Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Erwin Kowalke

During battles at the end of World War II, tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians never got a decent burial. For almost 30 years, one man has been finding these bodies and helping them rest in peace.
Erwin Kowalke is a specialist in his field. He started working for the German War Graves Association (VDK) in 1980 and ever since he has travelled to the last battlefields of the World Wars to do his job. He is actually retired these days but he continues to volunteer for the organization, which has located, identified and buried German soldiers since 1919. And Kowalke's expertise is in demand. After the Balkan wars of the 1990s, he spent months in the former Yugoslavia uncovering and identifying bodies.
An extensive article (in English) in the Spiegel Online on Erwin Kowalke can be found here
Thank you, Alex

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Picasso (2)

Pablo Picasso featured numerous times on this blog, with beret or pictures of his artworks depicting berets. The master was a keen wearer of berets; I can't tell you whether they were French made or Spanish Elosegui's...
Posted here are some lesser known photographs of  Picasso, taken by photographer Edward Quinn, the chronicler of the 1950's-1970's Côte d'Azur.

Friday, November 26, 2010

More Orange Embarrassment from the Netherlands

Okay, we've had the Dutch Monarchy, Dutch Child Soldiers and just when you think it can't get any worse, you'll get the Orange Beret! Not for child soldiers this time, but for supporters of the monarchy (the House of Orange Nassau - the Dutch royal family).
To cause maximal amusement, best to just quote the folks behind this non-beret:
"The highlight of each Orange Festival! Become a "Soldier of Orange"! Look cool with this orange beret, you'll be a focal point for everyone around you! Great as a military gadget, but also much worn during the European soccer championship last year.(TV Station) RTL Boulevard reported on our beret and it was also written about in The Times and several weeklies!

Why is the Orange Beret developed? The reasons in no particular order:

A) The anthem is embroidered on the beret, so everyone can sing along during soccer matches. B) The Orange beret is fun to wear during Orange festivals..
C) You can look cool. View the photos.
D) Since the product is no mass product and only sold here, you are always wearing an original item . 
E) The orange beret is also a very nice gift.

The Orange Beret is registered as a European model. 

The Orange Beret costs only 9.95 euros including postage! Right of return: if you're not happy you get the money refunded."
Wish that last one was true for the House of Orange too...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Orange Berets for Child Soldiers

More berets from the Netherlands, and at least as embarrassing as the continuing monarchy (just this morning an article in the Dutch financial paper on how Prince Bernhard was involved in trading of arms, destabilizing the new Indonesian government...) are these Oranje Baretten (Orange Berets). 
Short of volunteers to join the military, the army came up with a promotional unit to lure children into the armed forces: Orange Berets. 
Nifty computer games show what kind of paradise awaits the youngsters when they become actual soldiers: As an "Orange Beret" you'll participate in major military and peacekeeping operations. Each operation contains a number of exciting missions. Like being parachuted on an island devestated by a hurricane, or a trip on foot through a dense tropical rainforest, which is littered with mines. The different missions you work on provide peace and security for locals, and you will earn points. Are you at the end with the highest total scores, you get a spectacular reward!
Interesting to see this coming from the Netherlands, a country so vocal against Child Soldiers elsewhere in the world...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pradoluengo - The Story of a small Beret Factory in Burgos

This video was sent to me by a friend from Madrid and I believe it's now the highlight of this blog! 

The video shows in detail the whole process of manufacturing berets in a small scale artisan setting, providing insight in how berets are made and especially how a small business like this operated; labour conditions, machinery, lots of creative solutions and ingenuity... 
Mr Agustin Mingo stopped his business a number of years ago, leaving Boinas Elosegui the one remaining beret manufacturer in Spain. 
Thanks, Suso

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tommy Roach

Stolen from Now You're Talking
Tommy Roach was one of life's natural characters. A proud former Desert Rat, he always wore his army beret at a jaunty angle and could be relied upon to put a smile on your face, whether you wanted one or not!
He had been a professional magician on the stage and never left home without a trick or two in his blazer pocket.
Many's the time he could be seen up Market Street with a crowd round him laughing and gasping in amazement as he performed his favourite "disappearing fag" trick which involved it disappearing into his ear and re-appearing down his nose!
Tommy couldn't help himself making people laugh. In the front garden of his run-down terraced house, he would push old light bulbs into the soil to form rows and when some unsuspecting passer-by went past, he would draw on his pipe, nod at the garden and remark:" I see t'bulbs are coming up early this year..."
His house was something else. When he got a hole in the guttering, he put another gutter underneath it to catch the rain. A downspout finished halfway down the house.
He never dusted. He kept his food in plastic bags hanging on a clothes rack in the kitchen. When I asked why he said:"To keep it away from't mice. Mind you the beggars cawnt half jump!"
He slept downstairs and his television "remote control" was an old brush which he used to poke at the controls.
For security purposes, he had a bedstead frame in his lobby and barbed wire round the windows - plugged into the mains supply.
Wherever he went, he picked up pieces of old slate which he used to take home and paint pictures of a surreal nature on them. Sometimes, he would display all the pictures at the front of his house.
Once, when a neighbour who he didn't see eye to eye with, passed away, he stood at the front of his house playing "We'll Meet Again" on his accordion and waving a Union Jack as the funeral procession went past.
When my son Gareth was a baby in his pram, Tommy peered inside and remarked:" Eee - he favvers his dad." As I beamed proudly, he muttered "Still, as long as he's healthy that's aw as matters..."
You had to laugh. That was how it was when Tommy was around.
We could do with a few more like Tommy Roach in Lancashire...
Tommy Roach photographed by Dave Dutton at the now-demolished Laburnum Mill, Atherton

Monday, November 22, 2010


Meet Claude-Franck (49), coast guard:
My jacket is from Germany (R. Claessen)
My waistcoat is vintage (around 1930)
My trousers are from Lee Cooper
My shoes are from Paco Milan
My beret is vintage by Nasse, from Pau
My glasses are vintage
My bicycle is a Peugeot, from 1938
For me fashion is to invent tomorrow.
Here is a real beret like in the old time (waterproof, very light, "foulard grand luxe")
Check out the crank gear with a lion on an arrow of this bicycle of 1938 in perfect shape.
One of the 75 bicycles of Claude-Franck !

Merci, EFiP

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Bike Series #9 - Beret-Baguette Ride (2)

I have written on the Beret-Baguette Ride before, but not  with live motion picture. 
Not wanting to offend the cyclists among you, but what caught my eye is actually the commercial that precedes the short film full of Basque berets, bicycles, red wine and striped shirts: a commercial for a Citroen DS. Not with beret, alas, but since no other car manufacturer has come up with anything better (or compatible) than this magnificent vehicle, it's well worth watching this French icon . 

Ride Béret Baguette from Benjamin Donadieu on Vimeo.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Bucket of Blood

A Bucket of Blood is a 1959 American comedy horror film directed by Roger Corman. It starred Dick Miller and was set in beatnik culture. 

The film, produced on a $50,000 budget, was shot in five days, and shares many of the low-budget filmmaking aesthetics commonly associated with Corman's work. 

Written by Charles B. Griffith, the film is a dark comic satire about a socially awkward young busboy at a Bohemian café who is acclaimed as a brilliant sculptor when he accidentally kills his landlady's cat and covers its body in clay to hide the evidence. When he is pressured to create similar work, he becomes murderous.

Carla and Leonard admire Walter's "sculpture," Dead Cat.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Anne Frank

The beret is likely one of the very few subjects that hasn't been written about regarding Anne Frank; the poor girl's short life has been so much studied, spelled-out and analysed - what would she have thought of that?
And here I add my little bit as well, with this 1937 passport photograph.

Father, Otto Frank, took to wearing a beret as well, after the war. Pictured here on a Getty's© photograph with his second wife Fritzi at the Anne Frank Memorial Forest in Israel, circa 1965. 
And here in an Amsterdam street, again together with his wife Fritzi and Victor Kugler, who helped Anne Frank and her family hide from the Germans during the occupation of the Netherlands.
Pictured here sisters Ruth, Eva and Mirjam Wiener, playmates of Anne, in Amsterdam in 1940.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Female employment and social policy in 19th century Spain

production of berets in Tolosa (Gipuzkoa), in the late nineteenth century
The above picture I found in this interesting article on employment conditions for women in 19th Century Spain, at the Euskonews web site. Lots of interesting photographs, but unfortunately Google doesn't do instant translations from the Basque language...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Espinosa's Algodon

The new cotton Boinas Espinosa have arrived, berets in the same quality as the Tolosa Tupida Algodon (cotton), but in a 28cm/11" diameter and without satin lining; smaller, lighter and cooler than it's big brother.
Black, Navy, Green, Grey, Maroon and Cream coloured.

Available from South Pacific Cowboy @ $35.00 (plus postage).

Espinosa Algodon

Russian Textbook Berets

Re-organizing my bookshelves, I came upon this old Russian textbook that I once used in an attempt to better my Russian. It didn't do much good, really, but flicking the pages, I found a few interesting pictures depicting a Basque beret.
I guess in the 1950's USSR the beret was seen as a proletarian workers headgear and acceptable for school textbook use.
Interestingly, both pictures show women wearing the beret; a postie delivering a letter to a school boy and one picture of what seems to be a teacher during some celebration.
All seem very happy and peaceful with their lives.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Super Lujo Prices

It always annoys me when I read a full explanation of a price rise by retailers - the more reasoning, the more I question it's genuineness. But then, turned retailer by accident myself, I am going to do the same:
The new stock of Super Lujo's coming in by the end of this month (12.5" and 14", Black and Navy) will go up in price with $5 per beret. It is a conspiracy, really: Boinas Elosegui raising their wholesale prices, Spanish Post changing from weight based to volume based tariffs (not good, when sending berets!) and last the high NZ$ versus an all time low US$. 
But.., it is still cheaper to buy your Super Lujo from South Pacific Berets than order directly from the factory, thanks to the numbers I buy.  
To relief the bad news: I have a number of Super Lujo's in stock still (12.5" and 14", black only) and keep them at the original price till 1 December. So, if you are looking for a good deal Xmas present - go for it now!
As for the other berets by Boinas Elosegui, there are still lots of Basica's, Tupida's and Fina's in stock and prices remain as they are - whether they'll be reordered when stock runs dry, I don't know at present.