Sunday, January 22, 2017

Jimmy Jump and his Catalan Barretina

His stunts have made him the most famous pitch invader in the world – but, with the prospect of bankruptcy looming, his actions have come at a cost.
Jimmy Jump, a 42-year-old Catalan whose real name is Jaume Marquet i Cot, has disrupted international sports and cultural events across the globe for at least the last decade. He now claims that 50 per cent of his monthly income is being automatically channelled through to unspecified legal authorities, in order to pay off the hundreds of thousands of euros worth of fines collected due to his antics.
“I have no money,” he told the website, “My total debt is around $350,000 (£220,000).” Mr Marquet i Cot first hit the headlines when he staged a one-man invasion of the starting grid during the parade lap of a Formula One grand prix at the Montmelo circuit near his birthplace of Sabadell, a town in Barcelona’s industrial hinterland. A diehard Barcelona fan, Mr Marquet i Cot then became a somewhat tediously regular, if uninvited feature of many of that team’s fixtures, invariably wearing his trademark barretina.
Perhaps the “highpoint” of his career, though, came at the 2010 World Cup. Mr Marquet i Cot covered the trophy with one of his barretinas minutes before the Spanish and Dutch finalists took to the pitch.
Also that year, he managed to find his way onto the stage during the Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo, barretina and all.
“I didn’t know what happened until I heard the crowd react,” tennis star Roger Federer said when Mr Marquet i Cot wearing his barretina ran towards him during the French Open final in 2009. “So that gave me a fright seeing him so close.”
“Normally they look at you and say ‘sorry I have to do this’, but this guy looked at me and I was not sure what he wanted. He seemed to want to give me something.” – in Mr Marquet i Cot’s case, a barretina.
On his website, Mr Marquet i Cot says his predilection for barretines is due to the red Phrygian caps’ popularity amongst 1789 French revolutionaries, making them a symbol of liberty. He wishes, he writes, “to communicate the freedom of expression in an world which is increasingly under the control of the media”.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The 45th President

When I included the picture below in my second last newsletter, numerous people responded. Some liked it and were happy to see it there (one customer actually confessed that he uses his beret for this very purpose - what power of visualisation!), but others were negative in response (to say the least).
To the comment that I should stay out of politics, I can only say that Basque berets have always played a prominent role in world politics; sometimes on the "bad side", but mostly as a representation of humanity, of decency and intellectualism over primitive and aggressive behaviour. 
As a son of a holocaust survivor, having witnessed atrocities in many conflicts around the world (while working in medical emergency aid), having worked for Amnesty International, with refugees and asylum seekers for many years, I find it not right to stay quiet on this day - the inauguration of an American president who is openly and without any shame racist and sexist; who admirers murderous dictators; vows to step back on everything of the progress gained over the last years and cares about nothing but himself.  
On the risk of offending or losing customers, I can only say protect yourself and do good, from under your Shield.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Catalan Barretines!

New at South Pacific Berets: Catalan Barretines!
A barretina is a traditional Catalan man’s hat. It is a hat in the form of a bag, made of wool, traditionally red or purple. In variants, it was worn by people in various cultures around the Mediterranean Sea, like Catalonia, Valencia, Ibiza, Provence, Corsica, Sicily, Sardinia and parts of the Balkans and Portugal.

Today, use of the barretina is not common in everyday life, but it is regularly used in folklore dances, or as a symbol of Catalan identity. Pablo Picasso and Salvador DalĂ­ were great advocates for the barretina. And recently, there has been resurgence in wearing barretines, due to the movement for Catalan independence.
South Pacific Berets stocks barretines from three traditional manufacturers from Catalonia; made according to age old tradition in acrylic or 100% natural wool, "nude" or fully lined, showing artisan craftsmanship and offering great comfort.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


These pictures were taken some 40-50 years ago, along the river Seine in Paris. 
The photographer describes the occasion as follows: "while walking along the Seine on a sunny afternoon, I see three men in thick blue woolen coats warming themselves in the late October sun. I recognize these coats; they come from "CASH" (the Home of Hospital and Home Care) in Nanterre.
Carrying my camera, I dare ask, after some hesitation, if I can take their portraits. One of them, the most assured, gives me his name and eyes the camera with a tranquil air.
The second one strikes more of a pose, staring at the horizon (but really, I think he doesn't dare look into the camera). 
The third man remains seated, looks a little frightened but still, doesn't refuse to have his picture taken. In those days, we called these people "clochards" (bums), but despite saying "homeless" now, I wonder if they are treated any better by society..."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dr Who's UNIT

UNIT, or Unified Intelligence Taskforce (formerly United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) is a fictional military organisation from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Operating under the auspices of the United Nations, its purpose is to investigate and combat paranormal and extraterrestrial threats to the Earth. In the original Doctor Who series, several UNIT personnel (such as the Brigadier) played a major role in the programme.
Following the broadcast of the 2005 Doctor Who series, executive producer Russell T Davies claimed that the UN were no longer happy to be associated with the fictional organisation, and the UN's full name could now no longer be used. However, the "UNIT" and "UN" abbreviations could be used, as long as it was not explained what the letters stood for. In 2008, he announced that the organisation's name had been changed to the "Unified Intelligence Taskforce". This new name was first mentioned on-screen in "The Sontaran Stratagem", also in 2008, in which it was indicated in a line of dialogue that the United Nations still supports UNIT with funding.
The berets of UNIT are for sale at a good price here

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Peter Magubane

The story of Peter Magubane, from the Guardian:
"Working as a black photographer in apartheid South Africa was not easy. You had to always know where you were and who was around you. If the police were there, you couldn’t take photos – and the police were always there. If it was difficult for me to get a shot openly, I’d have to improvise: hide my camera in a loaf of bread, a half-pint of milk, even a Bible. When I got back to the office, I had to have a picture with me no matter what. My editors at the Rand Daily Mail would not take any nonsense. But that was fine – they wanted the pictures and I wanted to become one of the greats."
"I did not want to leave the country to find another life. I was going to stay and fight with my camera as my gun. I did not want to kill anyone, though. I wanted to kill apartheid. My editors always pushed me. “Work as hard as you can,” they’d say, “to defeat this animal apartheid. Show the world what is happening.”
I never staged pictures. They were moments I came across. I took this in 1956, while driving through a wealthy suburb in Johannesburg. I saw the girl on the bench and stopped. The woman worked for her parents, most likely a rich local family.
These labels – “Europeans only”, “Coloureds only” – were on everything, by order of the government. When I saw Europeans only, I knew I would have to approach with caution. But I didn’t have a long lens, just my 35mm, so I had to get close. I did not interact with the woman or the child, though. I never ask permission when taking photos. I have worked amid massacres, with hundreds of people being killed around me, and you can’t ask for permission. I apologise afterwards, if someone feels insulted, but I want the picture.
I took about five shots and went straight back to the office. I processed it, then showed it to the editor and he said it was wonderful. It was published worldwide: for a lot of countries, apartheid was the news of the day. Ever since, I have been trying to find the woman and child. I have no leads, but I would love to say: “Thank you very much, for not interfering with me when I took this.”
I was arrested many times and the police would beat the hell out of me. They fractured my nose once because I refused to expose my film and ruin my images. In 1974, they arrested me and I was put in solitary confinement for 586 days. You weren’t told you’re going to solitary in apartheid South Africa: you only found out when you reached your cell.
You didn’t get visitors. The only person you saw was the guard, who would say: “Don’t talk to me.” But I knew there were people in worse shape than I: Namibians in cells downstairs were beaten every day, every night. Fortunately I was not beaten, because they knew my newspaper was looking out for me. All they could do was lock me away. A bird would come and sit on the windowsill. When I stood up, it would fly away. All I could think about was how much I wanted to be that bird.
Towards the end of 1975, I was released but banned from taking photos for five years. I couldn’t leave my house without the police knowing. When they released me, I said to myself: “I am not going to abide by the rules of these people. I am taking pictures, not committing a crime.” So in 1976, when the Soweto uprising happened, I went with my camera and a vengeance. Because of my photos, the entire world saw what was happening."

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Beret Project is Back!

Yes, The Beret Project is back from (southern hemisphere) summer holidays!
And after enjoying beautiful Waiheke Island and Kennedy Bay at the Coromandel Peninsula, all revived to "go berets" again at full speed.
Much to do, on my return to Wellington. All the orders placed over the last 10 days have now been shipped, but there is a lot of new stock to get into.
Barretines from Catalonia (!), custom made Super Lujo's and two-tone berets from Tolosa; responding to all unanswered mail, ordering stationary, work on the Newsletter...
Much to look forward to over the next few days!
Thanks for staying with me and let's go for a great beret year!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Southern Hemisphere Summer Holidays

Yes, that time of year again, when the northern hemisphere dresses up, fighting the cold, working hard at staying warm and we, down here at the bottom of the world, spent our time in shorts and T-shirts (and cotton berets!), lying on the beach, splashing ourselves in sunscreen and ensuring we drink enough...
And although South Pacific Berets and Boneteria Aotearoa remained open over the Christmas/New Year's holidays, we do close shop for 10 days from today.
But don't despair; the website remains open 24/7 and all orders placed will be shipped on or before 16 January!
Meanwhile, every day an interesting, fascinating, shocking, sexy, beautiful, contemporary or vintage photograph.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Xavier Cugat

Xavier Cugat (1900 – 1990) was a Spanish-American bandleader and native of Spain who spent his formative years in Havana, Cuba.
A trained violinist and arranger, he was a leading figure in the spread of Latin music in United States.
In 1931, Cugat had taken his band to New York for the 1931 opening of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and he eventually replaced Jack Denny as the leader of the hotel's resident band. For 16 years, Cugat helmed the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel's orchestra, shuttling between New York and Los Angeles for most of the next 30 years. One of his trademark gestures was to hold a chihuahua while he waved his baton with the other arm.
Cugat was also a cartoonist.  The personal papers of Xavier Cugat are preserved in the Biblioteca de Catalunya.