Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pariseko Eskual Etxea

Pariseko Eskual Etxea – the “Maison basque de Paris” was born over fifty years ago, during a time when young Basques moved in great numbers to the French capital.
 All these youth needed a place to get together and to reconnect with their roots and their origins. They also wanted to integrate into Parisian society and find their place.
One of their activities is the pelote competition, every summer in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, just north of Paris.
Basque Berets are prominently displayed on the posters!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CPAC, Brexit and a European Beret Revival

Last weekend's CPAC Congress in National Harbor, Maryland gave an interesting insight again in the wisdom of the US President, welcoming former UKIP leader Nigel Farage as 'Mr Brexit'.
What I found interesting is that the usual Republican/Conservative American issues such as abortion and God hardly came into the spotlight at the meeting. Following the populist right-wing parties in the Old World it was all about Islam, immigration and national identity with a wave of hysteria about a socialist takeover of the USA (!) thrown into the mix.
NRA director and speaker Wayne LaPierre followed the regimes of Hungary and Slovakia by condemning George Soros as the ugly brain behind all this (and the man who will take the guns away from Americans). 
It is fascinating to see how many Americans support the Brits in their Brexit, not bothered by factual information. 
Meanwhile, within the UK the movement to change and remain within the European Union is growing and to my personal delight, I found the beret has been made the headgear of choice for the movement!
A bit late, indeed, but there is still hope...

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jo Basile

Jo Basile was the pseudonym of Joss Baselli, accordionist and veteran of the French music scene in the 1950s and 1960s. 
Basile's parents were Italian emigrants to northern France, part of the large wave of Italians who came to work the coal mines in the Pas de Nord and Belgium. Although his parents ran a cafe, they were also great music enthusiasts, and Baselli began taking music lessons at the age of six. 
Basile's parents were Italian emigrants to northern France, part of the large wave of Italians who came to work the coal mines in the Pas de Nord and Belgium. Although his parents ran a cafe, they were also great music enthusiasts, and Baselli began taking music lessons at the age of six. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Vintage Posters Advertising Berets

The only evidence of some vanished beret manufacturers today is their advertising; a poster, some pictures, the occasional label or invoice. 
Pictured here some advertising of bonetaires that have somehow disappeared in the mists of time. 
Pantoufles et Bérets JÉVA
Le Béret Perchicot
Bérets Basques Iluro
Le Béret Rajeunit

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward.
The Wandervogel movement was officially established on 4 November 1901. The Wandervogel soon became the pre-eminent German youth movement. It was a back-to-nature youth organization emphasizing freedom, self-responsibility, and the spirit of adventure, and took a nationalistic approach, stressing Germany's Teutonic roots.
After World War I, the leaders returned disillusioned from the war. The same was true for leaders of German Scouting. So both movements started to influence each other heavily in Germany. From the Wandervogel came a stronger culture of hiking, adventure, bigger tours to farther places, romanticism and a younger leadership structure. Scouting brought uniforms (berets!), flags, more organization, more camps, and a clearer ideology.
This movement was very influential at that time. Its members were romantic and prepared to sacrifice a lot for their ideals. That is why there are many to be found on both sides in the Third Reich. Some of the Wandervogel groups had Jewish members; Jewish youth and adults had their own Wandervogel group called "Blau-Weiss" ("blue-white"), and this eventually became a Zionist youth movement; other Jewish scouting movements such as Hashomer Hatzair were influenced by the Wandervogel. Other groups within the movement were anti-semitic or close to the Nazi government.
From 1933 the Nazis outlawed the Wandervogel, German Scouting, the Jungenschaft, and the Bündische Jugend, along with most youth groups independent of the Hitler Youth.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Alaskan dogs in the Vosges during the Great War

The winter of 1914-1915 in the Vosges was one of the most severe of the beginning of the century. On the ridges the snow often reached 2 meters in height and the accumulation of snow made the work of the mules long and difficult. Soldiers had to continually clear snow to clear the passage. Their work quickly proved ineffective.
"The situation of the soldiers who, in the front line, defend the very strategic blue line of the Vosges is catastrophic: cut from their rear base by heavy snowfall, it is impossible to supply them with food and ammunition”, says a report.
The front resists but thousands of Chasseurs Alpins lose their lives. It is essential to prevent the disaster from recurring the following winter, at the risk, this time, of the total invasion of French territory by the Germans.
Having lived in Alaska before the conflict, Captain Louis Moufflet of the 62nd Battalion of Chasseurs Alpins and the infantry Lieutenant René Haas, who before the war was a prospector of gold in Alaska propose to get snow and winter hardy dogs from Alaska.
A mission is sent to America, but shortage in funding and poor cooperation from Americans in the name of Neutrality (advocated by President Wilson, the United States will not enter the war until April 1917) are serious hindrances.
In the end, 436 dogs were assembled; harnesses made, seventy sledges constructed as well as five tons of prepared special biscuits. Together, they make up the largest dog pack ever gathered in the world and shipped to France.
The dogs did exactly what was hoped for and played an important part in winning the war. Three of the Alaskan dogs were decorated with the Croix de Guerre.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Harold Clayton Lloyd & Mildred Hillary Davis

Harold Clayton Lloyd Sr. (1893 –1971) was an American actor, comedian, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer, who is most famous for his silent comedy films.
Mildred Hillary Davis (1901 – 1969) was an American actress who appeared in many of Harold Lloyd's classic silent comedies and eventually became his wife.
The couple had three children including Gloria Lloyd and Harold Lloyd Jr. They remained very close for their entire life together. Although Lloyd's individual films were not as commercially successful as Chaplin's on average, he was far more prolific (releasing twelve feature films in the 1920s while Chaplin released just four), and made more money overall ($15.7 million to Chaplin's $10.5 million).
Both were regular beret wearers.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bonetaire turns 55!

Yes, it's that day of the year again... 55 years ago I was born in one of the coldest winters on record in the Netherlands.
And although I wasn't wearing a beret when leaving the Majella Hospital in Bussum, 2 days old, I was transported home in a Citroën 2CV (which made for a good start as a life of being a bonetaire).
To remind you, and myself, that 55 is actually still spring-chicken-like young, here some pictures of boineros who have been walking around even longer on this planet. 
And to repeat my daughter's famous sales pitch: MAKE HIS DAY, BUY A BERET!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Teapot by Lorisa Pottery of Guadalajara Mexico

Surprisingly, beret wearing never took hold in Mexico (unlike countries like Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay), despite a large Basque immigrant population.
Similarly, berets are not commonly associated with drinking tea; if any drink, it would be coffee and wine, maybe some Armagnac, Pastis or the occasional beer.
However, the famous Lorisa Pottery of Guadalajara, Mexico combines both rarities - creating a teapot in the shape of a boinero.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Thunder in the Sun

Thunder in the Sun is a 1959 western film directed by Russell Rouse starring Susan Hayward and Jeff Chandler.
The film shows a family of French Basque immigrants pioneering into the Wild West while carrying their ancestral vines (and wearing their berets). Hard drinking trail driver Lon Bennett is hired to lead them and he falls for the spirited Gabrielle Dauphin.
The film is infamous among Basques for its misunderstandings of Basque customs, such as the use of the xistera (a device of the jai alai sport) as a weapon or shouting irrintzi ululations as meaningful communication. 
Other commentators, though, have noted the well-staged action scenes, the absorbing story, and the excellent cinematography. Which is a marvel since 90% of the lead actors scenes were shot in a studio with projected backgrounds.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lawrence Block

Lawrence Block (born June 24, 1938) is an American crime writer best known for two long-running New York–set series about the recovering alcoholic P.I. Matthew Scudder and the gentleman burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr. Block was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1994.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Lawrence Block attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH, but left before graduating. His earliest work, published pseudonymously in the 1950s, was mostly in the soft-porn mass market paperback industry, an apprenticeship he shared with fellow mystery author Donald E. Westlake. 
Block describes the early sex novels as a valuable experience, noting that despite the titillating content of the books (rather mild by later standards of adult fiction) he was expected to write fully developed novels with plausible plots, characters and conflicts. He further credits the softcore novels as a factor in his prolific output; writing 15 to 20 sex novels per year to support himself financially, Block was forced to learn to write in a manner that required little revision and editing of his first drafts.
Block's most famous creation, the ever-evolving Matthew Scudder, was introduced in 1976's The Sins of the Fathers as an alcoholic ex-cop working as an unlicensed private investigator in Hell's Kitchen. Originally published as paperbacks, the early novels are in many ways interchangeable; the second and third entries—In the Midst of Death (1976) and Time to Murder and Create (1977)—were written in the opposite order from their publication dates. 1982's 8 Million Ways to Die (filmed in 1986 by Hal Ashby, with unpopular results) breaks from that trend, concluding with Scudder introducing himself at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Stunningly Beautiful Curcuma!

If there ever was a contest for the most stunningly beautiful beret, the Auloronesa in 'curcuma' would score very, very high!
For many years, I have tried to get a beret in this colour (think of the Le Béret Français and Czech Classic in 'mustard'), but these are no competition for this Auloronesa. It's a natural dye that is very hard to get right, but Boneteria Auloronesa did the job. I have a very small number in 9.5 and 10p only, but hope to persuade the manufacturer to make another batch in 10.5, 11 and 12p-Alpin (no guarantee this will come to fruition).
In the shipment, I received the often requested and now custom made 9.5p universels in navy; 5 only, for those boineros with a taste for small diameter berets.
More news about Boneteria Auloronesa, Laulhère, Bonigor and Arandú can be found in the newsletter that went out today.