Off the Caffeine Trail

Captured this cappuccino yesterday during a food photography assignment.

So I’ve once again removed coffee from my diet. Yes, I do miss the ritual of making a pot of fresh French Press coffee every morning after my gym visit, my prostate is eternally grateful for what in actuality is a negligible sacrifice.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of what most folks more or less consciously enjoy about coffee, caffeine, is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the methylxanthine class.

My most recent urologist, my first-ever female specialist in this field, was insistent that I refrain from all beverages containing caffeine.

Here’s what ChatGPT responded when I asked about the matter:

While there is no definitive evidence that coffee is detrimental to urinary health, some urologists may caution against excessive coffee consumption for a few reasons. First, coffee is a natural diuretic, which means that it can increase urine production and cause you to urinate more frequently. For people with overactive bladder or urinary incontinence, this can exacerbate their symptoms and lead to more frequent trips to the bathroom.

Second, coffee is acidic, and some urologists believe that acidic foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and cause discomfort or urinary urgency in some people.

Third, coffee contains caffeine, which can increase muscle activity in the bladder and cause urinary urgency, as well as increase the risk of dehydration, which can contribute to bladder irritation and urinary tract infections.

However, it’s worth noting that not all urologists agree that coffee is detrimental to urinary health, and some studies have actually suggested that moderate coffee consumption may have some benefits for urinary health, such as reducing the risk of urinary tract infections. As with many aspects of health, the impact of coffee on urinary health can depend on a variety of factors, including an individual’s overall health and caffeine tolerance.

Resurfaced: Biden’s 10 Hour Train Ride to Kyiv

This Resurfaced was captured near the train station in Kyiv, Ukraine in 2021.

It’s been almost a year since the unbelievably tyrannic, hostile, and war-mongering Vlad invaded Ukraine after amassing troops on his Belarusian dictator pal Lukashenko’s border.

The other day here in Malmö, I spoke with a young couple from Kyiv. They both live here temporarily (just like the Ukrainian family we have housed in our co-op’s guest house) but miss family, friends and the life they so drastically were forced to leave behind about a year ago. It was the second time in a week, the first being in Bansko at our hotel, that someone from Kyiv told me that cafés, bars, and restaurants are starting to open up again in the capital.

How will this war ever come to an end? How will Putin ever accept an uncompromising retreat, i.e, defeat without losing face? A seemingly unsolvable conundrum.

The only feasible solution is if he and his closest pundits and allies are peacefully or forcefully removed from the Kremlin. But I’m not hearing of any such shifts in the works.

In any case, it was brave of the eighty-year-old Biden to covertly take a 10-hour train ride from Warsaw to Kyiv and back. It strikes me as interesting that the Russian armed forces haven’t taken out Ukraine’s rail system. How hard can that be? What is the strategy behind that decision? Questions, questions.

Otto the Storm

From an early walk this morning to check out what our neighborhood looked like after Otto the Storm passed through southern Sweden last night.

Resurfaced: Sofia II

Here’s an another Resurfaced from Sofia. The whittling process, choosing which images are “keepers”, usually takes a few reviews. I’m guessing that I’ll have about 4 or 5 left once I’ve gone through the whole batch. That’ll do fine for a book about this project.

Resurfaced: Sofia

This too was captured somewhere in Sofia, Bulgaria last week. The capital is in a varying degree of disrepair and several of the surfaces I discovered were located on temporary walls that surrounded construction sites. I say temporary, but considering how many layers there were on some of the Resurfaced pieces I brought back home, I’d wager a pretty penny that it was several years since those walls were erected.

Back to the Gym

As fun and inspiring as it was to go skiing last week, I missed my early morning gym sessions 4-5 times a week. I typically wake up at 05:00 am and slowly get ready for the 7-minute walk to our neighborhood sports center, Kockum Fritid. I have a doctor’s appointment this morning in Lund, so today’s gym session was short but sweaty. The view above is what it looked like at 6:05 am today. The big red rig to the right is some kind of press used during Malmö’s shipbuilding era.

Resurfaced: Bulgaria

Captured this, my very first published Resurfaced artifact from the country of Bulgaria. I located it on a  wall somewhere in the old town of Sofia. Like in Kyiv, the Bulgarians use the Cyrillic alphabet, which for some reason unbeknownst to me, I find aesthetically pleasing.

Bansko Train Station

I try hard to visit train stations wherever I travel. So, when I heard Bansko had one of Bulgaria’s smallest and was functioning (albeit with a minimum of arrivals, departures, and destinations), I just had to check it out. Perhaps not the most spectacular train station in the world, but it certainly has an amazing backdrop of the Pirin Mountains.

Encouter with a Toilet Brush
Couldn’t sleep again last night. Maybe it was the soreness from 5 hours on the slopes. Maybe it was a fermented Bulgarian delicacy from the hotel’s buffet coming back to haunt me as I lay there sleepless in bed. Maybe I was worried about young Ellie hiding a pistol in her jacket pocket in episode 4 of The Last of Us.

However hard I tried, I just couldn’t sleep. For a while, I thought it was because I was unable to find the right pillow position for my tired head. But even when I finally did, my restless mind wouldn’t calm down. That’s when I started thinking about stuff I really shouldn’t think about. Especially in the middle of the night while staying at a hotel.

First I started thinking about how many other guests had endured sleepless nights on the very same pillow my head was on right there and then. Yeah, that didn’t lead anywhere good. In fact, it got me thinking about how many hundreds or even thousands of other guests must have drooled on that very same pillow.
Was I trying to sleep on a reservoir of dried drool?

At some point, I got tired of turning the pillow over and over and got up from bed as quietly as possible to not wake Charlotte.

I tip-toed quietly into the toilet, closed the door, sat down on the throne, and started to pee. At my age, it’s no big anatomic revelation that peeing at 3:17 am is a whole lot easier sitting down. While I was comfortably seated there, waiting patiently for my bladder to empty, I noticed to the left of me, a foot-long, chromed cylinder where the bathroom’s toilet brush stood. I stay at a lot of hotels and though I’ve made use of a toilet brush from time to time, just like the rest of us, I’ll admit having never given much thought to the container in where it rests when not in use.

While looking at the brush’s shiny handle, I wondered how often the container was emptied and cleaned out. Maybe it was never emptied? Maybe the cleaning staff only uses the brush and just allows the accumulated fluid to amass until, well, it just flows over? I can appreciate that.

As you might already have guessed, soon enough the temptation overwhelmed me and I just had to check. So, I reached down to lift up the brush to see how full the cylinder actually was. And that’s when I accidentally knocked the sucker over.

The cylinder slowly wobbled before falling to its side. Then it made an echoing, metal “clunk” sound as it hit the tiled floor after which the brush came flying out with fury, like a ballistic missile. This was soon followed by what seemed to be a never-ending flood of fluid. The amount of toilet brush water had almost biblical proportions and soon the entire bathroom floor was covered with it.

My first reaction was to focus on determining whether or not the noise had woken Charlotte. I listened, but there was only silence. I sighed audibly with relief. That’s when I started feeling a cold, wetness surround my bare feet.
Oh, no! (Oh yes!)Needless to say, I was angry, embarrassed, and disgusted all at once.

It took me a good 15 minutes to clean up the bathroom floor. Once done, I obviously had to take a shower and scrub my feet and hands thoroughly. When I finally got out of the bathroom, it was just about 4:00 am and I felt tired like a dormant zombie.

Charlotte was still sound asleep when I snuck back into bed. And had I not posted this here, she would still be oblivious to my dubious entanglement with the toilet brush.

Now she, I, and you all know to be less curious about toilet brushes while staying at a hotel. Just assume that there full and handle them with tender care.

The Emperor’s New Icicles

These beautiful icicles were hanging from one of a half dozen or so “chalets” located at the lift stations on the slopes of the Pirin Mountains. That’s where we’re currently skiing.

None of these places offer a view of the peak of Vihren with its staggering height of 2914 meters. You get pretty close to it once you’ve reached the very top lift station at 2500 meter. But all provide a decent lunch menu and a relatively cozy (faux Swiss Alps) atmosphere.

My only qualm about these places is the crappy and deafening loud Eurodisco they play non-stop. It’s a classic example of The Emperor’s New Clothes and we’re all complicit in this musical crime. Cause if no one says anything, the assumption is that the shitty music is actually appreciated. I feel sorry for the restaurant staff and old folks like us. But the icicles were nice.

Skiing in Bansko

Haven’t been off-piste yet, but the slopes Charlotte and I skied all day yesterday here in Bansko were really, really nice.

I’m continuously impressed with how well-prepared the pists are and even more so with how effective the lift system is. Aside from the wait to get on the gondola ride up the mountain from the village, we never once stood in line for any of the chair lifts.

With its vertiginous, snow-covered peaks, dense forest, frozen creaks and many cozy hillside eateries, Banko reminds me of Zermatt, which is no small compliment.

The Nightfly to Sophia

In late 2021, just as the pandemic was tapering off, Charlotte and I had an interesting fall remote working as “digital nomads” from a sleepy seaside town in Croatia called Zadar.

We made friends with a few folks while we were there, among them was Richard, a fellow nomad from the UK. One afternoon while chatting in a local bar, Richard mentioned that he’d spent some time in a relatively obscure ski resort called Bansko in the mountainous region of southern Bulgaria.

As Bulgaria had been on my bucket list for quite a while and I hadn’t skied since our last visit to Chamonix in 2019, I was intrigued. So here we are after an uneventful night’s flight to Sophia from Copenhagen.

We’re in Bulgaria to produce a story about the UNESCO World Heritage-listed village Bansko, the co-working scene, and what it’s like on the slopes.

After last year’s visit to Albania, several trips to Croatia and Greece, and a short stay in Serbia, I’m digging the Balkan Peninsula more and more. So far, the folks we’ve interacted with here in Bansko come across as being friendly, soft-spoken, and genuinely helpful. This is to be expected since this is a popular tourist destination among skiers from Great Britain, Romania, and neighboring Greece. But still, the politeness doesn’t seem contrived or forced. It’s there, somewhat hidden underneath a layer of shyness, which I find to be a positive characteristic of folks from the Balkans.

And then what? Fish?

It’s not exactly a new year’s resolution, but I have promised myself that before I hit the 60 mark this July 22, I’ll have published no less than three new books. One is already on the finish line and if I don’t let myself get too distracted with other stuff, I feel justifiably confident that I can accomplish this goal in the next 4-5 months.

Each book will be a companion to the three art projects I’ve been working on for several years; Resurfaced, Silhouette Surfers, and Heavy Metal in Sieng Gong. As much as I have loved working on each of them, I need to move on.

But then what?

I’ve been pondering whether or not to pursue an anthology, a large format book filled with images and accompanying stories from personal projects, assignments, and travels. Then again, I could also produce a book about fish and seafood, which I have a curiously large amount of images of. Including the one above.

Resurfaced: Beverly & Fairfax

I located this surface along the northwest corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue while in Los Angeles this past October. There was a long stretch of beautifully layered postings and I probably spent the better part of an hour capturing a series of potential artifacts along the wall. I didn’t visit DTLA during my short visit to L.A., so this was one of the few places where I found some truly interesting surfaces.

At the time, I was staying at a motel a few blocks further east on Beverly and walked one day all the way to San Vicente Boulevard and my old stomping grounds at West Hollywood Park. The park had changed so much since my childhood that I no longer recognized myself there, which was both a bit disappointing but also to be expected. After all, the last time I spent any significant time swimming, riding my old red Schwinn, playing catch or touch football in West Hollywood Park would have been when I was 14, some 45 years ago.

Big Wave Surf in Nazaré

It was about a year ago, while we were staying in Lisbon for a few months, that I took a regional bus to the ancient fishing village of Nazaré in the historical province of Estremadura where the world’s largest waves roll in during the winter.

It’s thanks to the “Nazaré Canyon”, a submarine geomorphological phenomenon that creates Nazaré´s enormous waves. The canyon runs about 170 kilometers along the Portuguese coast, reaching a whopping depth of 5,000 meters, by far the deepest in Europe.

The competition was quite an event that was streamed globally and I shared the live experience with people that had traveled to Nazaré from all over the world.

I’ve collected a gallery of images from my two days in Nazaré here

The Ginger Snuff Story

I’ve been off nicotine for about a decade now. I replaced traditional tobacco snuff in 2013 while we were living on the corner of Idaho Avenue and 2nd Street in Santa Monica Beach.

I had wanted to quit snuff for some time, but I always fell off the wagon, buying yet another round container of Swedish General or the dreadful American Skoal Bandits.

One evening, while cooking a Thai dish with a generous portion of fresh ginger root from our local Whole Foods, I ate a sizable chunk, chewed on it for a little while, and then instinctively pushed it up my top lip. It burned nicely and I suppose it was then and there that I realized how ginger quite possibly could be the silver bullet, the hero surrogate I so desperately needed to kick the habit and once and for all rid myself of traditional snuff.

A few years later, I made the above short film to show how ridiculously simple it was to create homemade ginger snuff.

Resurfaced: The Tragic Deconstruction of Kyiv

I literally stumbled upon this wall in 2021 while scouring downtown Kyiv for the Resurfaced project. It’s saddening when I think of how much suffering the Ukrainian people have gone through since the Russian invasion almost a year ago.

I wonder what all the people I met during my stay in the county are doing to survive mentally, physically, and financially. What are the two brilliant guides that showed me around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant doing now that their jobs are gone? What about the kind staff at the now-closed café on Bohdana Khmelnitskogo Street where I ate my breakfast and worked on the previous day’s images?

Shattered dreams. Lost hope. Seemingly futureless. So it would seem at present.

I hope to return to Kyiv and Ukraine one day and be able to walk around freely, enjoy the city’s street life, beautiful architecture, and once again experience the famous Kyivan hospitality.

All Book Covers Minus One

Here’s the current collection of books I’ve published and been commissioned to produce since 2005. Counting the 5000 printed for the Chinese version of the World Fair edition of my 2010 book about Västra Hamnen and the 5000 copies produced of the “Vad Sysslar Du Med?” interview book, there could be about 25,000 books with my name on them “in the wild”.

The one project not included here is the satirical guidebook I produced with a friend using the pseudonym Sebastian T. Armstrong called “Penile Photography: An Authoritative Handbook To Improve Your Penis Photography”.

Now you might be asking yourself right now, how the hell did you come up with that idea, Joakim? Well, one afternoon in early 2020, after several jugs of cheap beer in a dive bar somewhere in downtown Malaga, my buddy and I were chatting about how absurd the whole dick-pic debacle was. We couldn’t grasp how men could think that a shitty photograph of their genitalia would do anything but repulse a recipient.

At some point during our marvel of the phenomenon of penis photographers, my friend suggested in passing that someone should write a manual for these sad men to help them at least improve their images.

Maybe it was too many beers or just pre-pandemic boredom, but it was then and there that we decided to produce a satirically-minded, yet genuinely helpful manual for all the penis photographers out there.

You can buy the kindle and the printed version of the book from the Swedish Amazon store here.

You can buy the kindle and the printed version of the book from the US Amazon store here.

The Menu: Art vs Food

Last night I saw the comedic drama The Menu and I absolutely loved every minute of it. It reminded me of both the excellent 1997 film The Game with Sean Penn and Michael Douglas and Peter Greenaway’s bizarre 1989 movie “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover” with Helen Mirren and Tim Roth.

And with Ralph Fiennes playing the Executive Chef, The Menu also brought back memories of his scary portrayal of a serial killer in the star-studded Hannibal Lecter installment “Red Dragon” with Anthony Hopkins, Emily Watson, Harvey Keitel, and Edward Norton.

I’ve had the privilege of eating at a few fine-dining restaurants in Europa, the US, and Asia. I can certainly appreciate the inventive, creative process of unique combinations where smell, taste, and texture are at the forefront of the experience. But The Menu does an excellent job of highlighting how ridiculously theatrical dining can be in the culinary stratosphere.

I’m all for enjoying visually appealing food, like Japanese cuisine. A beautiful presentation of even the most basic dish is always preferable and finding new interesting combinations of contrasting or compatible flavors is something I often try. But at the end of the day, I’d be a happy customer with just a bowl of Heinz baked beans in tomato sauce in front of me. Or, a bowl of noodles which is what I’ve been eating while writing this post.

Sieng Gong Book Project

This a screenshot from the editing environment I’ve spent most of today in working on “Heavy Metal in Sieng Gong”, my latest book project. The new book will have about 150 pages and be the 20th thus far and the very first with photographs entirely in monochrome. The Gold Master should be ready by the end of this week and once it’s been handed off to my trusty book designer David, I can get back to editing the mini-documentary about the neighborhood on which the book is focused. While five of the 20 books have been filled with interviews and accompanying portraits, this one will be a mostly visual experience. That said, it will have a lengthy introduction for some context and to give readers a basic understanding of my fascination for Sieng Gong.

Chili Tuna Soba Noodle Soup

Sunday evening. Just finished dinner. Tonight I made a spicy soba noodle soup with seared tuna from two frozen steaks I had deep in the freezer. I marinated them for about 30 minutes in a plastic bag with some soy sauce, chili flakes, sesame oil, Szechuan pepper, and a few drops of lime juice. No need to salt as the soy sauce takes care of most of the needed salinity.

I made the soup’s broth with a tablespoon of miso paste, water, Midori Sriracha, chopped red cabbage, bell pepper, spring onion, and a diced clove of garlic. Finally, I topped the seared tuna with a generous dab of Hellman’s mayo spiced up a bit with a few sprinkles of cayenne and a pinch of wasabi. All the chili made both Charlotte (and me) a little sweaty, but she said it was by far the best meal she’d had so far this year.

Huddled in the Fog

The fog has rolled into town again. Might be the first time this year. I don’t mind the fog. It’s mysterious but also beautiful as it can only exist when there is next to no wind. And we certainly get enough wind here as it is. So I’m enjoying both.

Chinese Newspaper Wall

It struck me just a little while ago how much I love communication and that I’ve now (as of 2023) worked within the field in a variety of roles for more than 25 years.

It’s been a long, wonderful love affair and one that has provided a wealth of creative and monetary rewards that I feel confident few other vocations could have provided me with. I’ve tried a handful of other professions and none came even close. This is probably why I love this newspaper wall so much – even if I can’t understand a single symbol. I don’t even know if the wall is actual news or merely fresh propaganda from the PRC’s long arm.

Regardless, I think it’s a beautiful representation of public communication, which, thanks to its location, makes it accessible and inclusive – as long as you can read Mandarin (I’m obviously guessing here that the wall’s newspapers aren’t printed in Cantonese).

I love Chinese characters as they remind me that the oldest form of communication was hand-painted on cave walls and not written letters, words, or sentences. The shapes and forms of the earliest Chinese characters (Shang Dynasty, 1600 – 1046 B.C.) were more reflective of what they represented and the oldest cave paintings (Indonesia, 43,000 B.C.) were rough but basic and concise. Inarguable as long as you knew what they represented. If you hadn’t seen a wild pig, you wouldn’t know what that thing on the cave wall was until someone showed you what a wild pig looked like. If you’d seen a lamb, you might be able to guess it was an animal, or, at least that it represented food. Kinda like the difference between two related languages…

It would be kinda cool if we once again had newspaper walls like the one above here in Europe. A public space where all kinds of papers could post an article or two. Maybe adding a QR code for those that wanted to read beyond the wall’s limited space. Yeah, that could be an interesting installation themed on communication.

Resurfaced: Jackson Lamb

I’ve been a Gary Oldman fan since Sid & Nancy and True Romance. His performance as Winston Churchill is possibly my favorite. So it was a thrill to watch him in the final two episodes of Slow Horse last night. His cast members are good, some of them really good. But he outshines most actors in every scene he shares. Oldman’s character Jackson Lamb is easy to relate to. I’d wager that most men, myself included, can easily identify with at least a few of the sordid M-15 department head’s flaws and shortcomings, the imperfections, and cynicism that inevitably arrive with age and disillusionment. I’m sure Oldman – the man –  can, too. And that’s probably why he took the role in the first place and how he plays it so remarkably well. I chose to name the above Resurfaced piece Jackson Lamb because he represents the wonderful chaos and imperfection of life.

Daughter & Father Collaboration

Daughter Elle captured this portrait of me, her father, late last summer. In retrospect, I was significantly more interested in our creative collaboration than whether or not the results turned out to be as good as they ended up being. Which is by no means a reflection of Elle’s capability to take a portrait of me, this is the second portrait she’s taken that I’ve published, as it is my inability to accept what I actually look like these days.

I think this particular version of me turned out really well. It’s compositionally excellent and my look feels emotionally, if not physically relatable. It mirrors one side of who I am: a serious, composed, and focused dude in his sixth decade. 

Resurfaced: Malmö’s Eastside

Here’s yet another artifact for the Resurfaced project that captured yesterday in Malmö’s Eastside. There’s definitely a correlation between these new pieces and that fact that I discovered them in a part of town populated with an overall younger demographic and considerable more ethnic diversity than in, say, our neighborhood. Posters and posting can be found all over the city, but since most cultural events happen on the Eastside, that’s where most of them are glued, stapled and pinned.

Resurfaced: Södervärn

Captured this intriguing Resurfaced piece earlier today on my way to a friend’s book release event in a part of Malmö I rarely visit, Södervärn. On the way back, I located a long plywood wall full of riveting surfaces of which I hastily captured a few. I definitely need to return sometime next week to take a closer look.

Resurfaced: Nr 378

This is from Sieng Gong, the neighborhood in Bangkok that I’ve been documenting off and on since 2011. I wasn’t there to discover new surfaces for the Resurfaced project, but sometimes I get lucky. The naming of this piece was extraordinarily obvious.

My dear cousin and amazing Berkley-based artist Laura Raboff recently suggested I reduce the collection of Resurfaced artifacts. I couldn’t agree more with her. But…it’s not an easy task as I have an unhealthy amount of favorites making it almost impossible to curate. Once I’m finished with the Sieng Gong book project, I’ll start the Resurfaced book project. Hopefully, both will be ready by the time I exhibit my Silhouette Surfers in April.

Resurfaced: Calle Oficina en Málaga

Three years ago today, we arrived in southern Spain, two months before the Covid-19 pandemic began. I remember the sun was shining brightly from a crisp blue sky and how we spent a good chunk of that very first afternoon enjoying a typical Spanish tapas lunch somewhere near Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Málaga’s formidable old market.

Málaga was a great destination for the Resurfaced project and though I still had to cover a lot of pavement before locating qualifying surfaces, our two months there provided a wealth of artifacts, several of which will likely be included in a future exhibit and book about the project.

I’m currently on the lookout for a popup gallery/studio/event place here in Malmö. As in all of the other cities and towns I’ve had the privilege of spending time working on the Resurfaced project in, my “oficina” in Málaga was in the city’s many cafés and from time to time, in a variety of Málaga’s infamous dive bars, as well as on the historical streets and along the winding, narrow alleys. One of my favorite spots to sit and write in was at Café Libo in Unicaja Concert Hall María Cristina which seems to be temporarily closed right now.

MyDOG 2023

Still kinda unpacking my experiences from our visit to Göteborg this past weekend. A few interesting revelations stemming from friends and a whole lotta love from hundreds of mutts, pups, and well-bred dogs at the trade show MyDOG 2023. This collection of clips for Charlotte’s popular dog-friendly hotel site was shot using “Cinematic Mode” on the iPhone 14 Pro Max and the old trusty GoPro Hero 7 Black mounted on a barebones basic €20 Manfrotto monopod.

Overdosing on Jellybeans

For the past several mornings, after what can only be fairly and squarely described as a breakfast for champions, I’ve unapologetically dipped deep down into the hotel’s jar of colorful jellybeans.There were Oreo’s, cupcakes and tiny marshmallows, but I abstained. Aside from the occasional chocolate treat, these days, I’m not much for sweets. My daily fistful of jellybeans is perfectly symbolic of the last few days over-indulgence. Back on the wagon tomorrow.

Lars Olemyr’s Pre-Birthday Dinner at Tavolo

This is my Google review from Thursday’s pre-birthday dinner in Göteborg for old buddy Lars Olemyr’s upcoming 60th birthday.

Even though Tavolo is probably one of Gothenburg’s largest restaurants, the atmosphere is nevertheless remarkably informal and cozy. Much thanks to how beautifully lit and thoughtfully decorated the enormous dining hall is. In a previous life, the space where Tavolo resides today was a stable. Whether the ginormous white horse head is a tribute to that epoch, or, to Coppola’s cinematic triumph “The Godfather”, is up to you to decide. Regardless, there’s no denying that it’s quite spectacular.

There was certainly no shortage of ambient noise during our meal, in addition to the curated music played over the restaurant’s sound system. Yet we never experienced it being too difficult to achieve a normal dinner conversation between our table’s six guests. Portions were generous, and our orders were nicely presented and promptly served.

Given a choice, I would likely pick a different venue if I wanted a quieter, more intimate, romantic dinner. That said, Tavolo certainly offers a memorable dining experience for a group of friends, colleagues, and families. Last but not least, I must mention that the bartender on duty created a most elegant Manhattan! In my humble opinion, Tavolo is highly recommendable.

My Dog 2023

From Bangkok to Göteborg is quite the distance. Charlotte and I are here in our old hometown to promote her dog friendly hotel site My assignment is to capture footage of some of the 9000 visiting dogs from the show floor for a reel. This is a frame grab from earlier today of an irresistibly cute American Sheepdog.

Resurfaced: Another Layer

Yesterday was emotional on many levels. Elle came over for dinner and she and I talked about her late uncle and godfather Tyko and how her generation is less stigmatizing about mental health.

I feel fortunate and privileged to be surrounded by people that care about me. Many reached out to me yesterday and shared their thoughts about my post. For decades, art and my creative process have helped me therapeutically to avoid falling too deep into an emotional abyss. It’s a godsend, really. Obviously, love is part of that “lifejacket” as is humor.

The Resurfaced piece above is as good a representation of my life as any. Flaky, curly, verklempt but still standing.

Tyko Raboff 1967-2003
This post is essentially about mental health. Why such a tough subject so early in the new year, you might ask? Well, Today is the 20th anniversary of when brother Tyko Raboff decided he no longer wanted to live. It’s taken this long for me to publicly open up and share some of my thoughts about this. Exactly why Tyko came to the conclusion that his only option was to end his life in a small, Parisian hotel room on January 3, 2003, will always be a tragic, painful, and unsolvable mystery to me and to everyone that knew him.

There are however several clues as to what led up to his suicide. Tyko had long struggled to find his way in life and how to deal with the overwhelming emotions he had. In his farewell letter, he made it very clear that much of the heartache in his life stemmed from dark memories of our often volatile, dysfunctional childhood that we both narrowly yet miraculously survived.

At the time of his death, Tyko was in one of his notoriously destructive relationships and when I spoke to him for the very last time, he sounded lonely, hollow, and lost. In contrast, my life was glowing. Our daughter Elle had just turned 3 and my life was brimming with joy and love for our small family. I was so busy with this new role and a new era in my life, that I became so distracted with all the positivity, that my otherwise close relationship with Tyko suffered.

I can of course only speculate, but as delighted as I know Tyko was for me and my newly formed family, perhaps he also felt abandoned and saddened, himself unable to find a path to long-lasting happiness.

He was on his way to Stockholm from Los Angeles when the flight that was supposed to take him from Charles de Gaulle to Arlanda was canceled and he was provided a room at the Phoenix Hotel in Paris. While there, he wrote a long farewell letter and then ended his life.

Mental health is a sensitive subject. Especially among men. But it’s something that definitely needs to be talked more openly about and without the stigma that often ensues when someone dares to share their existential thoughts and temporary loss of the very force that helps us overcome and move beyond all the hurdles life inevitably throws at us. I know that a few of my closest friends, men, and women, have sought and received help with shorter and longer periods of therapy. And I am sure that there are many more that would benefit from doing so.

I’ve seen a psychologist and though I’m not entirely convinced that the 20+ sessions helped me all that much, just being able to open up and have someone listen to my deepest, emotional thoughts and anxieties was cathartic, relieving somehow. I’m certainly no expert, but I do know that depression can manifest in a plethora of ways. Symptoms can be reflected physically, mentally, spiritually and as a nasty concoction of them all at once. Like it or not, admit it or not, depression is part of the human experience and yet so secretive and shameful to talk about. Especially here in Sweden.

Being a man, at least if you’re really in touch with yourself and not just constantly engaged in promoting the machismo persona you’ve constructed like some Dr. Frankenstein, is at times a dauntingly hard gig to pull off. Especially if you from time to time dwell too much on the past, unable to forget, forgive, or, at least move on. Tyko couldn’t and the culmination of sadness became too overwhelming, too heavy for him to carry in his heart. He drowned in a tsunami of sadness.

To mark the 20th anniversary of Tyko’s passing, I created a private Facebook group dedicated to his memory. I’ve sent an invite to a few that knew Tyko. If you haven’t received one and feel that you want to take part, let me know. Peace.