Easter Candy

Looks as if most of Easter 2019 will be celebrated in Malmö – or, at least in the general vicinity. We’ve spent several Easters in Vejbystrand over the years with plenty of egg hunting, egg throwing and egg eating to last me a while. I was in a new grocery store yesterday and they had a long row of knee deep containers full of various kinds of colorful Easter candy. Like the raspberry chews above.

While I was walking down the aisle, looking at all the sugarcoated candy got me thinking that there has had to have been at least a few scientists, perhaps some with PhDs in chemistry involved in deciding how sweet, sour, salty or bitter a particular candy was going to be. Not to mention discerning the exact color, texture and how chewy a gummy bear or wriggly snake would turn out.

I mean, there’s has to be several laboratories around the world where serious, well-educated men and women in white coats spend most of their workday mixing chemicals to make candy products that the marketing departments and product managers for successful candy companies like
#Haribo, #Malaco and #Fazer have decided will sell well in grocery stores like the one I visited yesterday.

Visit The Norrmans

About a year ago, Charlotte and I visited The Norrmans Bed & Breakfast about an hour south of Copenhagen. Lars and Anna took great care of us (as they did with their other guests) and though we only stayed a night, we we’re overwhelmed by how different the atmosphere was from just about any other overnight place we’d ever been to in Scandinavia.

It was as if the two of us had discovered a whole new category of accommodations. I mean, after decades of staying at large and small hotels all around the world – with varying levels of service, comfort and noteworthy dining encounters, what the Norrmans were offering was something totally different. I guess I’d characterize it as an intensely personal guest house experience set in a beautiful Danish homestead milieu.

From what I’ve gathered from their Instagram posts, the couple haven’t exactly been resting on their laurels. On contraire, The Normmans seem busy as can be with new ventures – including a shop full of quirky, cool stuff in one of the farm’s barns. Not sure if we’ll have time for a visit this year, but you never know! Yup, that’s me standing in the dirt on the parkiing lot.

Affenpinscher Okondja

Rummaging through one of my archives today, I stumbled across several photos of Okondja, the cute and wild Affenpinscher I shot in my old studio a few years back. As friendly as she was, I can’t see myself ever owning a dog that small. They’re just too twitchy and skittish. But cute, very cute. Sadly, I’ve heard that Okondja sometime after moving to South Africa passed away. More of my dog photos from around the world can be viewed here.

The Butterfly

From yesterday’s morning shoot at Kockum Fritid with model and former competitive swimmer, Gustav Åberg Lejdström. The Butterfly stroke, or,  the “Fly” as it’s called among competitive swimmers, is something I never even attempted as a young member of the West Hollywood Park Swim Team in the late 1970s or during my short time at S02 in Göteborg in the early 1980s.

Back in the day, I swam the Crawl/Freestyle and won a few swim meets as a sprinter in the 100 yard distance. I think the Butterfly stroke is really interesting as it mimics both a dolphin’s tail movement and the wing flap of a butterfly. During peak speed, the Butterfly stroke is apparently the fastest of all styles. Which I saw some proof of yesterday while trying to capture the above shot. Took me a good 100 tries before I got it right.

Figure Skating

This is Felicia Nilsson, a talented figure skater from Malmö that I’ve had the privilege of working with on a few occasions while working on an advertising assignment for our local sports center, Kockum Fritid.

I shot this with the Fuji Fujinon 56mm f1,2 at ISO400 and though not visible in the monochrome version above, shooting in an ice skating rink is really asking for as much color trouble as possible. Not only are there several competing color temperatures involved, the innumeral amount of crossing vertical and horizontal lines and shapes make composing a shot of a fast moving subject extremely difficult. Despite or maybe thanks to all the disstractions, I still found shooting Felecia and colleague Nicole both fun and creatively challenging.

AirPods 2.0

For many years I lived a tangled life. Then came the AirPods and I felt as if a huge weight was lifted from my…ears. I used my pair of white wireless earbuds extensively. Probably as much as 3-4 hours a day – including when I fell a sleep listening to a podcast.

Finally, after about two years of daily use and waking up with one or both often lodged somewhere in the skin folds of my back or stomach after a night of sleep, the microphone and then the batteries started to give up. I could still use them, but the charge wouldn’t hold for more than an hour or so.

I ordered a pair of AirPods 2.0 just as soon as they were announced. I actually placed my order while lying on a bed overlooking the Indian Ocean in Goa without a nanosecond of hesitation. That’s how good I think this Apple product is and how dependent I am to using them to listen and talk via the iPhone. Love this little film Apple produced for the Airpods. And The New York Times has a good albeit somewhat crticial take on the new Airpod version.

The Spice Shop

It’s cold but beautiful today in Malmö. I’m going through my images from Goa and the contrasts between here and there make the photos seem as if they were all part of a vivid dream or an elaborately detailed hallucination. The change of temperature, humidity and above all, shift from a cacophony of scents and smells to a bouquet of… nothing is a little bewildering.

Met this sweet woman at her spice shop along the north end of Agonda’s main village road. After about a week of enjoying Indian and Nepalese food, I was getting used to the mix of essential spices found in the local Masala dishes, including tumeric, cumin, and the  indispesible and irreplaceable coriander.

Steamrollin’ in Goa

When I saw this steamroller crushing gravel that had been carried and then emptied from the workers baskets earlier today, I was transfixed. How far from my existens was this? Lightyears.

Meine Reinemachefrau

This is my friendly cleaning lady. I’ve kept a fairly neat ship, so I  only need her help every other day. I’ve heard her hum what is probably a well-known Indian tune when she’s sweet my patio.

The headline “Meine Reinemachefrau” is German for My Cleaning Lady and is a reference to the brilliant, deadpan comedy, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” starring Steve Martin. I don’t know why I thought of that right now. Maybe because so many German guests have checked into the hotel over the last couple of days.

I deactivated my Facebook account this morning and I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Once again I found myself caught in a crossfire between having unreasonably high expectations of appreciation from what I often spent a lot of time creating and posting – and a really weird sense of resentfulness when people posting what I thought was meaninglessness were receiving a ridiculous amount of attention

– Life is not online. It’s happening every second you look beyond the screen. The only likes and comments that really count, are those you give and receive from people you interact with in real-time.

I’ve deactivated my account before and after a five year hiatus, I decided to give it a shot and see if the algorithm had changed for the better – or, if I had changed my attitude. Sadly, the answer is neither. It’s still an eco-system where everyone – whether they are aware of it or not – strive to achieve popularity and celebrity status among their friends and followers. It’s a dark place where the currency is valued in the number of Likes, Comments and Shares you collect. It’s an unhealthy place to spend even a few minutes a day. Let alone hours.

Good ridden!

Shaken not Stirred in Goa

From yesterday’s adventure in the beautiful rural hills above Agonda in south Goa, India. I used a suction cup on the windshield of the rickshaw to connect a Gopro Hero 7 Black to see if the hypersmoth stabilization was as good as proclaimed. And it was. I’m fairly sure that it films in 4k and then uses the higher resolution to stabilize the footage in realtime and then downsample and render it to a still impressive 2.7k.

The Breakfast Sandwich

Once I’ve discovered or located something that “fits the glove” snuggly, I’m inclined to stick with it. At least for a while or until something more appealing shows up. Such is the case with the English breakfast they serve here and that I make a very tasty open-face sandwich of. Firstly, I butter the toast, then cover each slice generously with baked beans and finally top this culinary concoction off with the fried eggs. Back when I ate meat, I might have also added a fistful of bacon to the recipe. But the thought almost disgusts me now. I don’t touch the ketchup, but I’ll eat the hashbrown potato cake thingy between the two sandwiches.

Holi Colorful Me!

If you didn’t check out the video in the previous post (below) here’s what I looked like when the staff and fellow guests had smeared color all over me during the Holi Spring Festival.

I’ve since handed in my t-shirt and shorts to the laundry lady, visited a local barber and had an Ayurvedic massage.

Holi Festival, Batman!

From today’s extremely playful and colorful celebration of the vibrant Spring Festival called Holi. Shot on a Gopro Hero 7 (4k) and an iPhone 7+ (4k/720p). I’ve handed in my clothes to a local laundry shop, but they were dubious about being able to clean all of the colors. Not to fret, I said. Could make for a nice keepsake from an extraordinary day. Read more about Holi here.

Back in Goa for Holi

After a weeklong delay, a short stint in Delhi, I’m now back on schedule and have arrived safely in Goa.

The distance from the chilly, windy and pallid southern Sweden to the balmy and colorful southern India couldn’t be wider.

While it was officially spring in Sweden yesterday, here in Goa today, they will be celebrating “Holi” which is the Hindu festival of colors honoring the triumph of good over evil, increasing the prospect of a favorable harvest as well as improving fertility.

The layered image above is a composition of cows I met heading down the village road yesterday afternoon and a young guy with a lavish hairdo I came across a few minutes later.

Goa Tuk-Tuk

From last year’s visit to south Goa in India. Shot on an old GoPro and an iPhone in the beatiful hills behind Agonda Beach during an afternoon. I remember having stubbed my toe on a piece of wood at the hotel that morning – yet still insisting on going surfing afterwards.

Quartier écolo

Un quartier modèle de Malmö en Suède, qui fonctionne à 100% aux énergies renouvelables. #19h30RTSRTSinfo

Publicerat av RADIO TELEVISION SUISSE (RTS) Måndag 11 februari 2019

TV Interview

From an interview I did for Paris based TV team Story W. They visited in January to produce a story about unique sustainability projects in Malmö – primarily Västra Hamnen and Hyllie. The reportage will be shown on Swiss TV station Radio Television Suisse (RTS) and on a yet to be disclosed (to me anyway) French TV channel as well.


Thanks to a friend, wine connoisseur and restauranteur Erik Schneider, I was invited to Tuscany to photograph for a few days in the Val d’Orcia region. The winery Cal d’Orcia, founded and operated by Count Cinzano (one of the family members that make and own the aperitif brand) hosted me for the week. Tuscany is as beautiful as I’d read about – and then some. And a completely different Italy than what I had seen in other regions of the country. Here’s a collection from the visit.


Been so busy lately, that I’ve totally forgot about updating the travel section. I’m giving it some attention now and in addition to the South Bronx and Tokyo, Istanbul went up yesterday. Politics aside, Istanbul is absolutely amazing and I’d love to return one day. If for no other reason, then for all the friendly folks I met during the weeklong visit a few years ago. If you look closely, you’ll see a plane taking off behind the Blue Mosque. More from Istanbul here.

Waiting for Spring

So, it turns out that we might not be getting any winter at all. We’ve only had a few hours of snow and few days with subzero temperatures. Nowhere near what the folks in New York have had to endure and continue to cope with. I hope now we can look forward to an early spring. Despite reasonable temperatures, mostly above zero, the cold and dry air has been unusually cold and dry.

Female Genital Mutilation
From a visit to a Maasai village in the Maasai Mara National Reserve a couple of years ago. As this was my first visit to the Mara, I wanted to visit what I was told would be an authentic Maasai village, however touristy and staged I assumed the experience was going to be.
While most villagers were kind and friendly, one of the young males, the fellow standing to the far left wearing a lion headdress, had a blatantly aggressive attitude. I wrote it off as a schtick, an act to emphasize his alpha male status among the other men (and me).
I couldn’t resist but ask about female genital mutilation (FGM) within the Masa communities. According to our guide, though still practiced, it was on the decline throughout this male-dominated society. 

After some research, I learned that traditionally, Maasai men won’t even consider marrying a young Maasai woman if she has not had her genitals circumcized. Only after going through this painful and often life-threatening ritual would women, mostly barely sexually mature young girls, be allowed to partake in cultural celebrations and have their future children considered legitimate.
Despite attempts to eradicate this horrific tradition, according to a 2018 United Nations estimate, because of population growth, the number of girls mutilated each year could rise from the current 3.9 million to 4.6 million by 2030. That’s roughly the entire population of women in a country like Sweden.
Central African Republic, Kenya, and Egypt top the list of culprits, but there are many other countries in Africa and Asia that practice Female Genital Mutilation including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and India. In the Maldives, mutilating women’s genitals – as part of a coming of age ritual – is legal and therefore sanctioned by the government.
For all the good intentions and funding aimed at eradicating diseases like malaria, cholera, and aid going to other important causes, I really can’t understand how we in 2019 can accept that so many millions of women are forced to go through female genital mutilation. As a human, a man and a father to a daughter, I feel ashamed on behalf of all the men in the world that inflict this on women. And I feel really sad that we literally shy away from this issue.
Ridding the planet from such a senseless, brutal practice should be priority number one for all humanitarian NGOs as well as the UN and WHO.
 And we should all boycott countries that openly allow this torture.

Kyoto’s Bamboo Forest

From the bamboo forest on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I’m so intrigued with the country, but I really love visiting Japan and hope to visit again sometime later this year. I suppose I say that about a lot of places, mostly because I’m constantly thinking about places I’ve been, some of which I wish to return to. Check out my collection of images from Tokyo/Kyoto here.

In action @taladnoi

Here’s a composite of two different images from the same afternoon in Bangkok. I had told photojournalist Thomas Engström and his wife Lena about a really funky area near Chinatown called Talad Noi that was literally filled with auto parts and invited them to join me on the tail end of a photo shoot I was doing there with a local model in a ballerina outfit.

Summertime DJ Gig

There was a time when I was a fairly sought after disc-jockey. For a couple of years, before I grew tired of all the late nights and smoke-filled nightclubs, I toured southern Sweden with two CD cases brimming with what I still consider to be some of the best music ever recorded. Fundamentally, my preferred genre was soul and all the cousins therein – including soothing R&B, Funk and danceable Pop.

Once in while I’ll take on a gig if for no other reason to share my favorite tunes at a bar, restaurant and almost any place where good music is welcome. In about three months, if your in the vicinity of the restaurant above, you’ll likely hear a few delicately chosen tracks by Sam & Dave, Aretha, Marvin, Chaka and Blackness. Stay tuned for date and time.

New Piece

Naming my art pieces has always been  something I enjoy doing. This particular painting’s name comes from a mix of Kafka and actual Niigata koi fish that I saw swimming in a pond in Siem Reap last fall. Some of them were breaching the pond water and splashing about – as if they knew nothing of the gravity pulling them back in to the murky water or how limited their life would be should they succeed at jumping out of the water and onto the finely cut gravel where I stood and studied them.

Elle’s Driver’s License

Early this morning, Elle Ingrid Agnes Raboff, our 18 year old daughter, got her driver’s license with flying colors. That might not seem much of biggie if you’re in the US of A where the local DMV will issue a license without much fuss. But here in Sweden, to get behind the wheel of a car is a pretty big deal with an almost preposterous amount of traffic rules and regulations. Stuff you need to learn for both the theoretical test and then prove you comprehend during the practical examination – which takes place on busy urban streets and even busier highways.

So, Charlotte and I are super happy for Elle. And more importantly, extremely proud of our wonderful daughter!

New Art

This is a piece I finished a couple of days ago. It’s an acrylic painting on canvas (100 x 140 cm) where I’ve added elevating structure to the surface and made use of the repetitive window patterns to create an abstract landscape.

I call it the Turning Torso Conundrum to reflect how the building’s asymmetrical form and shape isn’t so easily defined or pigeon-holed. Which in turn is something I can easily relate to.

Back in the Box

I shot this self-portrait years ago in my old studio here in Malmö. At that time I was training Kick n’ Box at our local gym and sports center, Kockum Fritid, three times a week.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, the class was discontinued and since I didn’t feel like I wanted to spend the time going to and from a different sports center, I went back to running and working out at our gym, usually Mon-Wed-Fri from 06:00 am to 7:00 am.

This morning, for the first time in about a year, I was back at the gym at 06:00 am and spent about an hour working up a good sweat. Just before I left, I happened to notice that there was a full-size boxing bag hanging in one of the gym’s recently remodeled rooms. I have to admit that I got a little excited when I saw it and went looking for a pair of sparring gloves. With them strapped on, I then spent roughly 15 minutes punching away until my arms felt like they were filled with Jell-O. Going to try to create a balanced training regimen this spring – an equilibrium – that includes gym training, boxing and yoga. And maybe some swimming.

About Turning Torso

I call this piece “Calatravism”. It’s an abstract collage made from over 30 photographs of the Spanish architect, engineer and sculptor Santiago Calatrava’s skyscraper, Turning Torso located right here in Västra Hamnen. It’s one of my most popular pieces, especially when printed on thick acrylic, like the one hanging right now on display in my new studio.

If I step out of my studio and walk 20 feet to the left, I’ll have the magnificent Turning Torso right in front of me. It’s quite the sight. And where most skyscrapers are often Calatravaismanal-retentively symmetric, towering above us as monuments of our incorrigible hubris as well as physical insignificance, Calatrava’s contribution to Malmö’s skyline has a uniquely asymmetrical, organic, approachable feel to it. Which is likely why I’ve never tired of photographing and interpreting it.

Based on his marble sculpture, “Twisting Torso”, the 190 meter tall building was upon completion in 2005, the world’s first twisted skyscraper and continues to attract visitors from all over the world. I ride my bike past it almost every day and even when it’s pouring down, there’s almost always someone standing in front of the entrance, struggling frenetically to come up with an angle where the entire structure will fit within their smartphone’s screen.

For me, the Turning Torso serves as a consummate reminder, a mnemonic device to keep me bold and daring – and not wait around for things to happen on their own. For an artist, nothing could be more creatively catastrophic than slipping into the role of the passive bystander. Only when I act will there ever be a reaction.

I’ve had a long and amazing relationship with Turing Torso. In late 2014, I was commissioned by HSB Malmö, the cooperative that owns and operates the mostly residential building to produce a coffee table/interview book that would commemorate the 10 year anniversary. Turning-Torso-Jubileumsbok

But already back in 1999, just a year or so after moving from Göteborg to Malmö – and way before the skyscraper’s construction began – HSB hired me to shoot footage from several heights of Turning Torso while sitting in a harness of a helicopter.

The transformation that Malmö has gone through over the past two decades is remarkable and certainly noteworthy. Yes, there is still a lot of stuff that needs attention, including the devistatingly high crime rate, thoughtless and therefore mostly unsuccessful attempts at integrating immigrants into society and arguably one of the country’s worst inner-city traffic situations.

But not entirely unlike New Yorkers who live in a city that’s had to redefine itself time and time again, most folks in Malmö feel unapologetically proud of their city. In last week’s interview with a French TV team, I mentioned that it takes time for Malmöites to embrace change. But once they do, it’s nothing less than a love affair with no end.

Switzerland on my Mind

Speaking of skiing… I’m currently thinking of heading down (and then up) to Zermatt – my favorite alp village bar none – in a few weeks. Though by no means as easy to get to as Chamonix Zermatt has quite a few other benefits that I think by far out-way the logistical demands. And if you’re lucky, the train ride’s last hour, when it makes its ascend to Zermatt, is spectacularly beautiful.

The village itself is quaint, cozy and quiet as only electric mini-buses are allowed on the streets. Especially gorgeous are the ancient buildings know as “Hinterdorf” (rear village) with 30 or so traditionally constructed wooden barns and stables from the 16th and 18th centuries.

The slopes below the majestic Matterhorn are as one might expect in Switzerland, well-maintained and, more importantly, the mountains surrounding Zermatt with Monte Rosa being the highest, offer an almost infinite amount of off-piste options.

Now, given this isn’t exactly a budget-friendly destination. Zermatt is tucked away way up at 1600 meters, so you’ll unavoidably be paying more for the secluded location itself, and it’s still considered one of the alp’s most exclusive ski resorts. Not as exclusive as, say, Gstaad, but not far off. Still, I wouldn’t say that Zermatt is ridiculously expensive. Fact is, I’ve eaten, of all things, a few sushi meals there which were both well-made and reasonably priced.

Riksgränsen via Chamonix

It’s about this time of year when I start remembering what it was like to take the train or fly up to Lapland and start a new ski season at Hotel Riksgränsen.

As the train from Kiruna would pull away from the very last stop before the route’s final destination in Narvik (Norway), an almost eery silence would ensue. Only the muted sound of snow being compressed under my boots could be heard as I walked towards the hotel from the station. As soon as I passed under the railway tunnel, I’d turn left towards the small cluster of staff houses spread out at the foot of the mountain – one of which would be my home for the better part of the next five months.

This is the train station in Chamonix from last year’s visit for

Selfie on a Stick

However you slice it, the selfie culture is a global phenomena that doesn’t seem to be waning any time soon. As a photographer, I’ve always felt compelled to help folks I meet on the street to capture their epic vacation scene.

That doesn’t happen nearly as often today as most selfie people seem to prefer awkward angles and perspectives that distort. I’ve actually been turned down a few times when trying to be a good Samaritan. But thanks to the invention of the selfie stick, things may have gotten a little better.

Shot the above image a little more than a week ago on a street in Singapore.

Friends – the Gathering
In a few weeks, a quartet of my oldest buddies and I will be getting together face-to-face for the first time in almost a decade. We’re going to spend a couple of days at our place in Malmö and boy, have I’ve got some fun stuff lined up for that weekend! We’ve been friends for about 40 years now, but as life inescapably takes us in wildly different directions, our meetups are few and far between. At this pace, we might have 2 or 3 more gatherings before we stop recognizing each other…
Speaking of friends…
I just read that the sitcom Friends is one of the most popular shows on Netflix. That’s kinda weird, no? But what makes this really baffling is the age group of the viewers.
Turns out that Friends is super popular among young folks – mostly teenagers, none of which were born when the show’s finale aired on May 6, 2004 (and watched by a whopping 50 million people!).
Fun fact: apparently, each original Friends cast member earns close to $20 million/year in residuals, thanks to the show’s sustained popularity.
In a day and age when we rarely talk to each other over the phone, let alone meet up on a regular basis (for whatever reasons/excuses), it could be argued that when an almost ancient sitcom about a bunch of friends hanging out is still exceptionally popular among kids, teens and tweens, that it’s an indication or symptomatic of something gone awry.
Perhaps the very fabric of what makes human society so compelling, inspiring and dynamic is slowly being unraveled and replaced with pseudo-relationships and virtual friendships? I for one jump a little every time my phone rings these days. As if I’ve completely forgotten about that little handy functionality.
Now, I don’t want to come across as being this testy curmudgeon, ‘cause historically, there have been umpteen television shows which have literally hypnotized huge swaths of society on both sides of the Atlantic.
When I grew up, reruns of Hogan’s Heroes, I Love Lucy, Get Smart and even the quirky sitcom Gilligan’s Island, had me and most of my friends up way past our bedtime (I personally had an obsession with Mary Ann and Ginger as well as 99 and the Flying Nun – but not so much with Lucille Ball).
And The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and later Late Night With David Letterman certainly had an impact on millions. But this was obviously way before the Internet as we know it, decades prior to instant messaging, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. TV, radio, and cinema were entertainment venues and complementary components in society. Not replacements for it.
I’d like to see polling that gives insight as to what exactly it is that the younger gens see in a show like Friends. Is it as simple as the affable and somewhat relatable characters? Can a teenager in 2019 really relate to a Chandler, a Joey, a Rachel, a Ross, a Phoebe or a Monica? Or, maybe it’s how the sextet together tackle more or less realistic life issues and overcome daily challenges as a fun-loving gang of cheeky, sarcasm strewing musketeers? Could Friends even be providing a kind of counseling and guidance to today’s always “on” generation?
It’s been a while, but I’ll easily admit to having watched the entire Friends series. I can even concede, albeit more reluctantly, that I’ve likely seen every single episode twice. Heck, I might as well own up to having watched several Friends specials and dozens of blooper reels. When our daughter Elle was younger, we’d watch a few episodes together on planes, trains and sometimes even instead of a bedtime story. There was something comforting about the show. And that’s exactly what makes its persistent popularity so phenomenally interesting.
I just looked on Amazon and you can actually buy the entire 10 seasons of Friends for less than $100. You’ll need a DVD player though, as the complete show is delivered in a box with 40 discs. Think I’ll stick to Netflix when I need a Friends fix. Or, just gather some good old buddies for some fun IRL.

Meanwhile in Malmö

Woke up this morning at a hotel in Copenhagen in a beautiful winter wonderland. And when we arrived this afternoon at Malmö Central Station, even more snow had fallen. I hope we get more. Much more.

New Property in Malmö: Aura

I shot this yesterday while shooting still images for one my clients latest properties here in Malmö. For January, the weather conditions couldn’t have been better. That said, I almost froze my fingers off while piloting the drone. Sounds strange coming from me, but I actually would like to see some snow now…a lot of snow.

Time Clocks Gone Bananas
I captured this last year during one of several invited visits to document what used to be Sweden’s most famous shipbuilding company, Kockums. In the next couple of years, much of the old factory area will be demolished and eventually replaced by shiny new buildings with spaces designated for cafés, shops, condos, and corporations.
Time Clock Gone Bananas
What intrigued me with this particular scene was not just that all the punch cards next to the time clock were gone, but also how the clock itself seems to have made an attempt to leave the wall – but failed and was caught in some kind of suspended animation.
Back in 1988, I worked a summer in Göteborg’s commercial harbor as an unloader. I was only employed to work on the port’s weekly arriving banana boats – large ships from Panama that without exception were in terrible shape. Huge rust-buckets, really.
Roughly twenty of us unloaders would board the ship and start picking up boxes of unripe, green bananas from within the hatches on the very top deck. Early each morning as the shift started, the ship’s permanent crew, mostly from the Philippines, stood somewhere high above and looked unabashedly down on us, all the while smoking filterless cigarettes non-stop.
During my short stint, the union had negotiated so that we were only allowed to work in 20-minute increments and then had to rest for the next 20. It might be hard to believe, but we somehow learned to fall asleep on banana boxes during those short breaks and wake up just in time for our team to start unloading again. This gig was so incredibly regulated by the union, that the company who had hired us replaced every last unloader just a couple of years later with a fully automated unloading system.
Working the “banana boats” was popular among artists, musicians, and academics back then. It also provided some kind of street cred. Stonefunkers and members of Black Ingvars and the Soundtrack of our Lives were among my co-workers.
For some reason, I can remember that each unloader handled on average 2000 boxes a day. At 18kg/box, that meant we lifted about 36 tons of bananas per shift. It was hard work but still fairly well-paid and if we were done ahead of schedule, we still got paid for the full day.
When boxes of ripe bananas appeared on the conveyer belt, which could happen several times during a shift, we got to take them home with us. As much as I enjoyed eating bananas, I could never go through a whole box of Chiquita, Uncle Tuca or Del Monte and usually traded them for some groceries at the neighborhood’s local convenience store.
What has completely escaped me from that summer job was whether or not there was a time clock. Since everything was so regulated, I can only assume that there just had to be punch cards. If there wasn’t, I’ve still had other jobs where I had to punch in and out before and after a shift. But after 20 years of self-employment, the concept seems otherworldly. Archaic, even.