Fifty Days of Sobriety

Perhaps I shouldn’t even mention it. When compared to someone like my dear sister-in-law, who has managed over 30 years, my 50 days of sobriety seem almost negligibly insignificant.

Yet, this little milestone is important to me. Especially now while we’re in Vietnam and observing “Sober October.”

Every evening that I resist the temptation to order an ice-cold beer or a shot of bourbon (or both) at one of the restaurants where we dine here, my determination grows stronger.

With each passing day, the idea of drinking anything other than a glass of dull sparkling water or lime juice that is brought to our table seems more and more distant. As long as I don’t have to sip water through a straw, I’m fine.

I’m not overly fond of alcohol-free alternatives, but I can certainly appreciate washing down my throat with an ice-cold, zero-percent beer without feeling much repulsion. Yet, despite the taste that alcohol-free beers do have, it was that temporary euphoric feeling – the release – from a tall, strong one that I was truly craving.

In the late 1980s, I discovered the boozy, writing poet Charles Bukowski. Like many other young, lost men with artistic ambitions, I was captivated by how he managed to be so damn creative and productive despite leading such a tough life.

As I read Bukowski’s unfiltered descriptions of the squalid, impoverished life he lived in the Los Angeles slums during the 1960s, he became a sort of Californian version of the other broken artist I had long admired, Vincent van Gogh.

When actor Mickey Rourke landed the role of Henry Chinaski, Bukowski’s literary alter ego, in the noir film “Barfly” with Faye Dunaway (and Sylvester Stallone’s younger brother, Frank Stallone), I already knew even before the film premiered that it would be a brilliant success, at least in my cinematic universe.

Today, I’m equally fascinated by how Charles Bukowski survived as long as he did as I am astonished at how I, coming from a family where alcoholism has wreaked so much havoc, could glorify his life in that way. C’est la vie.

One of Bukowski’s most honest and perhaps most accurate quotes goes like this:

“That’s the problem with drinking…If something bad happens you drink in an attempt to forget. If something good happens you drink in order to celebrate, and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.”

Just fifty days today, but one day at a time…

Back in Vietnam

Feels great to be back in Vietnam. We left just hours before the tragic shooting at Siam Paragon and Charlotte and I actually had a rendez-vous there the day before it happened.

Much of Da Nang’s Miami-esque My Khe Beach district where we’re staying has been upgraded since we left in late December 2019. More walking-only streets and plenty of new restaurants and boutiqu hotels to choose from. And a ton of foot massage places along the sidewalks.

I can hear that there’s still a few construction sites abound, but much less so than during our last stay. Sadly, our favorite café Bread & Salt has just closed down. On a brighter note, the plant based restaurant Roots has opened up a much larger place right down the road from our hotel.

This area in bustling Da Nang is really a great place to spend time as it’s just two blocks from the beach and within walking distance to the My Am Sports Center where I will be swimming, pumping iron and doing some yoga for a few weeks. Got a bit of cold today, but I am hoping to put in some laps tomorrow morning.zx

Soup + Traffic + Soup

Three constants while in Bangkok; delicious food, loads of intense traffic and more delicious food. Time to leave soon and to long for a return in a while.

Delivering My Sieng Gong Book

When my friend stopped welding to receive my book “Heavy Metal” about the Sieng Gong quarters in the Talat Noi area of Bangkok earlier today, it marked the culmination of a documentary project I’ve been working on for over a decade.

It was in 2010 when Charlotte, Elle, and I were cycling in and around Chinatown that we serendipitously stumbled upon Sieng Gong. It was then that my obsession took root, leading me to photograph and film the area on every subsequent visit to Bangkok.

Sieng Gong’s unique vibe, with its towering stacks of vehicle parts along its alleys and blocks lined with small mechanical workshops and forges, was born during World War II. During that era, obtaining spare parts for cars and trucks was notably challenging, leading to the necessity of reusing old engines, carburetors, rear axles, and transmissions from retired vehicles in the neighborhoods south of Chinatown.

Today, Sieng Gong is renowned as the go-to place for finding parts for many vintage cars and trucks. In recent years, the area has become a popular destination, with several trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants emerging since I took my very first picture there in 2010.

Many thanks to Charlotte Raboff and David Pahmp for their support throughout the project!

You can order the book I presented in Sieng Gong today here.  And you can watch the mini-documentary here.

Same same, but different (and older).

For those of you who were here in younger years, lugging around a heavy backpack covered in travel dust, wandering up and down the busy road in search of a decent guesthouse, a place to rest for a couple days, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

For those of you who haven’t been here but might remember the beginning of DiCaprio’s film “The Beach”, you’ve got a little insight. A little glimpse as to what it looked like on the famous Khao San Road back when a tiny, dirty room with a tired bed, a plastic bedside table, and a creaky folding chair cost as little as $3 per night. After checking in, you’d receive a key to a rusty padlock so you could “secure” the room’s cardboard-thin door. A bowl of steaming hot banana porridge or banana pancakes for breakfast were included in the rate. Coffee, juice, or a frothy coconut milkshake cost a little extra.

Because of how easily rooms were broken into, passports were always stored in the reception’s “safe” and only taken out when it was time to cash in a traveler’s check at one of Khao San’s two small bank offices.

In the autumn of 1988, when I walked along Khao San Road for the very first time, the street was dominated by guesthouses, a dozen tiny travel agencies, a few tailor shops, and countless rows of rickety stalls filled with trinkets and hippie apparel.

Stopping by “Khao San” for a layover before the next adventure often meant running into folks you’d met before; on one of the southern islands, maybe during a wild, nightlong beach party in Bali, on a street in Singapore, or outside the Thai consulate in Penang during a “visa run”.

Most of us were on our way somewhere, but there was almost always time to share a meal and bid bon voyage with a gleeful toast from a foamy bottle of Singha, Kloster, or Foster.

Every guesthouse on Khao San had a restaurant on the ground floor where Hollywood movies were shown in the evenings, one at 7pm, another at 9pm sharp.

Oftentimes, rather sizable groups gathered in front of the restaurant’s 32-inch fat screen TV to watch an action flick like “Die Hard” with Bruce Willis, “Lethal Weapon” with Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, and “Above the Law” with debutant Steven Seagal.

I had unloaded thousands of banana crates at the port of Gothenburg all summer long and brought a thick stack of traveler’s checks (American Express) with me to Southeast Asia. But it turned out to be quite the challenge to spend my money when a pad thai with tofu cost only 20 baht ($1) and fried rice with chicken, vegetables, and cashews just a bit more.

I remember how a small Singha cost 25 baht and that the infamous Khao San Party Pack, a small bottle of Mekong, three small Coca-Colas, an ice-filled tin bucket, and some straws, going for 100 baht ($4). For an extra 5 baht, you got a tiny bottle of what would later become known as Redbull. All the liquids were then unceremoniously poured into the bucket, stirred, and straws were handed out. Party time.

Letters and packages were sent and received at the main post office a few streets south of Khao San Road, and that’s where I also made collect calls to Sweden or to the US.

When I walked along Khao San Road earlier tonight, roughly 35 years after that very first time, I felt swept up by a little nostalgic melancholy.

It wasn’t the chaotic hustle and bustle, or the cacophony of sounds I missed. It wasn’t the nagging pitches from the road’s persistent tailors, the piles of cheap, pirated cassette tapes, or the scent of charcoal-grilled chicken-on-sticks that I longed for. It was the era I missed. Being 25 and having so much life ahead of me. Knowing that I had more amazing sunsets to look forward to than were already behind me.

Before we headed to the subway for our journey back to the hotel, Charlotte and I ate dinner at the classic Buddy Beer (which is now a large hotel and restaurant corporation). Khao San Road seemed deserted. Perhaps because it was still so early in the evening, But maybe it was because the world has changed so much after the pandemic.

When our kind waiter asked if I I was “finnish” with the meal, I skipped my stock response, no, I’m actually Swedish American. It just didn’t feel right tonight. Then came the monsoon rain. But we made it home dry and just a little bit older.

Coffee Machines, Nomadic Life & Avoiding Drudgery

I’m writing this from a comfortable yellow couch in a rather large and loud breakfast hall at a (self-proclaimed) four-star hotel in central Bangkok. Both Airpods have noise-cancelling switched on, and my go-to channel, Groove Salad, is effectively drowning out most of the chatter around me.

Through the nearest window, I can see how a small palm tree is bending to the will of gusty winds currently blowing through this part of the capital. The wind gives the illusion that it’s not nearly as steaming hot as it actually is. There’s a forecast of heavy rain for most of the day, but so far, nothing.

I’ve come to like the heat much more than when I was younger. It’s still sweaty, but, today, the insane heat here helps my limbs and joints ache a lot less. As I type this post, my cranky, creaky fingers, in particular, are thankful for me having transplanted them to this wonderfully warmer climate. Not to mention how grateful my soul is…

While I can certainly appreciate the comfort and predictability of everyday life, at least during Sweden’s precious few summer months, at 60, I know for sure now that if I allow it to enwreathe me for too long after the Scandinavian sun has gone into hibernation, I will descend physically and mentally into some pretty deep depths of dreariness.

Yes, I am, of course, thankful for being able to escape the forthcoming half-year of insipid sunlessness so symptomatic of southern Sweden. Not to mention the painfully elongated winter season’s notorious societal frigidity. And I honestly don’t think I could have managed to stay on the wagon for very long if I was once again shackled to such a gray, cold, and formulaically lackluster existence. No big mystery why alcohol and drug abuse are so prevalent along the notorious ‘vodka belt.’

We’ll be in Bangkok for less than a week this time, just enough to absorb many friendly smiles, enjoy plenty of delicious meals, and appreciate the exquisite privilege of once again being digital nomads, something we started doing regularly way back in 2002, long before remote working was even a thing.

As I continue to remind myself, we’ve once again essentially replaced our life in Malmö for a more pleasurable existence in Southeast Asia. Effectively extending the summer for a few months and ultimately leaving behind the drudgery that we both find harder to cope with as we get older when yet another dark, cold, and windy winter arrives. Alas, we’ve become snowbirds!

Our hotel’s coffee machine has about a dozen options, but only one that provides a decent cup of java, the irreplaceable Americano. This is my 22 hotel for the year and so far, the coffee machine that made offered the best brew was the one at Hermitage Resort on the beautiful Italian island of Iscia. While the machine performed sluggishly, it did churn out an amazing cup of coffee!

Just read that the Americano is believed to have originated in Italy during World War II when American soldiers found espresso too strong and added hot water to create a milder, more familiar coffee.

I photographed these coffee beans at our friend Buddha’s Coffee Roastery in Lycksle. Or, was it possibly during a shoot for Bar Italia in Malmö.

I’m impressed by the increasing abundance of artisan coffee places in Bangkok. These often tiny shops seem only outnumbered by those selling variants of hemp. Two plants that when consumed, largely offer contradictory results but yet are not entirely incompatible.

The Sum of Temptations

As beautifully written as often is the case and with the best possible heartfelt intentions in mind, I can still not embrace scripture and live my life as dogmatically as most holy texts demand and dictate.

I do believe that the sum of all temptations can be (if not controlled) remarkably constant.

I’m now on day 40 of my sobriety path and I feel a level of clarity that I can’t recall ever experiencing. At some point in my life, I’m sure I have felt this way, but it must have been such a long time ago that those memories have faded away.

However, where alcohol once prominently resided in my life, there is now a rather noticeable void. 

So far, I haven’t filled this emptiness with anything nearly as noxious as alcohol and I hope to be able to stave off temptations that come my way this fall. Including the voice in my head with very convincing whispers reassures me that it’s perfectly okay to reward myself with an indulgence in food that isn’t compliant with my health goals. Like the delicious ice cream above from a film gig shot during the pandemic.


Malmö. Sunday. Evening.

When ChatGPT was publicly released last autumn, and the debate about AI gained momentum, I found it much more exciting than frightening but it did take some time for me to figure out how I could use artificial intelligence interestingly and creatively.

I hoped to integrate some of these new tools into my workflow, just as I had done with other programs that have been using AI for a few years (like Adobe Photoshop). Did I need to learn more about the field, or did the technology need to develop further for a layperson like me to benefit from it?

But despite AI tools still being a bit blunt, I felt both urgency and agency to at least try a few things… with surprisingly good results.

In the autumn of 1986, my 65-year-old father, Ernest, passed away from emphysema, a lung disease. Calling him a heavy smoker would be a gross understatement, as he consumed 50-60 cigarettes daily. In the top drawer next to the bed where he died in Los Angeles, there were a few items in roughly the same quantity: 3-4 unopened Ventolin inhalers (for asthma) and 3-4 soft pack Pall Mall Red cigarettes.

A few years ago, one of my four siblings in the USA discovered a very old interview with our father that a journalist had recorded and archived. The interview was about the emerging art scene in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and even though the audio quality was poor, I was still shaken by hearing my father’s voice after such a long time. The last time I’d it was in early summer 1978, just a few weeks after my mother passed away and a month before I moved to Sweden.

My father was married five times, and he divorced my mother when I was 6 years old. But despite the years that passed between our contacts, I immediately recognized his voice from the interview. It was as if he had spoken to me just a few days earlier.

It’s eerie how a voice you haven’t heard in so long is still stored somewhere in the deepest recesses of the brain.

A couple of weeks ago, I hired a guy who works in AI and asked him to use the old interview as a basis to clone my father’s voice and then have it read a short text that I had written.

This is the result of that experiment.


After completing an intense drone gig for Skanska in two different locations, I spent the better part of this afternoon hanging my new paintings together with a dozen other artists in the town hall’s spacious exhibition venue. Tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 pm is when Malmö’s annual Gallery Weekend begins.

Hope to see you there!

Friday: 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm


For as long as I can remember, the concept of hypersleep has intrigued me. On the one hand, it’s a popular term that has been used generously in science fiction literature and film to explain how humans manage multi-year, interplanetary space travel without literally aging out of existence. By halting the body’s functions entirely, storytellers can conveniently allow both protagonists and antagonists to sleep for months, years, and even decennium and then be reanimated – perhaps looking a little queasy but mostly unblemished and remarkably ready for action.

On the other hand, when I think about it, hypersleep is also kind of like what religious folks must believe will happen to us once we expire. I mean, if heaven is in the heavens, which the name certainly implies, there’s got to be some form of logistics involved in getting there: hypersleep!

Plane Dream

I had a really weird dream last night. I was sitting on an old Boeing 747 with barely anyone else in it. Interestingly, in this unusually vivid dream, I did notice an old friend (whom I hadn’t seen in about 5 years) among the passengers. He was disturbed when I didn’t sit next to him, but since the cabin was so empty, I figured I’d take advantage of this and spread myself across four free seats a few rows behind him.

As the giant plane took off, it seemed to fly close to some tall trees that lined the right side of the runway. I’m not sure if the tip of the plane’s right wing touched any of the trees, but it was a close call. The last visual I have from this somewhat freakish dream was that the 747 was slowly ascending toward cruising altitude unscathed. That’s when I briskly woke up.

I took the photograph above near runway 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

How Are They Now?
I photographed this woman and her baby in Mandalay during a two-week tour of Burma in 2012. I was there to produce a travel story for a Swedish magazine and never quite figured out which of the country’s two names to use. I was there in July and a few months later, Barack Obama visited. While there, in his speeches, the former president referred to the county both as Myanmar and Burma.

I wonder how that baby and its mother are doing today.

Book Writing
I’m currently spending an inordinate amount of time writing chapters for a new book about getting older. It’s exciting, time-consuming, and probably the most intellectually challenging endeavor I’ve undertaken so far. I really have to apply myself if I’m going to reach my totally unreasonable year’s end deadline. The hardest part? Not ducking or suppressing my feelings and just being brutally honest about how I’m dealing with aging.
I used to get stressed out for having too many ways to express myself creatively. Now I just feel kind of lucky to always have a few options. From a practical point of view, writing is the most accessible and ultimately, the most distributable. In the long run, it might just be the most fulfilling. For all his shortcomings, I somewhat begrudgingly admit enjoying a smidge of gratefulness for having inherited a few strands of my father’s writing gene.

The Daily: Injecting Ozempic For Weight Loss

Here’s an episode from my favorite news source, The Daily which highlights some very interesting cultural implications. The topic is how the new diabetic drugs are used for weight loss and how this is countering the ideas of body positivity, fat shaming, and acceptance of other physical ideals than what the fashion industry is channeling. As these drugs slow down the digestive system as well as dampen hunger – and with 40% of Americans being obese – including tens of millions of kids that are severely overweight, this new “era” could potentially also have a huge impact on the (fast) food industry. In this episode, the stories of two people who took the medication and had two very different experiences.

Splendid September Sunday

With Charlotte in Göteborg and me on the wagon, after watching a few episodes of the quirky series Poker Face, I went to sleep unusually early last night. I woke up this morning, went for a jog, and then enjoyed a swim in a surprisingly warm Öresund.

After breakfast, I headed out to a meeting for next week’s Gallerihelg (Gallery Weekend) where I’m both exhibiting my artwork and documenting other participants and the event itself.

Once my meeting was over, I took the train across the bridge to a sun-drenched Copenhagen where I briskly walked from the main train station to the grungy area affectionately known as Reffen. The main attraction there, for me anyway, is Copenhagen Contemporary, the Danish capital’s ginormous international art center.

Some 25k of walking later and back home, I made dinner for Charlotte and myself and sat out front of our condo awaiting her much-delayed arrival. The above view is what I had in front of me.

Thoughts From My White Month

Exactly 30 days ago, Charlotte and I sat down to savor a delightful dinner at Hotell Kullaberg in the village of Mölle-by-the-Sea. It was no ordinary Saturday evening; we were celebrating our silver wedding anniversary. Our conversation was adorned with joyful reminiscences of that enchanting day and night, a series of magical memories from two and a half decades ago.

As the coffee arrived, I, in my habitual manner, ordered a Sambuca, the Italian avec adorned with three coffee beans. After our meal, we strolled leisurely along the harbor to the spacious annex that the hotel had reserved for us for the night. Before Charlotte and I went indoors, we sat outside for a while beneath the stars, appreciating the tranquil August evening. We finished the remnants of the bottle we had opened before dinner, just enough for about a glass each.

Since I swallowed those very last, somewhat lackluster drops of Champagne, I’ve abstained entirely from alcohol.

With the exception of 1996, prior to a solo exhibition at Gallery Viking in Gothenburg (Chalmersgatan), when I decided, at the beginning of the year, to remain sober until after my vernissage in November, I haven’t had a dry month since I was 15.

Hm. When I read that last line, it sounds rather dreadful. As if I hadn’t done much else but indulge…


After another summer where alcohol played a somewhat excessive role, it feels healthy to be on the wagon right now. I had no preconceived notions about how this hiatus would unfold; I decided from the outset to take it one day at a time and not project too many scenarios where my occasionally feeble character succumbed to irresistible temptations.

I must admit, however, that the initial weeks were unsteady and sweaty. It wasn’t so much that I missed the taste of beer, wine, or whiskey; I surprisingly managed without any phantom pains in that regard. It was more the vacuum left behind by that seductive euphoria (the release) that alcohol had always so generously offered me, requiring some form of mental withdrawal strategy.

I also felt a bit anxious about how I would navigate our social life without it becoming awkward, forced, or complicated. Dinners and situations where I knew in advance that alcohol would be present or even the focal point. How could I handle such occasions without disappointing anyone, most of all myself?

But it turns out I had underestimated my latent resilience and managed several dinners and gatherings without falling off the wagon or feeling like a bigger oddball than usual.

Temptations crop up everywhere: when I pass a bar in town, people drinking in movies, and particularly when images and clips flash by in my social streams, especially during weekends. The scenes I see all look so enjoyable, and the weakest, seediest version of me immediately wants to end my dry month, throw back a shot of cheap bourbon, and quickly wash it down with a large, ice-cold, and nameless draft beer.

If I have a long-term goal with this ongoing period of sobriety, it’s to eliminate my spontaneous and routine habit of drinking just to reward or indulge myself. I jokingly tell Charlotte that we’ve had a bit too much child-free time since Elle flew the nest.

Physically, I don’t feel a significant difference, but it may arrive. I exercise about the same and feel similarly well in my body. However, I do believe I sleep better, and my mood seems more even. I also experience a different kind of emotional stability, as if I’m steadier in the cockpit and have better visibility. Especially when I am working creatively.

I know that consuming alcohol nearly every day puts extra strain on the body. And now, having recently turned 60, I want to at least try to help (not hinder) this old, slightly worn-out body by reducing the stresses as much as possible.

I really don’t want to pass judgment, advocate, or lecture. The most important thing is that Joakim/Kim benefits from this hiatus and that I’ve come to realize that yes, I have indeed been drinking too often and too casually. The question now is whether I can ever change my rather nonchalant relationship with alcohol and enjoy it in a healthier way. Right now, when I don’t miss it in my life, I’m somewhat doubtful. But… one day at a time, right?

Gallery Weekend 2023

Bright and early this morning, the 2023 annual Malmö Gallery Weekend poster arrived in my mailbox. Turns out that this will be the third time that I’ve been invited to exhibit my work at the city’s eclectic, cultural event. This year, I’m going to show three large acrylic paintings, two themed around a specific word that I find inspiring and/or intriguing, and one painted while I was listening to the soundtrack of Ridley Scott’s brilliant, neo-noir detective film Black Rain by composer Hans Zimmer.

Hope to see some of you there!

#gallerihelgen2023 #konstimalmö #arthappening #artevent #americaninmalmö #malmöartist #artinmalmo #rådhusetmalmö #acrylicpainting #swedishartist #svenskakonstnärsförbundet #konstnärsförbundet #malmökonsthall #malmö #konstfrämjandet #konstiskåne

Crossing Pacific Coast Highway

I miss this view. It’s the walkway across Pacific Coast Highway that I would take with my surfboard under my arm to or from surfing in the mornings or evenings when we lived on Idaho Avenue and 2nd Street in Santa Monica back in 2014. I vividly remember how heading back to the apartment after a couple of hours in the waves, carrying a tall longboard and the weight of my thick, soaking wetsuit was exhausting. But I don’t think I ever walked home without glowing of happiness.

Malmö Upside Down

In September 2019, about six months before the pandemic began, I was invited by our municipality to exhibit a series of photographs featuring several of Malmö’s most iconic places as seen from above. From a visitor perspective, the show, which took place outdoors in Slottsträdgården (Castle Garden), was a huge success. I’ve now finally gotten around to compiling the images and a short film from “Malmö Upside Down”. Check it out here:

Apple’s Outrageous Option Fee

Brought my 2019 Macbook Pro to our local Apple store today to see if I could trade it in and buy a new shiny laptop. They offered me about 15% of what I’d paid, but couldn’t or wouldn’t allow me to keep it until my new computer arrived. Why? Policy.

If I kept my old computer in the meantime, Apple wouldn’t or couldn’t guarantee that I would receive the amount I was quoted today. Worse yet, they couldn’t or wouldn’t provide me with a reasonable delivery date, which meant I could be without a laptop for several weeks.

I’ve been a customer of Apple for a quarter century. At times our relationship has been contentious and as I grow older, I see beyond the smoke and mirrors and the company’s legendary distortion field. Nowadays, I even hesitate to visit an Apple Store. The experience is just too superficial and though beautifully camouflaged, it’s all about sales, sales, and more sales. None of the sales folks I’ve spoken to in recent years know much about real-world creativity and can’t provide anything but well-rehearsed clichés from the company’s sales manual.

Back in the day, when Apple computers were more or less reserved for creative types, there was an unspoken alliance, and most of us who used their machines followed the company’s progress carefully and prayed that Apple would survive. If for no other reason, than so that we wouldn’t be forced to use an erratically behaving mouse connected to a dreadfully dreary PC running the clunky Windows operating system. If I had to take a guess, I’d say our company has spent at least SEK600-700k on Apple stuff over the years.

Yeah, I’m clearly still pissed off about my effing option key conundrum. I even told today’s rep about how Apple wants to charge me SEK9000 to repair said key (one of the keyboard’s 78 keys!). He just smiled without openly admitting the absurdity of such a ridiculous fee. The environmental implications of having to replace the entire keyboard, the aluminum keyboard plate, and the battery because of a single, plastic key is certainly solid evidence that Apple is just as cynical about the environment as every other corporation. The company’s PR is just much better at being ostentatiously disingenuous.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the option key isn’t made out of simple plastic after all. Perhaps it’s actually made from an amalgamation of unicorn tears and gold. That might explain things…

Day Twenty-Five

Twenty-five days of sobriety. Perhaps not a significant enough milestone to make it worth mentioning here. I think so. Even if I’ve never thought of myself as someone with a dependency on booze, most people I know don’t, I do see each new day where alcohol is not part of a routine dose of escapism, as a small, yet appreciatable milestone.

Most of my friends have yet to comment on this ongoing sobriety challenge of mine. Some have questioned it in passing with a causal “but why?”. I think I’m still in a slightly defensive stage where whatever I reply probably sounds preachy. So be it. Like most topics that can be construed as not somehow reinforcing the image of the always resilient tough guy, any mention of even potentially misusing alcohol is still considered taboo. Especially here in the land of Vikings.

Last night while lounging on our front patio watching the sunset and hundreds of people pass by on foot, bicycle, and scooter,  I tried to envision what it would be like with a glass of chilled bourbon in my hand. I tried to remember how the euphoria (or, in everyday parlance, the release) felt when it set in and how my body and mind would have sunken into a pleasantly semi-catatonic state.

I keep telling myself that I haven’t stopped drinking just to see how long I can remain sober. I certainly want to beat my old buddy Lars’s sobriety record of 44 days. But this challenge is about something more significant that I have yet to figure out how to express in words. For now, I’m enjoying the challenge of being in charge and not a hostage with Stockholm syndrome.

Malmö Gallery Weekend 2023

I’m honored to have once again been invited to exhibit my art during Malmö’s annual Gallery Weekend September 22-24 at what is arguably the event’s most beautiful venue, the grand exhibit hall at the former City Hall (Rådhuset).

This year, I’ll be showing three rather large acrylic paintings on canvas. I hope to see you there! ‍

#gallerihelg #artforlife #paintings #malmöartscene #art #artist #acrylicpainting #creativityeveryday

Farewell Rhodes

We’re rounding off a truly sublime week in Greece. A week packed with exercise, delicious Mediterranean food, and plenty of sunshine. We’ve also got a lot of work done while on Rhodes. Charlotte has added a plethora of inspiring content to her popular websites and I’ve miraculously finished writing the bulk of a chapter in a new book –a memoir of sorts.

It’s also been a week with time allocated for contemplation, well-needed soul-searching, and interesting chats – primarily with Charlotte, but also with a new, intriguing acquaintance from the UK.

It’s day 20 of sobriety and I am continuing to allow myself plenty of time for introspection and self-interrogation:

• How I should navigate forward? • Do I have the energy and willpower to redefine and reinvent myself again?
• What should I prioritize?
• How do I enjoy life in a more health-promoting way without feeling bored and/or missing the “release” I get from alcohol? 
• Do I need to reevaluate relationships that have primarily been based around my willingness to enthusiastically participate in hangover-inducing bouts of boozing?
• Is total abstinence really required here or, am I instead actually capable of having a healthier, more measured relationship with alcohol? Or, is that just devil-speak? Sounds like it.

I seem to be stuck again in the midst of yet another seemingly bottomless quagmire…

But wait! What is that I feel beneath my feet? A boulder? Is it stable enough to stand on for a while, at least until I get my bearings and figure out how to exit this murky swamp?

Yes, I believe it is!

Swimming (again)

I’ve been swimming a lot while here in Greece. Not so much in the ocean, though I’ve done that too. I’ve been swimming laps in the above 25m pool which is nearest our room and dedicated to exercise and not for playing in. I breastswim in one direction and crawl on the return.

In 2019, I spent a couple of months lap swimming in the early mornings at a nice sports club in Da Nang, Vietnam. Like back then, during this morning’s 1000m swim, I sometimes lost track of my laps and probably added at least an additional 100m to my original goal. Which is perfectly fine. But I think I need to invest in a lap counting watch of some kind.

On the Wagon (again)

Here’s a post you’ll either be inspired by or decidedly feel uncomfortable with. Or, both. In any case, it’s brutally honest, so buckle up.

Even if I’ve never been fanatical, there has always been some kind of regular sport activity in my life. When I was young, I swam competitively, and later in life, I played squash, jogged, and boxed. Nowadays, I mostly work out at the gym and when my body permits, I’ll go for a long run.

As an oxymoronic contrast to the above, I’ve also never, ever shied away from partaking in oftentimes excessive indulgence.

These days, as I get older, taking better care of myself by living healthier is clearly gaining traction. And now, after 18 days of 100% sobriety, I can feel tangible evidence of mental and physical benefits.

I’m not talking about visible proof, mind you. It’s more related to sailing through life on a more even keel and being better at discerning and circumnavigating headwinds and identifying storms.

Living in Sweden for the better part of my life has undoubtedly been fantastic in many, many ways. The role alcohol plays in Swedish society is not one of them. And at 60, I’m finally realizing how much better I am without having booze as a crutch or a cushion.

Yes, it’s most certainly boring to not sip on a glass of chilled white wine or drink a cold beer during dinner. And do I miss my daily pour of cheap bourbon while preparing meals in our kitchen.

Thankfully, just like the ridiculous glorification of this ritualistic, masochistic behavior, the buzz I had become so pathetically addicted to is both paling and slowly sliding into my increasingly dusty archives of faded memories.

I moved to Sweden when I was 15 and, as one does, started drinking more or less regularly on weekends when I was about 16. So, that’s what, 45 years, give or take?

I don’t know for how long I’ll be on the wagon this time around. As they say, one day at a time. But so far, so good.

The old wagon is from a visit to Bodie, the famous ghost town in central California. I don’t think there could be a more fitting illustration for this post.

Levante Powered by Playitas

After four days here, I feel inclined to convey that our hotel, Levante Powered by Playitas, which I visited last year and was totally blown away by after a week of intense training, continues to amaze me, and now Charlotte, again in August/September 2023.

The always friendly and helpful staff, the ambitious yet balanced schedule, the professional level of instructors for all classes and supervised activities we’ve tried so far, the high-quality gear and equipment, not to mention how well-kept the facilities are, have really impressed us both.

And then there’s the hotel’s restaurant where we’ve been eating deliciously tasting and beautifully presented food for both breakfast and dinner – always serviced by a team of friendly and competent servers.

I don’t want to sound like a mouthpiece, and I am not getting any discount or payola for saying all this, but I just can’t recommend this place enough. It’s that good. And if you know me well enough and how much I travel, that I stay in about 25-30 different hotels every year, you’ll also know that I don’t give out this much praise very often. Levante + Apollo clearly has a kudos-worthy management and operations team in place. The hotel’s location isn’t bad either!

Our Neighborhood Olive Grove

We walked through this nearby arid olive grove yesterday evening just before dinner. With their thick, twisted, and dense trunks, I think olive trees are among the most soulful of all perennial plants.

Maybe I think so because I also happened to be almost addicted to olives. Among the many options at the hotel’s expansive buffet are several kinds of juicy, marinated olives.

Full Moon in Greece (and elsewhere)

As of this writing, an almost blindingly bright full moon hovers steadily above the coast of Afantou, the village where our hotel is located. The full moon above was actually captured in Malmö a while back with a giant lens I no longer own nor have the shoulders to hold up toward the evening sky. 

A Homage & Classic Recipe: The Greek Salad

I’m kinda sore today. Not terribly sore, though. Not sore enough to keep me from putting my 60-year-old body through yet another sweat-drenching Core class. I’m such a masochist.

Yesterday, I started out with an early hour session in the gym, then a 1000-meter swim, and at 3:00 pm, the aforementioned Core class. Finally, before dinner, Charlotte and I went on a mountain bike ride to the nearby seaside village Kolymbia where I showed Charlotte the beautiful orthodox chapel above the harbor.

Back at the hotel and showered for the fifth time, I was absolutely famished. Neither of us is eating lunch this week, so among several other buffet treats, I enjoyed a generous serving of a classic Greek salad from the above-pictured tray.

There’s something about the Greek salad that goes mostly unnoticed outside of Greece. Even though it’s so simple and reasonably affordable to make – and always beautifully colorful and flavorful – a Greek salad is remarkably hard to locate unless you’re at a Greek, a Greek Cypriot, or, possibly a Bulgarian-Albanian restaurant.

At home or whenever we spend considerable time abroad, I’ll typically serve a Greek salad as a main dish for dinner once a week. Unfortunately, in Asia, Kalamata olives and decent feta cheese are hard to find and usually very pricey. I’m hoping that one day, just like what happened with avocados, olives, and feta will also be produced locally.

Here’s a recipe for an authentic Greek salad, known here in Greece as “Horiatiki” (χωριάτικη σαλάτα):


  1. 4-5 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges or chunks
  2. 1 cucumber, sliced into thin rounds or chunks
  3. 1 red onion, thinly sliced or chopped
  4. 1 green bell pepper, sliced or chopped
  5. 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  6. 200 grams (7 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled or cut into chunks
  7. Extra virgin olive oil
  8. Red wine vinegar
  9. Dried oregano
  10. Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional Ingredients (for garnish):

  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • Pepperoncini peppers

How I make it:

  1. Start by preparing the vegetables. Cut tomatoes into wedges or large chunks, slice the cucumber into thin rounds or chunks, thinly slice the red onion, and chop the green bell pepper into chunks. Place all of it in a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the Kalamata olives to the bowl. These olives are known for their deep, rich flavor and are a key component of Greek salad.
  3. Crumble or slice the feta cheese into chunks and add it to the salad. Traditionally, Greek salads use feta cheese made from sheep’s milk, but you can use cow’s milk feta if you prefer or can’t find anything else.
  4. Season the salad with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Be mindful of the salt since the feta cheese and olives are already salty.
  5. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil generously over the salad. There’s no specific measurement; it’s a matter of personal preference, but around 1/4 cup is a good starting point.
  6. Sprinkle red wine vinegar over the salad, again to taste. Start with about 2-3 tablespoons and adjust according to your preference for acidity.
  7. Finally, sprinkle dried oregano over the top. The oregano adds a distinctive Greek flavor. Use 1-2 teaspoons or more, depending on your taste.
  8. Gently toss the salad to combine all the ingredients. Be careful not to overmix to avoid breaking the feta cheese.
  9. Optionally, garnish the Greek salad with fresh oregano leaves and pepperoncini peppers for extra flavor and presentation.
  10. Serve the Greek salad immediately as a refreshing appetizer or main dish. It pairs well with crusty bread or pita. Or, skip the bread altogether.

Spinning in Greece

Back in Rhodes again. Second visit in about a year. Chose the very same hotel as last time since most amenities and facilities are focused on training and health. If it works, don’t fix it, right?

There’s a long list of training alternatives here and they are all well-organized and led by a cheery crew of young, competent Brits, Swedes, and Norwegians.

Far from all guests have star quality, ourselves included, but the hotel itself has four, and as far as I can tell, upkeep is top-notch. Our goal is to partake in three separate activities per day, two organized (classes) and an independent activity (biking, hiking, swimming, gyming).

Today I joined a bunch of imposingly athletic tweens for an intense spinning class down by the beach (above photo). It was actually my first ever spinning class so I’m assuming I’ll be walking like Frankenstein tomorrow morning. Later, after a 5k walk in the baking sun, Charlotte and I took an afternoon Masterclass in Yoga Balance.

It’s day 14 of sobriety and even if I’m actually here to produce a story about the concept of healthy holiday-making for Charlotte’s website Hotell Addict, this week will likely be the easiest one so far to be teetotaling. I imagine myself never drinking again. Then again, I imagine mysel doing all kinds of unreasonable stuff that never happens. One day at a time…

I love Greece. I have ever since that very first visit to Corfu in 1983. Greeks are laid-back folk and if you ask me, Greece is by the country around the Med with the tastiest and arguably healthiest cuisine. Sorry, Itally. Sorry Spain, Portugal and France.

The hotel’s beach kinda sucks but the restaurant’s enormous buffet is just stunning and packed with wonderful traditional Greek specialties (mostly vegetarian) and loaded with marinated olives and several different kinds of feta. Cheeses.

Back on Track (and on the wagon)

After an intense few days discovering Warsaw, it felt wonderful to start this week off with an hour-long workout at the gym. First, a 30-minute run on a treadmill, 30 minutes on a wide range of mostly upper-body-focused machines, and then a cooling swim in the sea.

I’ve been sober for 12 days now. Not trying to break any record and it’s really anybody’s guess how long I’ll be on the wagon this time around. But for each day that passes, I feel curiously stronger and more resilient when the inevitable thought or, temptation to have a beer, a glass of wine, or a tumbler with bourbon and soda arrives. Still haven’t opened any of the bottles of bourbon, whisky, or Champagne given to me by generous friends during our last gathering here in Malmö. Don’t miss the casual sipping and definitely not the binge drinking at all.

Even more fascinating is that I seem to have gained a nice buffer, a cushion of sorts, to help me escape from the grips of frustration and stress.

Last Night. Blacknuss Concert In Malmö

As a very last but nevertheless wonderfully memorable birthday present, Charlotte had bought tickets to last night’s concert with one of my all-time favorite Swedish bands, Blackness. The last time I saw them live was in Lund some 23 years ago, quite possibly the night before Elle was conceived…

Old buddy Lars Hadders joined us last night and today we’re all a bit fatigued from the evening’s dancing and singing. I’m not much of a concert-goer these days, but last night’s show was excellent and not once did I think of myself as a 60-year-old dude dancing to music from my youth.

Salad Craving

This is the salad the Raboff Wolfpack ate last night for dinner. Right now, Elle is on her way to Spain where for a few months she’ll continue her university studies remotely. So proud of her courage and willingness to take on a challenge.

Unless I’m in Greece, a good choice of different salads is surprisingly hard to find when I’m traveling and it’s usually the first kind of food I crave when I get back home. I just remembered that in the 1980s, while I was still living in Göteborg, I actually worked for a few months at a salad bar called Leonis.

Back from Warsaw

Captured this old factory yesterday while serendipitously walking around in the Praga District of Warsaw, Poland. Such a great feeling to just stumble onto stuff like this. For a good chunk of yesterday’s walk, I was talking with a friend and barely realized that I’d walked over 18k. With this morning’s light 6k run along the Vistula River, I’ve clocked over 90 kilometers during the 3,5 days I was in the Polish capital. And what a great city it turned out to be! The cuisine, friendly folks, and a history that reads like a suspense novel, make Warsaw easily one of Eastern Europe’s shiniest pearls.


Back in Eastern Europe again. I felt it was time to discover Warszawa for my third visit to Poland. Staying at a hotel down a hill from Old Town, near the Vistula River and the impressive Swietokrzyski Bridge.

After previous visits to Krakow and Gdansk, a visit to the country’s capital seemed almost obligatory (says he who has never visited Washington D.C.!).

Interesting fact: About 85% of Warsaw’s historic center was destroyed by the Nazis and meticulously reconstructed in the years after WWII.

While here, I’ll be focused on a new, somewhat autobiographical book project and dedicating my time before noon working on it.