap, where a Herculean waiter demanded (but received neither) cash nor gratuity for service that was as graceless as it was curt. One is reminded, somewhat painfully, that age offers no immunity to such pitfalls. Nevertheless, the adept Fado performers and the delightful company of Maria and Lars-Vidar salvaged the evening from utter ruin.

Our current companions on this journey south include a medley of garrulous North Americans—indistinguishable as Canadians or citizens of the United States—and German speakers, possibly Germans or Austrians, along with a reticent couple, possibly hailing from Asia, burdened with an inordinate amount of luggage. The majority of our fellow passengers seem to share our chronological vintage, though my perception—possibly a form of denial—casts them as decidedly more senior.

Adjacent to me sits the charming Charlotte Attenborough, who, with a zeal bordering on the fanatical, narrates the unfolding panorama beyond her large window seat.

There’s an air of the surreal in commencing a workweek this February by descending to the southern reaches of Portugal, where, if the digital oracle that is the weather app on my phone proves accurate, we shall be greeted by sunny skies and a temperate 18°C (64°F).

Nearly a decade has passed since my first visit to Portugal, making today’s journey a seminal train voyage for us as a duo. Each lengthy rail ride evokes memories of the exhilarating days spent backpacking across Europe in the early ’80s, adventures that eventually emboldened me to traverse the diverse landscapes of Southeast Asia and the Southwest USA in subsequent years.

Now, with Charlotte succumbed to slumber and the landscape blurring unnoticed into obscurity, save for the intermittent outbursts of a German baritone voice several rows ahead, tranquility descends upon car number eleven. I intend to recline further in my seat and catch up with some much-needed sleep.


Return to Lisbon

Portugal. Sunday. Sunny. Saúde.

As happy as ever to see Lisbon again. This city is easily Europe’s most photogenic capital and even though it doesn’t offer any of the bombastic sights that have made Paris, Rome, London, or even Madrid famous (and claustrophobically overcrowded), Lisbon’s gorgeous patina, ancient architecture, colorful tiled facades, and laid-back ambiance continue to keep it securely in the top five of my favorite cities in the world.

This visit, we’re staying in a hotel housed in a stone building more than 200 years old along the steepest stretch of Principe Real, opposite Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, arguably one of the best viewpoints of Lisbon’s seven hills.

Taking a long train runnin’ tomorrow morning. Heading south to the Algarve to finish the aging book, work on a new website about the region’s coolest hotels, surf and absorb some natural Vitamin D

More of my images from Lisbon can be viewed here:

#lisbonlovers #lisbonportugal #saúde #portugal #soulful #principereal #alafama #graça


Enigmative: The Self Healer

I find myself increasingly enthused about abstract photography, primarily because of the challenge it presents in letting go of compositional rules and aesthetic boundaries. This process is exhilarating; it pushes me to explore beyond the conventional and delve into a realm of pure creativity. Just like in abstract painting and fiction writing, there’s a thrilling sense of freedom and unpredictability involved in this new “Enigmative” series.

Each click of the shutter button is like a portal into the unknown, where colors, shapes, and textures intertwine in totally unexpected ways. Not only is my artistic elasticity put to the test, but the process also allows me to express emotions and invite unconventional ideas in a way that’s unrestricted by the rigid frameworks of traditional landscape, architectural, and portrait photography. Not that I can’t find enjoyment in these genres of photography, but being able to let go and be independent of the typical subject matters that “demand” to be captured and inherently need some technical considerations before being immortalized, is wonderfully liberating.


Enigmative: Sextalk

So the book about aging is moving along and should be completed by mid to late February. So far the hardest chapters to finish are about male health and sexuality from both a physiological,  emotional and cultural perspective.

Let’s not kid ourselves too much; aging can have a tremendous impact on our sex life, one of the most pleasurable benefits of being human and arguably one of just a handful of experiences that make life’s lesser fun stuff endurable.

I’m fascinated that we men don’t talk about how aging impacts our sexlife and other health related topics. And believe me, I’ve tried and tried and tried. What are we so anxious about? That we’ll jinx ourselves and wind up with more crap than what’s already written in the stars?

Interestingly, over the last several years, it’s become perfectly normal for women to talk about being in menopause and how that phase in a woman’s life manifests itself on multiple levels.

But since we men don’t talk about our health very much or barely at all, I’ve included this important topic in the aging book.

Turns out that as we get into our 50s and 60s, the production of the hormone testosterone decreases and the likelihood of having issues with our prostate gland increases.

The decline in testosterone production, a condition sometimes referred to as andropause or male menopause, can lead to several physiological, mental, and emotional changes in a man’s life.

Physiologically, reduced testosterone levels are commonly associated with decreased muscle mass and strength, increased body fat, and reduced bone density. And there can also be a decline in sexual performance, including “limp dick”, i.e. erectile dysfunction. Other physical symptoms might include feeling fatigued and a drop in overall energy levels.

As if that wasn’t enough, statistically, about 50% of men in their 50s have some form of prostate enlargement, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This number increases, reaching up to a whopping 90% in men in their 80s and 90s. Similarly, developing prostate cancer also increases with age.

As depressing as this all sounds, I’m still 100% convinced that by talking about it, we men would feel better knowing that we’re not alone.

Sharing is caring.

The photo above is part of the Enigmative series.


Enigmative: Confused Confucius

So for the time being, I’ll be calling the new art project “Enigmative” which is made up word from a concoction or amalgamation of the words enigmatic and imaginative. I’m enjoying the discovery phase of this new series. The haphazard nature of the process and the outcome’s unpredictability make each new long, handheld exposure exciting to view once the camera’s done rendering. Colors, shapes, and composition are always front and center, but now each image in the series must also represent a mere abstraction of the motif used to create it to even qualify for consideration.


Updated: My Google Map

I just updated my Google travel map with a few places that I’d forgotten to add, including Cornwall/UK, Saigon/Vietnam, Naha/Okinawa, and Ischia/Italy. Being able to visualize travels like this is pretty darn cool – not to mention that it reminds me of the privilege of having a profession that has taken me to all these amazing destinations.

If back in 1983 someone had forecasted that I would soon begin traveling far and wide to exotic lands, exploring bustling megacities in Africa and Asia, surfing on Hawaiin waves, and skiing below iconic mountains in Sweden and across the Alps, I would have probably said something along the lines of, “yeah, right, that’s going to happen”. This map serves as a reminder, a pinch to the arm, an injection of humble pie. The above photo is from my most recent skitrip to Chamonix/France.

 

 


Roadrunning & Wanderlust

Captured this in one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been lucky to have visited a couple of times, Porto, Portugal. As someone who has traveled extensively for decades, I find a kindred spirit in the late Anthony Bourdain, whose life and travels were poignantly captured in the documentary “Roadrunner”. I recently rewatched it as it not only highlighted Bourdain’s zeal for exploration, it also unveiled his labyrinthian pursuit of sustainable happiness, something I can easily relate to.

Like Bourdain, my journeys are also marked by an appreciation for taking part in the simplicity of everyday life and the serendipitous connections I make with people wherever I travel.

A cliché for sure, but traveling is a way of life. It’s an addiction to newness, challenges, and an unsatiable quest for meaning and understanding of the human experience. And yes, sometimes, traveling is nothing more than a fleeting remedy for boredom and inner restlessness.

As sad as Bourdain’s life ended, to me, the documentary’s takeaway is nevertheless a poignant explainer of the deeper, more intricate reasons behind chronic wanderlust. It’s a tale of a relentless search for connection and peace, a narrative that resonates with me and many others who find some weird kind of soul-soothing solace in the ever-changing milieus that our travels provide.


Big Book Dreams
Thankfully, January is almost over. In about a month, it’s adieu to February and that means we can say hello to March! I even noticed a hint of light on the horizon as I returned from the gym early this morning. Not much more than an inkling, but a sign nonetheless.

I’m finally in the last phase of the year’s first book project. Late last night I handed over the digital inlay to David, my trusty Art Director, for touchups and tweaks. Last year I produced four separate books bringing the total amount up to twenty-two. If all goes as planned, by the end of 2024, I’ll have authored at least as many as in 2023. Half of which will consist of images from a specific place and half will be filled with my writing. Dream big, right?

Unsurprisingly, it’s been a lot less hard to compile 250 pages of my photographs than it has for me to compose prose for a book without any images whatsoever. Although I could argue that letters, words, and sentences are in themselves images and symbols that represent subjects, ideas and emotions.

There are so many different ways to express thoughts in words when compared with the relatively easy process of curating a limited collection of images and then choosing which to include in a book. I’m eternally thankful that I have the option to do both. Especially now that I’m at an age where filling my time with meaningfulness is becoming increasingly important on an existential level.


Friends & A Stored, Storied Swan

I don’t know exactly why, perhaps it’s the book about aging I’m working on that’s making me think about relationships and the shared history I have with so many people I’ve met and gotten to know throughout my life. I haven’t even tried counting, but at 60, it’s got to be a significant number of relationships of varying length and depth. Some were only hours long while others have lasted multiple decades. I reunited with one of my oldest friends from L.A. just last summer.

What makes these thoughts so interesting to me is that most of all of these relationships began with great enthusiasm and assertiveness that we’d always be friends and always keep in touch. This mindset was especially true in my younger years when it seemed so much easier to make new friends. I suppose with age, we become anxious, overly cautious, and guarded when a serendipitous opportunity to get to know someone new arrives at our doorstep.

Or, maybe as we age, we just don’t have time in our lives for new, superficial friendships that don’t appear to add something substantially positive to our journey.

The other evening at dinner, Charlotte and I talked about creating some kind of timeline to visualize our many travels and adventures. Thankfully, I’ve always maintained my photography and film archives and kept them organized and properly backed up (onsite and offsite). All of my trips are neatly sorted, stacked, and structured by continent, country, city, and year. And since the vast majority of all images are in a RAW file format (with EXIF date baked into each file), I can easily trace the month, date, and time of each exposure as well. So, one day, I’ll be able to create a timeline illustrated with my photographs that date back as far as at least late 1996.

I’m currently plowing my way through images I’ve got archived from 22 years of living in Malmö’s Västra Hamnen district. I’m doing this for a brand new 200+ page coffee table book with a curated, créme-de-la-créme collection of photographs from this ever-evolving, increasingly sprawling neighborhood.

It was while going through the year 2013 that I stumbled onto this fine feather friend.

#aging #friendship #thejourney


Winter & Icicles
Back in the cold – but kinda gorgeous hood – again. Even January has a day or two when icicles sparkle in the sun and our local birds line up for a quick shoot. More snow is apparently on the way. I much prefer snow to rain this time of year. If I have to choose, I mean.

Abstractica: Frayed & Fizzled

I saw this terrific Magnum exhibition last week at the bullfighting arena in Malaga and it reminded me of how much I used to love editorial photography and serendipitously captured street scenes.

I’m still figuring out this “Abstractica” concept and if it’s something I want to pursue and investigate on a deeper level. The above image was created one evening during the Three King weekend celebration in Spain.


ABSTRACTICA: FLOWERFUL

I created this “Abstractica” with an old camera from Japan while in Spain and I’m calling it “Flowerful” as it reminds me of blossoming tulip bulbs I saw early one morning at a Flower Market in Holland.


Winter Wishes

Captured this a while back while on a long walk along our nearest beach, Ribersborgsstrand. I would love for a huge snow dump to arrive and that it stayed until mid-March, as it did back in 2012. As long as it’s consistently cold, I’m okay with winters down here in the south of Sweden. It’s the inconsistency, the soul-crushing rain, cold, snow, slush, and bone-chilling wind that eventually gets to me.


Spirit of 24

As this is one of my first published images in what I think might be my next artistic endeavor, a series that I might call “Pictura Luminis” which means painting with light in Latin, I gave it the title “Spirit of 24”.

Like the image in the previous post, I created this too using the “Bulb” exposure function and “painted” with light by intentionally moving the camera for 2-3 seconds with the equivalent of f32.

2024 – A new hope. A new year. I know it’s just a number, but there is nonetheless something special about the start of each new year. It’s a meta opportunity to leave stuff (habits, behavior, dreams, demons) behind and begin afresh creatively, emotionally, and, yes, spiritually.

Spiritually?

Well, yes. Not in a religious sense. I mean more like lifting up one’s sense of being, our consciousness, and choosing to see the lighter side of life as opposed to the doldrums and drudgery. Discovering this (for me) new way of creating images the other day might prove to be a great start for the new year for me. At least creatively.


Abstract Photography

While in Spain and when not writing, I’ve been creating a series of abstract images using a fixed lens (35mm) camera which I’ve alternatively set to either one second’s exposure and “Bulb” exposure. “Bulb” predates the invention of flash photography and with this setting, as long as I press the shutter button, the shutter is kept open. To prevent overexposure (when too much light comes through the lens), I use a so-called Neutral Density filter that darkens the lens and allows for longer exposures, even when the light source is strong and intense. Such as with the above image which I captured during a sunset a few days ago. Instead of securing the camera on a tripod or increasing its sensitivity, abstract photography is all about embracing serendipity and allowing movement and shakes to “paint” an interesting image using the subject itself as a canvas.


Marinated Spanish Olives and Roasted Almonds

I am so addicted to marinated olives and roasted almonds, that it’s usually the first thing I buy as soon as I arrive in Spain. I often yearn to revisit some of my favorite places just because I want to eat something that has struck a resounding culinary chord with me. As deliciously succulent and wonderfully meaty as marinated Spanish olives certainly are, when compared with Greek and even Turkish olives, they rank in third place. On the other hand, much of the small-batch jamon here is just otherworldly tasty and has no real competition.


Nerja

It took only a few hours walking around in Nerja for me to grasp how beautiful the city is. The afternoon light is just spectacular. Nerja is definitely up there with seaside towns like Ericeira (Portugal) and Ibiza Old Town. Shot this scene last night.


In Memory of Tyko

In Memory of
Tyko Blake Eskil Raboff

July 21, 1967-January 3, 2003


Inner Travel

In retrospect, 2023 turned out to be yet another incredibly creative year. Four books, two exhibits, one pop-up gallery and about 12 new paintings. So I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Still, I didn’t feel like I was able to strike the right balance between being creative and sharing my creativity. What I am trying to say is that I spent a bit too much time creating stuff so that I could share it online instead of working on more substantive projects, like writing and painting.

What I shared on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp certainly did have value and I might integrate some of what I filmed, painted, and photographed throughout the year further down the road, in an exhibit or a book project.

But the engine, the driving force and my MO was still often just to feed the endlessly scrolling news feed. Not good. I recognize now that I will have to cut back, retreat, and seclude myself to get the really challenging and fulfilling stuff done. Traveling again soon. Mostly inwardly, but also toward the sun. Not far from where the above scene was captured.


New Year’s Eve

From yesterday’s magical New Year’s Eve that we will not soon forget. First, a delicious lunch with lobster soup, halibut, and tasty drinks at Mats and Ing-Marie Stadigh’s place. Then, Charlotte and I treated us all to a “French 75,” a pre-dinner cocktail accompanied by a slice of baguette topped with tuna tartare, wasabi, avocado, and roe from northern Sweden (Kalix). Following that, a New Year’s dinner continued with a focus on seafood, featuring crayfish, oysters, shrimp, and other delicacies. Champagne? Plenty!

There were many laughs, and despite the rain and gloomy weather, the old year was celebrated properly to make way for 2024, in the company of good friends and neighbors. The entire gallery of images can be viewed here.


Adios 2023

All’s well that ends well. In a few hours, we’ll be joining friends to celebrate the old year and welcome the new one. And if only the weather gods deign to show a touch of generosity, we might even bask in a bit of sunshine on the very last day of the year. Not holding my breath, though. Unsurprisingly, 2023 revealed itself to be an eventful year. Brimming with delightful experiences, journeys, accomplished projects, invigorating workouts, and just the right amount of challenges.

I embraced sobriety for a whopping 91 out of the year’s 365 days, and that accomplishment left a taste for more…

Sadly the year also served up several new wars, an ever-accelerating climate crisis, eras that came to an abrupt end, and other stuff that hovered above, weighing down the mind and suffocating my soul at times. The saddest part of the year, undoubtedly, was bidding farewell to Sjömantorp in Vejbystrand. A rare and beautiful paradise where, for a quarter of a century, I felt privileged to be a part of. The goodbye was, of course, the toughest for Charlotte, Agneta, Allan, and Elle.

Leaving Sjömantorp also brought a great sense of relief, escaping the clutches of a chronically jealous and constantly suspicious co-owner who failed to grasp that an old house requires care and love to avoid decay and survive. It was also a relief to be free from impolite remarks and envious behavior, especially from one of the older in-laws.

Yet, despite the initial challenges of the year, life continued with about the same tenacity and enthusiasm it manages to muster almost every year. And as usual, it was the travels, experiences, and spontaneous encounters with wonderful people around the world – along with reunions with old friends – that added a golden hue to 2023.

Ah, the travels…

We kicked off with a week of surprisingly good skiing in Bulgaria, followed by a visit to the ITB fair in Berlin, then a trip to the gritty but cool Naples, and a few sunny days on the neighboring island of Ischia. After that, a weekend in Cyprus in May and a June week in Stockholm, leading up to my birthday trip to Cornwall in July, with hiking, surfing, and perhaps an excessive number of pints and servings of fish n’ chips.

Our 25th wedding anniversary was celebrated on August 15 with a walk along beautiful Kullaberg and an anniversary dinner in charming Mölle-by-the-Sea. Following that, we went on a training trip to Rhodes to write about and capture the excellent sports hotel Levante. At the end of August, I spent a few days along the Vistula River in beautiful and warm Warsaw. Really digging Poland.

After a three-month “workcation” in Asia (Vietnam, Japan, Thailand), the year’s travels concluded with a short train ride to Gothenburg and Christmas celebrations in my old hood with Charlotte’s parents Allan, Agneta, and a delightful Christmas Day dinner with family friend Ulla. We also managed a hotel feature on Choice/Strawberry chain’s relatively new flagship, Hotel Draken, where we stayed for a few nights and indulged in the extensive breakfast buffet there.

“Never do nothing” has long been my mantra, and in 2023, I dedicated a significant amount of time to several creative projects.

• Launched a Popup gallery and painting studio in Dockan (four months)
• Exhibited surf images in early summer in Helsingborg
• Showcased abstract paintings at the Town Hall (for the third time) during Malmö’s annual Gallery Weekend
• Documented four multi-year art projects with four new photo books

In addition to the travels, 2023 has also been marked by significant anniversaries and milestones:

• 60 years since my birth
• 45 years since my mother’s death and my move from Los Angeles to Gothenburg
• 30 years since working in Riksgränsen
• 30 years since attending Gotlands Konstskola
• 25 years since Charlotte and I got married
• 20 years as a Swedish citizen
• 20 years since my brother Tyko threw in the towel
• 20 years since I paid the very last college loan bill
• 20 years since my first travel feature was published in Aftonbladet (about diving with great white sharks)The heaviest burden in this “Jubilee World Cup” must surely be turning 60, a number I (and surely many others with me) find difficult to identify with. Since I am evidently (like many other ’63s) a “late bloomer,” it will likely be some time before I fully grasp the magnitude of the achievement.

The achievement, you ask?

Well, when I was 30, I honestly didn’t think I would make it to 60. I didn’t think I’d reach 50 or even 40. But here I am, with “only” 10 years to 70, 20 to 80, and 30 to 90.

Surpassing one’s life expectancy prognosis is surely a kind of accomplishment, no?

It will be exciting to see how 2024 unfolds. Do I have any New Year’s resolutions in the works? Nothing more than wanting to embrace life even more, bring to fruition some of the creative ideas I have under my hat, and, of course, to travel, experience, and write.

If you’ve stuck with my ramblings this far, you’re probably a true friend, and I sincerely hope we meet in person during 2024. I also hope that you and your loved ones have a wonderful end to 2023 and a new fantastic year filled with love, good health, and plenty of travels and beautiful experiences! Above all, I hope that we all take a few extra swings (use the staves!) in 2024!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Bye-Bye Göteborg

Melancholy. That’s the word I prefer to express how I feel about leaving Göteborg. Not just for knowing that it might be a while before I see friends and family again. Equally missed will be the general positive attitude people in Göteborg have.

I’ve interacted with at least a dozen individuals in a wide range of situations and locations and almost been taken aback by how easy it is to strike up a casual conversation with complete strangers. I have no idea why this is, but I miss experiencing the smooth social interactions (in Swedish: goa göteborgare) the city is so famous for.

Captured the above view of Karlatornet on our way to Göteborg’s Central Station a little while ago.

Now, facing backward but with the sun shining – just as it did on our train ride up to Göteborg on the 23rd of December – we’re heading south to Malmötown.


Karlatornet in Gothenburg
Here’s my view while on a walk along the docks yesterday afternoon before dinner. Karlatornet is my former hometown Göteborg’s first proper skyscraper and our stay here has provided me with ample time to see it at a relatively close distance. While it’s certainly an impressive feat of engineering, I’m not sure what to think about the building’s architectural design or its location.
Many years ago, while we were waiting to move into a brand new condo that was a little delayed, Charlotte, Elle and I lived a week high up in Malmö’s Turning Torso.  The stay was as comfy as our view was spectacular, but we all felt a bit claustrophobic. So I don’t think we’ll be moving into Karlatornet, even if we could afford to. which I don’t think we can.

Chinese Christmas Lunch

Well, I guess we’ll consider Christmas 2023 closed. It feels like one of the better holiday seasons with my somewhat tired gaze in the rearview mirror. A nice mix of cozy moments with both family and dear friends.

As usual, it was probably a bit too much of the good stuff… but indulging is part of Christmas, I suppose.

Today, I had Chinese food with some of my oldest Swedish friends at classic Lai Wa in central Gothenburg. It’s one of a handful of places that Charlotte and I dined at when we were on our first dates, roughly 27 Christmases ago.

There are probably a few thousand other Gothenburg residents (and ex-Gothenburgers like us) who have a relationship with Lai Wa and other Chinese restaurants in town. Especially during our youth when some restaurant owners turned a blind eye and poured locally brewed Pripps into tall beer glasses, even though we weren’t nearly of legal age yet. Kids, that was back in the day when a big beer de facto equaled half a liter of strong beer, and if we just ordered a minimum of four small dishes, the beer tap was opened for us youngsters. A different era.

The food we ate amid bouts of laughter at Lai Wa was delicious, and even though the lady who served us wasn’t exactly cheerful, she was probably of the same age, so we quickly found a suitable level of banter and jokes. She might have even served us there back in the late 1970s.

Tomorrow, we’re southward bound to Skåneland again. Back to what looks like a delightful New Year’s celebration by the sea with a bunch of fun friends who, like us, don’t hit the brakes too hard or hesitate to end this old year with some more indulgence.


Extra in Swedish TV Show “Sanningen” (Truth)

The first time I worked as an Extra or as a Stand-In was in 1986 when I spent about a year at the Atmosphere Agency on shows like Moonlighting, Hunter, and Cagney & Lacey. On average, my paycheck was about $130 per day and I worked 3-4 days each week for most of the year. My recurring gig was Moonlighting.

Even though I was just an Extra or a Stand-In, I still got to meet all the principal actors in the shows I worked on. Of those I spent most time with on set was by far Bruce Willis on Moonlighting (season 3). On one occasion, I spent the better part of an afternoon working closely with Chaka Khan while shooting an elaborate nightclub scene in the San Fernando Valley that took about 20 takes before wrapping. I was a fan of her music, so getting to talk with her was a thrill. I also appeared as an Extra on a couple of TV commercials for local L.A. brands, one of which I think was either the radio station KROQ or KRLA.

So when I was approached by a production company in Malmö early this year to work as an Extra on a new cop/detective show, I took the opportunity to see what it would be like so many years later – and with a Swedish film crew.

The production company apparently appreciated my contribution as a senior police officer Extra and booked me for a few additional film dates during the summer. But as I never received payment for that very first day, not even after 2 months had passed, I decided to cancel our contract.

The show has gotten some really great reviews and I’m totally happy for the actors and film crew. Sure, I would have enjoyed working on Sanningen, if only I had been paid what I had been promised (which was ridiculously low compensation to begin with).


Pre Christmas

From last night’s wonderful pre-Christmas dinner hosted by our friends Alexandra, Pär and Minona. Great to catch up since we last got together at their summer place for Midsummer.