Saturday, March 31, 2012

More to Laugh from the Balkans

The grotesque and absurd in Romania didn't just occur during the 1950's (see post 28 March). Some fine (and sad) examples can be found in the 30's and 40's; what, and in all those years until Ceausescu's fall also, yes. 
And these days there is Radu Ştefan Mazăre, Mayor of Black Sea port Constanţa. Mazăre founded the Telegraf newspaper, the local Neptun TV channel and was a shareholder of the Conpress Holding. He joined the Democratic Party (PD) and was elected to the Romanian Chamber of Deputies in 1996. He later resigned due to "differences between electoral promises and the realities of government".
He is considered one of the top 300 richest people in Romania, controls a sizable chunk of the Romanian media and is known for having his name written on every project where the municipality was involved, such as on every bus of the public transportation system of Constanţa.
A controversial event took place in July 2009 when, during a fashion show, Radu Mazăre participated in the show wearing a Nazi Wehrmacht uniform, together with his son, who was also wearing Nazi uniform. He explained that he "always liked this uniform, and admired the rigorous organization of the German army". According to Mazare, "I checked it before I put it on; the swastika was very small and I didn't see it". Two days later he issued a public apology to Jewish organisations, declaring that by wearing the uniform he wanted to pay homage to Claus von Stauffenberg, a leading member of the failed plot to kill Adolf Hitler during World War II.
Mazăre (and his followers) have a liking for red berets. Funny?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Live from 1 April: BEARDS!
God created Man in His own image, in His own Image He created Man.

Made in Japan (2)

 Basque berets are incredibly popular in Japan. 
I sell many Spanish and Argentinean berets to Japanese customers, but there are also a many Japanese brands.
Mackdaddy, Clash and Anarchist for example. I love the names!
 Or this beret with a message: "Climate Change".
 Many models come with sewn on features or badges; from bouquets of flowers to skulls and bones.
 Made in Japan. Have a look at this internet trading site.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Silent Wedding

Plenty of berets in the Romanian movie Nunta Muta (Silent Wedding).
Romania, 1953. In a small village, a young couple is about to get married. Guests arrive, the banquet is ready and everything is prepared for the ceremony. Unexpectedly, the Russian Army shows up - Stalin is dead, a national mourning is declared, and the wedding party have one hour to break up. They finally decide to celebrate against all odds and make it silent...
Balkan craziness reminiscent of the films by Emir Kustarica.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


On the Argentine pampas, the gaucho business has changed; the gauchos are no longer nomadic, solitary and "free". They are now breeders, horse trainers, groomers and caretakers for the management of large estates whose owners live in the city. Cecilio is one of those men, who passed the love of horses to his son Tato.
The Basque beret is glued to his head, as he surveys the many acres of the ranch, drives his pick up truck and prepares the horses.
Anticipation for the gaucho festival: parades through the town, rodeo's, singing and guitar playing around the campfire.
The documentary is in French, but well worth watching even if you don't speak the language.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Merde! is the ultimate survival guide for understanding everyday French as it is really spoken. This real-life resource is for everyone who remembers thumbing through English/French dictionaries for such essential words as "toilet paper" and "damn, " as well as for the far more interesting, titillating terms to describe body parts and bodily functions. There are epithets for every occasion, and a wealth of come-ons and put-downs.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gwerz Penmarc'h - Sonerien Du

A beautiful picture for an album cover, but unfortunately, very little information to be found on Breton folk group Sonerien DuA list of albums released by Breton folk singer Denez Prigent can be seen here.
The album Gwerz Penmarc'h was released in 1978.
Dessous le Pont de Nantes

Friday, March 23, 2012

Eduardo Le Monnier

Eduardo Le Monnier (born Edouard Louis Stanislas Le Monnier in Paris, France, 1873) was a French architect recognized for his work in BrazilUruguay and, mainly, Argentina .
He studied at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and moved to Brazil to 1894He worked on different projects, such as General Carneiro station of Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais) and taught at the School of Fine Arts in Curitiba .
He arrived in Buenos Aires on November 1st of 1896 . Here he completed most of his  projects. One of his early works there is the bakery 's Burdalesa (Paraná No 861/9, year 1898, since demolished). In 1901 he defended his diploma at the University of Buenos Aires and joined the Central Society of Architects (SCA).
Le Monnier was known for wearing his trademark  boina blanca (or white beret).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Herz Frank

Herz Frank studied law in Moscow and began his career in the late 1950s in the Riga film studio as a photographer and writer.
From 1965, Frank worked as a film director. His films reflect his ability to delve into the depths of the human soul and to explore the relationships between people and their environment. The tragedy of existence and the fate of mankind are the main themes of his work.
The best-known works of the director includes the films "10 minutes older", "235 million faces" and "Armageddon."
Herz Frank is one of the founders of the "Riga School of Poetic Documentary". In 1975 he published in the Moscow publishing house "Iskusstvo" the book "The map of Ptolemy." In this book, the director describes his search for the essence of the man in front of the camera.
This year the Riga International Film Festival ‘Arsenals’ has chosen to honour Latvian documentarist Herz Frank on the occasion of his 85th birthday. Sporting his signature knitted beret and Leica camera, Frank attended the opening of an exhibition on his life and work at Riga’s small but modern Film Museum, where he signed copies of his book, Turn Back on the Threshold (Uz sliekšņa atskaties, Kino Raksti Library).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Marlene Dietrich

Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch (aka Marlene) was born in Berlin, Germany on December 27, 1901. Her father was an army officer who died when she was 11 and Marlene's mother married Eduard von Losch who adopted the Dietrich children. 
Marlene enjoyed music and attended concerts. She was adept at playing the violin and piano. By the time she was in her mid-teens, Marlene had discovered the stage. Acting was to be her vocation. In 1921, Marlene was accepted at the acting school run by Max Reinhardt and appeared in several stage productions, but never had more than a couple of spoken lines.
She attempted films for the first time in 1922 Her first film was The Little Napoleon (1923) which was followed by Tragödie der Liebe (1923). On this last project, she met Rudolf Sieber and married him in 1924. The union lasted until his death in 1976 although they only lived together for 5 years. 
After being seen in the German production of The Blue Angel (1930) in 1930, Marlene was given a crack at Hollywood. Her first US film was Morocco (1930) with Gary Cooper, later that year followed by Dishonored (1931). This latter movie had her cast as a street walker who is appointed a spy. The film was a rather boring affair but was a success because of Marlene's presence. In 1932, Marlene filmed Shanghai Express which proved to be immensely popular raking in $3 million. Once again, she was cast as a prostitute. 
Marlene seemed to be typecast as a woman of low morals. Her chance came in 1939 in Destry Rides Again (1939) when she was cast as "Frenchy", a Western saloon hostess. This began a new direction for Marlene since it shed the typecasting which she was forced to endure during her career. All through the 1940s, she appeared in well-produced, well-directed films such as Manpower (1942), The Spoilers (1942), The Lady Is Willing (1942) and Pittsburgh
Her last role of any substance was Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) in 1961. Despite the lack of theatrical roles, Marlene still made appearances on the stage. However, by 1979, she was a shell of her former self. After breaking her leg in one performance, she never made a go of it in show business again. Spending the last 12 years of her life bed-ridden, Marlene died on May 6, 1992 in Paris, France of natural causes at the age of 90.
MD caused a scandal wearing a Basque Beret in the 1920's (a man's headgear!) and started a collection of 64 berets from there.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ramón Novarro

Ramón Novarro (1899 – 1968) was a Mexican leading man actor in Hollywood in the early 20th century. He was the next male "Sex Symbol" after the death of Rudolph Valentino. Novarro was the victim of a violent extortion attempt which resulted in his death.
Novarro was murdered on October 30, 1968, by two brothers, Paul and Tom Ferguson (aged 22 and 17), whom he had hired from an agency to come to his Laurel Canyon home for sex. According to the prosecution in the murder case, the two young men believed that a large sum of money was hidden in Novarro's house. The prosecution accused them of torturing Novarro for several hours to force him to reveal where the nonexistent money was hidden. They left with a mere 20 dollars that they took from his bathrobe pocket before fleeing the scene.
Novarro's murder served as the influence for the short story by Charles BukowskiThe Murder of Ramon Vasquez, and the song by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, "Tango," recorded by Peggy Lee on her Mirrors album.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Sue Jones[(1930 – 1983) was an American actress.
Jones began her film career in the early 1950s, and by the end of the decade had achieved recognition with a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Bachelor Party (1957) and a Golden Globe Award as one of the most promising actresses of 1959. Her film career continued for a few years, and in 1964 she began playing the role of Morticia Addams in the television series The Addams Family, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination for her work.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nils Asther

Nils Anton Alfhild Asther (1897 –  1981) was a Danish-born Swedish actor active in Hollywood from 1926 to the mid 1950s, known for his beautiful face and often called "the male Greta Garbo". Between 1916 and 1963 he appeared in over 70 feature films, 16 of which were produced in the silent era.
In 1927 Asther left Sweden for Hollywood, where his first film was Topsy and Eva. The film also featured the Duncan Sisters, and in 1930 he married one of them, Vivian Duncan, who gave him a daughter, Evelyn.

With the arrival of sound in movies, Asther took voice lessons so as to minimize the presence of his accent, and was generally cast in roles where an accent wasn't a problem, such as the role as Chinese General Yen in The Bitter Tea of General Yen.
Between 1935 and 1940 he was forced work in England after an alleged breach of contract led to a studio-based blacklist.
Nils Asther, pictured on the S.S. Majestic as he returned to New York, January 1953 
Copyright Bettman Archive, Corbis
In 1958 he returned to Sweden, almost destitute. He managed to get an engagement with a local theatre and had four film roles in Sweden and Denmark, before finally giving up on acting in 1963 and devoting his time to painting.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Marion Davies

Marion Davies (1897 – 1961) was an American film actress, but is best remembered for her relationship with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, as her high-profile social life often obscured her professional career.
Hearst and Davies lived as a couple for decades but were never married, as Hearst's wife refused to give him a divorce. At one point, he reportedly came close to marrying Davies, but decided his wife's settlement demands were too high. Hearst was extremely jealous and possessive of her, even though he was married throughout their relationship.
Davies died of cancer on September 22, 1961 in Hollywood, California. Her funeral at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Hollywood (donations to the church were from Hollywood celebrities such as Louis B. Mayer's estate (he died in 1957) and Bing Crosby) was attended by many Hollywood celebrities, including Mary Pickford and Mrs. Clark Gable (Kay Spreckels), as well as President Herbert Hoover. She is buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and left an estate estimated at more than $30 million.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


A few bargains... I stop the line of Boinas Elósegui's Exposición Básica and Exposición Tupida. Great berets, but too expensive to continue stocking compared to the Argentinean Tolosa Tupida's and very similar in quality.
The Exposición Básica is a 30cm/11.8" diameter beret of which there are a few left in store @ $41.00 all inclusive! 
Of the Exposición Tupida 29cm/11.5" I have two
one left in store only... - selling @ $44.50 including international postage!
Have a look at the One-Offs & Remainders page. 

Zen Warrior

While studying for her Bachelor's Degree in Apparel Design at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Tracy Lea Landis worked for a small collective of hand-weavers in Wisconsin. They needed someone who could dye large skeins of yarn in custom colors to match swatches from interior designer's clients......
Experienced in working with dyes on wool, Tracy saw a pile of white wool berets for sale at a thrift sale one day and decided to put color on them. And that is what she does now: Zen Warrior Berets! The berets are round wool "paintings" that you wear on your head, with colorfast dyes, of course!
Tracy sources her berets through brokers in New York. Having purchased berets from many countries,  the Czech berets offer the quality needed for her work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Romance Writers of Australia Inc.

L to R: Bronwyn Jameson, Louise Reynolds, Jennifer St. George, 
Alli Sinclair, Cath Evans, Melinda Seed and Linda Jones.
The Romance Writers of Australia Inc formed in 1991 to promote romance writing in Australia and to help aspiring authors achieve publishing success.
Although the organisation began with only eight members, today the membership is not only Australia-wide, but includes writers from New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom. RWA has become internationally recognised and respected by both category and mainstream publishers of romance. 
(And no, I am not a member...).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

William Eugene Smith

William Eugene Smith (1918 – 1978) was an American photojournalist known for his refusal to compromise professional standards and his brutally vivid World War IIphotographs.
W. Eugene Smith, Hitachi, Japan, 1962
As a correspondent for Ziff-Davis Publishing and then Life, Smith entered World War II on the front lines of the island-hopping American offensive against Japan, photographing U.S. Marines and Japanese prisoners of war at Saipan,GuamIwo Jima, and Okinawa. On Okinawa, Smith was hit by mortar fire. After recovering, he continued at Life and perfected the photo essay from 1947 to 1954.
Pittsburgh Steel
Smith joined the Magnum photo agency in 1955, after severing ties with Life. There he started his project to document Pittsburgh.
In January 1972, Smith was attacked by Chisso employees near Tokyo, in an attempt to stop him from further publicizing the Minamata disease to the world. Although Smith survived the attack, his sight in one eye deteriorated. Smith and his Japanese wife lived in the city of Minamata from 1971 to 1973 and took many photos as part of a photo essay detailing the effects of Minamata disease, which was caused by a Chisso factory discharging heavy metals into water sources around Minamata. 
Three Generations of Welsh Miners (1950) by W.E. Smith
Complications from his longterm consumption of drugs, notably amphetamines (taken to enable his workaholic tendencies), and alcohol led to a massive stroke, from which Smith died in 1978. He is buried in Crum Elbow Cemetery, Pleasant Valley, New York.