The Grinding Halt Cometh?

After weeks of playing down the severity in his typical ignorant-arrogant fashion, someone has finally woken Trump up, whispered in his ear that the situation is dire and needs the entire nation’s attention. People that solely watch Fox News won’t grasp this, of course. To them, the man can do no wrong and like their heralded MAGA chieftain, they prefer to play the blame game. It’s just so convenient to point at the previous administration, China, the Dems or whoever is within their spitting range at the moment.

So sad that otherwise fine, friendly people, some of them even educated, are unable to see things a bit more nuanced right now. Ultra-conservative television channels, radio stations, and podcasts, including Fox News, literally prey on this particular demographic. And droves of people continue to flock, convinced that Murdoch is the beacon of FREEDOM and that the financial gain the company’s programming generates is just simply a byproduct and only secondary to Rupert’s genuine conservative agenda. Oh, my.

The extremely divisive atmosphere that the USA is drowning in is especially sad now when we need to unite collectively to beat the shit out the coronavirus. An American journalist specializing in epidemics and pandemics, recently suggested that we need a Rock Hudson moment to fully understand how serious this is. I sincerely hope Tom Hanks and his wife survive their bout with the virus. But it wouldn’t make me too sad if Mitch or Lindsey got seriously ill so we could stop being forced to listen to their populistic propaganda bullshit.

There’s been a bit of pandemonium in Los Angeles this past week. Mostly in stores and malls, I hear. Not sure what Americans fear most, being forced to curb their shopping addiction, not being able to continuously feed their faces or worrying about what wiping their assholes without toilet paper is going to be like. Probably all of the above.

Sadly, most Americans are so accustomed to excessive consumption, that even questioning their behavior is considered rude, unpatriotic and possibly, at least to some, even an act of terrorism. I kid you not, shopaholism and gluttony are surely deteriorating the country from within. But something tells me this chronic need to consume, which has taken decades of scientifically calibrated marketing to infiltrate and integrate into the psyche of most Americans, is at a pivotal phase right now. A reset of the monstrosity that western-style society has evolved into could be coming to a grinding halt.

Not too long ago, I wondered what it would take for us all to just chill out, look around and smell the flowers. How could we possibly change the Mordor-like path our lifestyle had taken, stop or even reverse the increasing climate calamities and hopefully save our species and a whole bunch of others. This new virus (or the next) might be what it takes.

I took the photo above not much more than 100 feet from where this was written today here in Vejbystrand. Not only do I love the apparent symbiotic relationship between the horse and the little birdy, but I also think the three layers, foreground, middle-ground and background work beautifully together to draw the viewer’s eyes into the scene.


Egg Salad Sandwich

Let’s just put the virus to the side for a moment, shall we? Let’s focus on something fun and important. Like this recipe. For lunch this afternoon, I made one of my most famous dishes; the Raboffski Open Egg Salad Sandwich. For whatever reason, I’d never served Charlotte this classic before and since I happened to have all the required ingredients at home today, everything fell perfectly into place.

So, boil two to four eggs. Cool them off. Peel and place in a large bowl. Add a tablespoon or two of Hellman’s mayo, a half of a finely chopped red or yellow onion, a generous tablespoon of relish, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, some salt, pepper and a long squeeze of lemon.

Then crush, mix and then chill this taty concoction for approx 15 minutes. Serve on a piece of dark, rye, sourdough, baguette or, worse case, knäckebröd.
• Eggs
• Mayo
• Onion
• Relish
• Dijon
• Salt n´ Pepper
• Lemon
• Bread

Riding out the Storm

Shot this yesterday while filming a late winter storm that passed through here in Vejbystrand. Trying to figure out how to best ride out the ongoing coronavirus storm and what to believe is sensationalistic journalism, what is mass hysteria and where to find actual facts – and above all – what the trajectory of this crazy crisis’ is going to be going forward.


Life in A Late Winter Storm

From yesterday’s walk along the coast. I love the drama of stormy weather about as much as I appreciate the tranquility I get from when there’s total calmness. Best of all here in the “sticks” is that that I’ve got the scenery more or less to myself aside from the occasional dog walker or energetic stave trekker. Unlike most proper cities that have gone through extensive iterations through the decades and centuries, the environment here is so timeless, so eternal.

From where I’m sitting and typing these words, with just a small window and a garden between me, a meadow and the sea beyond, there’s a landscape that has looked much liked it does today for probably tens of thousands of years. Maybe longer. This is somehow comforting to me. That in the long run, Earth will survive and work things out – regardless of whether or not we can comprehend a timeline that reaches far beyond the scope of our barely measurable existence on the planet.

We, humans, try so very hard to cram as much into our ridiculously short lifespans, that it’s no wonder we don’t have time to think about all the stuff we’re doing to our environment as well as the species and organisms that live among us.


Gallery Opening
Shot this in Málaga just days before I left. Somehow, I find myself once again twirling within a bundle of projects. Unfortunately, none are invoiceable but interesting nonetheless and keeping me busy creatively. We’ve now secured a small gallery space at a great location here in Vejbystrand. Opening the doors in April. It should be the perfect venue to sell the new book at.

Chain of Events Leading to Perishables vs Non-Perishables

Short-term, the chain of events that have led to the exponential spread of the coronavirus is having a bigger and wider impact than I initially thought it would. Long term, I’m fairly sure the psychological reverberations are going to be both long-lasting and make a huge dent in societal behavior;

We are likely going to be very suspicious of each other and scan for symptoms of the disease like never before. This could last years.

• We’ll be even more wary about foreigners in general and Chinese tourists in particular.
• Hand hygiene will improve substantially – and not a day too late.
• It will become trendy to wear colorful, surgical gloves throughout the day and neon hues at night. If you’re in the mask, glove or antiseptic wipes biz, good for you.

That people are frightened about getting to close to potential carriers in crowded situations like public transportation, shopping centers, amusement parks, cinemas, restaurants, political rallies, concerts, airports, planes, and trains isn’t hard to understand. Even if you are healthy, who wants to be quarantined and isolated for up to two weeks, right?

Long-term, the effects could also mean that industries that aren’t fully automated might take a big hit. Farming and food production industries, their supply chains and the complex logistics of making sure fresh dairy products, meat, fish and produce are replenished in grocery stores and supermarkets might have to endure big disruptions in the next few months.

I can see this as something good, though. It’s the meat-eating population that got us into this mess, to begin with. I don’t want to point fingers, but I hope that a whole lot of people take note that the virus does not stem from a rotten carrot or an overripe head of cabbage. So, on some level, I hope that this scare does get our species to start reevaluating how we treat our host, Mother Earth, and our fellow planetarians.

Perhaps I’m reading too much press. Maybe it isn’t all that bad and I am allowing my vivid imagination to run amok. In any case, this deep rabbit hole got me thinking about what kind of stuff I would stock up on (hoard) if fresh food actually became a rarity or even a scarcity. Condiments aside, my list of favorite non-perishables would look something like this:
• variety of beans
• kalamata olives
• peanut butter
• all and any kinds of dried fruit
• sweet corn
• popcorn (non-microwave)
• brown rice
• all and any nuts (and legumes)
• oats (for my addiction to porridge)

The pile of chain links was shot here in Vejbystrand the other day.


Addressing Addresses

An old friend paid a visit today. We snacked on peanut butter crackers, drank Earl Grey and chatted about everything two old friends can talk about. Limitless. Because my relationship with social media is so fraught with inevitable failure, Facebook, in particular, I don’t keep up with a lot of my old buddies’ lives anymore. So our Sunday meetup – in realtime – was most welcome and enjoyable.

As these words are being typed, Charlotte is literally on her merry way to Vejbystrand – our new home for the foreseeable future. It’s her first time here in about 6 months. I’m genuinely glad that I had the opportunity to settle in beforehand. Because even if I consider myself to still be extremely adjustable to new circumstances and dwellings, I am finding that the older I get, the longer it takes for me to acclimatize to the point where I feel I’m really comfortable and relaxed.

I can totally appreciate the benefits of having a permanent residence, a place to call home. I’ve had plenty and for a time, I enjoy staying in one place. But it would be disingenuous of me to deny that I have an almost pathological addiction to shaking things up from time to time – and abandoning what most people consider to be the very foundation of their life; home sweet home.

If I were to make a rough estimate of how many homes I’ve had over the years, it wouldn’t be anything less than 35 (on three different continents).

I find that somehow, someway, something good always comes out of these periodic shakeups. Which might not be immediately obvious, but looking back, I can almost pinpoint when and where I changed lanes or moved into a new direction, one that I’d consciously or subconsciously been eying for a while.

Security feeds stagnation. Stagnation disguises procrastination. Procrastination is an excuse to avoid fulfilling unfulfilled dreams and desires. I sincerely hope that Vejbystrand isn’t our final destination. That would be a little sad. Not that Vejbystrand isn’t a wonderfully beautiful place to take stock of what’s happened and start brewing a new formula for the future. It is that for sure. But as soon as the coronavirus lets up, I feel confident that we’ll start thinking about where the next adventure will take us.


Virus thoughts in Vejbystrand

Shot this scene yesterday evening while Facetiming with brother Nick in L.A. He too was blown away by how beautiful the scenery was.

Thinking al lot about the coronavirus lately. It’s front-page news everywhere. Arguing that the world’s various ecosystems are self-healing and will autonomously regulate and correct mutations gone awry, the evolutionaries are convinced the coronavirus is a natural phenomenon. Some believe this almost to the point of embraceability. While a hard pill to swallow, on some level, I have to concur.  I generally don’t buy into the other mostly wild-ass conspiracy theories. Like that it’s really the hand of God at play hee. That he/she has reached down from a loft above the puffy clouds and with his/her ever-so nimble fingers, created a chain of events to clue us in on his disappointment with our behavior – hallelujah!

Look, it’s really quite simple. There are just some species that aren’t compatible and when mixed together wreak havoc. And because we humans are so brutally indiscriminate about what we eat, where what we eat comes from and how it was grown or raised – and continue to encroach natural habitats of species we should keep the fuck away from – the COVID-19 outbreak shouldn’t really be too surprising. It’s scary, yes. Frightening? Absolutely. But is it the end of the world? Hm. The jury’s out on that one. We might just be at the very beginning, middle or end of this unfolding story. My biggest concern is what happens when the devastatingly poor folks become infected and how that will impact society as a whole. It could take years before we have a vaccine and once there is one, will Big Pharma be as greedy as they’ve been historically or be forced to subsidize or even provide a vaccine for free? And how will the anti-vaxxers react once there is one wildly available? Questions, questions.

One thing is for sure, the forthcoming presidential election will be the most interesting ever. What with the virus, climate change, the everlasting threat of full-scale war in the Middle East, the always unpredictable Kim Jong Un (aka Guiding Star of the 21st Century – just one of his many official titles), the mullahs in Iran, the opioid epidemic and about 20% of the US population living way below the poverty level of Macedonia, how can this year’s race not be the most exciting thing since sliced bread? And with both Democratic candidates closer to 80 than 60 years old and the country’s commander-in-chief being a full-blown nincompoop, I know for sure the fall will be extremely entertaining.

Here’s a good read about the L and S strains of the virus. A must-read for all you brave folks out there.

 


Vejbystrand Beach Life in March

It’s been “every-other-day” weather here for a while. Which, I totally appreciate as it’s coincidentally kind of how I  describe my life. Seldom two terrific days in a row. Not that the lesser in-between day is necessarily bad or unmentionable. No, no. I make sure that almost everyday generates at least something noteworthy. At least to me.

I feel fortunate to have arrived here just when the long, bad weather spell was broken. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that spring has arrived quite yet. But it is nice and toasty when I go for my walks. Which might have a little bit to do with my layer-upon-layer clothing strategy.

Anyway, the other day when the sun was out (which it is again this afternoon), I went for a long walk along the beach and shot this film with my mobile and a credit-card-sized tripod I have neatly tucked away in the phone’s case. Vejbystrand is beautiful all year round. And surprisingly colorful, too.


The Enchanted Forest

This is from a small forest near the public pool in Vejbystrand which the locals fondly refer to as “The Enchanted Forest”. The area has a plethora of windswept trees that over time, possibly hundreds of years, have become remarkably twisted. It reminds me of a gathering of similarly warped trees just north of the city of Visby on the island of Gotland. At the very last moment, I realized that this beautiful hideaway needs to be included in the map of Vejbystrand that I’ve made for the upcoming book, “Moments from Vejbystrand”.


Will the Gears Keep Churning?

Yesterday, I was invited for a cup of tea at our neighbors and later two friends drove here from Malmö and I made lunch. When they left, I was all by my lonesome again. For the first time in a long, long while, I don’t have any trips planned. Oh, wait. I do have a trip to L.A. planned. But that’s in three months.

Living in this tiny, ancient fishing village, without much social interaction is interesting. Aside from the cashier at the local grocery store, my first week here has been like living in a vacuum. Walking along the beach today in fabulous spring-ish weather, I felt so far removed from all the stuff going on in the world right now. Geographically speaking.. This suits me perfectly as I am in the final stages of finishing my new book and definitely don’t want to be too distracted.

But since I’m a huge fan (and long-time subscriber) of the New York Times online edition and listen religiously to both The Daily Podcast and the BBC’s Global News Podcast,  I’m pretty much always tuned in and up to date with the latest events. And boy-oh-boy, there’s certainly no shortage sensationalistic news coverage right now! Doomsayers think the coronavirus is going to force the U.S. economy to a grinding halt. And since the U.S. economy is so intertwined and financially dependent on the Chinese economy, they preach the whole world is heading for an unprecedented recession. Maybe even depression. Interesting.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to that kind of negativity. Also, it implies a very simplistic worldview. The world is a friggin’ complex place and it’s literally impossible for me to even wrap my head around how the perfectly ripe, organically grown avocado I bought the other day, wound up in this little ancient fishing village way up in northern Europe.

We tend to define the world’s economic well-being by how often and how much Americans are willing to use their credit cards. How often they visit a car dealership, a realtor, their local mall and now more than ever before, the online shopping portals. I’m no expert, but I’m fairly sure that most Americans are fully prepared to max out their credit cards if they just feel that their personal finances are reasonably stable – and, of course, the trajectory of the US economy – which, by the way, has been booming for close to a decade now (long before Trump arrived). Yes, if they feel uncertain, most credit card holders will refrain from shopping excessively. And that will for sure have an impact on a whole chain of production-related, supply chain disruptive events on a global scale.

But in actuality, the world consists of so many, many economies, most of which I think will do just fine even if the consequences of the coronavirus impacts the G7 nations the hardest financially (and psychologically). Our local market outside of Hoi An in Vietnam for example, will probably not even notice should the US economy take a nosedive. There will probably be fewer tourists, sure, but most of the shopkeepers at outdoor markets in Asia (and probably anywhere in the world) cater to locals, anyway.

So, while the giant gears may currently be churning sluggardly to the point that they almost seem frozen, for the vast majority of people around the world, it’ll be business as usual. I might have to sacrifice eating avocados for a while, though.

The gears are Spanish, by the way.

Picking Rusty Locks

There’s something intriguing about old rusty locks. This one is from somewhere in the old town of Tarifa in Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain. Shot last summer.

The symbolism is perhaps obvious, but I am nonetheless fascinated by what locks represent as a metaphor. I’m also curious about what’s actually behind the door, gate or wherever a lock is used. What’s in there?

Though I’ve never attempted to pick a lock, I have always considered myself someone that can find, or, at least try real hard, to reach a solution that bypasses a seemingly impenetrable situation. Finding a solution or, a workaround, so that whatever needs to get done gets done, is an intricate part of my purpose, process and my life. I don’t necessarily think of it consciously, but I do tend to see most projects in some kind of linear timeline. You start picking the lock and eventually figure out a way to get that sucker open.

In creativity, as opposed to say, mechanical engineering where solving problems is binary, you aren’t always sure that you’ve actually picked the lock, opened the door or solved the problem.

The unsureness factor can at times be overwhelming and undermine rational thought and logic. And it can definitely screw up the timeline.

Yet the very idea of picking a new lock, solving a problem, new and old, or creating something entirely new is so addictive, that you just deal with the uncertainty and try your best to calculate it within the process. Which is why it can at times be difficult to motivate (and invoice) that once you’ve created something, you do need to let it rest, simmer, marinate, for a while, after which you return and see if it holds up and is worth its salt. If you’ve really, really picked the lock.


Coronavirus

I’d honestly be surprised if at least some Americans didn’t assume the latest coronavirus originated from the beer with the same name and which they are now rigorously avoiding. Update: This new poll indicates my assumption was spot on (thanks P-O).

My grandmother Agnes, a solid lady by any measure, was a farmer’s daughter and a wife of a farmer herself. She would likely have thought the expanding pandemic was nature’s own brutal way of regulating overpopulation. I don’t think she would of been wrong. Homospaiens are certainly not the best custodians Mother Earth has had thus for.

It’s hard for me to understand why the Trump administration is politicizing yet another health crisis instead of taking the spread of the virus seriously. No, I take that back. It makes perfect sense. At least insofar that I shouldn’t have expected anything else. The logic behind putting Pence in charge of all official virus-related messaging is still a little fuzzy, though.

Why the pharmaceutical and food conglomerates aren’t handing out free disinfection soaps, hand-wipes, gloves and masks left, right and center, is just dumb. I mean, keeping your customers healthy and alive should be fairly paramount. Snd the PR value of handing out masks would be immeasurable. .

If you’ve not seen the star-studded film Contagion yet, and still don’t quite grasp what’s going on, I strongly suggest watching it. According to real-life scientists, the film’s plot provides a reasonably accurate description of what happens when a virus spreads across the world.

Here’s an article from an uninsured 32-year-old American journalist with an insightful take on the situation.


Sunny Winter Day in Vejbystrand

Yesterday was one of those, “I forgive everything” days. Zero wind, sunny sky and not too cold. I spoke to several people during my two-hour walk and everyone seemed elated about the vexatious and stubbornly consistent bleak weather letting up for a day. Though I’ve been fortunate to have been able to avoid this year’s winter, I can totally relate to the sentiment.


Solidarity

Here’s a new piece I’ve been working on called Solidarity. It’s made of about a half dozen photos from various walls covered with a range of frayed posters, worn stickers and whatnot.

I woke up at 4:30 am feeling perky and thinking I should take advantage of the extra time before the day formally begins. Of course here in Vejbystrand, where formality is wonderfully AWOL and I periodically feel like I’m living in a twilight zone – a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity and where the collective silence is compact. No dogs barking. No scooters zipping about. No yelling. Just the wind whistling as it brushes agains barren branches or turns the corner of the house. I can’t hear the sea from here, not right now anyway. But there’s something comforting and subduing knowing it’s so close by.


From Wall-to-Screen

After so many months using a 15-inch laptop for all my artwork, sitting in front of a 27-inch monitor again, with all its screen real estate and horsepower, feels a little overwhelming. As I go through various art projects initiated on the smaller screen and now get to look at them in larger, more detailed versions, discerning which to keep and what to delete is so much easier.


Vejbystrand-in-the-Winter

I woke up at first daylight, after my first night in Vejbystrand since sometime the previous summer. I don’t remember when I last slept here during the winter. Years ago.

Once up, I did my Qigong routine for half an hour and then made banana/cinnamon porridge. The sun was shining when I laster went for a walk along the soaking wet meadow and stormy sea beyond.

Down by the mostly empty harbor, a lady was walking her dog. I think it was a Golden Retriever. A couple of teenagers were playing on a swing and I wondered how come they weren’t freezing as much as I was. Trekked up from the harbor to the village’s only grocery store and bought more oranges and a few ingredients for tonight’s dinner; minestrone soup. Took the above shot just before the skies opened up and I closed myself indoors.

A bone-cold rain is pouring down right now. But that’s perfectly okay.

Whenever I’m here alone, I feel a wave of soothing melancholy come over me. And now more than ever, I can embrace it. I can’t remember when I was this quiet. I’m not peaceful, too much going on for that. But quiet. Which in itself is a most pleasant experience.


Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

After five months on two wildly different continents, living in about a dozen hotel rooms and apartments, our fall/winter trip is slowly coming to an end. I’ve actually been in Sweden for a few days already. Flew into Copenhagen on Thursday. I’m writing this in a hotel room in downtown Göteborg after spending most of yesterday afternoon, evening and night with some of my oldest friends, three of which had no idea I was going to show up and got thoroughly surprised.

While Tommy Sahlin  Jonas Bratt  Lars Olemyr and myself enjoyed a spectacularly tasty dinner accompanied by a seemingly perpetual flow of fermented beverages at Stationen Norsesund, a fabulous little restaurant housed in an old train station near Alingsås, the fifth member of our vintage gang, Joakim Eklund played drums on stage to many old favorite tunes with his Westcoast band.

So, tomorrow, I’ll be eating brunch with daughter Elle who now lives here and then heading south to Vejbystrand where we’ll be settling in for an extended stay. After almost a half year of intense city life with all its benefits and irresistible but not always wholesome appeal, I’m so looking forward to quiet rural life by the sea.

Within the next two weeks, I intend to complete two new book projects and begin creating art for an exhibit in April. And just as I was finishing writing this post, an order for a visualization project appeared in my inbox. There have certainly been a slew of pleasant surprises since returning to Sweden.


Ginger Snuff
Like some kind of mad scientist, I’m still making my ginger snuff on an irregular basis. While we were in Asia this fall, none of the places we stayed at had an oven in the kitchen (or anywhere else), so I heated the chopped ginger in a frying pan on the stove and then air-dried it for a couple of days. This method took longer, but the results were more or less the same.
In Málaga, not only do we have a decent stove with at least one non-stick pan in it, turns out that a nearby store, specializing in organic food and vegetables, carries fresh, organically grown ginger that costs 1/3 of what is charged in Sweden. So, the other day, I made a huge batch of ginger snuff that should keep me covered until spring arrives.

Social Media Survivor

I’m a Social Media Survivor. It’s been more than a month since I abandoned all of my Social Media channels and platforms. And there’s been absolutely no struggle whatsoever to make use of the time I’ve reclaimed. I do think of friends and family on Facebook and Instagram from time to time. And yes, I can get a little curious about what they’re up to. But the obstreperous level of sharing, the ridiculous amount of selfies and trivialities quickly reminds me of how much of their lives is actually spent – wastefully – on feeding an apparent addiction.

If our species survives for another 200 years or so (I’m still optimistic), I wonder what future anthropologists, socialogists and psychologists will have to say about this odd epoch and what impact Social Media had on our (in)ability to focus and grasp significant, pertinent matters that need collective attention.

So, I feel liberated. Free like a bird. Or, maybe just self-rescued.

Shot the above (inverted) image just off the California coast.


Museo Automovilístico de Málaga

We visited Museo Automovilístico de Málaga today. Had a nice long Sunday walk to the former tobacco factory where the car and fashion exhibit is housed. In short, we were blown away by the brilliant concept and even more by how well it was executed. The idea of attaching fashion to an exhibit of vintage and obscure automobiles, thereby attracting both sexes, is nothing less than genius. The image above is of a Rolls Royce Silver Spirit decked out with hundreds of Swarovski crystals.


Café Hopping in Málaga

I’m all coffeed up right now. Started the day with a croissant and a Cafe Americano at a small coffee shop near Plaza Merced where the music was way too loud and the Feng Shui (風水) vibe unconducive for creative writing. Headed across the plaza and down the street to the Picasso museum’s café where I ordered a large Cafe Cortado and then discovered to my great chagrin that there were no wall sockets where I could charge my laptop’s depleted battery. Which was probably more intentional than an oversight – some cafés just don’t appreciate long-stay patrons like me.

So, now I’m back at Café Libo, nursing a Café con Leche and writing with increasingly jittery fingers. I’m usually all alone here, but today the place is packed with musicians, a small film crew and several German tourists. It’s so unusually busy, that one of the white coat clad ladies working behind the bar here even asked me if I was able to work with all the commotion around me. Fortunately, and for reasons beyond my understanding, I’m not too distracted, despite being all coffeed up. With noise-canceling Airpods and Groove Salad in my ears, I’ll hopefully be able to churn out around 1000 words before it’s time to leave.


The Blue Void

Of all the visual impressions I absorbed while in Marbella, this shot of a fountain is possibly the most intriguing. I spent some time by this fountain, trying to figure out at what speed to best capture an abstraction of the flow of water and above all, the droplets. Finally settled for 1/4000 of a second and love the extremely shallow depth of field and bokeh.


Benchmark Marbella

Historically, every opportunity where a landscape (or, seascape) presented itself to me, I’d reflexively whip out my camera and capture it. Nowadays, I often refrain from that reptilian instinct and instead realize that as pretty as the view may look right there and then, I know that it’s not going to be something I treasure much. Just another photo that will end up unused, unviewed and gathering virtual dust in my already swollen, digital archive. I still might shoot it, but the level of enthusiasm will be barely measurable on any kind of creative scale or if benchmarked against other subjects or objects I energetically point my camera at these days. Motifs that I think I can use furhter down the road in a collage. Like this wonderfully tiled bench from the park just below our hotel room’s balcony. It reminded me of both Lisbon and Havana simultaneously.


48 horas en Marbella

Can’t help but feel a little (Lutheran) guilt about soaking up the sun here in Marbella. Some awful weather is currently making its way through southern Sweden. Either of us had ever been to Marbella before, so we decided earlier in the week, more or less on a whim, that it was time to see what all the fuss was about. Turned out that a client was going to be in town and wanted to schedule a meeting with me. Perfect timing.

We took a surprisingly comfortable coach from Málaga bus terminal about noon today and arrived just over 45 minutes later. For 48 hours we’ll be staying at a typical Spanish hotel (mucho marble) just a couple of blocks from the main beach promenade. While our room is best described as slightly better than humdrum, the view from the generously sized balcony is superb and overlooks a small public park. We can even see a sliver of the sea beyond the park’s treetops.

Not exactly shocked to hear so much Swedish and Danish being spoken in the cafés and restaurants down by the beach. Marbella has been popular for eons among the affluent. After more than a month in Costa del Sol, I totally get why so many Scandinavians love this part of the country. It’s about 11C degrees warmer here than in the warmest place of Sweden right now (Målilla/8C). Perhaps not quite t-shirt weather. But not far off. Though I didn’t recognize her myself, Charlotte noted how a Swedish celeb named Charlotte Perrelli walked past us during our 10k stroll along the Mediterranean this afternoon. Apparently, she lives nearby in a humongous hillside house.

The further south you walk along the coast here, when the pavement gives way to a sienna colored dirt road, way past the sprawling holiday resorts and ugly, beige high rises, the more beautiful it gets. Clusters of tall pines, batches of short palm trees, dense bougainvilleas bushes and aloe vera plants in between chalk-white villas in classic Spanish architectural style. Very picturesque, indeed.

Marbella is perhaps fancy-pantsy, but like almost everywhere else I’ve been to in Spain thus far, it’s an astonishing mixed bag of highs and lows here too. I wonder if modern Spain has actually ever had a profession called urban planners or if the public officials granting building permits and development licenses just hand them out haphazardly, without much thought or review. Or, is it nepotism at play here. Muy posiblemente.

Increasingly, I find that it’s the old stuff, the old stone houses, ancient streets and plazas with decades and centuries of layered patina, that entice and inspire me. Our hotel is actually smacked in the middle of Marbella’s old town. I hope to be able to explore it more thoroughly tomorrow afternoon.


Qigong in Málaga

Like everywhere else I live, steady or temporarily, I’ve continued to practice Qigong here in Málaga. We have a huge rooftop terrace that we share with others in the building, and as soon as the temperature rebounds from its current chilly dip, I’ll be back up there practicing my two Qigong programs, DestressRelax™ and MorningFlow™ once again. I’m currently working on a Qigong centric website that should be ready for public viewing within a week or two.

Charlotte captured the above pose, “Bow & Arrow” the other morning.


Smells of Málaga
On my way home from the gym the other night, I realized something really unique about Málaga; the abundance of smells. I’m fairly well-traveled, but I’ve yet to come across a city or place where there such a variety of smells as in Málaga.

I suppose what got me thinking about this invisible but omnipresent topic was the distinct bouquet of garlic being sweated out from all the women and myself during the evening’s intense Ashtanga class. As soon as I got out of the gym, a cloud of Mary Jane, possibly coming from the couple sitting on a park bench down the block, completely enveloped me for a second or two. I’m not a user, but I’ll gladly admit to liking a whiff of cannabis once in a while. And there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of ganja here in Málaga.

Continuing home that evening, as the sun was setting on the Mediterranean, I turned the corner and soon found myself walking behind a plump pair in colorful trainers, each holding a lit cigarette between their fingers. I increased my pace to avoid the couple’s second-hand smoke, passed them quickly and climbed up a flight of stairs that eventually leads to our street. Halfway up, the nauseating smell from fresh dog poop was slung at me. That too is a frequent odor here.

At the corner bar on Calle Los Negros 4, our current home address, the distinct yet alluring smell of stale beer caught my nose’s attention. A Norwegian tween, wearing a sweet perfume, exited our security gate as I entered the building. She was dressed and doused for an evening out for sure. Finally, once I stepped into the apartment, the pleasant smell of a mustard vinaigrette dressing and oven-baked almonds, hinted that we’d once again be eating a tasty salad for dinner.

The unrelated image above is a composite of odorless yet nonetheless intriguing walls I’ve photographed around our neighborhood.


Café Libo in Málaga

There are surprisingly few co-working places in Málaga. There are a few, but none that meet my requirements. Not that there’s a shortage of cafés, tapas bars, and restaurants. It’s just that none of them I’ve visited have an environment that works for me. Either the music is way too loud (despite having AirPod Pro noise-canceling setting turned on), the establishment doesn’t have comfortable chairs or the place is just so busy that my concentration is constantly broken. Yeah, I’m difficult.

About a week ago, a friend living here in Málaga generously introduced me to one of his favorite places to work away from home at, the above pictured Café Libo.

I shot the photo from the same place where I’m writing this, the corner table to the very right when you enter the café. It’s the perfect “poker position” with nobody at my back and a full 180-degree view of the room.

The chairs are solid but nicely cushioned, allowing for extended work periods without bum or backache. The round table is at just the right height for a laptop. While the service is perhaps a bit too formal for my personal liking, it’s friendly nonetheless. And the café con leche they serve up at Café Libo is as can be expected almost anywhere here in Spain, a delectable experience.

I’m usually all alone at Libo, aside from the occasional musician or conductor that stops by for a coffee or a caña before heading back into the adjacent concert hall where rehearsals and practice can be heard from time to time during the three to four hours I work there.

Folks, for a digital nomad like me, it doesn’t get any better than this in Málaga.


Textures of Málaga

Another NUA wall I’ve found here in Málaga.


Pipes in Málaga ( and Malibu)

I once painted a series of vibrantly colorful, abstract paintings with pipes as the main subject matter. I sold quite a few of them and can’t help but wonder if they’re still around. Somewhere.

To this day whenever I see pipes of any kind, I easily get excited. What goes on in those pipes? Are they filling or emptying? Is it sludge, freshwater or gas flowing within them? How old are these pipes and are they lined with asbestos, lead or some other slowly degenerating material?

My oldest memory of pipes?

When I was youngster, sometime back in the late 1960s, my brother and I would once in a while walk along the ocean from our rented beach house in Malibu (California) and eventually tunnel through a storm drain, essentially a gigantic pipe that went under the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and ended up in canyon or ravin just below the Santa Monica Mountains.

Walking through the storm drain was scary. The noise coming from all the traffic on PCH above was amplified by a factor of 10 and deafening. I would usually run as fast as my scrawny legs would hurtle me through and instead of feeling relief, experience a wave of angst swell over me when I realized I’d have to go through that same storm drain again on our way back to the beach.

Once we hit the canyon, though, there were licorice bushes to distract me. And if that wasn’t enough, my brother Nick would show me what he had been told was an ancient, sacred burial ground for local Native American Indians.

I discovered the pipes above the other day while walking through an otherwise nondescript lane Málaga’s historic barrio.


New: Brunch at Yellow

What I love about the historic center of Málaga isn’t what most visitors get excited about. I’m too jaded, I suppose these days and not easily impressed by cathedrals, museums or Roman relics. Sure, I totally appreciate the centuries-old narrow lanes, alleys, and promenades lined with cafés, tapas bars and all kinds of restaurants. But I actually prefer walking aimlessly around the less touristy areas where local life is relatively untouched and still a little grungy. Raw, even.

But what really gets my creative juices flowing is when I discover a surface like the one above. I just love how the wall itself – together with multiple years of varying weather conditions and restorations – has “collaborated” in creating a map of intriguing textures and colors. As an artist, my job is being able to observe, discover and compose such a surface’s natural beauty, and eventually share it. I call the genre Natural Urban Art (NUA) and I feel absolutely confident that Monsieur “Readymade” Duchamp would have totally agreed with me. I call the piece above, “Brunch at Yellow” after the wifi password at a favorite breakfast place on Calle Carreteria.


Impressive Squash at Mercado de Salamanca Market in Málaga

Clueless to why this shopkeeper was looking so serious, but the huge squash he was holding up for me yesterday afternoon during a visit to Mercado de Salamanca Market here in Malaga was certainly impressive.


Málaga Ashtanga Yoga and Billie E
Joined a local gym today. The main reason being they have 3 yoga classes a week. I’ve not been practicing enough these last 3-4 weeks and I need to get back on track asap. Three classes a week is ridiculous when compared with my previous gym, My An Sports Center in Da Nang Vietnam, where they offer a whopping 5 classes a day, six days a week.

Whatever.

Tonight’s class was good, and even if I’m not a huge fan of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, small and dimly lit yoga rooms, I still enjoyed pushing my stiff body’s physical limits. Unsurprisingly, the instructor guided us in Spanish, which I understand marginally better than Vietnamese. I can count well enough, so that made it a little easier to follow. And even if some might feel a little uncomfortable when I sneak peek around to see what needs to be adjusted, tweaked or stretched, it’s absolutely “necesario”.

I was the only dude at tonight’s class. Somehow I doubt that yoga attracts Spanish men. It’s probably not macho enough. They don’t know what they’re missing. Walking home from the gym today I realized how warm it felt. These past sunny days have given us comfortable evening temperatures. It’s still jacket ‘n sweater season for sure. But that could be over real soon. Maybe even by next week.

So happy for Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell for sweeping up so many Grammy’s last night. What a talented team. Sad to hear of the helicopter crash and tragic death of former NBA giant Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianni. Don’t understand why the pilot was granted special permission to fly during such extremely poor visibility.

 


Mutt at Pedregalejo, Málaga.

Saw this fluffy mutt during yesterday’s visit to the always enjoyable village Pedregalejo on the north end of Málaga. Only after a while did I realize that the poor pouch might well have been locked in between the iron bars and the window by his owners. I really hope not.


Rooftop View Málaga

 

After a few days of intense rain and relatively cold weather, the sun rose over Málaga this morning. Here’s what it looked like from the rooftop of our apartment building, where, as soon as it gets a little warmer, I plan on practicing Yoga and Qigong.