Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jimmy Mirikitani

"Make art not war" is Jimmy Mirikitani's motto. This 85-year-old Japanese American artist was born in Sacramento and raised in Hiroshima, but by 2001 he is living on the streets of New York. 

Jimmy Mirikitani survived the trauma of WWII internment camps, Hiroshima and homelessness by creating art. But when 9/11 threatens his life on the New York City streets and a local filmmaker brings him to her home, the two embark on a journey to confront Jimmy’s painful past.

The Cats of Mirikitani is the cinematographic result of Mirikitani's encounter with documentary maker Linda Hattendorf.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Beretman Cartoon

A bit different from most beret-comics, with super heroes under green and red berets, is this Beretman

Not the best advertisement for berets, maybe, but he does deserve his place on The Beret Project.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Censorship on The Beret Project

A faithful follower of The Beret Project  questioned me on censorship of this site; he had posted a comment which wasn't published until I had approved it (moderated it, as calls it), a day or so later. 
Fair comment, but let me assure you: all relevant posts are published! 
It is amazing though how many comments don't get my Big Brother approval: from Latin American ladies wishing to have a naughty chat with the readers of this blog to racist comments directed to the President of the United States, via words of nationalist or ethnic supremacy and the advertising of quick money loans or lawyers looking for people to relieve their clients of a couple of million worth of $$ (interesting that last one, yes, but there may be a catch somewhere...).

Well, I have got nothing against Latin American ladies (some of them are among my best friends, actually) and it is a nice feeling to not having to worry about the politics of an American president for a change. 
I am not against money (or relieving the very rich from some of their assets to benefit less fortunate people), but altogether, I'm quite happy with what I have. 
What I mean to say is that I like to keep The Beret Project a Beret Project, really - a blog on everything beret - including politics, sex and money where it is relevant!

Comments welcome...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Osamu Tezuka

Dr. Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) was a Japanese graphic novel author, or manga artist and very well known for wearing his Basque beret. 

Tezuka first started to work in the comics industry at the age of seventeen, drawing a comic strip for a newspaper; a year later he published his first full-length manga book,Shintakarajima, "New Treasure Island", based on a story by Shichima Sakai.Tezuka’s works had tremendous impact on Japanese culture, literature and film, especially during the post-war period. 

His work focused on the themes of the progress, technology, environmentalism, tolerance, and reincarnation, and his messages of hope and calls for greater social responsibility have made him one of the most respected cultural figures of 20th century Japan. 

In America, Tezuka’s best known creation is the world-renowned children’s series Astro Boy, but in his lifetime he drew more than 150,000 pages of manga, touching on every style and genre, writing for every age-group from young children to mature audiences, and single-handedly creating the majority of the genres and character-types we see in manga and anime today.
Distinct themes for which Tezuka is best known:

  • Prejudice and intolerance, and whether it is possible for two races to coexist in peace.
  • War, its psychological causes and effects on individuals and societies.
  • Transformation and the appeal of unleashing bestial and evil portions of the psyche.
  • Environmentalism and the balance between man and nature.
  • Science and Medicine, their purposes and limitations.
  • Reincarnation and the cycles of life and death and the rise and fall of civilizations.
  • Buddhism and where it succeeds and fails to satisfy the human need for spiritual guidance.
And, Tezuka was always happy to portray himself, in- and outside his stories, with his Basque beret. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sun Washed Tolosa Tupida's

Not more than a few weeks ago, I posted an ad for South Pacific Berets' latest addition: the "faded denim Basque beret". I never imagined these berets to be so popular!

I now found out that the correct term is "sun-washed"; as if the wearer of this beret has been wearing it for many months under the blistering sun on the Argentinean campo. And yes, they are beautiful berets; nicely lined with satin and with the embroidered Tolosa Tupida label sewed on. 

South Pacific Berets expanded the range of these sunwashed berets with maroon and green coloured models and, if ordered directly from this blog, these berets go for $29.50!

Denim Blue

The Beret and the U. S. of A.

My rough estimate is that only 3.8% of the pictures on The Beret Project originate in the United States, the same country where the vast majority of visitors of this blog come from, according to web stats 43.4% (not to mention most customers of South Pacific Berets). 
With such a discrepancy, there must be something wrong here...

I tried to correct this imbalance, but strangely, what I found are, apart from the occasional academic or artist, mostly pictures of berets, not the actual headgear worn on top of one's head, or, even worse, base ball caps with berets on it!  

Even more worrying: most of them openly claim not to be the wearers, but to be the proud mother or baby of a beret wearer! And, of course, it's mostly related to the military or anti-revolutionary. It is a fascinating country...

But, as always, I am happy to hear your suggestions!

Monday, February 22, 2010


Although spotting a beret in the 
wild in France is
becoming harder this century, one can still find them in good numbers on the weekly markets, where vendors stay true to tradition.
I fail to understand why markets never took off in the US and Australia/New Zealand, apart from the odd Farmers Market...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Paolo Villaggio, or Accountant Ugo Fantozzi

Paolo Villaggio is an Italian actor, writer, director and comedian, especially famous for his grotesque irony and satire.

Villagio's books were translated and officially distributed in the countries behind the Iron Curtain, garnering very positive reviews and an impressive number of copies sold. The first book even received the Gogol Prize in Moscow. 
Ironically, while the governments of the East Bloc countries saw the satire of the ills of Capitalism in the books, the readers identified their plight with Fantozzi's, feeling victimized by authoritarian, faceless societies. 

Villagio has an impressive C.V. in books, films, theatre and television productions, but only with Fantozzi, directed by Luciano Salce in 1975, did he rise to film stardom.

Being a worker's man, Villagio was a faithful wearer of the Basque beret. 

Thanks, Massimo! 

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Makhila, or Basque Walking Stick

The makhila, the traditionnal Basque walking stick, is a symbol of honour and reflects a certain philosophy and way of life. Elegant, practical, a redoutable defensive weapon as well as a decorative object, the makhila is not only a mark of distinction but also a walking companion - a truly essential element in Basque life.
In the vanguard of Basque craftsmanship, the makhila is made by the Ainciart-Bergara family in the village of Larressore.

Discover, on this beautiful web site, the noble step-by-step method of fabrication, the ancestral "savoir faire" of the only Basque family who still make the makhila by tradition.

Pictures of Jean Ainciart in his 1924 workshop and Joanes Bergera in the same place in 1962.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Barry Sadler and the Ballad of the Green Berets

Barry Sadler (November 1, 1940 – September 8, 1989) was a Green Beret medic and Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.
Sadler became a musical phenomenon in 1966 with his hit song "Ballad of the Green Berets."The recording of his Vietnam songs was initiated by the urging of writer Robin Moore, author of the novelThe Green Berets which became a movie starring John Wayne.
Moore wrote an introduction to Sadlers' autobiography I'm a Lucky One, written with Tom Mahoney (Macmillan, 1967). The title of this book is also a Sadler recorded song. The "Ballad of the Green Berets" was picked up by RCA Records in early 1966 and became a fast-selling, reaching #1 on the yearly single charts. Sadler recorded an album of similarly themed songs, called Ballads of the Green Berets. None of the other songs on the album (which generally tell the common tales of soldiers serving in a time of war) made an impact.
Sadler was widely thought to be a writer of simple songs, and having an average voice.
Later in life and after serving time in prison for a fatal shooting, Sadler moved to Guatamala City, and it was there that he was fatally shot in the head in a taxi cab. The circumstances involving his death remain a mystery. It has been said that he shot himself accidentally, while some believe he was assassinated while training and arming the Contras. It is also possible that he was simply a victim of random violence.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cold, Cold, Cold (up there)

ice man with beret in Warsaw
Hard to believe when -finally- experiencing real summer here in Southern Hemisphere Wellington, NZ, but the papers tell me it's really cold up North, with continuing snow and ice all over the US and Europe.

That requires an appropriate reaction on The Beret project.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Black Panther Party

The Black Panther Party (originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was a revolutionary, Black nationalist organization in the United States founded by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and Richard Aoki.
Formed in October 1966, the party grew to national prominence in the United States and is an iconic representative of the counterculture revolutions of the 1960s. The group was founded on the principles of its "Ten-Point Program", which called for greater autonomy of black Americans and justice for many real and perceived slights against blacks. The groups political goals are often overshadowed by the violent episodes which constantly dogged them, violence which is due to the aggressive attitude of both the police and Black Panther Party Members.
The group fell apart in the early 1970s due to a combination of internal problems and suppression by state actors, especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation (whose methods included arrests, stirring-up of factional rivalries via infiltration and, allegedly, assassination).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ernesto Cardenal

Ernesto Cardenal Martínez (born January 20, 1925) is a Nicaraguan Catholic priest and was one of the most famous liberation theologians of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas, a party he has since left.
From 1979 to 1987 he served as Nicaragua's first Minister of Culture.
Cardenal is famous for his poetry and was also the founder of the primitivist art community in the Solentiname Islands, where he lived more than ten years (1965-1977).

Cardenal was nominated to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in May 2005.
Ernesto Cardenal with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and Raul Bulnes, vice president of the Pablo Neruda Foundation

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Émile Jacotey by Ange

Émile Jacotey is the fourth album by the French progressive rock band Ange, released in 1975, formed in 1970 by the Décamps brothers, Francis (keyboards) and Christian (vocals). They were initially influenced by Genesis and King Crimson, and their music is quite theatrical and poetic. Their first success was a cover of a Jacques Brel song Ces gens-là, on the album Le Cimetière des Arlequins.

The three other members of the band, in its first years (generally considered its best years), were Jean-Michel Brézovar on guitar, Gérard Jelsch on drums, and Daniel Hass on bass (and acoustic guitar).

Who the artist behind the album cover is, I don't know - but I like it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pins OF Berets

Badges and berets are like bread and butter, where it's the military berets concerned, of course.

There are some very interesting and beautiful military beret badges, but that's another story.

I find it interesting to see how many badges and pins there are of berets and, not surprising, there is a whole collector's culture around these pins too.
Here a few pretty samples from France; Superdupont, Pyreneen Cheese, Paris, Baquette & Wine, Beret factory Pierre Laulhere....

and unavoidable, some military pins as well: