ASMR: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, abbreviated ASMR, is where some people experience that certain repetitive sounds and visuals are extremely satisfying to listen to and watch.

What exactly triggers an ASMR reaction is up to individual preference, but can include as mundane things as people mixing stuff, kneading dough or clay, walking in a quiet forest, eating super-crunchy food, drinking through a straw or, like in my video above, seeing and hearing water drops from a fountain I filmed yesterday just outside of Chiang Mai’s old town wall.

There’s an element of translike meditation involved with ASMR and some seem even to be able fall asleep easier while listening to sounds that trigger an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. But from what I’ve recently seen on Youtube, there’s a plethora of really obscure ASMR videos out there, particularly those which are food-theme. I’m thinking there might also be a level of perversity at play here. Like this one.

old man in chiang mai

Dude in Old Town

I met this dude briefly during a walk around the old town yesterday afternoon. He surprised me by saying something in English as I was getting a shot of the old wooden house next to his. Don’t remember what it was he said, but the fact that he had spoken to me (and chuckled afterward) signaled to me that taking a closup portrait of him wouldn’t be completely impossible.

chiang mai wooden house

Old Town CM

Turned out I was right and I got a couple of decent shots of the fella – considering the only lens I had with me was a wide 23 mm lens. Of all the walk-around lenses I’ve ever used, the Fujinon XF16mm f1.4 is by far a favorite. It’s light, light-sensitive and produces edge-to-edge sharpness. And if you just get close enough to your subject, it works great for street portraits.

coconut noodles with coriander

Coconut Coriander

The mother in the Thai family that has the homestay where I’ll be for the next couple of weeks, cooks me dinner every night after returning home from her vegetable shop at the Kat Kom market in Chiang Mai. They probably don’t get a lot of guests that are pescatarians, but she still has no problem whatsoever conjuring delicious meals for me. Like last night’s coconut noodle and tofu soup topped with freshly chopped coriander. Two flavors that blend tremendously well.

toilet roll holder

The Toilet Roll Holder

I spent most of my 30 hour stay in Bangkok – before boarding the night train to Chiang Mai – at a basic, yet clean and quiet, hotel/hostel located not more than a 15 minute walk from the capital’s central station, aka Hua Lamphong, in Chinatown.

The room I’d booked was perfect for my needs and even came with a decent top-floor view of the neighborhood – and if I’d only been able to open the damn window (it was sealed), I might have taken a shot of it.

After years of traveling and staying in hundreds of different hotels, guest houses, hostels and dormitories, I finally found a WC where someone had evidently made an extra effort to place the toilet roll holder in the worst possible place. Though not visible in the above shot, they could have mounted it on the opposite wall facing the toilet seat. But no, that would have made toilet life too easy!

For my age – and despite enduring the stiffness from mild arthritis, I am still surprisingly flexible. But I ain’t Houdini, David Blaine or Nadia Comăneci. So the only way to reach for the toilet paper was to sit up, lift off from the seat, twist 180 degrees, grab a suitable amount of paper, sit down again and, well, you know, clean up. And as we all experience from time to time, one may need to grab a second round of paper before the job is done. Fortunately, I’m on a intermittent fasting schedule right now, so I only had to endure one of these contortionist sessions.

As per usual when I encounter wacky impracticalities at places I stay at, which happens frequently – even at fancy places – I vigorously yearn to speak with the individual whom decided where to place the toilet roll holder. Who knows, perhaps I’d even uncover a humanistic perspective to their decision process

Ford Anglia and Qigong

Ford Anglia & Qigong

Charlotte is fascinated whenever I can identify a car brand or share some obscure knowledge about automobiles. I’m the first to admit that my interest is mysteriously unexplainable. I don’t drive and just barely know how to refuel a car, so why I can state distinguishing facts about different car manufacturers is just plain weird. It might have to do with being exposed to an unhealthy dose of television ads for cars while growing up in the US.

I stumbled onto this Ford Anglia earlier today while walking around Chiang Mai’s old town. The turquoise paint job coupled with the car’s quirky design gave it a certain “jolie laide” quality that I found irresistible. I looked it up, and it seems this model might just have left the Ford factory line in 1963.

After a night in bustling Bangkok, the small town calmness and charm of Chiang Mai is quite palpable. Because I haven’t been here in about a decade, I just assumed there would be greater change. That Thailand’s second city would have grown exponentially. Fortunately, much of the downtown area seems more or less unchanged.

I’m staying with a local family a few kilometers outside of Chiang Mai so I will be closer to a school where I’m attending an intensive training course in the ancient Chinese practice of Qigong. The course starts on Friday and I’m excited about taking what I know today about Qigong, to an entirely new and heightened level.

night train to Chiang Mai

Tasty Train Treat

I don’t remember when I last took a night train to Chiang Mai. It could quite possibly have been as far back as 1998 when Charlotte and I spent a week of our month-long honeymoon trekking the mountains somewhere north of Chiang Mai and south of Chiang Rai, sharing meals and sleeping over at several distinctly different hillside hosts, including the Akha, Lahu, Karen, and Hmong tribes. It was a similar adventure to one I’d had ten years earlier (1988) with an old friend (Magnus Ekström), and absolutely worth re-experiencing.

Of all the ways of traveling from point A to point B, trains easily top my list. I really love trains and have taken them across southwest USA, all over Europe, a bit of India, sped across a stretch of Japan on the Shinkansen and ridden both up and down the Malay Peninsula between Bangkok and Singapore.

Trains are of course slow, but offer a far superior social and visual experience when compared with planes. Not to mention how incomparably more pleasurable train stations are to airports.

Back in the late 1980s, I took a night train from Göteborg to Riksgränsen (Swedish Lapland) a few times and remember how wonderful it was to first be served a decent meal in the dining car and then enjoy a film in the adjacent movie car (where they even served freshly nuked popcorn!).

Last night’s dinner (above) won’t take up much space in the constantly expanding archive of most memorable meals, but it was tasty, albeit pricey, nonetheless. All vegetarian and freshly made in the train’s restaurant/kitchen car.

Thai Railways

Inside our train car

Significantly more striking was instead how upgraded the 2nd Class sleeper train cars were. While the sleeping comfort wasn’t improved much, there was a huge difference in how new and modern-looking the interior was – including the onboard toilets – from what I remember riding in more than two decades ago. Which might not be so surprising, unless when thinking of how sadly archaic and fatigued most Swedish trains still are today. Swedish trains are, when not delayed, considerably faster, though. On the other hand, I really enjoyed watching the landscape slide by in slow motion as we made our way through thick forest on the way up north.

Airplane Galley

Shaky at 30000ft

Last night’s flight over Europe and much of East Asia was extremely bumpy.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I’d apparently picked an aisle seat far back in the cabin. When I arrived at 56C, a Danish couple roughly my age had already made themselves comfortable and were busy munching from a greasy bag of pork grinds – or something equally disgusting. As soon as I sat down, the chubby Danish fellow sitting next to me struck up a conversation.

Now, I’m a social creature on any given day of the week, but I usually prefer being quiet and if I’m lucky, even snooze for a spell, at least until we leave the ground, level off and reach cruising altitude. But once he got started and I had politely answered his first questions (where you from, where you going, how long will you stay), this dude’s rambling just wouldn’t let up. Not even when I turned my head the opposite way, flipped up my hoodie and filled my ears with bright white Airpods, was my pertinacious neighbor clued in to my need for some alone time. I had about a half dozen podcasts to catch up with, so I was anxious about zoning out.

Once the plane had reached 30k, I kindly asked one of the cabin crew if I could possibly switch seats. I’d learned during checkin at Kastrup that the flight was far from full, and during a visit to the loo I noticed that there were a dozen or so empty chairs to choose from behind me in the plane’s last few rows.

The attendant approved my request and I left the talkative Dane to his fate and me and my stuff moved downstream to seat 69A.

I forgot to ask the crew, but I’m reasonably sure that the Airbus 320 I flew to Asia on was about as old as our soon 19 year old daughter, Elle. It had been retrofitted with larger entertainment screens, but everything else, especially the seats, oozed vintage. Which is perfectly fine, as long as the aircraft’s essential equipment is in good shape (which, since I’m writing this from a hotel room, it obviously was).

I don’t remember when the turbulence started, but it could have been about an hour after our first meal service. And even if I slept through some of it (thanks to a tall glass of white wine), we seem to have flown on a flight path lined with rough air for a good two to three hours. Sitting in the far back of an old plane isn’t exactly an ideal place if you like me, get a little freaked out by persistent turbulence. It’s kind of like feeling an earthquake arriving as it reverberated down the fuselage from the Airbus’ nose to its tail.

It was during one of these many bumpy spells before finally landing, that I shot the above photo of the rear galley. Curiously, the crew were nowhere in sight. Check out my small collection of aircrafts here.

Monika Bauden on a Harley Davidson

Monika on a Harley Davidson

This was our gorgeous model Monika Bauden on Majid Raoufpanah’s beautiful Harley 1250 – captured during yesterday evening’s shoot. We had three different locations around where Nordic Street Food is located at the railway roundhouse “lokstallarna” in Kirseberg, Malmö. Just discovered the area a

nd really loved shooting there with Henry, Monika and Majid.

Here’s the entire collection.


Fryin’ Freedom Fries

I was hired the other day to photograph tasty looking burgers, crispy fries and a bunch of drinks at a new restaurant here in Malmö called “Dockside Burgers & Bar”. Shot the above video with the Gopro Hero 7 and my iPhone X.

“Freedom Fries”, for those that don’t get that reference, was what Republican Bob Ney renamed french fries in three Congressional cafeterias in response to France’s opposition to the proposed invasion of Iraq in 2003. While France doesn’t exactly have a squeaky clean history, in hindsight, their position was clearly correct, regardless of what actually motived it. Whatever you call them, the fries at Dockside are crispy as can be. More photos from that elaborate shoot are viewable here.

Vintage Buick

Americana: Drive-Ins

I just stumbled on to this great pictorial at Buzzfeed about a classic Americana concept; drive-in theatres. They still exist today, but aren’t nearly as wide-spread or in vogue as they were when I was a kid. Especially in rural America.

Now, growing up in West Hollywood meant there was clearly no shortage of movie theatres. And even if my friends and I would prefer riding our bikes up to the Cinerama on Sunset (the big-ass white dome) or pick one of the dozen or so theatres on Hollywood Boulevard (like Groman’s/Mann’s Chinese Theatre) to watch a double or triple feature on Sunday afternoon, I could just as well have chosen to see a film closer to home on Santa Monica, Beverly, Melrose or Fairfax. Come to think of it, that small theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard, near King’s Road and the old Mayfair Market, was called the Pussy Cat and only showed XXX flicks. I remember looking at the marquee as the bus to school swished passed the Pussy Cat, wondering what went on in that place. In the late 1970s, West Hollywood was an interesting place to be a teenage boy…

Anyway, so I’m old enough to have experienced the concept of “drive-ins”. Can’t remember where, when or what movies I saw, though. Even if the screen was probably huge for that day and age, I can only assume how inferior the picture and sound quality must of been, at least when compared to what you got at a regular movie theatre. The small speaker that attached to one of the side windows, must of sounded horrible.



The auto industry must surely have embraced this car-centric entertainment venue wholeheartedly.

I shot the old Buick above on Main Street in Santa Monica about six months ago. More images from L.A. can be enjoyed here.

guilty pleasures

Guilty Pleasures for Lunch

We had friends over for lunch yesterday. Like us, they too are addicted to traveling the world, exploring new places, meeting new people and being inspired by new cultural experiences. Unsurprisingly, most of lunch was spent on travel talk; favourite destinations, future travel plans and how we’d all love to be able to afford business class tickets on our long-haul flights. I’d guess that between our two families, we’ve been to just shy of half the countries in the world. That’s a lot of places…and sadly, a lot of jet fuel.

While sat there munching and chatting excitedly about trips to Namibia, Georgian and Transylvania, I wondered when there would be an appropriate opportunity to shoehorn in the environmental perspective of our addiction. I’m pretty sure all of us thought about it, but cause it’s such a downer, no one wanted to spoil the fun and bring it up. And I think that probably sums up how must people think.

The fact that so much of our guilty pleasures are bad for the planet is so numbing, that we mostly only allow them to loom in the background. If Earth is really heading towards a cataclysmic climate catastrophe and the only way of braking the impact is to more or less give up 90% of the lifestyle we take for granted today, including, but obviously not limited to pollution-generating activities like intercontinental air travel, how and more importantly, by whom will that movement get started by? And who is going to explain to all the good folks in South America, Africa, India and China, many now slowly startings to ascend from poverty, that they have to forfeit all the material goodies we have enjoyed for decades in favor of saving the planet? Just sayin’…

Happy Dog Malmö

Dogs I’ve Loved

So far, there have been four dogs in my life. Two as I was growing up in the US and two in Sweden. Grandfather Eskil had a really smelly Beagle named Ingo that showed me a lot of affection when I lived with him and Grandma Agnes in Trollhättan in the mid 1970s – but I’m not counting him.

My first dog was a beautiful German Shepard named Co-Co and to this day I clearly remember how maternally protective she was of the family. Especially when I was really young. On one traumatic occasion, while we were staying in a rented summer beach house in Malibu (this is when Malibu was more hippy than chic and not nearly as astronomically expensive as the community is today), Co-Co rescued me from being pulled out to sea by an unusually strong current. I was laying on a red, inflatable, canvas raft and she seemed to instinctively sense that I was in literally in deep trouble. After barking intensely for a few minutes on the beach, Co-Co doggy-paddled out to me from shore, grabbed a corner of the raft with her jaws and then swam back the land with me on the raft in tow.

I hadn’t thought of this for many decades until just now, but I also have a vivid memory of how Co-Co would nip me in the butt, not bite, just a distinct pinch, whenever my mother and argued or yelled at each other, which was frequently.

Our second dog was a black Belgian Shepard named Todo, which was short for Todo el Mundo (All the World). Not entirely certain if my memory serves me correctly here, but I want to remember that Todo was a rescue dog. Being a male, his character was totally different from Co-Co’s – but he was nonetheless loving and lovable. Before moving to Sweden in 1978, Todo and I parted ways. He lived out his life among many other dogs on a ranch outside L.A. in Thousand Oaks that belonged to a friend of my mother.

Torsten, a Miniature Schnauzer, was the third dog in my life. Gentle and cute and with all the typical attributes of a schnauzer (stubborn as hell), Torsten didn’t really have much of a personality. He lived out his life in Göteborg with Allan and Agneta, Charlotte’s parents.

Our most recent dog is Palma and she’s been living with a new family just outside of Göteborg for the last five years. We gave her to them after finally realizing that all the travelling we were doing at the time was making it practically impossible and emotionally irresponsible to have a dog in the family.

I’m definitely open for owning a dog again. Not sure what kind, though. Charlotte’s counting on us getting a Dachshund of some variant. I’m not sure what kind of dog I prefer. Certainly not one as small and fluffy as “Happy” above.  Not that that tiny Pomeranian didn’t have character when he dropped by the studio earlier today. But after two Shepherds and a couple of Schnauzers, it’s going to take a creature with some serious personality to lure me back to life with a dog.

Malmö Kasino

Summer Nights in Malmö

Charlotte and I biked into town last night to have dinner at “Mineral”, which, according to my dear wife, is still one of Malmö’s most popular vegetarian eateries. We’ve dined there before, so I kinda knew it was going to be good. I’ve just started a period of intermittent fasting and so, since dinner was yesterday’s only proper meal, I was famished and thought everything tasted outstandingly delicious.

We rode through Kungsparken (King’s Park) on our way home and I quietly promised myself to return sometime later this summer to capture a few night views from the park’s many beautiful sceneries, like the fountain above which I shot late last summer. Interestingly, I’ve eaten lunch at Malmö’s casino (behind the fountain) there, but I’ve never been there to gamble.

fabian montecinos

Fabian at Nösund

Back in Malmö again after a couple of days of work and birthday celebrations with friends up at Nösunds Värdshus on the island of Orust, northwest of Göteborg.

The 22nd was my 56th year on this strange, beautiful planet. I’m no less confused today about what life is all about than when I first opened my eyes at St John’s Hospital in Santa Monica that summer day in 1963.

Before enjoying a thoroughly tasty dinner and a cool, laid-back concert with eminent soul artist Eric Gadd – together with long-time friends Alexandra and Pär – Charlotte and I took a long walk around the village, tried out the hotel’s seaside spa and even went for a short swim in the ocean (my first on the west coast of Sweden in eons).

An hour or so before our dinner, an odd couple we used to socialize with – but whom for some unknown reason abruptly ended our friendship – showed up at the hotel. They too were there to eat and see the show, but though dressed as if they’d waddled straight out of a cheesy ad for the “WASPy“, quasi-New England lifestyle brands Gant or Ralph Lauren, both actually work as puffy middle managers for a huge Swedish furniture company. A company where an often well-polished facade and energetic social competency covers a shameless level of disingenuousness – one that I’d not encountered anywhere else prior to consulting there a while back. Meeting the couple for the first time in a few years was really weird and their exaggerated enthusiasm not only felt fake, it also left us with a really bad aftertaste. Kind of like much of the stuff they sell at the furniture store’s big box warehouses; there’s a colorful alluring coat of superficiality purposely designed to camouflage what inescapably turns out to be mostly dodgy innards. Honestly, I wish I’d told them and their fat asses to just fuck off. I am so through with fake folks pretending to be real.

Fortunately, we had such a blast at our table, that after a while, I completely forgot about the unfortunate coincidence. In no small way thanks to Eric Gadd’s excellent performance – but also the sumptuous food.

The fellow above is master chef Fabian Montecinos. Born in Chile, Fabian lives in Göteborg and is currently working on a couple of food shows for Swedish and Chilian television. Loved shooting him and then devouring the dishes he created for my birthday dinner.

Tyko Raboff

Tyko

I usually write something about Tyko on the 21st of July. Today would of been the 52nd birthday of our brother. Still, after 16 years, it’s difficult to accept that I’ll never see him or hear his laugh again. What I miss the most was our talks about shared childhood experiences and how though much of it capsized us emotionally and spiritually, at least we sat together in the same lifeboat.

An atheist at heart, I suppose a time will come when it becomes easier for me to accept his death through the hope of seeing him again in the afterlife. A lot of folks seem to get religious as they age. Perhaps not in a traditional way, though. Faith probably becomes a custom-made construct, to better fit one’s personal narrative and stave off fears of what happens once the very last breath is exhaled. Projecting an afterlife where you get to reunite with family and friends that have passed before you, might just make that moment’s inevitability easier to bear. Or, not. What if all you meet are the folks that torrmented you during life. The horror.

Tyko committed suicide on or around January 8, 2003. I don’t think an autopsy was ever performed on his corpse, so I don’t know exactly when he killed himself. But what’s really sad is that to this day, I honestly don’t know why he did it. Tyko left a lengthy suicide note, saying his good-byes and trying his best to explain the pain. But I’ve always felt there were more untold reasons or reasonings to his drastic decision.

I’ve never experienced depression, nor have I ever lost so much belief in life that I would or could end it prematurely. Not being able to understand why Tyko took his life, despite our closeness, is a big part why it’s still so hard to accept that he’s gone. It’s also why I’m sceptical about doctors prescribing anti-depression pharmaceuticals to patients with mental health issues. Tyko had been on an off of some kind of medication for several years before he died. And from what I’ve read about these pills, they can all magnify an ongoing state of depression before reversing it. Which is about as counter intuitive as it gets. That’s like handing a jug of vodka to a raging alcoholic and saying, no, no, it’ll get better once you’ve gone through half the bottle. But what the hell do I know?

For the first ten years I got a lot of email about Tyko. Mostly from long-lost friends that had just heard of his death and wanted to know what had happened and so on. These days, no one ever asks about Tyko. Not my immediate family, our siblings or any of his old friends. He’s a vague memory from one of life’s fading tragedies. But he’s still more than that to me. And so, I’ll keep his memory alive. And even if I can’t recall the sound of his laughter anymore, I will never forget how contagious it was. Today I celebrate Tyko, my brother and a man with the widest of smiles and kindest of hearts.

Pride Malmö

Peppy and Proud about Pride

My third post today. I can’t remember when that happened last. Whatever. Sometimes I’m so inspired and the ideas just magically flow fluidly all the way through to execution. Today was one of those rare days. I could literally have posted at least two more entries.

Anyway, my first creative endeavor this balmy Saturday was to spend some time shooting in the warm-up rally to Malmö’s annual Pride Parade. I only had about an hour as I had to visit the dreadful mall Emporia to hand in my laptop to Apple so they can replace my battery (some of the units from the same year and series have had exploding battery issues).

I usually feel a little extra emotional this time of year. If you visit the blog tomorrow, you’ll know why. But as I was walking around Malmö’s Stortorget (the big square), chatting with participants and onlookers, it struck me how fucked up we humans are and how emotionally retarded and selfish we can be.

Especially about people that live life differently – and arguably more excitingly – than the vast majority of the population does. The fact that in 2019 many still judge others by their sexual preference, gender identification or however people choose to express themselves and live their lives is just fucking outrageous.

I have so much admiration for folks within the LBGTQ community. Their suffering from decades (centuries) of physical persecution and society-wide prejudice is just as bad as the racism and fascism which still prevails (and, what’s worse, seems to be on the increase, thanks Donald!).

I feel confident everybody at today’s Pride felt Proud and Peppy about the event. I sure felt proud to have been a part of the warm-up.

yoga

Yoga Silhouettes

I created this collage from collection of photos I took of model Tora Rosenkjaer a couple of years ago. I’ve been weirdly fascinated with silhouettes and have had the backgrounds of hundreds of my studio photos removed to create them. Not unlike traffic signs, I suppose it’s the straightforwardness of silhouettes that’s so appealing to me. In an alternative version of this collage, I’ve added my favorite yoga quote; “Bend, So You Don’t Break.

Goa

Goagraphy

I made a fruit salad for me and Elle this morning after our swim in the sea. The salad made me think of Goa. And for some reason, it turns out that I had completly forgotten to add Goa to the travel section here. After three visits to the former Portuguese colony, Goa has become a recent favorite – especially thanks to the focus on yoga, which is mostly found along the southend of the coast. Goa is in India, but still far from it.

Most of the images are from around the beach village of Agonda, not far from the highly recommendable tiny resort Simrose where I stayed during my most recent visit in April. I often catch myself romanticizing about certain places, filtering out negative stuff and cherry-picking blissful memories. But I just can’t seem to remember anything bad about Goa. Surf was good, food was great, my bungalow had everything I needed in addition to a superb location with a seaview and locals were as friendly as can be. Oh, and the nature experience, both in Agonda and out in the sticks, was daunting. I’d be surprised if I don’t return to Agonda within an a year.

Here’s my collection of Goagraphy

Sunny Summer Malmö Mornings

Sunny Summer Malmö Mornings

Sunny summer mornings in Malmö are spectacular. Got up at 06:00 am this morning, took a peek out the window and discovered that there was hardly any wind at all. Got dressed, hopped on my bike and rode out to Lilla Torg (Little Square) to photograph a bird’s eye view of the city with the early sun shining with its most flattering light. Among other projects, I’m collecting unique perspectives for a September photo exhibit themed on Malmö.

About a half an hour later, I returned home, spent an hour on the yoga mat after which I got undressed, put on my trunks, bathrobe, summer hat and walked down the promenade for a refreshing dip in the sea. That, my friends, is what I consider a fantastic way to kickstart a Wednesday in July.

yoga by the sea at Vibes

Yoga by the Sea

“Yoga by the Sea” is an idea I’d thought about for a few years, probably when I started getting serious about yoga as a complimentary way to stay in decent shape. As it turned out, the concept of a yoga class on the giant wooden deck by Scaniabadet here in Malmö came to fruition when I introduced friends (and clients) Joanna and Rickard, the owners of the beachfront restaurant Vibes and my all-time favorite yoga instructor (my yoga modell and friend), Louise Hedberg.

The above collage is from this morning’s yoga class. Temperature was just perfect and there was very little wind. We were quite a few male participants today. And not just in my age group, either. Several young guys that’ve identified how beneficial yoga can be, despite not being nearly as explosive as a crossfit workout or physically demanding as a long run. I miss my jogs and hope to one day once again be able to go for shorter runs – if for no other reason than for the nature experience. But I am so thankful that I discovered the combination of Qigong and Yoga. Together with a weekly weight-lifting workout at our local gym had been nothing less than a blessing for my chronically aching limbs, joints and muscles. Shot the images above with my iPhone X Max S, which, if you know what you’re doing, offers reasonably good quality – at least for web publication. Hope Apple will introduce a native RAW format someday…