Monday, February 28, 2011

Kenneth Koch

Kenneth Koch (27 February 1925 – 6 July 2002) was an American poet, playwright, and professor, active from the 1950s until his death at age 77. He was a prominent poet of the New York School of poetry, a loose group of poets including Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery that eschewed contemporary introspective poetry in favor of an exuberant, cosmopolitan style that drew major inspiration from travel, painting, and music.
Koch asked in his poem Fresh Air (1956) why poets were writing about dull subjects with dull forms. Modern poetry was solemn, boring, and uneventful. Koch described poems “Written by the men with their eyes on the myth/ And the missus and the midterms…” 
He attacked the idea that poetry should be in any way stale.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Badges #1

Swiss Military Police
The world of military beret badges is a large (and interesting) one; there must be thousands and thousands of different badges - every unit, regiment and service it's own symbol to distinguish itself from other units.
Sweden - Lapplands Hunter
Some badges are extremely boring - a combination of letters only, numerous crosses, hunting horns, old fashioned crossed canons, etc. But there are also some very elaborate badges, or fascinating symbolism. 
French Army Badges
Most are metal (in silver or gold colour), some are braided thread and also there are units that use cloth patches for a beret badge.
UK - Princess Of Wales Regiment
One of the most significant badges for beret enthusiasts is probably the badge of the Chasseurs Alpins, the initiators of berets in the military (see below).

Friday, February 25, 2011


Sex sells, what's new? Wondering about the effect of this title, a few pictures that may be stimulating for visitor numbers, even though the beret is not the first thing that springs to mind maybe... 

It is quite amazing how often the combination of berets and sex comes up on a quick internet search...

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Anticipating huge visitor numbers on this site tomorrow, I just wonder how many visitors these two -sublime- pictures attract...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monsieur Pierre, from Herr Peter

The German Blog-Follower has done it again: I received two more great pieces of crafty postcards in the mail this week:
A label of 'Istara Fresh Cheese"
and (where the hell did he get it from???) a business-card of an Australian caterer who calls himself Monsieur Pierre (with beret, of course).
Great work, Peter - thanks. Now I look forward to posting a picture of yourself - with beret, needless to say.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) (Gendarmerie royale du Canada - GRC), colloquially known as Mounties, and internally as ‘The Force’, is the national police force of Canada, and one of the most recognized of its kind in the world. It is unique in the world as a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body. The RCMP provides federal policing service to all of Canada and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (the RCMP does not serve as provincial or municipal police in Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities and three international airports.
The RCMP was formed in 1920 by the merger of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP, founded 1873) with the Dominion Police (founded 1868). Much of the present-day organization's symbolism has been inherited from its days as the NWMP, including the distinctive Red Serge uniform, paramilitary heritage, and mythos as a frontier force
Despite the trade mark brown wide-brimmed stetson with a glass-flat brim, there was a time that the Mounties wore berets. The khaki beret (above) became standard uniform gear in 1942. As far as I know, berets are not in use anymore; I can't find any details of it's abolishment. 
Pictured below Corporal John Edward Macphee, RCMP - date unknown.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Don Cherry

Donald Stewart "Grapes" Cherry, commonly referred to as , (1934) is a Canadian ice hockey commentator for CBC Television. Cherry co-hosts the "Coach's Corner" intermission segment (with Ron MacLean) on the long-running Canadian sports program Hockey Night in Canada, and in addition recently joined ESPN in the United States as a commentator during the latter stages of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He is known for his outspoken manner, flamboyant dress, conservative right wing politics and staunch patriotism.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birthdays, Vanity & Mere Appearances

Someone close to me (who I'll grant name suppression here), accused me of vanity when it comes to publishing pictures of myself on this blog. 
Following my Buddhist teachings, I know that the body is merely an appearance and so, of course, I can't care less about what I look like...
Proving the above, I even go as far as to publish the photograph above, on my birthday (yes, thank you; MAKE MY DAY AND BUY A BERET!today .

(Even though, I'd like to point out that the hair and beard -as above- have gone since the picture was taken)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mike “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney

Mike “Raccoon Eyes” Kinney is never at a loss for words – or cause. His beret and the feather are his trademarks around town, along with his persona as a passionate public activist. 
“I’ve been a Native advocate and activist for about 20 years,” Kinney said while brewing coffee for guests at the Native American Health Center. “We have an expression that we are the Holy people, and therefore we must have good self-esteem, good self-worth, and we should not pound or punish ourselves for crimes we have never committed.” 
Kinney would echo those themes during a roughly one-hour talk to about 20 listeners at the health center March 24. At times alternately fiery, plaintive and inspiring, Kinney’s speech was titled We Must be the Spiritual Change We Wish to See in the Creator’s World.” 

Kinney, who has been a local figure for more than 5 years, said he was experimenting with new themes and tones during his lecture Wednesday night. The thrust was more nurturing encouragement than pièce de résistance.
He said he sought to emphasize the power of “story,” a human art as common to indigenous peoples of the Americas as it was to Ancient Greece or Rome. 
“Story is the way Native people have communicated values, education and other life lessons, since the beginning of their beautiful civilizations and on into the future,” Kinney said. “Life emerges as being cyclical, in a circle, with victory and defeat and birth and death.” 
Kinney’s audience ranged from young to old. Most professed their Native blood. 
“I like to hear (Kinney) speak about history and about information, and do it with that important spiritual connection, that’s very important to give it all a deeper meaning,” said Beverly Dove, one of those in attendance. 

Kinney paced restlessly during much of his talk, shuffling and crumpling his yellow cue papers. His voice pitched high and fell to whispers. At times, he would momentarily slump in a sofa. 
Another reverberating theme was health and nutrition. Kinney spoke of his own past dependence on alcohol and junk food.
Sugars and processed flours have been major contributing factors to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other maladies that have taken a heavy toll on Native Americans drawn into Western culture. 
“The pastries, the sugars, the alcohol, it is all killer of our bodies,” Kinney said. 
Kinney summed up his talk by stressing a return to the values and cultures of Native people, which he said act as a rejuvenating force amid a world with so many hostile influences. 
“We must be able to spiritually feel our Indian communities, not intellectualize the needs of the people,” Kinney said. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wynne Greenwood and The New Report

Wynne Greenwood is a lesbian feminist performance artist who works in various media such as installation art, photography, filmmaking and music.
Wynne currently works out of Seattle, Washington. 
Wynne is best known for her work under the name Tracy + the Plastics. While working as the Plastics, Wynne played the role of three characters: Tracy and her back-up singers Nikki Romanos and Cola. In live performances, Nikki and Cola (aka "the Plastics") existed in pre-recorded video which played behind Tracy as she gave live vocals. The project ended in June 2006.
Her installation entitled "Peas" was featured as a Susanne Vielmetter Berlin Project from February to April 2007.
In 2008, Wynne received a Genius Award from Seattle's The Stranger (newspaper), which included a check for $5,000 and a notification via cake. The cake was received while Wynne was teaching art to kids convicted of crimes at Southeast Youth and Family Services in Columbia City. She responded to the honor by saying, "You have no idea what this means. . . . Now I can make art again.” 
Not sure how to classify the aesthetic of the New Report, but it’s definitely unique to K8 Hardy and Wynne Greenwood. The New Reporters don berets and turtlenecks as tongue-in-cheek renditions of late Modernist artists, and set their show against a colorful, cut and paste style film set.  Informed by 2nd wave feminist video, Hardy and Greenwood’s playful newscast successfully utilizes a constellation of political and artistic references.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The 1950's Wool Industry of Mazamet

This (1950) video gives a beautiful insight in the historic wool industry of Mazamet in France, the troubles of the post-war period and the revitalization through the Marshall Plan. Mazamet used to be the world's wool spinning and manufacturing capital - supplying wool to the beret and blanket factories in the nearby Béarn.
Description US Government Archive: 
Women carry bales of wool for processing in Mazamet in France. Wool washed in large containers with warm and cold water. Clean wool put in a machine for drying, operated by a woman. Women sort wool from the cleaned bales. Old man wearing beret sits on a stone bridge, and lights pipe. He remembers the time just after the war when France had no money, industry and factories. Machines stand idle, streets with closed shops and houses with closed shutters. Closed banks. Men cutting logs of wood. Other men fishing in river. Afterwards Marshall Plan provided financial aid. People back to work. Factories opened up. Processing of wool taking place.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More from Pradoluengo


Remember the video of the old beret factory of Pradoluengo?
The photographs here are all from this small community in Burgos, Spain. Dates unknown, but definitely a time when all men wore a boina.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Émile Zola

Émile François Zola (1840 – 1902) was a French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism
Zola was a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus, which is encapsulated in the renowned newspaper headline J'Accuse.
Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped chimney. He was 62 years old. His enemies were blamed because of previous attempts on his life, but nothing could be proven. Decades later, a Parisian roofer claimed on his deathbed to have closed the chimney for political reasons.

Monday, February 14, 2011

More on Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) came from a wealthy family -- his was in Aix-en-Provence, France. His banker father seems to have been an uncultivated man, of whom his highly nervous and inhibited son was afraid. Despite parental displeasure, Cézanne persevered with his passionate desire to become an artist. His early paintings display little of the majesty of his late work, though today they are rightfully awarded the respect that he certainly never received for them.
self portrait
His early years were difficult and his career was, from the beginning, dogged with repeated failure and rejection. In 1862 he was introduced to the famed circle of artists who met at the Café Guerbois in Paris, which included Manet, Degas and Pissarro, but his awkward manners and defensive shyness prevented him from becoming an intimate of the group. However, Pissarro was to play an important part in Cézanne's later development.
One of the most important works of his early years is the portrait of his formidable father. The Artist's Father (1866, 199 x 119 cm (78 x 47 in)) is one of Cézanne's 'palette-knife pictures', painted in short sessions between 1865 and 1866. 
The realistic content and solid style reveal Cézanne's admiration for Gustave Courbet. Here we see a craggy, unyielding man of business, a solid mass of manhood, bodily succint from the top of his black beret to the tips of his heavy shoes. The uncompromising verticals of the massive chair are echoed by the door, and the edges of the small still life by Cézanne on the wall just behind: everything corresponds to the absolute verticals of the edges of the canvas itself, further accentuating the air of certainty about the portrait. Thick hands hold a newspaper--though Cézanne has replaced his father's conservative newspaper with the liberal L'Evénement, which published articles by his childhood friend, Emile Zola. His father devours the paper, sitting tensely upright in the elongated armchair. Yet it is a curiously tender portrait too. Cézanne seems to see his father as somehow unfulfilled: for all his size he does not fully occupy the chair, and neither does he see the still life on the wall behind him, which we recognize as being one of his son's. We do not see his eyes-- only the ironical mouth and his great frame, partly hidden behind the paper.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The German Series #8 - Jeanne Mammen

Working as a magazine illustrator in the years just before World War II, Jeanne Mammen (1890 - 1976) captured a world of raucous nightclubs, smoky cafés, and vibrant street life in her stylized and often critical images. 
A sharp observer of urban life, Mammen was among the first generation of female artists able to live independently, allowing her the chance to roam about 1920s and 30s Europe with a freedom only male artists had previously enjoyed. Unsurprisingly, her images often focus on other independent women, from haughty socialites and fashionable middle class shop girls to street singers and prostitutes. 
A most interesting biografy of Jeanne Mammen can be read here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Literature from Brittany

Avant d'etre matelot... is the story of a young boy, learning the trade of a sardine-fisherman in the 1950's. 
Life on board is hard and trying, described in detail and much alive by former mariner George Tanneau.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The German Series #7 - Walter Hangarter

German painter Walter Hangarter (1929 - 1995) was a chronicler of the ongoing changes in nature and technology; an artist and a mechanic, caught between the need to make a living and art. 
Walter Hangarter was famous for his paintings of the Bodensee (or Lake Constance), a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps. Less known are his paintings of large construction sites, here: Construction of the S-Bahn in Zurich.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mama Michelle Phillips

Michelle Phillips (1944) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. She gained fame as a member of the 1960s group The Mamas & the Papas, and is the last surviving original member of the group.
While a member of The Mamas & the Papas, Phillips co-wrote some of the band's hits, including "Creeque Alley" and "California Dreamin'". During 1970, Phillips sang backup vocals on a Leonard Cohen tour. That year, Phillips married actor Dennis Hopper. The marriage lasted eight days. 
In 1986, she wrote an autobiography, California Dreamin': The True Story of the Mamas and the Papas, released just weeks after her former husband John Phillips' autobiography Papa John. In it Phillips describes such events as the first meeting between her and fellow Mama, Cass Elliot, winning 17 straight shoots at a crap table in the Bahamas when the band was broke and could not afford plane fare back to the United States, and how her writing credit on "California Dreamin'", which still nets her royalties, was "the best wake-up call" she ever had (she was asleep in a New York Hotel room when her then husband John Phillips woke her up to help him finish a new song he was writing).

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Gay Beret

The term gay was originally used to refer to feelings of being "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy"; it had also come to acquire some connotations of "immorality" as early as 1637.
The term's use as a reference to homosexuality may date as early as the late 19th century, but its use gradually increased in the 20th century. In modern English, gay has come to be used as an adjective, and occasionally as a noun, referring to the people, practices, and culture associated with homosexuality. By the end of the 20th century, the word gay was recommended by major style guides to describe people attracted to members of the same sex.
Gay Pride, Reykjavik 
The beret seems to be the choice of headgear amongst many gay; I can only guess this is because of many gay men being more fashion savvy. I've met a number of great people thanks to wearing my beret, but also heard derogatory terms uttered under someone's breath, believing I am gay. People's minds work in many strange ways... 
Strangest of all is the continuing saga of US military personnel; the craziness of not being allowed to express your sexual identity - a (sad) joke in the rest of the western world (and not good for the military-beret industry).