Thursday, July 24, 2014

Basque Street Photographer Jontxu Fernandez

Jontxu Fernandez is an amateur photographer, 42 years old who lives in Sopelana, a little village near Bilbao, in the (Spanish) Basque country.
He works as a video postproduction and camera recorder. His love of photography was given through his father mainly, always taking photos with his Yashica. Jontxu became more interested in photography in high school, where he made a black and white laboratory and started to experiment.
 The last two years I have been more active in my photography and I must confess that making digital photos has given me more freedom. Now I have the lab at the computer and I can check the results in a more comfortable way.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'The Dictator' DVD Release

Sacha Baron Cohen's film 'The Dictator' DVD Release was promoted by a group of sexy dressed young women and a goat in Beverly Hills.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Harvey Buttonshaw - Australian Veteran of the POUM and Anarchist Militias

A most interesting tribute, written by Joe Toscano:

Buttonshaw was born in England around 1915. He volunteered for service in the Spanish Civil War as an 'ILP supporter' and initially fought alongside George Orwell in a Trokyist militia, the P.O.U.M. He delighted in telling the story of how he told George Orwell to keep his head down or he would be shot. Just after he uttered his warning, Orwell was shot through the neck.
When the P.O.U.M militias were destroyed by the communists, he joined the anarchists and fought in F.A.I. anarchist militias on the Aragon front and Catalonia. With tens of thousands of other participants in the Spanish Civil War he fled over the Spanish border into France. He managed to stay out of the camps the refugees were herded into and with the help of some of the French Anarchist Groups he made his way to Paris just as WWII broke out. The only way he could escape from France after the Nazi invasion was to join the French Foreign Legion.
Harvey Buttonshaw - veteran of the POUM and anarchist militias
He was posted to West Africa by the Vichy government and found himself fighting for the Nazis. He deserted and then began a remarkable story of courage and luck. Four of them escaped the Foreign Legion. They crossed West Africa and the Sahara desert. He was the only one who survived. He made his way across the Sahara desert on foot until he bumped into British soldiers in Libya.

Harvey returned to England and joined the merchant navy eventually reaching Australia in 1949. He worked around Australia in a variety of capacities and eventually settled down in Lovers Hill in the Otway ranges in Victoria building his own home with his own hands.
At the end of his life, Harvey was honoured by both the French and Spanish governments for his contributions. He lived in the bush at Lavers Hill with his long suffering wife, waiting for death. His life was full of periods of energy and utter exhaustion. I can't remember if he had any children, all I can remember is that he made his way to Australia after WWII, put his head down and did what every immigrant did, make a buck, built a home, got married. Life went on and on, the past became a blurred memory until his interest in his past was rekindled by his contact with this group of young anarchists who thought they could change themselves and the world.

Harvey Buttonshaw died in the mid 1990's after living one of the most interesting lives possible. He didn't believe in God or the state or leaders. He had no faith in government. His newfound brush with fame was due more to his ability to survive than anything else. I thought he may have some answers, maybe he knew the purpose of life. He'd survived while his comrades died. He was covered with the stench of death but survived. Why was he spared? I asked him, he looked at me.

"Joe" he said, "I'm here and they're dead because of plain stupid luck! There's no purpose in life, no master plan, you live it, you die. Whether you live or die has no more rhyme or reason than what card you pick when you cut a deck of cards".

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Bérets and Foulards (Alpin) Universel en Couleur!

I am very proud to announce that the Bérets Universel by Boneteria Auloronesa are now also available in colour!
South Pacific Berets bought the first batch of these berets which are not available anywhere else - crazy as it is, as I honestly believe these are the very best berets one can find - anywhere!
Available in 10 pouces (28cm diameter), 11 pouces (31cm diameter) and in the grand Tarte Alpin version of 12 pouces (336mm diameter).
All these berets are of the 'foulard' quality - unequalled quality in every respect.
Click here for more information and ordering:

Bonnie & Clyde: Dead and Alive

In December, 2009 I first published a post on Bonnie and Clyde, the Depression era duo that inspired 1000's and 1000's Americans to wear a beret.
As with all the classics, one could wait for a remake and indeed, last year Bonnie & Clyde: Dead and Alive appeared as a television film. A number of actresses tried (and were hired) for the role of Bonnie, like Disney child star Hilary Duff and Lindsay Pulsipher, but in the end, Holliday Grainger got the role. 
Not exactly the success of Fay Dunaway and the massive groth of beret wearing young ladies I still have to see, but, who knows... There'll be another remake at some stage.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Orcs and Txapelas

Our present-day conception of an orc or ork is one of a race of mythical humanoid creatures, generally described as brutish, aggressive and repulsive, stemming from the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, where orcs contrast with the benevolent Elvish race. In Tolkien's writings, orc is another word for goblin. Tolkien developed his idea of the orc from the Old English term orcneas.
In popular culture (including fantasy fiction and fantasy games), orcs are variously portrayed. Facial features tend toward the grotesque (generally a mixture of the ape-like and pig-like), and their skin typically varies from black to grey to green, and sometimes red. They may be physically stronger or weaker than humans, but always high in numbers. They often ride boars, wolves, and wargs. In many role-playing and computer games, orcs have green or greenish skin.
The relationship between Orcs and Basques is not entirely clear to me, but the fact is that the 'Orc' is used as a popular symbol in the Basque Country (especially among football fans).  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Life Of A Zoo Keeper And His Beret

This is Ernst Engler, Head Keeper at the zoo of Chessington (Surrey, UK) in 1958.
A very nice video showing the adventures of the zoo-keepers beret. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Inside the Renault Factory

A look inside the Renault factories during the 1950’s, where many workers wore berets, inside and out. 
The Renault 4CV is an economy car produced by the French manufacturer Renault from August 1947 until July 1961. The first French car to sell over a million units, the 4CV was superseded by the Dauphine.
The 4CV was a four-door sedan of monocoque construction, 3.6 m (11 ft 10 in) in length with front suicide doors and using Renault's Ventoux engine in a rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.
The Renault Frégate is a full-size or executive saloon car produced by Renault between 1951 and 1960. Station wagon variants, the Renault Domaine and the Renault Manoir, were introduced in 1956 and 1958 respectively.
1959 Renault Frégate

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jungle Berets

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight.. Everything from the camp backdrop, the real life scale zebra and rhino props, the orienteering maps on the wall, scream Safari Camp dream.
And yes, berets too in the jungle of the London Fashion Week 2014.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Designboom is a daily web magazine covering the fields of industrial design, architecture, and art internationally. Launched in 1999, the publication was the first web magazine to focus on these fields, and it features interviews and firsthand studio visits of renowned designers and architects, in addition to coverage of international design fairs and new projects. Newsletters are published daily.
The patriotic Frenchman's dreamcar: featuring clichés of french identity a beret-wheel, marinière-seat, eiffel tower radiator cap, mustache side mirrors and a luxurious finely crafted trunk
The online magazine was named one of the top 100 design influencers in the world by Time Magazine, as well as one of the top 'Les 100 qui comptent' ('People who count') by the French magazine Architectural Digest. Designboom runs several international design competitions each year, in partnership with large companies. In addition, Designboom hosts young designers 'marts' at a range of furniture and design fairs, an exhibition format that it introduced in 2005 at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City, and which has since become an industry standard.
The IT-beret handbag

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Foire de Beret du Pays de Nay

Beret Fair 2012 in Nay, the Pyrenean town where former beret manufacturer Blancq-Olibet was based. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

La Fête Nationale

The official photo of French president François Hollande at the Champs-Élysées in Paris, for the celebration of  La Fête Nationale or, more  commonly Le quatorze juillet ("Bastille Day, in English speaking countries).
Doesn't he look good, with his large diameter beret!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Basque Hotel

The time is the 1930s and the setting for The Basque Hotel is a western frontier town of a few thousand people, with one dubious distinction. Carson City, Nevada, is the smallest capital in the United States. Pete's world is circumscribed by Main Street - shops and stores, a pool hall, boarding-house hotels, and a capitol whose main contribution is as a place of liquid shade and precious green grass in blistering summers. By far the most important event of the day is when the steam whistle of the V & T sounds, signaling thee passage of the shortline railway on its journey from Virginia City to Reno, "that impossibly big town of 20,000 people 30 miles away." Pete's immigrant parents run the Basque Hotel, bed and meals, whiskey and wine in Prohibition time for sheepherders and town characters. Pete is indifferent to his heritage except for disquiet about his parents' ignorance of such American traditions as Christmas trees. The heroes that figure in the boy Pete's growing up consist of a motley collection as delightful as the reader will ever meet: Buckshot Dooney, the town drunk who "travels from trouble to trouble"; Hallelujah Bob, who pursues his demons with a shotgun when he has imbibed too much; Irish prospector Mickey McCluskey; Mizoo, the cowboy with a ten-gallon hat; Pansy Gifford, the handyman who always wears a suit with a flower in his lapel; and George Washington Lopez, who swamps out the local whorehouse a block away from the capitol. Pete, too prone to dreams, undergoes his rites of passage - cruelty and kindness, disillusionment, love and terror, pathos and hilarious adventure, and finally, a cautious understanding of his world.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Louis' Basque Corner, Reno, Nevada

Louis and Lorraine Erreguible opened Louis’ Basque Corner in 1967 as a testament to their Basque heritage. An emigrant from Mauleon, Basses Pyrenees, France, and a World War II veteran, Louis’ love of Basque cuisine and experience as a chef at local restaurants led to the renovation of the 1906-built Lincoln Hotel and the start of a Reno tradition. Today, owners Chris Shanks and Brian Elcano carry on Louis’ Basque tradition.
The Basque Hotels of the American West were homes-away-from-home for newly immigrated Basques from the Pyrenees Mountains. Normally located over restaurant and bars, the hotels provided a family-like atmosphere for the men who came downstairs to dine together each night at the restaurant’s expansive tables and share in hearty family-style meals. The fare was always simple but expertly prepared. Traditional dishes such as sweetbreads, oxtail, tongue and tripe can still be found on most Basque menus.
Louis’ Basque Corner continues this tradition with its family-style seating, traditional menu, and servers outfitted in authentic Basque costumes. The homemade food is expertly prepared, the picon punches flow freely, and the conversation is never lacking. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

More Basqueness in the USA

The Star Hotel in Elko, Nevada.
Basque Hotel Basque Restaurant Fresno, California
You don't have to be a shepherd to enjoy a traditional communal Basque shepherd's meal at Bakersfield's Noriega Hotel.
The Basque Hotel, 15 Romolo is located down a alley way near Broadway Street in San Francisco.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Basques in the US Old West

During the 1848-1855 gold rush, young Basque men from their homeland, Uruguay and Argentina, immigrated to California's promising gold fields. Those who struck it rich invested in sheep or cattle ranches and formed partnerships with other Basques. Some who didn't worked in the mining industry, including Utah's Bingham Canyon copper mines. Others turned to sheepherding. They avoided being "txamisuek jota" (struck by sagebrush), withstood the challenges of inequity and made a new life in a new land.
Basque shepherd Bertrand Borda arrives at Salt Lake City airport to begin his new job. June 1951
While raising sheep is an old-world Basque tradition, Pyrenees flocks were often small in number (less than 100) and kept close to the farm. Large-scale sheep production was another story.
El Basque Club de San Francisco
Basque sheepherders worked throughout California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. Representing a minor percentage of western shepherds, an industrious Basque accepted sheep in lieu of wages and increased his own itinerant sheep band while running his employer's herd. By 1880, the Basques earned the "reputation as the finest sheepmen in the American West."
Basque sheep herders in Idaho in 1938
Sheepherding is a lonesome profession filled with unrelenting hours, years-long nomadic transhumance (a "livestock management" technique in which animals travel hundreds of trailing miles during seasonal grazing cycles), mental deprivation and social isolation.
Basque couple, Boise, Idaho
Alone with his sheep, monthly food drops and occasional visits, the loyal dog was often his only companion. The iconic sheepwagon defined his workplace and home on the range.
Route US50 Car-wash
As sheepherders — and new Basque immigrants — arrived in Utah, Basque hotels sprung up. These establishments offered a familiar sense of community with Basque culture, conversation, music and cuisine.
Soon enough, many a solitary shepherd married his Basque bride. The sheepwagon, a temporary honeymoon suite, became home and hearth to the dedicated Basque wife who worked alongside her husband and helped increase his holdings.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lloyd L. Root (1919 - 2013)

San Francisco native and Navy pilot Lloyd L. Root first and foremost always said "I've had a good life." And he did, right up until the last day of his final flight-at least on this plane-which was October 9, 2013. Born on December 26, 1919, Lloyd was raised in North Beach. Those were the days when there were so few automobiles that Basque boys (like Lloyd) and his assorted Italian, French, Mexican, Irish, Serbian and Greek neighbors and pals could play touch tackle football and "kick the can" in the middle of the streets. Then go climb the steep hills above Broadway to play "king of the mountain" on their way home for dinner.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

UČA Berets

It is with intense pleasure that I announce the arrival of the very first lot of Serbian made berets, a new addition to the stock of South Pacific Berets (see here:ča-serbia.php). 
The Yugoslav hat manufacturer UČA was founded in the Serbian city of Vršac in 1924 and has made berets from it's very beginning. The Basque beret became especially popular in Bosnia and the Sandzjak region in Marshall Titio's communist Yugoslavia; it proved to be a very acceptable headgear for Muslims who wanted to keep their heads covered, but not go against the political tide of the time.
The factory is named Uča after Žarko Zrenjanin "Uča". Uča was the friendly nickname for the teacher Zarko Zrenjanin who became a famous partisan during the war and who, to this day, is honoured in many ways; a beret factory is one, the city of Zrenjanin is another. Uča was one of the leaders of the Vojvodinian Communists and Partisans. His glory comes from his actions during the battles on the rivers Neretva and Sutjeska. He was imprisoned and tortured by the Nazis for months and killed while trying to escape.
UČA specializes in the production of military berets. These were of such exceptional quality that even NATO member countries like the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom chose UČA berets for their armed forces. Local companies in the respective countries would sew in a lining and label, that way able to legally state the berets were made in that country. 
Until the economic sanctions against Serbia, yearly beret sales to foreign buyers ranged between 300 - 400 thousand pieces. UČA privatised in 2005 and changed it's name to UČA International. The complete production is done in-house by UČA International; knitting, linking, fulling, dyeing, shaping and confectioning under supervision of the CIS Textile Institute of Belgrade. 
 At South Pacific Berets we now stock two models, both in a light density wool, perfectly suited for summer and warmer climates:
Standard Basque Beret without headband, lined, but without cabilliou (the little wick at the centre of the beret
Basque Beret with a vinyl rimmed (sized) headband and fitted with lining and two air-vents and cabilliou.
Berets of exceptional value for money!