Monday, April 20, 2015

The Heroes of the Resistance

It happened all over Nazi occupied Europe, but best documented in France (and definitely with berets prominently in sight...). 
The smug, self-righteous faces suggest none had any problem with photographers witnessing the events, not understanding themselves the awfulness of what went on.
Members of the fascist Nazi aligned Milice were executed or imprisoned, women who slept with the enemy ("collaboration horizontale" as it was called) had their heads shaved and paraded around town. 
Escorted by brave men with guns, power on their side, the sweet taste of revenge on their lips.
Yes, not the nicest pictures of beret wearers and least of all, candidates for the Role Model Series on this blog. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr.; 1947) is a retired American professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. NBA coach Pat Riley and players Isiah Thomas and Julius Erving have called him the greatest basketball player of all time.
Playing in Los Angeles facilitated Abdul-Jabbar's trying his hand at acting. He made his film debut in Bruce Lee's 1972 film Game of Death, in which his character Hakim fights Billy Lo (played by Lee).
When he converted to Islam he stated that he was "latching on to something that was part of my heritage, because many of the slaves who were brought here were Muslims. My family was brought to America by a French planter named Alcindor, who came here from Trinidad in the 18th century. My people were Yoruba, and their culture survived slavery...  My father found out about that when I was a kid, and it gave me all I needed to know that, hey, I was somebody, even if nobody else knew about it. When I was a kid, no one would believe anything positive that you could say about black people. And that's a terrible burden on black people, because they don't have an accurate idea of their history, which has been either suppressed or distorted."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kirsty Anna MacColl

Kirsty Anna MacColl (1959 –2000) was an English singer-songwriter who wrote and recorded several pop hits between the early 1980s and the 1990s. She came to notice when Chiswick Records released an EP by local punk rock band the Drug Addix with MacColl on backing vocals under the pseudonym Mandy Doubt (1978). Stiff Records executives were not impressed with the band, but liked her and subsequently signed her to a solo deal.
Her debut solo single "They Don't Know", released in 1979, peaked at number two on the Music Week airplay chart. However, a distributors' strike prevented copies of the single getting into record stores, and the single consequently failed to appear on the UK Singles Chart.
MacColl featured regularly in the third series of the French and Saunders Show, a comedy show on the BBC. 
She also sang on hit recordings produced by her then-husband Steve Lillywhite, notably on tracks by The Smiths and "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues. MacColl was killed by a power boat while swimming with her children at Cozumel, Mexico. The boat involved in the accident was owned by Mexican supermarket millionaire Guillermo González Nova, who found a willing employee to take the blame for him.
She was the daughter of songwriter Ewan MacColl.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Gary Blehm, a.k.a. Penman, created what would become PENMEN in a one room school house near Aspen, Colorado in 1977. 
The character would take him on a 25 year journey of optimism with popular posters, book, newspaper syndication, and a short series animation for European television.
This photo was taken of Gary Blehm, Penman, as a promo to his newly syndicated comic strip. The PENMEN figures are hand made with wooden dowel and wire. Once the photograph was taken the Penmen were sent to Creators Syndicate for promotional gifts of optimism to editors. The photograph published in Editor and Publisher magazine the following year.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Amigos de la Boina

The Amigos de la Boina is a group of beret enthusiasts, nation-wide across Spain, who come together regularly to enjoin the finer things of life – berets being one of these.
It is an attempt to revive the beret to its old glory in Spain, but also to enjoy the company of like-minded folk, typically in a rustic environment with a good supply of food and wine.
Presently, there are chapters in Cuenca, Madrid, Currito and Denia (Alicante), all with their own web sites (some showing no more than photographic evidence of meetings; others with some interesting information on beret history and manufacturing).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Old Seaman with Tam O' Shanter

From the National Museums Scotland: Seaman in Greenock, Renfrewshire, c. 1900 - 1914.
An old seaman sits on a bench, watched by a group of interested schoolchildren. The seaman wears a knitted jersey with a few holes in it. On top of the jersey, he wears a waistcoat. He wears trousers and leather boots. On his head he wears a woollen beret or tam o' shanter. His beard is in a style known as the 'Newgate' fringe or frill.
The schoolboys wear jackets, trousers, white shirts and peaked caps. The little girl wears a short summer dress, ankle socks, shoes with straps and a beret or perhaps a tam o' shanter.
The girl on the background appears to be wearing a "real" beret. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Robert Laul

More from Sweden: Robert Laul.
Laul (1976) is a sports reporter and columnist for the Aftonbladet newspaper. He is also a footballer for Old Karlbergare in Stockholm.
From 2008 he leads debates on football at Sportbladets website and since 2011 he is involved as a permanent member of the Aftonbladet discussion panel Wow what a week

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ulf Adelsohn

Ulf Adelsohn (1941) is a Swedish politician, was the leader of the Moderate Party from 1981 to 1986 and Governor of Stockholm County from 1992 to 2001. He was a member of the Riksdag from 1982 to 1988 and served as Chairman of the Board of SJ AB 2001–2011, from where he resigned due to quarrels with the Reinfeldt cabinet on its railway deregulation policies.
Adelsohn studied law at Stockholm University. He was the chair of the Confederation of Swedish Conservative and Liberal Students, opposed the occupation of the Student Union Building in Stockholm in 1968 and was a co-founder of Borgerliga Studenter – Opposition '68 later in the same year.
His paternal grandparents were Polish Jews and his mother was of Swedish descent. On the side of his mother, he is a descendant (great-great-great-great-grandson) of Jacob Johan Anckarström; the assassin of Gustav III who was convicted for regicide and executed.
Thanks, Ariel

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Olivier Meyer and Aguigui Mouna

Olivier Meyer (1957) is a contemporary French photographer from Paris.
His work is in the tradition of humanist photography and Street photography using the same material as many of the forerunners of this style: Kodak Tri-X black and white film, silver bromide prints on baryta paper, Leica M3 or Leica M4 with a 50 or 90 mm lens. The thin black line surrounding the prints shows that the picture has not been cropped. His inspiration came from Henri Cartier-Bresson, Édouard Boubat, Saul Leiter. 
His portrait of Aguigui Mouna sticking his tongue out like Albert Einstein, published in postcard form in 1988, and subsequently as an illustration in a book by Anne Gallois served as a blueprint for a stencil work by the artist Jef Aérosol in 2006.
Thanks, Olivier

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Shaping a Military Beret

Laulhère is the main supplier of berets to the 28 country strong NATO military, next to the many armies of other countries on five continents. Laulhère has now launched a  web site, specifically for their military line of production. It describes the manufacturing process, the pure merino wool that is used for making berets, the various options for military berets and more.
At the same time, Laulhère commissioned a video clip on how to shape their Commando berets. Irish born sales director Mark Saunders does a good job detailing how to get the desired effects in your military beret.
Presently, there are only a few Commando berets in stock at South Pacific Berets; some green berets as issued to the Foreign Legion and Navy Infantry Commandos (here) and two individual berets in red (Para) and black in the One-Offs Section (here). 

One word of caution: some customers have not quite anticipated the very small plateau (diameter) of these berets; these berets are sitting more on the head, than pulled over the head. Before wearing it for the first time, the beret needs some stretching and nudging to get to the correct size.

Friday, April 10, 2015

DEER Summer Basques

On this 10th April, 2015 (DEER Basque factory Kongo-Shokai Ltd. already closed down), South Pacific Berets received the very last berets made by the famous manufacturer from Kobe; made with the last material available during the last days of the factory operating. 
Berets that we had not stocked before, but are -in the tradition of the wool and linen DEER Basques- small pieces of art in their own right.
DEER Summer Basques, made of a finely knit, breathing polyester, fittedwith an ultra light mesh lining and topped off with the silver DEER Basque 'Light' embroidered label. These very first are at the same time the very last - what's in stock now is all there is and will never be replaced (and most colour/size combinations are only available in ones or two's).
To those who, like me at first, have their doubts about non-wool / non-cotton berets, I would say "Try! I'd guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised!". 
Only here, as long as stock lasts!

The Making of a Laulhère Béret

Laulhère has commissioned a few videos on the making of and care for their berets, detailing how a single thread of merino wool turns into a classic French beret.
Starring is Mark Saunders, the Irish born sales director of Laulhère. Well done, Mark!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Berets in French Kids' Books from 1891 to 1944

Above: Anie by Hector Malot, 1891.

Above: Les Mauvaises têtes de Coquinet, 1944

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tennis Beret

Since Jean Robert Borotra (1898 – 1994) popularization of the beret in tennis, many have followed in his footsteps. 

Borotra was a French tennis champion. He was one of the famous "Four Musketeers" from his country who dominated tennis in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Borotra was born in Domaine du Pouy, Biarritz, Aquitaine and married an English woman.
Known as "the Bounding Basque", he won four Grand Slam singles titles in the French, Australian, and All England championships. 
A member of the  François de la Rocque's right-wing Parti social français (PSF), he became 1st General Commissioner to Sports from August 1940 to April 1942 during Vichy France, leading the Révolution nationale's efforts in sports policy.
Arrested by the Gestapo in November 1942, Borotra was deported to a concentration camp in Germany and then Itter Castle in North Tyrol until May 1945. He was freed from the castle after the Battle for Castle Itter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Betty Spann

This great photograph is by Betty Spann; a bereted gent having lunch in Bryant Park, Manhattan.
Betty is a Francophile and photographer from the Pudget Sound. When she encountered this scene, Betty was actually preparing an exhibition of French faces. The picture was included in the exhibition (disclosing uncertainties), but who knows, there certainly is a very French feel about it. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Yrjö Kukkapuro

Yrjö Kukkapuro (born April 6, 1933) is a Finnish interior architect and furniture designer. 
His career started in the 1950s while studying in the Academy of Design in Helsinki. Kukkapuro's most famous model is called Karuselli (carousel) and it belongs to the collection of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York. It was also nominated as the most comfortable chair in the world by The New York Times in 1974.
Kukkapuro is married to graphic artist Irmeli Kukkapuro since 1954. The couple have built a home studio in Kauniainen in 1968. The building designed by Yrjö Kukkapuro and engineer Eero Paloheimo resembles pop-art style.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The ‘other’ Beethoven: George Onslow.

The ‘other’ Beethoven: George Onslow.
André George Louis Onslow (27 July 1784 – 3 October 1853) was a French composer of English descent. His wealth, position and personal tastes allowed him to pursue a path unfamiliar to most of his French contemporaries, more similar to that of his contemporary German romantic composers; his music also had a strong following in Germany and in England. His principal output was chamber music but he also wrote four symphonies and four operas. Esteemed by many of the critics of his time, his reputation declined swiftly after his death and has only been revived in recent years.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Voyageurs and Berets

The voyageurs were people who engaged in the transporting of furs by canoe during the fur trade era. Voyageur is a French word, which means "traveler". The major and challenging task of the fur trading business was done by canoe and largely by French Canadians.
The voyageurs are legendary, especially in French Canada. They are folk heroes celebrated in folklore and music.
Bob Abrames is called today's most foremost voyageur (and, according to his web site: Salesologist, Speaker, Writer, Television Star and Travel Expert). Either way, he found a nice variation on the Basque beret.
His consists of a standard Czech Basque beret with added material around the rim, which can be tightened with a string.
They are for sale too, but not cheap at $159.00 (see here).