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Tyko Blake Eskil Raboff 1967-2003

This photo is probably one of the first I’d ever taken. It was likely shot on a simple Kodak Instamatic. The moment was captured in my parent’s bedroom on 849 North Alfred Street in West Hollywood, California.

My father is holding my brother Tyko who was probably 2 years old at the time. The year would then be 1969. I have no idea what time of year I took the photo at – but because of the pajamas my mother Ina (Solveig) and father Ernest (Ernie) are wearing, it was likely winter. Within a year, my father would leave us, move out and eventually start a whole new family with Adeline, a young, troubled woman from Alaska more than half his age. She was a tenant living in the upstairs apartment of our house at the time they met.

I don’t remember much of the actual divorce other than the yelling. I can only assume my father one day packed a few things and just left. Unfortunately, the aftermath of my parent’s divorce, more than 50 years ago, still impacts me. Especially today.

Where I somehow managed to compartmentalize much of the trauma that ensued and live a relatively normal life, my brother Tyko was unable to. The accumulative impact from those formative years would eventually overpower him emotionally to the point where all he wanted was for the pain and suffering to stop. And so, in January 2003, he took his life in a hotel room in Paris.

I write something about my brother Tyko every year on his birthday. I do it to honor him, to remember him, to share my thoughts about him. Still, after all these years, I feel so sad that I never got a chance to talk to him out of his decision. On this day, more so than on the day he died, I feel a little sorry for myself. I feel so alone in my sorrow. Some sadness can be shared. Not this kind.

I had a dream about Tyko last week. The scope of the dream was a bit absurd, but in it, he was crying. I want to think it was a cry of regret.


Infected Friend & Chaos

A composition I located yesterday on yet another anonymous, interesting surface somewhere in Lund, Sweden. The layered, cluttered chaos intrigues me. I suppose pieces like this attract me as I live – elastically – between a reasonable amount of structure and uncontrollable chaos. Creatively, that is.

Mere days after pointing out here that I have yet to personally know of anyone that had been infected by Covid-19, did we learn that a friend is now hospitalized, unconscious, and breathing through a respirator.

We haven’t seen him or his wife since last spring, when Elle graduated High School, but this very sad news obviously shoved Charlotte and myself into a state of shock – just as I assumed it would. Our hopes and thoughts are with him and his family. Everybody, please be safe out there.


The Known and Unknown

From yesterday’s walk along the beach here in Vejbystrand. Cold, windy yet stunningly beautiful. So far, far away from the turmoil and chaos of many of the world’s great cities and many of my favorite destinations. Thankfully, neither Charlotte or I know of anybody that has caught the virus yet. I doubt that statistic will hold indefinitely. It’s kind of like with Trump supporters, you know they are out there, in droves, even. And one day, you might actually meet someone that has been infected with his venomous rhetoric. If and when that day arrives, I’m guessing it’s going to feel a lot like being in an episode of the original Twilight Zone.

I speak to a lot of Americans – wherever I am. I just can’t help myself. As soon as I hear an American accent (or, a Canadian), I’m in their face asking them where they come from, where they’ve been and where they are heading. Yet oddly, so far, I’ve not come across a real-life MAGA supporter in any of my travels. Not that I survey the political views of people I meet when abroad…but still.

I’m well aware that there are tens of millions of “normal” Americans among his base. Most seem to cherrypick the stuff that serves their personal narrative and agenda and just ignore much of what comes out of his chaotic, erratic and dysfunctional administration, and the endless flow of mostly degenerate, often racially charged, quips and tweets he heaves round the clock.

I doubt I’ll meet a Trump supporter in Vejbystrand. The locals here are way too sensible to bite into the pile of crap he’s trying to feed the rest of the world. No, to get someone that can coherently defend the blustering, self-congratulatory, master conman, I’d have to fly to the States. And that ain’t going to happen for quite a while. Hopefully, by the time it becomes doable, there’ll be a new president. An older dude, for sure. But at least one with the right stuff: decency, empathy, and intelligence.


Back in Lund today. Sunshine everywhere. Hard to think apocalyptically when the weather is so damn wonderful. Spoke to an old buddy who’s a lawyer and he’s keeping busy. Lots of separations and negotiations. Ae we are holding our breaths? Is the situation going to get a lot worse before getting better?

Another friend told me of a new Swedish airline starting up soon. Sounds hopeful. I feel hopeful. Optimistic, even. Perhaps I’m in denial and not even aware of it. I don’t let my mind swerve too much of Sanity Lane. What purpose would that serve? None. Another friend told me he enjoyed not having to deal with crowds. That he didn’t miss having to share public spaces with others. I totally get that. Like the author Charles Bukowski once wrote, “It’s not that I don’t like people. I just feel better when they’re not around”.

I think that’s pretty much the collective sentiment of my demographic right now.

Shot the above while wandering aimlessly around town this afternoon after the shoot. I tried really hard to get lost today. But Lund is just too small.


Avoiding Handy Handles

Without even realizing this before, it turns out that I am somewhat of a germaphobe. Not so much at home or when I am with family and close friends. But in public spaces, avoiding door handles, stair rails, elevator buttons or any type of knob is something I’ve been doing automatically for as long as I can remember. I can’t explain why – other than that my notoriously vivid imagination can easily envision how grimy and filthy the fingers and hands of the person before me were. Especially when it comes to men – which I know from half a century of experience of visiting public bathrooms – do not care nearly as much about cleanliness as they should.

Some men, not all, seem to think that at least part of their maleness lies in an ability to completely disregard personal hygiene or consider the implications their neglect of it could have on others. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a dude come out from a toilet stall in an airport or restaurant after “discharging” and then leave without even glancing at the sink or thinking of cleaning his hands, it would certainly be a tall pile of bills.

So, being extra precautious about touching stuff in the public realm isn’t much of hassle for me. All things considered right now and for the foreseeable future, having a hands-off and cleanliness approach will hopefully be the new normal for most people around the world. But hopefully, we’ll all be able to give and receive hugs more generously within the not-to-distant future. I miss them hugs!

Shot these handy door handles in Málaga a few months ago.


Forgetful Yet Uneasy

Thanks to or because of, depending on your choice of perspective, my current workload distracts me from thinking too much about the pandemic and the tsunami of physical, emotional, and financial implications it carries with it. For hours on end, I am so immersed in my work, I can totally forget about it all.

Like most folks that have yet to know anybody that has been directly hit by the virus, it’s the indirect impact I hear of; from one friend in Malmö whom will likely lose his expansive restaurant business, to another pal, scared and hiding in complete isolation deep in one of Los Angeles sprawling suburbs.

The weirdest part of this unfolding drama is our collective uneasiness. We, including all the self-proclamied experts, still don’t know squat about how this craziness will actually conclude. Antithetical to an earthquake and other natural catastrophes, where there usually are plenty of historical precedents and aggregated statistics to help fill the void, map the scope (and to cope), here there are just too many puzzle pieces missing to provide a full picture of what the Covid-19 pandemic will look like going forward. Is there going to be even more radical plot twists? Like not becoming immune even after recovering from the disease? Or, that even if you only experience mild symptoms the first time you contract the virus, will they worsen the second or third time around – after your immunology has been compromised and exhausted? 

To put our current situation in a comically contextual perspective, it’s kinda like having a really bad stomach flu. Even several days after the last time you had diarrhea, you feel uneasy about letting out the tiniest fart. It’s just so friggin’ hard to relax these days.

The above photo of a pineapple themed tapestry is totally unrelated to this post but works as a decorative featured image nonetheless.


Dualism

As I mentioned just before canceling my accounts on December 31st, 2019, I no longer participate in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform. Yet I have somehow managed to persuade a few fine friends and chosen family members to communicate with me via iMessage, email and WhatsApp. I don’t mind having to switch between the three. But if I had my way, we’d all use email. I love writing and receiving emails. Writing an email feels close to old school letter writing – which I did a lot of in my younger years. Which kind of makes me feel ancient.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted so many people’s lives, including ours. It’s hard to grasp the scope of it yet. I think we might just be seeing the very tip of an enormous iceberg – the beginning of a multi-year, planet-wide, chain of events that will have a seemingly endless ripple effect on most everyone. How folks in the developing world and the poorest are going to be able to cope is a question I keep asking myself. There’s no optimistic answer, I fear. So many countries around the world are run by a bunch of autocrats, dictators, and despots, men that are either suppressing virus facts and stats and/or just looking the other way, ignoring a problem they are incapable of addressing. Their biggest concern is not the health of the country they strongarm but rather how the crisis might affect the power they wield.

Shot the above image somewhere in Asia a few years ago.


The Crusher

Charlotte and I have been to a large recycling facility today. We actually made two visits there and have will probably be back there tomorrow. I got lucky during our second visit as it was time to turn on the oddly pleasing wood crushing machine when we were at the wood station. A friend pointed out how watching this brutal machine is satisfying somehow. I agree. Now if only someone could invent a way to crush COVID-19…


Sheep Respite

It’s not without us feeling a little guilt and understanding that we are supremely privileged right now. Meeting spring in Vejbystrand is always wonderful – and especially so this year.

Within just a few weeks, the designation “rural” has metamorphosed into something positive and worth embracing. We’re whole-heartedly enjoying our current small-scale lifestyle.

It’s hard, but I’m trying to keep the news at a fair distance. All the dramatic headlines deplete my optimism.

The misery of miseries, as my old aunt Lillemor always said when a disaster occurred somewhere in the world – as in the world’s brimming refugee camps, where health care is limited and risk of contamination always imminent.

The earth’s population is currently living under the shadow of uncertainty. The future looks dire in almost every direction. I feel particularly for the many people that already had it tough before all this and who cannot comprehend how to cope with all the additional burdens the virus has brought with it.

Yesterday we took a long walk along the beach and on our way home stopped to greet three fluffy sheep living carefree in one of the village’s forest groves. The meeting gave some respite from the constant flow of reports about tragedies in Bergamo, Madrid and New York.

So far we are living relatively protected here in Vejbystrand and sincerely hope that this nightmare will soon be over.

Be safe!


Humbled by Coda-19

Today I learned that the coronavirus is so small, that it would take several hundred of them lined up after each other just to cover the side of a single grain of sand. That’s small!

Yet once a virus gets into your body and takes hold of a host cell, almost any host cell, the very purpose, the nature, the destiny of every virus, is ultimately to take over the cell it enters and reproduce itself as fast as possible.

Furthermore, I also learned that a virus is basically a recipe, a self-executing, malignant program with code designed without any other agenda than to hijack and grow exponentially. I don’t know much about computer viruses (I’ve been using Apple computers for 30 years, so I have never experienced what it’s like to be infected by a computer virus.) but they seem to have been modeled after biological virus.

There is something humbling about the enormous reproductions caused by covad-19. For all of humans incredible inventions, all our disruptive, technical breakthroughs and feats of astonishing mechanical engineering, including advanced intercontinental ballistic missile systems, satellites, lunar travel and an international space station, all it takes to disrupt world order is a single teeny, weeny virus. And only by eventually retro-engineering it will we be able to figure out how to counteract its ability to devastatingly paralyze every society on the planet. Humbling.

The ingredients for the above collage are from Málaga where our friends are still trapped until at least April 12.