As if I hadn’t had enough family history for a spell, when I got back to Göteborg today, something prompted me to check the date. I knew the 13th was significant somehow. And then I remembered. It was my father’s birthday and since he was born in 1921, so had Ernest Lloyd Raboff been alive, he would have been 100 today.
While an epic failure at parenting, there’s plenty of evidence of his creativity. Interestingly, Ernest’s college buddy and longtime friend, Fred Nicholas, just turned 101 years old. Every time I’m in L.A. I either have lunch or dinner with him. Have to make it out there soon.
The portrait above is from when my father was about to enter World War II as a war correspondent in France and Italy for the Army paper “Stars and Stripes”
Feels like I’ve been on some kind of reconciliation trip. Not that I believe I will ever be able to absolve my mother (or, father, for that matter) from their shitty parenting. But at least I’ve now found a few more missing pieces to my giant family puzzle by visiting childhood places where she must have experienced happiness. This seems to help me offset the fact that I can only remember her expressing anger, sadness, and pessimism.
Of course, I knew there had to have been many, many times throughout my mother’s earliest years when she was joyous, adventurous, and full of unbridled optimism. But now I’ve also seen (and documented) places where I’m certain she played, laughed, and had fun.
I am leaving now, standing on the very same platform my mother stood in the mid-1940s, waiting for a southbound train. An adventure was about to begin. And though it certainly didn’t end well for her, the journey, the adventure, and the courage needed to leave the security and familiarity of small-town life must have been thrilling.
Our society judges, measures, and defines success through the narrow lens of fame and fortune. But for all her shortcomings as a parent, I can’t help but admire my mother for at least trying to follow her rainbow and fulfill her dreams.
After my plans to head up the coast from Göteborg had to be scrapped, I decided to tick off a really old checkbox today by traveling by train to Mellerud and then beyond to the ancient village of Järn where the farmstead my mother and two of her three sisters grew up at during the 1930s.
I’d actually been to my grandparent’s old farm “Moderud” once before. It was sometime in the mid-1970s when the place was in total shambles.
The farm had been abandoned from the time when my grandfather Eskil and grandmother Agnes Andersson had left it and moved south to start a new life in Trollhättan sometime in 1944.
That first visit was with my youngest aunt Lillemor (the only one not to have lived there). We found a pair of tiny children’s shoes among the debris inside the house and I clearly remember thinking that those cute little shoes just might have belonged to my mother (whom at the time, at least in my mind, was anything but cute).
It was Pia and her husband David, the kind folks that own Lindens, the B&B I’m staying at in Mellerud, that offered to take me to the old farm this evening. And just as we arrived, a friendly neighbor showed up and provided some historic context.
I haven’t spent much time on any of my literary projects recently. And while I certainly didn’t jack-up my expectations, that today’s experience was going to be super revelatory, the visit to Moderud did (somewhat surprisingly) have a humbling effect on me. I mean, as picturesque and idyllic as the farm looked today, at some point, I just stood there and tried to imagine what it must have been like to live there in the 1930s and early 1940s. It was definitely no bed of roses, that’s for sure.
Perhaps my mother’s desire to flee Moderud, Mellerud and Sweden was not just innocent post-war wanderlust. Maybe it was life-threatening desperation. Something or someone she urgently needed to distance herself to but could never quite get free from, regardless of how far or deep she fled…
While walking back from a café where I’d been working on selecting images for the new book, I noticed this colorful crew. After a few seconds, I knew that the event had to be, if not internalized then certainly eternalized via the collection of clips you see above. All shot on my nearly three-year-old iPhone.
Shot this intriguing valve or duct in an old repair shop whilst in Gylsboda last week. I’m currently in Göteborg selecting and editing the forthcoming book’s images.
Bought a few ingredients for last night’s crunchy salad at Saluhallen, the old downtown market, just as I did back in the old days when I called Göteborg my hometown.
I don’t feel like I’m a tourist here. More of a familiar visitor with enough history to allow me to navigate between my errands comfortably.
Just picked up my vaccination card at www.covidbevis.se – the Swedish branch of the pan-European effort to certify/authorize those of us that have smart enough to get vaxxed. The rest of you…well, the jury’s still out.
I do feel relieved. However, I was a little worried about the document’s top headline, which reads, “EU Digital COVID Certificate”. With a heading like that, it rather makes it sound as if I can now officially prove that I carry the virus and that I am also a certified superspreader.
From yesterday’s Rock’n’roll shoot at a diabase rock quarry in the northeastern Swedish province of Skåne. With two stationary 4k cameras and one drone, also shooting at 4k, from a filmmaking perspective, this was definitely one of the most complicated three-camera scenes I’ve ever attempted. Interestingly, I was as calm as the two quarrymen that worked there.
I shot this one very early morning a few years back in Malmö. I vividly remember how stressful it was to first position the drone and then allow it to hover 25-30 meters above me while I dove into the sea. A nonetheless interesting technical and creative challenge.
Sembo, the travel agency, and a subsidiary of Stena Line Travel Group AB, recently hired me to produce an inspirational road trip commercial with Lennart in the lead and Charlotte as a supporting actor. We spent a night at a castle and a day shooting in the coastal villages of Rå and Bortashusen. Here’s Sembo’s SoMe page
I’ve admired Joni Mitchell for about 40 years. Her voice, musicianship and storytelling continue to inspire me. Happy to hear that she’s steadily recovering from a 2015 aneurysm.
Though I can appreciate him as an artist, I’ve never been a fan of Dylan. Maybe it’s the voice or Bob’s inability to vocally harmonize with his unique melodies. I realize I’m missing out, but so be it.
I don’t have to choose, but I tend to focus on bands and musicians that I feel best to represent the genre they belong to The Beatles vs the Stones, Led Zeppelin vs Deep Purple, Joni Mitchell vs Bob Dylan.
Joni’s now 50-year-old album Blue isn’t my favorite, but I totally recognize its greatness and there are some incredible tunes on it. My list of her best albums: Court and Spark, Mingus, Night Ride Home, Chalkmark in a Rainstorm, and Turbulent Indigo.
An interesting anecdote about Joni that I heard from someone a long time ago was how rock musicians she played with would get frustrated by her complicated jazz tuning/chords/melodies and jazz musicians would find her pop and rock n roll songs boring to play.
In addition to being a musical virtuoso and lyricist, Joni Mitchell is also an amazing painter. Back in my painting days, in the mid to late 1980s, when I’d converted the tiny kitchen in my small apartment in Göteborg to a miniature art studio, Joni’s music would often keep me company, keep me going.
Here are some of her visual works.
Off the cuff, from the hip, out of the blue, spontaneously shot this moon earlier tonight. Saving up my creativity for next week’s shoot in Bohuslän.
Another ad starring Lennart went live the other day. This time, Lennart visits beautiful Grebbestad in Bohuslän along Sweden’s southwest coastline. Produced for the Tourism Board of Western Sweden.
I don’t remember where or when I shot this. Could have been in Malmö a few weeks ago. I pretty much always take a photo of my sushi meals, regardless really of whether or not they were tasty or nicely presented. It’s maniacal, I know. Have been putting off watching the documentary Seaspiracy for a while. Not sure I want to see it before lab-grown fish is readily available…
A teaser ad for a new rooftop bar opening in August 2021. Shot in less than an hour last week for friends/clients at Clarion Hotel Malmö Live in Malmö. A huge thanks for helping out goes to my buddies and Extras Michael Poe and Giedre Gaizauskaite Poe.
Love this wall. Shot somewhere in Malmö. The hues, patina, and texture give me goosebumps. Creatively speaking.
Don’t want to disclose much at this time, but I was just recently commissioned to produce a new book about a most interesting artists’ colony here in southern Sweden. This is one of the first images captured for this project, shot earlier today.
This is timelapse from Göteborg shows the view our hotel room in Göteborg provided during our 22-hour visit from Thursday the 3rd of June to Friday the 4th. We were in our old hometown to celebrate the graduation of our friend’s daughter, but also to spend some time with Elle. I even got a chance to hang out with Lars for a few hours. The weather was spectacular, just as when Elle graduated in Malmö in 2019.
For a while now, I’ve been illustrating poems. Not my own poems, though. I haven’t written one since my English teacher, Mr. Greenspan, gave me and my fellow seventh grade classmates an assignment to create a collection of sonnets, haikus, and limericks during the spring semester of 1977.
Several family members on my father’s side write poetry, but only one, Paul Raboff, is a Poet. Interestingly, there’s not much creativity on my mother’s side of the family. I’ve heard that at some stage in her life, my mother was decent at drawing.
Illustrating poetry is an inspiring challenge. It’s also a process with a fairly steep learning curve. While creating a new piece for my Resurfaced series takes time, by trying to decipher the soul of a poem, I am provided with helpful clues and/or guidance in my choices of color, composition, and cohesiveness. The above work is called, “Return to Normalcy II”
While watering the garden last night, I asked Charlotte to capture a few seconds of me in slow motion. I’ve been planning a longer watering video for about a year, but just haven’t gotten around to it. So, see this as a teaser.
Today is Mother’s Day here in Sweden, so this is my mother four years before I was born on a game show hosted by none other than comedian Groucho Marx.
I can’t remember any part of my childhood or have any recollection of my mother that would make her worthy of celebrating today. Which is sad on several levels.
Truth be told, I would have loved to love and be loved by her. And even if I know in my heart of hearts that my mother loved me, at least instinctively, as most mothers love their offspring (regardless of species), my memories of our relationship are to this very day so painful that I can only imagine such love and not feel it where it counts.
My mother’s mother, on the other hand, my grandmother Agnes (Elle’s namesake), was an amazing woman and incredibly impactful during my early, formative years while I was visiting her and grandfather Eskil in Trollhättan, Sweden. So, it’s her and Charlotte, who is also an amazing mother, that I’ll celebrate today.
Another reason to celebrate this day is that my father’s old buddy and friend of the family, Fred Nicholas, turns an astonishingly impressive 101 today. He’s celebrating with his family in Los Angeles and if it hadn’t been for this prolonged pandemic, we’d be there too.