Saturday, January 30, 2010

The NZ Series # 12 - Fishermen in Ohariu Bay

This photograph was taken on the 1st of January 1905 at the beach of Makara, Ohariu Bay, by Harold Hislop.
Boats are pulled up to the shingle (note the multiple boulder anchors!) and men are busy looking after their gear or chatting among each other. A flat cap, a captains cap, but I also spot four berets, which makes me think these are probably immigrants from the Mediterranean countries.
Makara is a locality located at the western edge of Wellington, a good 30 minute winding drive over the passes from either Johnsonville or Karori. A beautiful stretch of rough coast and, except for the occasional hot day, pretty much deserted by people; a small community, a cafe that's closed most days of the week, sheep roaming around the deserted concrete defense structures of WWII Fort Opau and, only recently, the faraway drone of huge windmills generating electricity.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Superdupont is a French comic created in 1972 as a parody of both Superman and French national attitudes (or, rather, their caricatural perception outside and inside France).

Superdupont is the son of the unknown soldier buried under the Arc de Triomphe. He is very patriotic, sometimes chauvinist, and empowered by superpowers that help him to defend his country against a secret organization called '"Anti-France", a sectist and terrorist organization that wants

to destroy France.

"Anti-France" was originally a pejorative term used by the nationalist intellectual Charles Maurras.

Anti-France agents are all foreigners (non-French) and thus speak the fictional language "Anti-Français", a mishmash of English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and German. This movement is intended to

ridicule the paranoia of certain French people who consider the foreign and unfamiliar as a threat against France.

The physical appearance of Superdupont is a superhero version of a caricatural Frenchman (specially, as seen by the Anglophone world): he wears a beret Basque, a striped jersey, charentaises, a

baguette under the arm, a tricolour belt held by a safety pin, and a long blue cape. He also supports economic patriotism, as he smokes Gauloises cigarettes, he drinks red wine, he eats French cheese and refuses to be painted using China ink.

Like Superman, Superdupont is able to fly but seems less superpowered than

Superman. By luck Superdupont is a master in the savate also known as boxe française ("French boxing"), which gives some superiority over his opponents.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recipes for Life from Naples, Florida

Fifth-grader Josh Ellis, 11, donning a red beret reserved for the reading of the "Recipes for Life Book" his class published at Pelican Marsh Elementary School, in Naples, Florida.
For the fifth straight year, Julie Bolock's fifth grade class has created a book of recipes for events in the students lives.
Fifth-grader Bella Meyer prepares to read her "Recipe for How to Maintain a Gum Collection" with the help of teacher Julie Bolock.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The NZ Series # 11 - Surf Life Saving and the Maranui

Arguably one of the best cafe's in Wellington was the Maranui Surf and Life Saving Club in Lyall Bay - until it was gutted by fire last August.
No better place to watch the planes come and go on nearby Wellington Airport, the surfers riding in on the waves right in front of you, or the children and loving couples on the beach, while sitting in your bay window overlooking the beach behind a well made long black.
Originally, it was just what it says, a Surf and Life Savers Club, offering voluntary surf life saving services to the community. Since 1911 the Maranui Surf Life Saving Club has been actively training surf life savers and providing surf life saving patrols at Maranui and other Wellington City beaches.
The word Maranui was used by Maori when they found sea and sand in abundance. Its Maori meaning is “long sands”. At the turn of the 20th century the whole of the sandy isthmus between Evans Bay and Lyall Bay was known as Maranui.
The objective of the Maranui Cafe is to get the community involved in the club as community members who will provide a source of active members for life saving services, administrators, coaches, team managers, sponsors and supporters for the club.
For me, the Maranui brought up sweet memories of the squatters cafe's in Amsterdam during the 70's and 80's - the people, the decor and art work, the atmosphere, the would-be artists and drop-outs wearing berets... I sincerely hope the building and the cafe will be restored to it's old glory.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Aupa Etxebeste!

Patricio Etxebeste runs a beret factory; he is one of the village "notables" and is a candidate in the forthcoming elections for mayor.His business isn't going well, the banks won't loan him any more money, his credit cards are blocked and his planned summer holidays in Marbella are impractical. How can he save face and prevent the entire village from finding out about the situation he's in?
The makers of this debut film, who are already well known for their shorts, have dared to make fun of the most common clichés about the Basques in this farce full of gags, which is the first full-length fictional film shot entirely in Basque
(but the DVD has sub-titles in Spanish,
Catalan and English).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Cotton Espinosa Berets from Argentina

These Basque berets in cotton are rapidly becoming my favorite headgear this summer!
Light, breathable cotton, unlined in a 28cm diameter with the Espinosa label.
Available in a range of colours (have a look at the South Pacific Berets web site) or order your black Espinosa right here!

Jack "Yakov" Werber

Surviving boys leave Buchenwald, accompanied by American soldiers and directed by elements of the camp underground who watch over them, including Polish Jews Yakov Werber and Eli Grinbaum (right with beret).

The son of a Polish furrier, Werber was sent to the Nazi slave labor camp at Buchenwald during World War II. He was a barracks clerk and heard from a new arrival that the Nazis had killed his wife and his 3-year-old daughter. He felt he had nothing to live for, until a short time later when a trainload of 2,000 new prisoners arrived -- including many young boys. Thoughts of his wife and daughter "drove me in my obsession to save children," he said later. Rather than let the boys be shipped off to death camps, he was able to hide most of the boys in the barracks he was responsible for. It was August 1944, and many of the guards knew the end of the war was near. They kept quiet about the scheme when they found out and, fearing war crimes trials told him, "Remember that I did this for you." More than 700 of the children survived. Werber knew the odds: he himself had arrived at the camp with around 3,200 other men; only he and 10 others of that group survived the camp.After the war Werber emigrated to the United States, where he started a manufacturing business. He died in New York on November 18 from a heart attack at 92.
Two young child survivors on board the SS Mataroa display their tattooed arms.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Librarian Free-Speech Protest against the Provisions of the U.S. Patriot Act

Prior to the United States Administration expressions of frustration and outrage over the refusal by librarians to cooperate with unethical and foolish information fishing expeditions (and other attempts to stifle free speech) by various agencies, it's doubtful that anyone would have used the term "Radical Militant Librarian", but as soon as it was uttered, it became a badge of honor.
Of course, there is no official Guild of Radical Militant Librarians. Of course not. And if there was, they wouldn't be forthcoming with any information in any event.

The Latin motto translates as "We know what you read, and we're not saying."

And, of course, what better headgear for a Radical Militant Librarian than a beret?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ramón J. Sender

Ramón J. Sender, was an Aragonese Spanish novelist, essayist and journalist.

His most famous works include La tesis de Nancy, about the experiences of a young American student in Spain named Nancy, and Réquiem por un campesino español.
In 1923 Ramón was obliged to serve in the Spanish military and take part in the Spain Morocco Rif War. After that, he worked as a journalist for the critical newspaper El Sol. In 1926 he was imprisoned for writing Casas Viejas and when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Sender immediately enlisted to help resist Franco.
While he was at the front, the Nationalists shot his wife, Amparo Barayon and his brother.
He had been an anarchist and then a communist but after the Spanish Civil War he reneged of this ideology and sought asylum in France in 1938. He left for New York in 1939, and then relocated to Mexico like many scientists, artists and intellectuals during the government of Lázaro Cárdenas. He became an American citizen in 1948, and he lived in the US until 1972, when he returned to live in Spain for several years before dying in California in 1982.
Sender's son is composer and writer Ramon Sender. His grandson is Chicago-based designer Sol Sender, best known for the development of the Obama campaign logo.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beach Life in Rivesaltes (1939-1942)

The picture of this man with beret couldn't be further removed from the Southern Hemisphere Summer beach life we experience here at present.
The picture was taken in the concentration camp Rivesaltes, one of an estimated 31 camps in southern France.
Originally built as a military camp, it was turned into a refugee camp for displaced people from Spain in 1938 but later that year, it turned into a camp for Spanish Republicans who fled Spain after Franco's victory.

On this picture we see French Milices with black bérets Basque, escorting captured French members of the resistance.

After coming under the Vichy government, the story unfolds into an even nastier one, when the camp became a place of internment for Roma

and Jews, before they were sent to Auschwitz.
As in many concentration camps and ghettos, there were always people capable of continuing living as normal as possible, like Simone "Werlin" Weil-Lipman who organized a Boys Scouts Group, complete with berets, in the camp in 1942 (bottom picture).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Writing about berets, it is hard to avoid the military completely (although I do my best) - they really are the wholesale users of berets, after all, and there are some interesting facts, anecdotes and histories associated with the military beret.
There is another group of large scale users: the Police, in some countries at least. In shape and size their berets are generally similar to the military beret (without a 'nip' or 'txortena'), leather rim, air vents, etc and, in me at least, they often evoke negative connotations with hardline and heavy-handed policing. Not fair maybe, and I am sure one can find very friendly and pleasant police officers under a beret (where I grew up, the police had these slogans: "This cap fits all of us" ["die pet past ons allemaal"] and "The police is your best friend"). Surely they didn't mean the Marechaussee, the Dutch Military Police, who caused me lots of trouble and misery as a drafted soldier some 30 years ago...
A nice variety is the beret that is used by the Catalan (Spanish) police, a distinct and colourful affair.

No surprise to find many different berets within the Spanish police. Even the Guardia Civil wears them, as an alternative to the tricornio, the symbol of this (once) much hated police force.

Then there is the Policia Foral, in the Navarre autonomous community in Spain, who wear a nicely embroidered red beret.

And then, there are the berets of the Spanish National Police, the German, Austrian and Israeli police, to show just a few.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

South Pacific Berets - Stock Update

With the 3.5 week holidays closure behind us,
South Pacific Berets is very well stocked again.

Of course, the full range of Boinas Elósegui berets are available in black(Exposición Básica, Exposición Fina, Exposición Tupida and Exposición Super Lujo), some models in other colours (like the brown Fina and Navy Super Lujo) and also is there a choice in diameters for the Básica and Super Lujo models.

The range of the Argentinean made Boinas Bonigor has grown dramatically:
- Tolosa Tupida's in Black, Navy, Brown, Maroon, Red, Green and Gray. Fantastic berets with satin lining in a 30 cm / 12" diameter; soft 100% merino wool, easy to shape and suitable for all climates.

- The cotton range of the Tolosa Tupida grew with Tan, Maroon, Red and Green berets, all beautifully fine-knitted with satin lining in a generous 31 cm / 12.5" diameter. Great sun protection!

- Completely new is the cotton line of Espinosa's in 28 cm / 11". Similar to the cotton Tolosa Tupida's, but without lining and a more standard diameter. I have hardly worn anything else, this summer! Available in Black
(and a small stock of Green and Navy).

Military Berets

I used to think I was a bit strange, to say the least, having a collection of berets on our shared bedroom wall and many more in boxes and cupboards, but it can always be worse.
Like the owner of this site, a collector of military berets from countries ranging between Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe. A fascinating collection, although frankly, I don't know just how much I like the look of some of these berets...
I'd rather stick to the Basque version, with txortena.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Suggested by a number of Beret Blog readers, is a post for Mythbusters, or more specifically, Jamie Hyneman (thanks Bert and Alexander).
Mythbusters is a popular science TV show on the Discovery Channel (and distributed to a number of other stations around the globe). The series stars special effects experts Adam Savage and the beret-wearing Jamie Hyneman.
Happily given up on television, I had to resort to Youtube to see what it is all about and I have to admit: great entertainment and interesting myths busted (and confirmed)!

I was quite impressed with the "Are elephants scared of mice?" episode and relieved to see that even pretty girls fart.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Beret Project is Back!

That was great! Well over three weeks not having to think about what to write about berets for the next day's post...

Oh, I love doing this Beret Project and am still amazed by how many people follow it on a daily basis - it's fantastic, but at the same time, I get these headaches when thinking what on earth there is to write about berets that I haven't yet covered. Many thanks to those people who emailed me with suggestions!

This first day of the blog in 2010, I take it easy - just some berets at picturesque places in New Zealand (pictures of yours truly, shamelessly showing himself off in various locations and poses, all with the purpose in mind to show you what Tolosa Tupida's look like on a 'real head' - in Navy and Brown merino wool and the fantastic cotton T.T. in Burgundy).

Hope you have all enjoyed pleasant and peaceful holidays and a good start in the New Year. We'll stay in touch...