Thursday, March 5, 2015

Great News from Spain!

A massive shipment from Spain has just arrived!
Finally, the ‘Super Lujo’s’ in 244mm and 290mm are back in stock. But much better, some completely new models too!
The Boinas Exposición Soleil and Pirineos are Boinas Elósegui's berets with peak, similar to the French bérets casquette, yet distinctly different from their French brothers. The Exposición Soleil is a traditional beret with and added small peak, available in black and chocolate brown. The Exposición Soleil is a one-size model that easily stretches and adjusts to the individual wearer’s head size and shape.
The Exposición Pirineo is similar to the casquette; a true beret Basque with a peak pulled out under steam from the surplus material of the beret. A top quality beret (or boina) that is available in black and navy in two sizes (Mediana = size 55-58; Grande = 58-61).
Then there is the ‘Boina Elósegui Exposición Año 1858’, the follow-up of the ‘150 Años Edición Limitada’. The last was a limited edition indeed and is now out of production (there are a small number left in stock still, true collector items!), but Boinas Elósegui decided to bring out a similar beret in quality in an “unlimited edition”. All information can be found here.
The best thing of all, these berets are considerably cheaper!
Handmade by the oldest and only surviving Basque beret manufacturer in Tolosa (Gipuzkoa).

Leon Felipe

Felipe was born in Tábara, Zamora. His father was a notary public, and consequently very well off. His family comes from Santander. Later on, Felipe would study pharmacy and start a business as a pharmacist, mostly to please his father. However, literature was stronger and he joined up with an itinerant theater troupe. As a result, he was charged with fraud, due to the bankruptcy caused by his abandonment of business, and spent two years in jail. When he re-gained freedom, he started writing  literary reviews and later on his first books were published. He is one of the best contemporary poets of Spanish literature, and scholars have counted him among the generation of year 27.
He fought in the Spanish Civil War for the Spanish Republican Army against the Nationalist faction. In 1938 he left Spain and began a voluntary exile in Mexico, where he died.
His poetry touched upon the difficult Spanish situation and the feeling that history would repeat itself for the worst. His use of reiteration or repetition and the use of the verse in the biblical fashion brought him close to the works of Walt Whitman with a biblical and Hebrew flavor (Antología rota, 1947). His poetry also has characteristics of the Modernismo and the Vanguardismo movements (Drop a star, 1933). His poetry lacks rhyme.
He lived the last years of his life in Mexico, where he became a central character of the post war Spanish exiles. There he met actress and singer Sara Montiel, for whom he felt a great attraction. He died in Mexico City on 17 September 1968.
Seven of Felipe's poems were found in a notebook that Che Guevara was carrying when he was captured by the Bolivian Army and the CIA.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Paul Petzoldt and NOLS

Paul Kiesow Petzoldt (1908 –1999) was one of America's most accomplished mountaineers. 
He is perhaps best known for establishing the National Outdoor Leadership School in 1965. Paul made his first ascent of the Grand Teton in 1924 at the age of 16 (wearing cowboy boots), becoming the youngest person at the time to have done so.  
In 1938 Paul Petzoldt was a member of the first American team to attempt a climb on K2. For the climb he did not use assisted oxygen, he learned to use rhythmic breathing. He and Dan Bryant, from New Zealand, were the first climbers ever to traverse the Matterhorn twice in one day. During World War II Petzoldt served in the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division fighting on the Italian Front.
Before the establishment of NOLS, he had a hand in creating a Colorado addition to the Outward Bound program as well as the first guide service in the Tetons.
While Petzoldt did manage to reach the summit of the Grand Teton, he never made the summit at Post Peak in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of California.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Anton Saavedra

Usually, when there appears a Spanish miner or UGT (union) member  on this blog, it has everything to do with the Spanish Civil War, the time leading up to the conflict or the aftermath. But no, there are still beret-wearing miner activists in Astrurias.
Anton Saavedra was born in Moreda de Aller (Asturias) in 1948, and at the age of five moved to live in the mining basin Nalón where he still lives with his wife in the mining Slum The Juécara (Langreo).
Saavedra is the author of books such as “Secuestro del socialismo” (The Kidnapping of Socialism). His activities can be followed here

Monday, March 2, 2015

Al Kinnison

I found this tribute on the site of Felipe Zapata, 2006:
"We lost a good guy this week. Al Kinnison died here in Pátzcuaro in his rambling Colonial mansion on Calle Navarrete. He was 79. Al was a crusty fellow, a Libertarian, a keen intellect and, most of all, an Arizona cowboy. He believed in guns, self-reliance and freedom."
"He and his second wife, Jean, moved to Pátzcuaro, Mexico about seven years ago. Jean died last year of a heart attack. Al had cancer. A former mining engineer and naval officer who spoke English, Spanish and a little Japanese, Al did not care for government, which was one reason he moved to Mexico. He was against the Iraq war, but before you label him a liberal, know that he was also against government doing much of anything. Al just did not want to be messed with.
Ultra-polite, Al always stood for a lady. He did it even if you were not a lady. Opened their doors. He accepted no crude talk around them either. No, sir.
He often spoke of his desire to move to Guatemala. Government interference is increasing in Mexico, and it would be less in Guatemala, he believed. Guatemala was his final dream. His preferred mode of moving to Guatemala would have been on horseback. A Winchester would have been bouncing off the horse’s haunches. A Colt .45 would have been bouncing on his own hip.
Al was like that. Don’t be fooled by that prissy French beret in the photo. Al almost always sported a cowboy hat. But that was just one side. Al was a Rachmaninoff man . . . and romantic, though he would not have admitted it readily. He and Jean were often seen walking hand-in-hand through the plaza. So Al was a fighter and a lover. He enjoyed listening to Rachmaninoff quietly in his final weeks.

Al Kinnison was a classic example of the Gringo oddballs one sometimes finds in Mexico. Al was a great oddball, a rare one, a wonderful guy, and will be sorely missed."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Atahualpa Yupanqui

Atahualpa Yupanqui (1908 –1992) was an Argentine singer, songwriter, guitarist, and writer. He is considered the most important Argentine folk musician of the 20th century.
Yupanqui was born as Héctor Roberto Chavero Aranburu in Pergamino in the Argentine pampas. His father was a Criollo descended from indigenous people, while his mother was born in the Basque country. In a bow to two legendary Incan kings, he adopted the stage name Atahualpa Yupanqui, which became famous the world over.
In his early years, Yupanqui became radicalized and joined the Communist Party of Argentina. In 1931, he took part in the failed Kennedy brothers uprising against the de facto government of José Félix Uriburu. After the uprising was defeated, he was forced to seek refuge in Uruguay. He returned to Argentina in 1934.
Because of his Communist Party affiliation (until 1952), his work suffered from censorship during Juan Perón's presidency; he was detained and incarcerated several times. He left for Europe in 1949. Édith Piaf invited him to perform in Paris on 7 July 1950.
In 1952, Yupanqui returned to Buenos Aires. He broke with the Communist Party, which made it easier for him to book radio performances. Recognition of Yupanqui's ethnographic work became widespread during the 1960s, and nueva canción artists such as Facundo Cabral, Mercedes Sosa and Jorge Cafrune recorded his compositions and made him popular among the younger musicians, who referred to him as Don Ata.
In 1989, an important cultural center of France, the University of Nanterre, asked Yupanqui to write the lyrics of a cantata to commemorate the Bicentennial of the French Revolution. The piece, entitled "The Sacred Word" (Parole sacrée), was released before high French authorities. It was not a recollection of historical facts but rather a tribute to all the oppressed peoples that freed themselves. Yupanqui died in Nîmes, France in 1992 at the age of 84; his remains were cremated and dispersed on his beloved Colorado Hill on 8 June 1992.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Brig. Gen. Oscar E. Davis' Green Beret

I found this beret on an Ebay listing, the original green beret that once belonged to United States Army Brigadier General Oscar Esko Davis. 
Brig. Gen. Oscar E. Davis served 31 years with the US Army. He served in World War II, the Korean and the Vietnam War.
A native of Tucson, General Davis was commissioned through the ROTC at the University of Arizona in 1941. He is a combat veteran of World War II with the 541st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division, Korea as a battalion commander in the 45th Infantry Division, and Vietnam as the deputy of 1st Brigade, a separate Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, and as assistant division commander, 1st Calvary Division. After 31 years of distinguished service, General Davis retired from XVIII Airborne Corps as the chief of staff.
The interesting thing about this beret, one of the earliest US Green Berets, is of coarse that it is a Basque beret! There were no standardized military berets in the US Army at the time and the general wore a French made Basque. 
A nice piece of history and wouldn't it be great if all those US servicemen who moan and whine about berets on internet forums knew about this..?  love it!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Steve White and the Protest Family

Steve White and the Protest Family has been been together since 2009 and are best described as brash, witty, political folk/punk. You're as likely to find them playing to striking workers on a picket line as in a Camden pub. 
They're regulars at the Stow Festival in Walthamstow every year, and for two years they've hosted a Love Orient Hate Racism event in conjunction with Leyton Orient Football Club and the Kick It Out campaign. 
Steve himself is a dedicated boinero with a good collection of berets to choose from. 
The picture of Steve toasting the much-missed Kirsty Macoll was taken before a gig at the Bread and Roses in Clapham, London which was raising much needed funds for striking teachers from Lambeth College. 
"Steve White & The Protest Family remain the best band on the circuit, and are, without a doubt, the most personable, charming, comradely way of trojan horsing militant messages into unsuspecting audiences....." - Chris Fox
Photos  Dave Winter, Theo Michael and Paul Rutland

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Margaret Bourke-White at the Chrysler Building

American photographer and journalist Margaret Bourke-White (1904 - 1971) perches on an eagle head gargoyle at the top of the Chrysler Building and focuses a camera, New York, New York, 1935.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Noel Fullerton's Camels

Noel Fullerton was born in 1934 in Adelong, Australia. He met Isobel, his wife, in kindergarten and remained together, marrying at 16 years of age. 
The father of eight children,the grandfather of 32 and great grandfather to 7 children, he is seen as the patriarch of the Fullerton family. 
His interest in camels began after moving to the Northern Territory in the early 60s and being introduced to Sallay Mahommod, one of the only surviving camel workers at the time. The first ever camel race in Alice Springs was held along the Todd River with Noel pitted against Kurt Posel.
Needless to say, Noel lost,and he's been making up for it ever since. Noel has contributed to all previous Camel Cups, his camels only losing on a handful of occasions. He owned some of the fastest camels in Australia, holding many of the nation's records. Including 42mph clocked by Marindy Mick and a time of 27 seconds for 400 metres run by Sweet Alice in 1984. 
Noel is seen as the grandfather of the camel industry in Australia. He is now a legendary figure, a "Camel Man", whose knowledge of camels and expertise with them, made the Lions Clubs of Alice Springs Camel Cup the premier event of camel racing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Marie Louise Berneri

Marie Louise Berneri (1918 – 1949) was an anarchist activist and author. She was involved with the short-lived publication, Revision, with Luis Mercier Vega and was a member of the group that edited Revolt, War Commentary, and the Freedom newspaper, which is still being published by the Freedom Bookstore in London. 
She was a continuous contributor to Spain and the World. She also wrote a survey of utopias, Journey Through Utopia, first published in 1950. Neither East Nor West is a selection of her writings (1952).

Marie-Louise Berneri died, along with her baby, during childbirth, 13 April 1949 in London at the age of 31.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lucio Urtubia

Lucio Urtubia Jiménez (1931) is a Spanish anarchist famous for his practice of expropriative anarchism. At times compared to Robin Hood, Urtubia carried out bank robberies and forgeries throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
Lucio Urtubia was born in Cascante, the fifth child in a very poor family. His father, a Carlist was imprisoned and, while in jail, experienced a conversion to communism.
Recruited for military service, Urtubia and his companions ransacked a warehouse belonging to their company and deserted, fleeing to France in 1954. In Paris he began to work as a bricklayer, an occupation he continued with throughout his life. Additionally, he became involved with the Young Libertarians of the Fédération Anarchiste and befriended André Breton and Albert Camus.
Soon after moving to Paris, Urtubia was asked to hide a member of the Maquis, Spanish guerrillas who opposed Franco from exile, in his house. The refugee turned out to be the fabled Francesco Sabaté Llopart. Sabaté stayed on with Urtubia for several years, until his death.
Sabaté guided families and libertarians exiled in Toulouse, Perpignan and Paris and members of the old Spanish CNT in Barcelona, Saragossa, Madrid and Pamplona. Before the imprisonment of Sabaté halted these activities, Urtubia began to emulate his incursions into Spanish territory. Later he undertook a series of robberies and holdups to obtain funds for the revolutionary cause. Accompanied by his inseparable Thompson machine gun which he inherited after Sabaté's death.
By this time, Urtubia's falsification of documents had begun and no guerrilla or exile left him without false papers. He united with other libertarian companions to forge currency in the 1960s. With this strategy they financed numerous groups while attempting to destabilize the capitalist economy. With these activities, in the heat of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Urtubia proposed to Simeón Rose, the ambassador of Cuba in France, to destroy American interests in France using explosives. This offer was refused, nevertheless. He then presented Ernesto Che Guevara, the Cuban Minister of the Interior, with a plan for the massive forgery of American dollars. This proposal was likewise rejected and Urtubia left the meeting disillusioned.
The masterful blow that changed his life was the forgery of Citibank travellers' checks in 1977. This criminal undertaking included 8,000 copies of 25 checks worth 100 dollars each and damaged the bank so severely that its stock price fell. The stolen money was used, as always, in the aid of guerrilla movements in Latin America (Tupamaros, Montoneros, etc.) and Europe. In spite of the audacity of the forgery, Urtubia was only sentenced to 6 months in jail thanks to an extrajudicial agreement with Citibank, which dropped the charges in exchange for Urtubia's printing plates.
His life has been a continuous adventure: targeted by five international orders, including the CIA; he prepared the kidnapping of the Nazi Klaus Barbie in Bolivia; collaborated in the flight of the leader of the Black Panthers; interceded in the kidnapping of Javier Rupérez; mediated in the case of Albert Boadella; and worked with the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación and later with the Groupes d'action révolutionnaire internationalistes. He always defended his work, saying "we are bricklayers, painters, electricians - we do not need the state for anything"; "if unemployment and the marginalization created revolutionaries, the governments would already have ended unemployment and the marginalization". Urtubia continues to live in Paris and is now retired.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Josef Matthes

Josef Friedrich Matthes (1886 –1943) was head of the short lived Rhenish Republic. He was born on February 10, 1886 in Würzburg. He moved to Switzerland in 1909 and worked as an editor in Baden. By 1918 he was editor of the Social Democratic Party of Germany's newspaper in Aschaffenburg. In 1921 he was convicted of libel and sentenced to 6 months in prison after accusing the major of hoarding food. He fled to Wiesbaden, then under French occupation, where he worked as editor of the magazine "The Torch" (Die Fackel).
In early 1923 he was co-founder of the "Rheinischer Unabhängigkeitsbund", which sought independence for the Rhineland. In October 1923 he and his supporters seized the city of Koblenz in a putsch, founding the Rhenish Republic with Matthes as its leader. The power of the new government relied essentially on the French occupiers and the "Rhineland-protection forces". A massive wave of looting by the peacekeepers led to resistance in the population. By November riots led to killings in clashes between the security forces and opponents of the separatists. The strength of the resistance proved to much for the government and the "Republic" collapsed. Matthes fled to France.

By 1930 he was working as a journalist in Paris. After the Fall of France in 1940 he was arrested. In the following year he was extradited to Germany and deported to the Dachau concentration camp. He died there on October 9, 1943.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Notebook (Le Grand Cahier)

Towards the end of World War II, people in big cities are at the mercy of air raids and death by starvation. 
A desperate young mother leaves her 13-year-old twin sons at their grandmother’s house in the country, despite the fact that this grandmother is a cruel and brutal alcoholic. Previously pampered, the twins must learn how to survive alone in their new, rural surroundings. 
They realize that the only way to cope with the absurd and inhumane world of adults and war is to become completely unfeeling and merciless. By learning to free themselves from hunger, pain and emotion, they will be able to endure future hardships. 
Meanwhile, the twins keep a written record of all they have witnessed during the war – the “Notebook”. 

Friday, February 20, 2015


A special day for me today, this day that I turn 52. And I treat myself on this short video of the Paris Fashion Show 2014 which is literally loaded with the most interesting and unusual berets (and the people underneath wearing them).
And, as the saying goes: Make my Day, Buy a Beret!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pitika Ntuli

Pitika Ntuli (1942) is a South African sculptor, poet, writer, and academic who spent 32 years of his life in exile in Swaziland and the UK. He is currently Professor Extraordinaire at Tshwane University of Technology.
Pitika Ntuli has exhibited in several individual and group exhibitions in many countries in Europe and in the USA and has organised numerous international art and cultural events in Britain. Until 2010 he had never exhibited in his own country, South Africa. He has exhibitions planned in Durban and Pretoria for 2011.
Pitika Ntuli is an expert in African indigenous knowledge systems. He is a regular political and cultural commentator on SABC 2 every Saturday morning and his column is acknowledged as having increased the audience ratings of Weekend Live. He is a well-known poet and speaker who has been a keynote speaker at numerous high profile events and has read his poetry in many forums in the country and the Region.
He was the main organiser of the KwaZulu-Natal Millennium Parade and a key figure in the African Renaissance Annual Festivals in Durban. He is a frequent guest on TV and Radio and especially on many of the SABC African Language Radio stations. He was a judge for the Sunday Times Literary Awards (2009). He recently chaired the 2010 Task Team that advised the Minister of Arts and Culture with regard to cultural programmes associated with the World Cup, including the opening and closing ceremonies.
Pitika is married to Antoinette Ntuli; they have four sons, two daughters and four grandchildren.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Michel Simon

Michel Simon (1895 – 1975), was a Swiss actor. He appeared in the notable films La Chienne (1931), Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932), L'Atalante (1934), Port of Shadows (1938) and The Train (1964). The actor François Simon is his son.
Simon left his family as a youngster to go to Paris, where he lived in Montmartre. He worked many different jobs to survive, such as giving boxing lessons or peddling smuggled lighters. He devoured every book he could find. His artistic beginnings in 1912 were modest: magician, clown and acrobat stooge in a dancers' show called "Ribert's and Simon's.
Conscripted into the Swiss Army in 1914, he was often insubordinate, spending a lot of time in the stockade.
His film career was really boosted with the advent of talking pictures. People remarked that his elocution and voice tone were as original as his appearance and play. He then revealed his unclassifiable talent: action comedy, drama, tragedy, light comedy. He appeared in 55 plays from 1920 to 1965, and 101 from 1965 to 1975.

Simon was a trusted friend of elite brothel-keeper Madame Claude, who referred to him as one of her “essayeurs”: he "tried out" her new girls for her. “I could judge their physical qualities,” Claude said. “I could judge if she was pretty, intelligent, and cultivated, but I didn’t know how she was in bed. So I had some boys, good friends, who told me exactly. I would ring them up and say, ‘There’s a new one.’ And afterwards they’d ring back and say, ‘Not bad,’ ‘Could be better,’ or ‘Nulle.’ Or, on the contrary, ‘She’s perfect.’”
In the 1920s/1930s, Simon enjoyed associating with the Parisian lower classes.
Simon would say that he preferred "living with animals than humans". He lived for a long time in a kind of bohemian house in Noisy-le-Grand, near Paris. The house was surrounded by rank weeds, and filled with amazing bric-a-brac, including his large collection of erotica.