Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011


That's right: Holidays! I'm off, from 24 December through somewhere mid-January.
That means only a daily picture on The Beret Project instead of a "real post" and also and will be closed for business.
Saying that, I'll try to answer emails whenever possible and all orders will be shipped out first thing on the 9th of January.

After three years of daily blogging on berets, I look forward to a bit of a break (Waiheke Island for Xmas, Hicks Bay for the first week of the new year). 
Time to think up new posts, collect material, photographs and anecdotes related to the beret, while working on my tan, growing my beard and showing off exotic berets. Back on 9 January.
All readers and customers: enjoy the holidays, have a wonderful New Year and be faithful to the beret!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Post for 2011: The Bangditos - Street Theater

In a loud and smoking blowup, a tiny, French-made car called the "Ente" breaks down. 

When two French tourists lose their way in the street and, with charming enthusiasm, involve one and all in their precarious distress, none of the amused onlookers can imagine that this daft duo could ever find their way back to Paris.

With grandiose fervor, situations become more complicated, streets more labyrinthine, and passers-by more hectic. But their "deux minutes" calms down any situation even when it takes 45 minutes.
1 2CV, 2 actors and up to 500 spectators. Anytime and anywhere - worldwide!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The German Series #19 - Henry lalane

Following yesterday's post, today a story from the other side. Henry Lalane came from the small village of Guinarthe-Parenties, halfway between Pau and Bayonne, in the south of France.
 After the German occupation of France in 1940, Lalane was made a forced labourer, a farmhand at the Maurer's farm in Berschweiler. Father Willi Maurer had died, so widow Maurer and her 5 and 6 year old sons could well do with the help. Lalane was treated as a member of the family, only having to return to the parish hall at night to sleep with fellow forced labourers. He was familiar with the work on the farm; feeding the animals, ploughing the fields, get firewood from the forest and harvesting the crops.  
March 1945 his long-term captivity ended and Henry returned home, to France. All the Maurer family had to remember him by was a photograpph, Basque beret on his head, cigarette hanging from his mouth and the two boys at his hands.
Until 2010...
Read the full story here (in German).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The German Series #18 - Hermann Eller

Hermann Eller (1925 - 2009) was a portrait and lanscape painter from Deggendorf, Germany. Born as Hermann Rott, he was adopted by the Eller family in Natterberg.
 Self portrait with Brown Beret
Hermann Eller started at a young age, winning numerous art competitions, until the war stopped him perfecting his skills. Drafted into the navy in 1943, he was taklen prisoner the next year and spent the remainder of the war as a forced labourer in a French mine. It was only in 1947 that Eller returned from captivity and back to art.

His first charcoal drawing was called  Baskenmütze mit Drillichjoppe, and the brown beret became his trademark since then.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The German Series #17 - TOX Girls

It's like the famous calendar of Pirelli tires; I never quite understand what young, sexy, nude girls have to do with the tires of a car.
German company TOX specializes in all sorts of fixings, heavy-duty anchors and hook screws combined with fixings, according to it's catalogue. 
Not the sort of business you'd instantly associate with scarcely dressed young women, and even more, scarcely dressed women with beret! Beats me...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Running of the Bulls, no, Nudes

Pamplona is the historical capital city of Navarre in Spain, the former Kingdom of Navarra.
The city is famous worldwide for the San Fermín Festival. from 6 - 14 July, in which the running of the bulls is the main attraction. 
This festival was first brought to widespread attention by Ernest Hemingway's novel The Sun Also Rises. Another time, other ethics...
Ernest Hemingway with a bull (with beret), 1927
While living in Europe, I hardly new of this antiquated event, but in the NZ daily papers photo's get on the front page year after year - 1000's of Kiwi's, Aussies's and Americans travel to Spain for the event every year - not to protest, but to participate, preferably donning a red beret.

These days there is no excuse for cruelty to animals for the amusement of people; tourists, most of them. PETA initiated the Running of the Nudes, as an alternative that in my humble opinion, wins on all fronts. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mikhail Vartanov (2)

I Will Wear Your Beret Papa is a photographic requiem by Martiros Vartanov, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, for his beloved father, Mikhail Vartanov, the member of the 2007 jury of Punto de Vista International Documentary Film Festival of Navarra, who passed away on New Year’s Eve 2009 in Hollywood, California. The 12 black and white photographs were made in Spain during the winter of 2007 and lovingly capture Vartanov in his famous beret on the streets of Pamplona, as well as his meetings here with Jean Vigo’s daughter, the film critic Luce Vigo, Andrei Tarkovsky’s sister Marina Tarkovskaya, and Russian filmmakers Alexander Gordon and Herz Frank.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mikhail Vartanov

The documentary oeuvre of director Mikhail Vartanov began with the wordless Color of Armenian Land (1969) featuring the world famous behind-the-scenes episodes of Sergei Paradjanov's landmark Sayat Nova (1969).
Vartanov's public support of the imprisoned Paradjanov and the outspoken criticism of Armenia's corrupt film industry resulted in a blacklist shortly thereafter - his films were suppressed, unmentioned by press and banned from submission to foreign film festivals.
In those years, Vartanov exquisitely lensed Artavazd Peleshian's classic Seasons of the Year (1975) and Gennadi Melkonian's comedy The Mulberry Tree (1979). During the collapse of the Soviet Union, Vartanov directed the trilogy Erased Faces (1987), Minas: A Requiem (1989) and Paradjanov: The Last Spring (1992) - his masterpiece - a staggering drama about the man whom the regime persecuted but who stood his ground and triumphed.
The following decade Vartanov spent conducting film and photo experiments in a small Hollywood apartment. He will next appear in Erased Faces II by Martin Vartanov with whom he is producing Evrika, a film based on a method they call "direction of the undirected action."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The German Series #16 - Hans-Joachim Roedelius

Hans-Joachim Roedelius, born in Berlin in 1934, starred as a child in a number of UFA films. He fled Berlin in 1943, moving from one place to another before being conscripted into the National People's Army (NVA) of the German Democratic Republic. Again he took flight, only to end up in prison. 
He trained as a male nurse, then as a hospice orderly. Having relocated from East to West Berlin, he went on to meander through Europe (as a thatcher, detective, masseur, bartender, cleaning toilets), before finally becoming a freelance artist, with avant-garde music his prime focus. Co-founder of Berlin's first free art studio, the Zodiak Arts Lab (1967), he was also a founder member of various groups: Human Being, Kluster, Cluster, Harmonia, Tempus Transit and Lunzprojekt.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Life was a weekly news magazine launched by Luce in 1936, with a strong emphasis on photojournalism. Life was published until 1972; as an intermittent "special" until 1978; and as a monthly from 1978 to 2000.
The Luce Life was the first all-photographic American news magazine, and it dominated the market for more than 40 years. The magazine sold more than 13.5 million copies a week at one point and was so popular that President Harry S. Truman, Sir Winston Churchill and General Douglas MacArthur all serialized their memoirs in its pages (his son featuring on the cover of Life, below).
Life was wildly successful for two generations before its prestige was diminished by economics and changing tastes. Since 1972, Life has twice ceased publication and resumed in a different form, before ceasing once again with the issue dated April 20, 2007. The brand name continues on the Internet and in occasional special issues.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Martin Martinček

There is more in life to enjoy than berets; photography, for example. When travelling, my best souvenirs are photo-books by local artists, like the book Ako sa kruti svet (How the world turns around), by the late Martin Martinček. It is only now that I realize there is one great picture of a beret wearing woodcutter in there, among an endless number of other fantastic and extraordinary hats (see below).

Born in 1913 in the village of Liptovski Peter in the northwest Slovak Liptov region, Martin Martinček had always felt a close communion with nature and the Slovak countryside. Like many others of his generation, the second World War interrupted his life and career as a lawyer. He lost his first wife, two sons, and his father during the Slovak National Uprising, a Slovak resistance movement against the German occupiers in 1944. After the war, he helped organize the Commission of Justice and the Commission of Finance. He rose to become head of the Presidium of the Slovak National Council in Bratislava. Trying times followed.Following the Communist seizure of power in February 1948, his fortunes faded. Martincek first found himself in prison, and was then forced to perform hard labor at a brickyard in a Liptov village. He later worked on a communal chicken farm. A heart condition added to his troubles.

As political conditions improved, Martincek's newly-found career in photography began a gradual turn for the better in the late 1950s. He never had his own studio; the Liptov countryside served that purpose, and it served him well. He became a member of the Union of Slovak Artists and went on to co-found the Janko Kral Literary Museum in Liptovsky Mikulas. His increasing success enabled him to become a freelance photographer by 1961; a flurry of exhibits followed. He co-published his photographs with the works of famous poets such as Laco Novomesky and Milan Rufus. By 1970 his talents were receiving considerable fame. Both the Czecho-Slovak government and the International Association of Photography based in Bern, Switzerland, awarded him honorary titles. Other successes followed, including his inspiration of director Dusan Hanak's award winning 1972 film, "Images of the Old World." Martincek obtained the ultimate recognition for his achievements in 1998, when he became the first photographer ever to receive the highly coveted award named for Slovakia's most celebrated artist, the Martin Benka Prize.Martin Martinček died on 1 May, 2004.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Betty Boop

Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character created by Max Fleischer. 
 She originally appeared in the Talkartoon and the Betty Boop film series. She has also been featured in comic strips and mass merchandising. Despite having been toned down in the mid-1930s to appear more demure, she became one of the most well-known and popular cartoon characters in the world.
Betty Boop is regarded as one of the first and most famous sex symbols on the animated screen; she is a symbol of the Depression era, and a reminder of the more carefree days of Jazz Age flappers
Her popularity was drawn largely from adult audiences, and the cartoons, while seemingly surreal, contained many sexual and psychological elements, particularly in the "Talkartoon," Minnie the Moocher, featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Władysław Brzosko

Władysław Brzosko was born into a Polish family in Siberia in 1912.
He trained in post-impressionist and cubist traditions at the Warsaw Fine Arts Academy during the 1930s, and continued his artistic education in Paris, before moving permanently to New York City in 1960.  
Self-Portrait in Paris Studio, 1959
Brzosko’s prolific output ranges from oil landscapes of New York City depicting views along the Hudson and Harlem Rivers to the "Warsaw Ghetto Series,” a tribute to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust; to Watergate, a satirical composition commenting on American politics in the 1970s. 
Portrait, 1984
He also created pastel and watercolor landscapes of Arizona, still lifes, and portraits. Brzosko has exhibited in Europe and in the United States.  
He commented on his style: "My art is very simple. I am a modern realist concerned with problems of composition, form and color."   Władysław Brzosko passed away in Arizona on May 26, 2011.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Scottish Variation on the Beret: the Tam O'Shanter

Like the Balmoral, the tam o'shanter is a bonnet, related to the beret worn by (Scots)men. It was named after the character Tam o' Shanter in the poem of that name by Robert Burns. The bonnet is made of wool with a toorie (pompon) in the centre, and the crown is about twice the diameter of the head. Originally they were only made in blue because of the lack of chemical dyes, and were called Bluebonnets. They are now available in plain colors or in different tartans.
A form of Tam o'shanter called the "General Service Cap" was worn during WWII by the infantry regiments of the British and Canadian armies instead of berets (which were made standard in the postwar years). They were plain khaki in colour and were stiffer than civilian tam o'shanters. Today, the Scottish Division and some regiments of the Canadian Forces continue to wear the Tam o' Shanter (abbreviated to TOS) as their 'battle headdress', it has a narrower, flat crown, with Highland battalions shaping theirs sloping down from back to front and the Lowland battalions wearing theirs with the excess material pulled to the right side, similar to a beret.
Some regiments of the Canadian Army wear different coloured toories: the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada have traditionally worn dark green; The North Nova Scotia Highlanders wore red toories during WWII; and the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders wore blue. Most regiments wear a khaki toorie, matching the hat.
In many regiments, it is traditional for soldiers to wear a tam o'shanter, while officers (and in some cases senior non-commissioned officers) wear the Balmoral or Glengarry instead.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Dutch Series #8 - Prinses Irene

Princess Irene of the Netherlands (born 5 August 1939) is the second child of the late Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
 Irene wearing the Carlist white (for women) beret at the yearly Carlist meeting on the  Montejurra
Following a long family tradition of causing scandals, Irene did her part very well. While studying Spanish in Madrid, she met Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma, eldest son of Carlist pretender to the throne of Spain Xavier, Duke of Parma. In the summer of 1963, Princess Irene secretly converted from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism. The first time the public or the Royal Family knew about the conversion was when a photograph appeared on the front page of an Amsterdam newspaper showing the Princess kneeling at a Mass in the Roman Catholic Church of Los Jerónimos in Madrid. News leaked out that she was engaged to Prince Carlos Hugo (b.1930), provoking a Protestant outcry and a constitutional crisis.
 Montejurra, 1973
A true drama in the Netherlands at the time, but much worse in my opinion, was her strong support for Carlism, the ultra-orthodox, conservative and sickly strain of Roman Catholicism that fought the Republic and offered strong support for Franco during and after the Spanish Civil War.
 Montejurra, 1973
Irene was very active in her husband's right-wing political cause, but over time they drifted away from right wing extremism to left wing sympathies and became a part of the international jet-set crowd. The prince, head of the Royal House of Bourbon-Parma, became a naturalized Spanish citizen in 1979. The couple had four children, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1981.
 Beret, badges and scarf of the Prinses Irene Brigade
Since then, Irene embraced new-age, conversing with trees and dolphins - a much more sympathetic cause (but I question how much sympathy the soldiers serving in the Prinses Irene Brigade feel for it...).