Fifty years old. That’s what my younger brother Tyko would have been today, on the 21st of July.
Since his and my birthdays are just one day apart, I’ll of course always be reminded of Tyko’s tragic passing. And though today marks one of the year’s sadder days (the other being the date of his death), I still try to spend some of it reminiscing about our old times and remembering the sound of his contagious laugh, boundless, often off-the-charts sick sense of humor and perhaps above all, my brother’s unique ability to be brutally honest about how he felt. Which I intend to do more of going forward…
Rest in peace, Toddles.
I haven’t been to a Trader Vic’s in probably 45 years. The last time was somewhere in West Hollywood in Los Angeles (on Robertson or San Vincente Blvd?) and it was likely with my mother and one or more of her friends.
I remember being a little freaked out/excited about the Polynesian sculptures, totem poles, warrior masks, ornately carved shields, wooden spears and the restaurant’s huge fire pit.
Tonight we enjoyed a sumptuous three course dinner at Trader Vic’s here in the Seychelles. Like I remembered from my previous visit, almost half a century ago, both the interior and exterior of this Trader Vic’s was richly decorated with the similarly, somewhat sinister looking busts and heads stemming from Maori, Hawaiian and Tahitian mythology as well as a whole lot of other less serious props and trimmings.
Before our meal, we enjoyed two classic Trader Vic cocktails at one of the most well-stocked bars I’ve been served at in a long, long time: Mai Tai and Tiki Puka Puka. The friendly bartender above was literally and physically behind our tasty beverages.
Generally speaking, street portraiture is a 50-50 challenge. At least if you like me, prefer letting folks know a few seconds beforehand that they’re about to be digitally eternalized.
No matter where in the world I might be, half the time, my subjects agree wholeheartedly to letting me capture a candid shot of them. The other 50% either turn their heads, raise their hands to cover their faces or get a little pissed off by my audacious behaviour. A combo of all these reactions happens once in a while.
Met these slow life specialists during today’s sail excursion to the once privately owned Moyenne Island off the coast of Mahé in the Seychelles.
Creole, Indian, African, Chinese and Russian and all kinds of blends and cross pollinations. Yeah, the Seychellians represent a fascinating melting pot of cultures and ethnicities – a beautifully wide and colorful spectrum of folk spread across 115 tropical islands – way off the coast of east Africa in the Indian Ocean – and actually a popular pirate hangout – way before the Somalis started hijacking boats and ships.
Everyone we’ve met so far has been genuinely friendly and the vibe here is as about as easy-going as it is in most of South East Asia. It’s about as beautiful, too. Not quite up there with the Maldives, but pretty close.
A huge difference, on the other hand, is that the weather is considerably more agreeable on the Seychelles than in say, Laos, Burma or Thailand. It’s humid and hot, but with nowhere nearly as unbearably high temperatures or dense humidity. It reminds me of Hawaii’s singularly comfortable climate.
That said, I’ll admit that it was a bit hot and humid during this morning’s 5k jog and my paddle board session a few hours later. And I was literally drenched in sweat after our hour long evening walk along the narrow road to Treasure Cove Hotel & Restaurant. Then again, I was carrying a hefty bunch of camera gear on my back.
Speaking of restaurants, so far, we’ve had two formidable dinners: at the aforementioned Treasure Cove, where I enjoyed a cajun spiced, blackened tuna, and last night’s sumptuous red snapper in ginger and soy sauce at La Perle Noir near our hotel.
Speaking of our hotel…it’s nice and has a really sweet stretch of beach property right in front of our balcony. The staff is kind and helpful. I just wish they could hold off a little on the Karaoke serenading. Spoken like a true curmudgeon…
In addition to choosing clothes, accessories and personal care stuff the vast majority of my packing time before a longer trip is dedicated to choosing what photography gear to bring along. Despite trying hard to minimize I still end up packing about 30% more than I end up using. That means if I pack 15kg of camera equipment 5 kilograms of it never actually gets used. Which is both a waste of space and a pain to schlep around.
One of the more crucial items I don’t comprise with is my invaluable stash of chopped oven-baked organic ginger. For about four years now ginger has been my prefereed snuff tobacco ersatz. This morning I made a huge batch for the forthcoming trip and dialed in an absolutely perfect oven temperature to get the little nuggets about 90% dry.
The smell during the drying process can be a bit pungent and the family certainly doesn’t waste any time complaining to me about it. Especially when I managed not to dial in the right temperature and end up charring a full tray of cut ginger. Still I’m pretty sure they’re okay with the occasional smell since the health benefits of my current root-munching habit easily out-way my old nicotine addiction – despite their nasal discomfort. Pros and Cons.
Whilst in Stockholm, I’m thinking ahead. Not too far into the future. I had dinner with a buddy last night who’s going to be doing that…
No, my focus isn’t further down the road than September or October. As a freelancer, at least at my humble level, you’re never more successful than a few hours after your latest delivery. Which makes coming up with new projects that have commercial viability, a key ingredient to my survival.
Visited the capital’s and arguably Scandinavia’s premier photography mausoleum, Fotografiska, together with a couple of friends yesterday afternoon. Horses with celebs and a considerable collection of Irving Penn’s work is on display. Can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever have anything worthy of being shown there. Not that it really matters. I feel that I get a fair share of recognition through other venues and channels.
After Friday evening’s amazing summer weather with pit stops at Lydmar, East and Strandvägen 1, it’s mostly cloudy now. Hopefully Skåne will provide a couple of days of sunshine before it’s time to head south.
On my way to Stockholm for the weekend. To capture a few frames of the capital’s gorgeous architecture and textures. And to see a few old friends. Taking the train. Nothing beats a train ride through Sweden’s lush summer landscape.
Contrasts. I live for them. Thought about contrasts during this morning’s super-early, jet lag induced jog around Malmö, Just a few days ago, I was running between the piers. The morning’s weather was spectacular with a temperature not too different from what I had been getting used to in Venice Beach. I didn’t see a single homeless person this morning, though. Then again it was early.
I tried hard to eat well while in California. It certainly ain’t easy. There’s just so much good tasting food to be enjoyed everywhere. On two occasions, I had one of these bagel platters they serve at Cow’s End. A breakfast with that kind of massive calorie intake meant I could skip lunch without feeling any loss of energy. Have yet to find a place that makes bagels in Sweden.
Ten days in Los Angeles – primarily Venice Beach – is food for the soul. For mine, anyway. I’ve met family, spent time with a few old friends and made some new, interesting acquaintances. Most importantly, there’s been adequate time for well-needed introspection. On life in general and more specifically on what I should focus on creatively henceforth. What will propel and satisfy me into the next phase? Where will the next challenges come from?
Change is good. Challenges are better.
It’s soon time for new endeavors. Geographically and artistically. This is precisely what I’ve been contemplating/pondering whilst surfing, running or shooting under the California sun.
Through an unforeseen but nonetheless fortunate chain of events, I met a couple of inspiring fellows during morning coffee at Cow’s End; Larry, a photographer and visual artist and Roy, a short story film director and writer. I met both just after my arrival to L.A., which in itself made the trip worthwhile. Creatively speaking, that is.
Roy and I had actually met during last year’s visit. This time, he introduced me to Larry who had also just recently finished a book project about Vietnam and could fully relate to the creative void I’ve been experiencing following the publication of the book about Malmö Opera.
During a few walks along Venice Pier, Larry and I spoke at great length about this conundrum and other related topics and Larry gave me (perhaps inadvertently) the intellectual push I needed to pursue a relatively new path I’d been feeling somewhat anxious about.
The photo above is the Airbus 380 I flew with from LAX to Frankfurt. The ride over continental USA and then across the north Atlantic was extremely bumpy and sleep was sporadic at best.
Frankfurt is one of the most confusing airports I’ve ever had the displeasure of visiting. The often unclear and therefore misleading signage and lack of manned information stations almost caused me to miss my connecting flight to Copenhagen.
Okay, so I was tired after the turbulent eleven hour flight. But never before have I had to pass through three different passport control stations during an hour long stopover!
Surprisingly, the security and checkin process at LAX was, if not exactly pleasant, than at least painlessly smooth.
The Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport is hopefully going to be used as a benchmark when airports like JFK and Newark one day decide to modernize.
It’s going to be interesting to see how long this trip’s jet lag lasts…so far, it’s pretty much topsy turvy.
From this morning’s ballerina themed shoot in Venice Canals and Venice Beach. Great working with a professional model like Tiffany Crystal. So little direction needed. And she was extremely confident and agile in her poses – in no small way thanks to 13 years of ballet experience.
Like every morning these last three visits to Venice, I take in my morning coffee (two shots of Guatemalan espresso topped off with a few drops of organic coconut milk) at Cow’s End together with a group of locals – most of which have worked or still work in the film and/or entertainment industry.
I barely know everyone by name, but there is certainly no shortage of interesting and inspiring characters among them.
Enjoyed another 10k run this before coffee morning. It’s finally getting warmer and sunnier. Hope it stays that way until it’s time to head back to what I hear is an almost despicably but not unheard of cold and wet Scandinavian summer.