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The Tsukiji Market (築地市場)

This is from one of my visits to what was the Tsukiji Market – according to Wikipedia, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Tsukiji opened on 11 February 1935 as a replacement for an older market that was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. It closed on 6 October 2018 and moved to the new Toyosu Market, 2.4km away – which I hope to be able to visit for the very first time sometime this fall.

A few years ago, I spent an early morning at the Fulton Fish Market at Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. While not nearly as gritty as when it was located adjacent to the East River on Manhattan and not even 10% as big as Tsukiji in Tokyo, I was still stoked by the size and all the activity. Despite it being 4:30 am, I was far from alone there. Two or three dozen local buyers and fishmongers scuttling about with this really thick smell of fish and seafood hovering a few feet off the wet concrete floor. Upon returning to our Lower East Side hotel, Charlotte immediately ordered me to put  my jeans (that I’d worn during the morning’s shoot) in tightly tied plastic bag.

More of my photographs from visits to Tokyo here.


At Kockum Fritid

Seem to be in a strange sleep cycle where I wake up every second day at 5:00 am. On my “off” day, I’ll sleep in until 07:00 am and not feel the least bit guilty about it.

Today was one of the early mornings and I strolled over to Kockum Fritid and put in a good 90 minute workout with both weights and Qigong to get me flowin’ and ready for the day. Took the two last pieces of sliced bread and made tasty avocado toast with some paprika, chopped leek and few strips of cabbage to add some crunch.

Currently working on a prodigious collection of photos and footage shot at Kockum Fritid, arguably Malmö’s premier sports center which was originally built for the laborers that worked at Kockum Industries, the shipyard and related workshops located just a few hundred yards away. As that era came to an end, the center’s doors opened to the public – which I walked through for the very first time roughly 20 years ago.

I reckon I’ve photographed and filmed activities at Kockum Fritid for about a decade now and have always had a really great relationship with the folks that work there – both as a member and as a supplier of visual goods. Over the years, I’ve also hired a few dozen amateur models to help showcase all the different activities at the center. The two above, Kalle and Lillemor, are the most recent and together, we had a really enjoyable shoot in the gym..


From Malmö Upside Down

I was zonked last night and fell asleep at 10:00 pm. Woke up reseted and ready for the day already at 4:00 am this morning. Before I walked over to our local gym, I added a slideshow gallery with all of my images from the ongoing show, Malmö Upside Down. You can view it right here.


Malmö Upside Down

Here’s a short animation I made to visualize to visitors from afar where my photo exhibit Malmö Upside Down will be. Officially, the show starts tomorrow. There will be a pre-show showing this afternoon between 3:00pm and 5:00pm. If you’re in the vicinity, welcome by.


I’ve lived in Malmö since 1997, three years before our daughter Elle was born. Initially, Charlotte and I moved here from Göteborg without thinking much of how long we’d end up staying. A year? Two, maybe?

While Charlotte had a full plate in her new position as Internet Business Manager at Malmö Aviation’s head office, I was working long hours at Broberg & Co, an ad agency that primarily created marketing campaigns for retail clients like Nestlé. The years before Elle arrived, we lived large and traveled wide, never even considering a move back to Göteborg or anywhere else, for that matter. Life in Malmö was good and we thrived, eventually transitioning into a comfortable, urban family lifestyle in an old, somewhat gritty city with an unusually bright future.

We found that living so close to Kastrup International Airport, just outside of Copenhagen, was a huge practical benefit that allowed us to continue feeding our travel addiction without much fuss. Elle learned early on to make new friends during our many trips and had stamps in her passport from four different continents even before her third birthday.

Meanwhile, the powers that be were forcefully upgrading, restoring and reinventing Malmö. By the end of the first year of the new millennium, several enormous infrastructure projects were in various phases of completion, including an underground subway network, the Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark and the construction of a whole new, seaside neighborhood on the westside of the city, aptly named Västra Hamnen, the western harbor. We’ve lived in Västra Hamnen for 17 of the 22 years that Malmö has been our home, albeit in almost a half dozen different dwellings. But if you include the times we’ve relocated abroad, it’s more like 14 years.

The summer is slowly metamorphosing into autumn and it’s soon time for yet another adventure to begin. This time, far, far away from the view above which I shot the other evening. Admittedly, I have a bit of separation angst, as one tends to feel when it’s time to leave the comfort zone and head full speed towards the unknown. But it’s certainly no worse than usual. See, of all the places I’ve ever lived, L.A., Göteborg, Riksgränsen, Visby, Koh Samui, Bangkok, Palma de Mallorca and Malmö, I have always maintained fond memories of each – and tend to return time and time again. I’m not throwing away the book, just slowly closing a chapter.


Malmö Gallery Night

Today I received the above poster (which I’ve modified a tad) for 2019 Malmö Gallery Night – which together with other local artists – I’ve been invited by Malmö’s Art and Culture Association, MKK to exhibit my work at. The annual event takes place at galleries and museums all over town on September 28-29 2019 with partaking venues open 6:00pm to 12:00am on the 28th.

Here’ a link to a downloadable map for the event and a link to the dedicated iOS app.


Bus Stop Fame

Yesterday, on our way to Höllviken for a causal dinner with friends at their new gorgeous house, I noticed a photo of Turning Torso that seemed familiar. I knew I wasn’t the only one to have captured the building during the Eurovision Song Contest final in Malmö 2013. I’ve always assumed that there were other photographers that didn’t appreciate the musical spectacle and instead of sitting glued in front of the tube, were like me out documenting the colorful spotlights projected onto the facade of Santiago Calatrava’s magnificant skyscraper.

But once I looked closer, I was reasonably sure the image was one of mine. I remember having sold a series of photographs from that evening in May to a few different companies and at least one department at our local municipality, Malmö stad. But I’m not clear who’s behind the info spot thing that we saw last night. Regardless, I’m glad whoever it was credited me properly. Interesting how a six year old photo finally provided me with bus stop fame… More photos of Turning Torso – including the one above in a full, uncut version – can be viewed here.


Boardwalk Doggies

For a photographer living so close to an immensely popular boardwalk like Sundspromenaden has its advantages. There’s always something going on, literally all year round.

Mostly, it’s the scenic view of the sea and Öresund Bridge surrounded by unusually beautiful cloud formations – or a phenomenally colorful sunset, that grabs my attention. But every once in a while there’ll be visitors that demand to be documented. Like these Icelandic dogs from last night’s walk. More of my favorite dogs can be view here.


Heading For Another Freeze?

I saw this on a screen at an ATM recently. I am completely clueless as to what all those acronyms or code represent. But the System Freeze headline certainly grabbed my attention and demanded to be photographed.

I doubt the ATM’s inner workings had suffered a sudden drop in temperature. Instead, the money machine’s operating system (Windows NT or some other dysfunctional Microsoft product?) had broken and needed a reboot.

I recently watched this documentary about the housing and financial crisis of 2008 and how the US economy just about froze and spiraled completely out of control into what looked like an inveitable financial abyss.

A quick glance at the current astonishingly positive employment statistics potrays the US economy as stronger than ever. But there are a few issues not spoken about that worry me. Stuff that might not immediately cause a financial crisis like the most recent one, but still disconcerting since they don’t seem to be a conscious part of the Trump administration’s sprawling agenda.

• The government’s ginormous deficit has never been bigger and absolutely nothing is being done to reduce it. Raising debt ceiling is not a remedy. It’s a symptom of apathy.

• Nobody will argue that the country’s infrastructure is crumbling and desperately needs to be upgraded. A friend recently took a road trip from New Orleans to Los Anglees and was appalled by how poor the roads were during much of the ride. Lead leaking into ancient water pipes in Flynt and Newark are just two of the most publisized catastrophes where entire cities drinking water has been poisoned, in no small way due to unbelievable ignorance and negligence.

• Despite unemployment being record low, more than 8 million Americans still can’t (not even by a long shot) support themselves financially with a full-time job. Minimum wage is still way below what most folks need to survive. In Sweden, it’s $13.56/hour as compared with in the US where it’s $7.25/hour. That’s a friggin’ ridiculous difference. And if they can’t make ends meet when they’re healthy, what happens when they get sick?


Three Things About Me

Here’s a 3 things I thought of in the shower this morning after my workout. Completely random stuff.

1. This is probably more information than you bargained for when you visited my site today, but for some odd reason, I feel compelled to share that when I’m at home alone, I often strut around completely naked. I’ve been doing this ever since moving to my very first apartment, 38 years ago. Though some may deem this a bad habit, I feel incredibly comfortable when I’m undraped and quite frankly, I don’t give a damn should anyone happen to see me through our large living room windows. But to be clear, I’m not walking around in the birthday suit just to exhibit myself.

2. If it’s too early to run our powerful but extremely noisy smoothie blender – and only if we have the right alternatives at home – I’ll make crunchy peanut butter and banana toast for breakfast. I’ve not tried it yet, but I can totally see how a couple of thick slices of kosher pickle would work beautifully in such a sandwich.

3. Part of my longterm health goal is to become entirely independent of all training facilities and equipment. I believe I will accomplish this by practicing Yoga, Qigong and by walking and hiking (and possibly even jogging).

Charlotte shot the above photo yesterday evening.


Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Here’s a view of the film company Universal’s soundstages and prop warehouses just north of the famous Hollywood sign and close to the San Fernando valley. I shot it while strapped in a harness and hanging outside of a really small and jerky helicopter. The front passenger door had been removed upon my request – so that I could get a really spectacular view during the 90 minute flight over Los Angeles.

Last night, a friend and I saw Quentin Tarantino’s latest and ninth film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. I had several reasons to want to see it. Firstly, it’s a film about an era when I was a kid. However changed or different L.A. is today, a “story” based on a time when I at least physically was there (I was 6 years old in 1969), and that at least partially played out in the vicinity of my neighbourhood, was simply too irresistible to forgo. Secondly, fellow Angelino Tarantino’s star-studded cast was a huge draw with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Madsen, Lena Dunham, and Kurt Russell as marquee headliners.

So, how was it? Well, once the lights were turned back on after two hours and forty-two minutes, my buddy spontaneously exclaimed, “What the fuck was that?”. I couldn’t agree more. Had we witnessed a meandering masterpiece or am I just not culturally cultivated enough to fully grasp the genius of this plotless orgy of beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes and riding in beautiful cars in beautiful, sunny Southern California? I think I need to see this film again to be able to answer that question fair and square.

When I got back home from the the movie theatre Royal (best place to watch any movie in Malmö), I checked how the film had done on IMDB.com (8.1/10) and read in the Trivia section that Once Upon A Time in Hollywood had received a 7 minute long standing ovation at the premiere in Cannes in the spring. Go figure.

More images from my hometown can be enjoyed right here.


Industrial Art
Today I’ve been working on two wildly different projects. Not that that’s unusual. I often juggle 3-4 commercial or self-imposed assignments during the course of any given day. It’s more of a bad habit than something I’m proud of. My attention span is often in wide-angle mode.
This afternoon, I’ve been editing video footage which will evenutally become dozens of 10-15 second “shorties” for a client’s social media channels. Much of this morning I spent creating new pieces for the Gallerinatten/Gallery Night exhibit at the end of next month. While both of today’s projects have been challenging, I’ll admit that creating completely new art pieces from scratch is definitely the more mentally demanding.
I’m one of several other artists that have been invited to participate in this year’s collective, city-wide, nightly exhibit. I’ve been visually fascinated and inspired by Malmö’s industrial epoch for a long time. So, while my other exhibit is focused on contemporary places in Malmö, for the aforementioned Gallery Night show, I’ll be exhbiting six large-format and two smaller pieces themed on the city’s recent industrial era.
In the fall of 2017, I was invited to document several of Kockum Industries abandoned and destined to be demolished giant assembly halls and workshops. So I have a plethora of both wide and detail photographs at my disposal. As often is the case, I have too many ideas and not enough time or exhibit space to showcase them all. Which means that I’m spending a lot of time selecting and ranking my work to finally have candidates I feel aptly represent the theme.
The image above didn’t make into my top-ten-list. But I like it nonetheless.

Unlocking Dreams

It was raining when I left home to go to the studio this morning. The weather’s been sunny and warm since I returned from Asia on Monday. Some say maybe a bit too hot, even. So the temperature drop that came with the rain was probably welcome.

I dreamt a lot last night. At least two different dreams with lively conversations in both. I can’t remember what was said, only that they took place outdoors in an urban environment, somewhere in the world.

It’s really strange how when you fall asleep, the body goes to work autonomously on repairs while – for whatever reason – the mind is like a mad scientist, creating vivid, weird dreams without any realtime consent or prior agreements. Unlocking the door to our own little dream factory would certainly be something.

What if you were able to simulate forthcoming scenarios? Project and play out different outcomes in your mind, analyze each and then when you woke up, base a decisive decision on the simulation that had the best possible outcome. Now that would be a powerful tool to harness. But what if the mind is already doing exactly that – and we’re just not aware of it?

I’ve passed, possibly even shot this door before. It’s somewhere on Silom Road in Bangkok, not far from the Hindu neighborhood I stayed at last year by the popular Mariamman Temple.


Cheating Jetlag?

I’m possibly over-optimistic, wouldn’t be the first time, but I might just have managed to have cheated the usual jet lag issues from my flight out of Asia. Even though I took a long nap yesterday afternoon, I still enjoyed a full night’s sleep. I can’t point to a strategy to evade fatigue from crossing multiple time zones. At least not one that has ever worked consistently. But I did wake up crisp and clear at 05:00 am this morning. Began the day by practicing my newly acquired Qigong poses and moves for about 45 minutes before waking Charlotte up so we could go for a swim in the considerably cooled off – but not yet bone-chilling cold – Öresund Strait. Man, have I been wanting to do that for almost a month. I’ve also been craving egg and avocado toast for a couple of weeks, so I took care of that urge today as well.

So, what else is up?

Well, I’ve got a ton of footage from filmning just about every imaginable sports activity at Kockum Fritid – which I will be editing during the next couple of days. I’ve also got two forthcoming exhibits to prepare for and promote and I also need to start packing away stuff in the studio before the lease is up at the end of the month. September will be a busy month.


Chinese Cemetery on the Move

I met and had a brief chat with a biking Bangkokian earlier today as I was just about to enter an old Chinese cemetery below the towering Mahanakhon building in the Saladeng/Bang Rak area. The friendly chap worked as a sales and marketing rep at the Bangkok office for Holiday Inn’s waterpark resort in Hua Hin, a few hours south of the capital.

With it’s overgrown crypts,looming gargoyles and mini-mausoleums, the overgrown cemetery was kinda spooky, even in broad daylight.

According to my cycling acquaintance, the cemetery used to cover a much larger area and that what ever is left of it now, will likely be relocated to a patch of land near Pattaya to make way for more property development in the area.

With that in mind, I ended up spending an hour documenting the grounds as much as I could (much of it is semi-sunk in an urban swampland. 

I wonder how the kinsman of the Thai-Chinese buried their feel about the move. Maybe they’ll be compensated somehow by whoever’s going to be placing what will inevitably be another skyscraper there.


Lollipops at the Car Wash

Stumbled onto this old car wash place just off Sukhumvit Boulevard the other day. Not entirely convinced it’s been totally abandoned, but probably. It’s hard to know for sure in this ever-changing and evolving megatropolis.

On a few occasions, I rode my fire engine red Schwinn home from Saint Victor’s – the elementary school in West Hollywood I attended between first and fifth grade. The school was just below Sunset Boulevard, so fairly near the Hollywood Hills. I’d first ride down a insanely steep street and turn left on Santa Monica Boulevard and then bike eastward on the sidewalk all the way to La Cienega Boulevard. There I hung a right and two blocks later turned left on Willoughby Avenue and arrived at 849 N. Alfred Street, where we lived at the time, one block later.

I never took that way to school, as I would have had to walk my bike up that steep-ass hill to get there. I mention this since on the route home, there was one of those old school car washes. It might still be there, but I doubt it. Anyway, there was a big basket full of multicolored, flat lollipops that they gave to customers waiting for their clean and shiny vehicles to arrive after the wash team (which consisted mostly of African Americans and Mexican Americans all dressed in bright blue overalls). At the time, I was short enough to sneak just below the cashier’s counter and grab a couple of those tasty lollipops as an after school treat for myself.


Therapy or Musical Chairs?

One day, I just happened to arrive about a half an hour early to one of our Qigong sessions in Chiang Mai at a local University (which I was told was entirely funded by the US government). And since the chairs were organized in a proper circle, it reminded me of what a group therapy seating might look like. Maybe even an AA meeting or something. Perhaps something less serious, like musical chairs but on a high, academic level. In any case, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to somehow make use of the room during my wait.


September Exhibits

In September, I’m having two separat exhibits. Both in Malmö. One is an outdoor show between September 15th and the 29th in our beautiful Slottsträdgården, an area dedicated to flowers and other flora and located in Castle Park (Slottsparken). The other will be held during Gallery Night (gallerinatten) at Rådhuset at Malmö’s Stortorget (the city’s Big Square) on September 28th and daytime on the 29th.

While the theme for the first exhibit will be aerial photographs of some of Malmö’s most iconic places, aptly called “Malmö Upside Down”, the second – and unnamed – show will be entirely dedicated abstract images inspired by the city’s industrial past.

Hope to see some of you there!

 


Qigong: Infusing Healthy Confusion

It’s been an incredibly interesting week at the Qigong course where confusion is at times replaced with clarity and understanding, only to be smothered later with yet more confusion.

I don’t mean confusion as in what’s being taught is by any means nonsensical or, that I ‘m not getting it. Not at all. It’s just that there’s so much to learn and that even when I try hard, I still get confused as to what to prioritize and how to store the knowledge I’m exposed to in a sequence that helps me lower the inevitable steep learning curve and perennially improve my training.

Our teacher, Arjan, works through his system in an organic, non-linear way. Which, when coming from Sweden, where everything is organized and structured in absurdum, was initially a little perplexing. But within a day or two, I had let go of that excessively orderly approach and decided to go with the flow. Instead of forcing my projected expectations (based on how things are done elsewhere), I decided to just listen, replicate what I saw and had heard and merely accept that time will eventually come when I’m ready to understand the answers to my many queries. That answering them now in the inception phase would only add to my incertitude and probably make even learning incrementally more difficult.

I am curious by nature and conditioned by the society I live in. This new perspective on implementing something before actually understanding what it is, based at least initially only on faith and trust, certainly makes for an interesting, intellectual challenge. My gut feeling tells me this could be a healthy way for me to learn new things going forward.

At 56, taking on something so wide and deep as learning (even the basics) about Qigong is invigorating. For even if I sometimes feel like my head is going to explode from the constant stream of new things we go through during each session, I am already conscious of the tangible, positive physical effects the training is having on my arthritis.

One may think Qigong would not be anywhere near as exerting as, say, a long run or a spinning class can be. But let me tell you, after a five hour day filled with various full-body stances and movements as well as arm blocks and kicks – all done repetitively in slow, controlled sequences, I’m as exhausted as if I’d run 15k, but without any lasting muscular fatigue that I usually associated with jogging. One of the key upshots I noticed today (when we spent most of the afternoon doing slow motion kicking) was that it took only minutes to recover – and that afterwards, I was super energized, albeit still very, very sweaty.

It’s interesting – and possibly a cultural issue – how much exercise has come to be defined by a level of almost debilitating exertion. The immense popularity of crossfit training being just one of many examples of ways for folks to get a few hours of hard, physical activity integrated into their often stressful, jam-packed lives.

From what I understand so far about Qigong, especially medical Qigong, is that what one can learn will have positive physical, mental and possibly spiritual implications on a timeline that extends far beyond what just goes on whilst practicing. And it is exactly that prospect – the width and breadth of benefits brought forth from Qigong, as a means to both heal and to stay healthy in the long-term, that got me here in the first place.

The umbrellas above are totally unrelated to this post. Well, as they’re probably made in China, the origin country of Qigong, I guess one could argue that there is after all, though far-fetched, a connection.


Thai Market

Some afternoons after class, I walk around the old town and shoot textures and basically anything that grabs my attention. There’s something very meditative about photography when it’s unhinged from any particular mission or objective. Very enjoyable, indeed.

If I’m in town long enough, I’ll then hitch a ride with my host, Khun Dow, the mother of the family where I’m staying. She runs a small vegetable shop at a medium-sized market a few blocks outside Chiang Mai’s old town.

The market is in the middle of a busy residential neighborhood and you can buy just about every imaginable variation of fruit, vegetables, fish and flowers there. I love Asian food markets and especially those in Thailand where there is always an abundance of smells, colors and sounds to keep me busy.

I got to “Kit Kom” market a little early yesterday and walked around the block a couple of times. It was about 7:00 pm (we leave for the homestay at 7:30 pm) and the area’s sidewalk shops were about to close. The sun had just gone down and the day’s heat was slowly dissipating. Folks were just hanging around, chatting and I guess getting ready to head home. During my wait, I walked passed and smiled at the flower lady, complimenting her beautiful arrangements (with my limited Thai vocabulary). Like most people here, her default facial expression was covered in a smile, so she beamed back and thanked me politely.

I’ve always wondered why it’s so easy for some people to smile so spontaneously and so seemingly hard for others.

I am now into my second week at the Qigong course and things are intensifying. Which is good, as long as I can replicate my learnings upon returning home…


The fifteenth of August, 1998. Twenty one years ago today. That’s when Charlotte and I exchanged rings just before we were pronounced man and wife by the family priest, Ola Stålnacke in Brunnby Church, near Mölle-by-the-Sea in Skåne. It rained most of that day, and boy, was I nervous before and during most of the wedding ceremony. But afterwards, as we climbed onto the horse driven carriage, or, perhaps it wasn’t until the Rolls picked us up a little further down the country road, that I started to relax. We had an amazing wedding party during the evening with a whole bunch of great friends and plenty of family.

Our marriage has been consistently smooth, with only minor bumps and hicups along the way. I know of only a few other couples that have been married as long as we have and that still enjoy each others company as much as Charlotte and I do.

It’s certainly a little sad being so far apart on our anniversary. But thanks to FaceTime, we’ll chat later this afternoon about our wedding 21 years ago today.

Charlotte, happy anniversary, my love!


Learning Qigong

Walked passed this wonderful bookstore a couple of days ago in the old town of Chiang Mai. A younger version of me used to read a lot of books, fiction and non-ficktion. For at least a decade I was a huge Stephen King fan and read everything he produced. But it’s probably been a dozen or more years since I last read a book. I do read a lot, but it’s all online. I’ve actually been thinking of buying an e-reader, a Kindle maybe, but haven’t gotten around to it.

“We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness.”

I read that quote by Tom Waits somewhere and it seemed so apt in this day and age.

It’s been about a week since I arrived and my focus is now entirely on the course I’m taking in Medical Qigong. While learning the theory of each series of motions isn’t difficult per ce, coordinating the body within each movement definitely is.

My emphasis right now is on understanding and then recreating the instructor’s movements as best I can. Much of what I am learning and how it effects the body (and mind) is revelatory. As usual, practice makes perfect. So benefits will take time to arrive. But I already feel invigorated.


Unsocial Me

For a while now, I’ve been promising myself to once again quit, or, at least take another prolonged break from the confines and shackles of social media. Studying Qigong below the hills of Chiang Mai seemed like an optimal opportunity to initiate this decision.

My main argument is and has always been that these channels, apps or whatever the fuck you want to call them, prove time and time again to have a degenerative influence on my creativity and emotional balance.

When I arrived here in Asia a few days ago, I deleted Instagram, the only social media app installed on my phone. It took a few hours getting used to not unlocking the phone’s screen several times a day and flipping through what my online and offline friends and family have been up to. And unsurprisingly, I do not miss the infinite cavalcade of mundane escapades, jam-packed group selfies, life quotes or the “kum ba yah” gospel some try so hard to channel. Not even a little bit.

I’m not totally consitent – once in a while I’ll use my laptop to post a photo or a video on this page. But that habit is also falling on the wayside.

About a year ago, a press photographer and a journalist I’d met tried to convince me of how important social media actually was. How being active had provided them with assignments and valuable connections. They seemed to think I was foolish to not see the glowing benefits and all the low-hanging fruit of opportunities waiting to be picked in the fields in between posts, comments and likes.

I know there are edge cases, circumstances and situations that help argue social medias existence. But like most folks, both of those dudes were way too intoxicated from their addiction to be able to think straight and dispassionately about social medias overshadowing influence on their lives or the amount of wasted awake time they spent on a bloated myth that online interconnectivity really augments the quality of life.

Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to make use of social media. Either as a source for artistic inspiration or by using it as a means to share my love of photography and art. To inspire others, you know? While I’ve failed miserably at the former, I know from feedback that some of those that follow my work in Västra Hamnen and in Santa Monica are inspired by my creativity. And I am sincerely happy if I have added even just a little shine to their lives.

That said, I have still always felt a deep, disproportionate relationship with social media. It simply takes way more than it adds to my life. It’s a conundrum how so many respectable, well-educated souls seem to genuinely feel their lives have improved significantly ever since we all gained the ability to share it online in realtime. It really boggles the mind.

I don’t know exactly when I’ll wave a final goodbye to all my social media endeavors. But as I’m currently on a galvanizing journey with the ambitious goal of releasing a lot more of my creative energy by using Qigong to re-connect or rewire my body, mind, and soul, this could happen anytime. If my only outlet for sharing thoughts, ideas and creative efforts is here on this site, so be it. I’ve been posting somewhat regularly here for more than 13 years and will gladly continue. In the grand scheme of worldly things, I honestly don’t think “unsocial me” should worry about the fear of missing out.


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 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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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’…


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 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.


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.


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 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.