Friday, April 30, 2010

Sir William Walton

Sir William Walton OM (1902-1983) ranks amongst the greatest of the 20th century composers. His early career was greatly influenced by the eccentric Sitwell family (Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell) who had adopted him in 1919 when he left Oxford. From his humble origins in Oldham, Lancashire, he found himself catapulted into the glamour and sophisticated world of London society. His best known work of this period is Façade (1922), a brilliant, rhythmic entertainment to words by Edith Sitwell. His first concerto was completed in 1936. During the war he wrote film music, including the marvellous score for Laurence Olivier’s Henry V.
His personal life involved him in a 15 year relationship with a woman older than himself, Alice Wimborne, who helped to nurture his formidable talent. However, alone by 1947, he was visiting Argentina when he met and married Susana Gil, then 22 years old. They decided to live in Italy which he had first visited in 1919 and where in 1936, inspired by Alice, he had written the Violin Concerto for Jascha Heifetz. He preferred the light and peace of the Bay of Naples to England. 

They settled on the Island of Ischia where he lived for the next 35 years, in fact for the rest of his life.

(Thank you, John)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blackbook's Carice van Houten

Black Book is a 2006 World War II film directed by Paul Verhoeven, and starring Carice van HoutenSebastian KochThom Hoffman, and Halina Reijn. The story is about a young Jewish woman in the Netherlands who becomes a spy for the resistance during World War II after tragedy befalls her in an encounter with the Nazis. The film had its world premiere on September 1, 2006 at the Venice Film Festival and its public release on September 14, 2006 in the Netherlands.
The press in the Netherlands was divided, but with three Golden Calves Black Book was the most awarded film at the Netherlands Film Festival in 2006. The international press responded mostly positively, especially to the performance of van Houten. 
Despite it being another very Dutch film (sex for sex's sake, lots of intense action, shock effects and brutalism), I find Blackbook refreshing after all the heroic stories we, as Dutch kids, had to hear about everyone's grampa in the Dutch resistance. 

And Carice van Houten does look quite superb with her large txapela...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

No beret-ed Dalai Lama...

Faithful blog reader and customer Andy let me know how much he would like to see the Dalai Lama with a beret and I couldn't agree more. 
So far, I haven't got any closer than the picture of Abbé Pierre with the Dalai Lama, unfortunately. 
I suppose I could post a picture of myself, as a lay Buddhist, but that would be presumptuous and not good for my ego.
I did come across these pictures of Tenshin Reb Anderson, though, a teacher in the Soto Zen Tradition, well known for his black Basque beret.
And one can always show one's affiliation with this Om-beret, of course...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Berets in the Fire Brigades

So far, I only managed to find three berets as used by European Fire Brigades.
The picture above is from an officer in the Dutch Fire Service; the one below is from the F.S. of Niedersachsen in N.W. Germany
and the beret below is from the Swiss Fire Service. Information on berets in the Fire Services is very scarce; if you readers have any more information or suggestions - let me know!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tartes at CdG Airport

The Chasseurs Alpins have featured numerous times on The Beret Project, but I have never seen them in the role of Airport Security. This picture was taken by an American traveler at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. 
And although the extreme "security measures" at airports these days are almost enough reason in itself to stop travelling, I'd rather see some of these tartes than having to deal with US Customs or Dutch Marechaussee's again. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Georges Simenon and Maigret

Georges Joseph Christian Simenon (1903 – 1989) was a Belgian writer and one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.
George Simenon with his wife Régine Renchon

He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. 
During his "American" period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written (Trois chambres à Manhattan (1946), Maigret à New York (1947), Maigret se fâche (1947)).
Simenon also wrote a large number of "psychological novels", such as The Strangers in the House (1940), La neige était sale (1948), or Le fils (1957), as well as several autobiographical works, in particular Je me souviens (1945), Pedigree(1948), Mémoires intimes (1981).
In 2005 he was nominated for the title of De Grootste Belg / Le plus grand Belge ("The Greatest Belgian") in two separate television shows. Ironically, in the Flemish version he ended 77th place; in the Walloon version he ended 10th place.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Anna Karina - by Herself

A few days back I posted this picture of Anthony Quinn with Anna Karina, smoking a cigarette on the set in a time when that was still socially acceptable.

Anna Karina (born 22 September 1940) is a Danish-born French film actress who is best known for her work with and relationship with Jean-Luc Godard in the 1960s. With her expressive, luminous eyes and radiant presence she had the looks of a silent movie star while simultaneously embodying the self-confident spirit of the 60s generation.

She came to Paris at 18. She met Coco Chanel and Pierre Cardin and started as a top model. She met Jean-Luc Godard about a cameo in À bout de souffle (1960), but she had to be naked and she refused to play in the movie. One year later, they got married and she became famous with the "Nouvelle vague" movies directed by him, Jacques Rivette or Agnès Varda.

In 1967, 
Serge Gainsbourg wrote his only film musical Anna (1967) (TV) for her, with the hit "Sous le soleil exactement". Then, she went to Hollywood for a few movies before returning to Paris. 

She wrote and directed 'Vivre ensemble' (1973) after her divorce from Pierre Fabre. She's now married to Dennis Berry.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno (born 15 May 1948), commonly known as Brian Eno and previously, simply as Eno. Eno is an English musician, composer, record producer, music theorist and singer, who, as a solo artist, is best known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music.

A quick guide to "Who is Brian Eno" from the Eno web site:

Who is Brian Eno?
Perhaps best known as a musician and producer, he's also an artist, professor and thinker. Music-wise, even if you haven't heard any of his own records, you may have heard his production contributions to albums by rock legends U2, David Bowie or James. In other media, his music sometimes appears in films (TrainspottingVelvet GoldmineHeat), television programs and commercials, and the Windows 95 start-up sound.

What kind of music does he create?

We've tried all the airy-fairy descriptions we can think of, but it narrows down to this: 1. Songs. 2. Instrumental or ambient pieces. 3. Unclassifiable.

What Eno albums would you recommend?
Always a tricky question, this one, as answers are highly subjective. EnoWeb reckons that there are two "benchmark" albums which give a good indication of the rest of Brian's output. One is Another Green World, which has songs and instrumentals. The other is Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, which has a selection of ambient pieces.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Serge Gainsbourg, B.B. and Bonnie & Clyde (again)

The year was 1967, Serge Gainsbourg had landed the job of writing and directing a few musical numbers for Le Bardot Show. A working relationship very quickly developed into a series of steamy romantic liaisons, much to the chagrin of every other Frenchman opening his copy of France Soir to see paprazzi snaps of their divine B.B. arm-in-arm with her frog prince, whom she nicknamed “gueule d’amour” or “love face”.

Their courtship didn’t all run smoothly for the louche, chain-smoking Serge, though: After a disastrous early-date, Bardot sent him packing, and requested that, by way of penance, he write her “the most beautiful love song you can imagine”.
He came crawling back the next day, bleary-eyed, a Gitane between his lips and a glint in his eye. A sleepless night had yielded not one, but two, love songs: Bonnie and Clyde, and Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus (watch this fantastic clip!).
Gainsbourg based the lyrics to 
Bonnie and Clyde on The Story of Bonnie and Clyde (The Trail's End) a poem written by (the real) Bonnie Parker.

Gainsbourg and Bardot duetted as the heroes/villains, having apparently hi-jacked Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway’s wardrobe from the film of the same name (released in August 1967).
Mise en scène: a dingy hideout; Serge skulks furtively in the shadows, with a shoulder-holster and a cigarette; Bardot smolders, all panda-eyed in beret, maxi-jupe and bobbed wig, a tommy-gun perched on her knee.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pat a Mat, And that's it!

Pat & Mat (original names in Czech Kuťáci, ... A je to!, Pat a Mat) is a Czech stop-motion animated series featuring two handymen, Pat and Mat (Czech for "Stalemate" and "Checkmate", respectively). It was created by Lubomír Beneš and Vladimír Jiránek, in English "And that's it..!".
In socialist Czechoslovakia, the authors had to explain their "subversive" characters and stories to the Prague watch-dogs of the regime, e.g. one of the questions was if they chose the t-shirt colours, red and yellow, to make fun of the Soviet-Chinese tensions. Their explanations were "unsatisfactory", and so the "ideologic impurity" and the ban on Pat & Mat production remained. Yet, the Slovak colleagues from Czechoslovak TV in Bratislava gave Pat & Mat the necessary support, assigned them production means, and the production began and went on in the same Czech studio in Prague where Lubomír Beneš and his crew worked, under their Slovak cover.

The show features the two characters facing mostly self-made problems, trying to solve these using any possible and impossible tool and constructing gadgets, which leads to more problems. Yet, eventually, the two manage to get a working result with mostly a surprising solution.
According to the authors, it is the manual ineptitude that inspires the stories. The humour is not the only feature of the show, but also the optimistic approach to life. The two characters always get into problematic situations but they never give up, until they solve the problem in imaginative ways.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Anthony Quinn and Anna Karina

This fantastic picture of Anthony Quinn and Anna Karina was taken while filming 'The Magus', after the novel by John Fowles. 
Despite my frustration about the outcome, or the absence of an outcome, I loved reading 'The Magus' numerous times. I never saw the movie until I found this picture of Quinn and Karina and watched a 9 minute excerpt on Youtube
Brings up great memories of the book and 'myself-from-25-years-back', but really does look rather outdated now; better to stick to the printed version maybe...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nick Ut

Huỳnh Công Út, known professionally as Nick Ut (1951), is a photographer for the Associated Press (AP) who works out of Los Angeles. His best known photo is the Pulitzer Prize-winning picture of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, who was photographed as a naked 9-year-old girl running toward the camera to flee a South Vietnamese napalm attack on the Trảng Bàng village during the Vietnam War.

Born in Long AnFrench Indochina, Ut began to take photographs for the Associated Press when he was 16, just after his older brother Huynh Thanh My, another AP photographer, was killed in Vietnam. Ut himself was wounded three times in the war. Ut has since worked for the Associated Press in TokyoSouth Korea, and Hanoi and still maintains contact with Kim Phuc, who now resides in Canada.
Before delivering his film with the Kim Phúc photo, he took her to the hospital. The publication of the photo was delayed due to the AP bureau's debate about transmitting a naked girl's photo over the wire: editor at the AP rejected the photo of Kim Phuc running down the road without clothing because it showed frontal nudity. Pictures of nudes of all ages and sexes, and especially frontal views were an absolute no-no at the Associated Press in 1972...Horst argued by telex with the New York head-office that an exception must be made, with the compromise that no close-up of the girl Kim Phuc alone would be transmitted. The New York photo editor, Hal Buell, agreed that the news value of the photograph overrode any reservations about nudity.
— Nick Ut

Audio tapes of then-president Richard Nixon in conversation with his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, show that Nixon doubted the veracity of the photograph, musing whether it may have been "fixed." Following the release of this tape, Ut commented:
"Even though it has become one of the most memorable images of the twentieth century, President Nixon once doubted the authenticity of my photograph when he saw it in the papers on June 12, 1972.... The picture for me and unquestionably for many others could not have been more real. The photo was as authentic as the Vietnam war itself. The horror of the Vietnam war recorded by me did not have to be fixed. That terrified little girl is still alive today and has become an eloquent testimony to the authenticity of that photo. That moment thirty years ago will be one Kim Phuc and I will never forget. It has ultimately changed both our lives"
— Nick Ut

"Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed. Napalm is very powerful, but faith, forgiveness and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?"

(Alex - many thanks for getting me in touch with Nick!)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gauchos on Al Jazeera

Being one of the 200-something people in the world who doesn't watch television, I had no idea that one could find an interesting item on beret-wearing-gauchos-on-the-Argentinean-pampas on Middle Eastern TV station AlJazeera. Pleasantly surprised by this video (and the discovery that not all television is as bad as I thought...). 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Carlos Mottino - Argentinean Sculptor

Carlos Mottino was born in the Campana province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, a self-taught sculptor in wood and epoxy. He started his career making murals of large sizes in wood, developing from there to the use of epoxy. Mottino took courses of sculpting in clay at the "Estímulo de Bellas Artes" under the direction of professor Aldo Caponi.

The expressiveness and the delicate finishing of his works have drawn the attention of
specialists, critics, professor and public in general winning a number of international prizes. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Marcos Gustavo Carámbula Volpi

Marcos Gustavo Carámbula Volpi (1947) is a medical doctor (pulmonologist) and has been the mayor of Uruguay's Department of Canelones since 2005.

Being a devout catholic didn't stop Carámbula  of becoming a member of the Socialist Party of Uruguay, before he graduated as Doctor of Medicine. In 1968 he was a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Medical Students. In 1973, shortly before the coup, he was expelled from the Socialist Party, along with five other leaders, due to form a body of opinion which proposed the merger of the party with the Communist Party (PCU).

In November 1979, in the period of dictatorship, he founded with his father , brother Gonzalo and the Jesuits Luis Pérez Aguirre and Juan Luis Segundo the Plaza magazine. 
After the civil-military Carámbula joined the Communist Party leadership and was elected deputy from Canelones in 1984 and 1989. 
Alongside his parliamentary activity, he became secretary and later president  of the Medical Union of Uruguay. He was also chairman of the Juventud de Las Piedras.
In 1992, he left the Communist Party and joined the Frenteamplista Confluence (CONF).
Since 2005 Carámbula is Mayor of Uruguay's Department of Canelones.