Friday, August 31, 2012

The Scandinavian Series #15 Helge Torvund

Helge Torvund (1951) is a Norwegian poet, author, literary critic and psychologist. Helge started wearing a beret as a child and hasn't taken it off since.

As a teenager, Torvund decided to become a poet, and published his first book of poetry while studying at the University of Oslo.
Majoring in psychology, Torvund followed lectures in philosophy and immersed himself in art and literature, specializing in 'Beat Literature'.
His poetry collection "Alabama?" (2011) did extremely well. The collection was reprinted twice and received positive reviews and much attention, partly because the writer used social media and new media like Twitter and Word Fluency in the launch.
His children's book Vivaldi came out in 2011, illustrated by Mari Kanstad Johnsen and is about a girl who gets bullied at school. The book won a silver price in the "year's most beautiful books" in Norway and in 2012 by the New York-based Website for Culture and Criticism:, designated as one of the 20 most beautiful in the world's books of all time.
Helge Torvund is the brother of artist Gunnar Torvund.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Leonard Cohen (2)

I have posted on Leonard Cohen's berets before, but that was before discovering the web site of Dr H Guy, "The Berets of Leonard Cohen". 
Leonard Cohen, center, standing between two militants in Havana shortly afer the Bay of Pigs. 
This photo, found in his knapsack at the airport on the day of his departure, forced his detention
Nice material, Doc. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Birds - 3

Man with Beret and Blue Bird - 2007
Born in 1950, Charles Thysell grew up in Hawley, Minnesota, a small town of some 1,400 people. His father was a country doctor and his mother an accomplished singer and housewife who nourished his interest in a life of art. His hometown helped shape his appreciation for nature and the basic values people hold dear.
After studying art in Minneapolis, he concluded that school was not for him. He struck out as a song writer-performer in the turbulent seventies, and when that ran its course, dedicated ten years to working with non-profit artist organizations as a widely recognized advocate and teacher. All the while he continued to draw and paint. His work – ranging from still lifes to landscapes to “Heads” – inevitably found its way to museum exhibits and gallery shows. Its warm-hearted, unpretentious style and quiet integrity has won a national following.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Avelino Posa Antelo

Avelino Posa Antelo, born in Arzón on May 14, 1914 died a few days ago on August 20, 2012. 
He was an agronomist, politician, Galician writer and president of the Foundation Castelao when died. Posa Antelo was a tireless supporter and promoter of the boina and Galician culture. 
Thanks, Steve

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Elizabeth II

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II has featured on The Beret project before, while paddling her tricycle and wearing a light beret.
This picture here was sent to me by my German friend Peter, and although H.M. obviously gave up on berets, there are enough visible to justify publication here. Great picture - thanks Peter.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Jorge Guillén

Jorge Guillén y Álvarez (1893 – 1984) was a Spanish poet, a member of the Generation of '27.
Jorge Guillén was born in Valladolid. His life paralleled that of his friend Pedro Salinas, whom he succeeded as a Spanish teaching assistant at the Collège de Sorbonne in the University of Paris from 1917 to 1923. He was also a professor at the University of Murcia from 1925 to 1929, where he collaborated with Verso y Prosa, a literary review founded by Juan Guerrero Ruiz, Oxford University from 1929 to 1931, and the University of Seville from 1932 to 1938.
Exiled, he was forced to establish himself in the United States to continue his postsecondary teaching. He was a professor of Spanish at Wellesley College from 1941 to 1957. During this time he also served for a year as the Norton professor at Harvard University.
He retired to Italy, where he married for the second time. He later moved to the city of Málaga. In 1977, he was awarded the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, one of the most prestigious prizes for Spanish-language writers. He died in Málaga in 1984, age 91.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paul Orta - Bluesman

Paul Orta (Vocal and Harmonica) was born in Port Arthur, Texas hometown of Janis Joplin, Guitar Junior and other prominent musicians. Paul was first influenced by the blues at the age of eight, when he saw Louis Armstrong on a movie. After nine years of playing with schoolband, Paul quit because the band never played Jazz or Blues. Within a half of a year Paul picked up the harmonica, and in three months he was in his first professional band. The name of the group was the Bayou Boogie Band, and they played and toured the Golden Triangle of Southeast Texas Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, and Louisiana for three years.
Lately Paul has been working as a producer and has produced for Dialtone records Ervin Charles Greyhound Blues, Richard Earl for a Christmas compilation (also on Dialtone) and Wild Bill Pitre. He also has two new records of his own, one with Lazy Lester, on his own label BLUES INTERNATIONAL, to be distributed in Europe. Paul who lives in Paris when not in Austin or Port Arthur, has been an active promoter of Blues in the School program in Port Arthur.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hemingway, again (2)

Hemingway has been posted on numerous times on The Beret Project, but I had not seen these pictures before. They come from the highly recommended book 'Hemingway, A Life In Pictures'.
 Ernest 3rd from L, at the front of the Spanish Civil War. Joris Ivens on the far R.
 Pamplona, 1959
 Ernest and the Brooklyn torero Sidney Franklin, on board the Paris, 1937
Ernest and Sidney Franklin at the castle of Manzanares el Real, 1929

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Netherlands Royal Air Force

Researching berets in the Dutch military, I was surprised to see that the old Garrison or Side Cap is replaced by a -so much more sensible- grey beret. 
But then, when I did my time with the "Koninklijke Luchtmacht" (RNAF), I found little sense in the whole thing, really... 
It was actually this very garrison cap that often got me into trouble; not wearing it according to military specifications has cost me many times the sum of 10 Guilders!  I hated it so much, I eventually took to wearing the -just as ridiculous and unpractical- flat cap.
Yes, that's me, more than 30 years ago (spare me your comments, I know...). 
So, these days the boys and girls in the RNAF wear berets (and seem to be using quite different hardware from what I did in 1982).
I wouldn't mind having one of these 'new' RNAF berets for my collection, but with my military history and being a conscientious objector now (no more time in the Reserves for me!), I doubt they'll grant me this wish.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From the Australian 'The Age'

Interesting article from the Australian paper 'The Age':

A beanie and brolly in one, the beret's still hot, Sam Vincent writes.

THE BERET might just be the world's most useful hat. Far from a mere circle of felt clinging precariously to the head, it can be arranged to protect its wearer from sun, rain and cold. It also makes a handy dish.
Most importantly, when rolled up like a newspaper it becomes a formidable weapon (naughty French children are threatened not with the wooden spoon, but a caning from the chapeau).
The Musee du Beret is France's homage to this helpful headwear. Housed in the village of Nay in the Pyrenean region of Bearn, it provides a lovable and amusing history of the hat. Even before I enter the museum, I see two men clad in black berets, sitting in the village square sharing a joke. In between laughs they carefully adjust their hats.
Inside the museum, any doubts about the practicality of the beret are dispelled once visitors are shown the introductory film recounting its many functions. One cheerful farmer says: "When you are young, your beret is perfect for collecting cherries. When you become old, it is perfect for belting those who steal your cherries!"
Legend has it that the very first beret was made from the wool of the lamb Noah housed in his ark. Around AD1280 a figure wearing a beret was carved into the church of Bellocq in Bearn, providing the first official recording of the hat. By the second half of the 19th century, large-scale beret factories operated in a handful of towns in Bearn, including in the building that now houses the museum. It is still in this region, and in the neighbouring French Basque country, that the beret is most commonly seen, proudly flaunted in paddocks and on footpaths alike.
It is ironic that a symbol so profoundly linked to French patriotism in the eyes of the world is actually used by the Basques and Bearnaise to assert their cultural individuality. Most Basques see themselves as culturally independent from France and Spain.
The Bearnaise, too, consider their culture unique, being a traditionally Protestant minority with a language related to Occitan, not French.
I pose this to the museum's curator, a tall Bearnaise woman with a black beret slung over her left ear.
She frowns on hearing my question, nodding. "During World War II the beret was a symbol of the French Resistance, and I think for many foreigners this image has stuck. Sure, you do see berets on the streets of Paris and Bordeaux, but for the people of Bearn and the Basque country, it is different. It is a reminder of who we are."
But the beret does more than just display regional identity. Everyone has their own style, and it is said that the position of the hat can even indicate the wearer's emotional state. Apparently, a beret slung down towards the eyes denotes depression, while one worn high on the head gives an air of confidence to its wearer. It can even be incorporated into arguments, with a popular trick to spin it around on the head - a sign of unspeakable frustration.
As with most revered utensils, the production of the beret is a long and complicated process. In the first step, natural coloured wool is wound around a coil and mounted on needles, which stitch the beret together through a series of "slices".
In the olden days these machines were powered by water or hand. The museum has a still functioning example, handsomely painted British racing green like a locomotive.
At this stage the beret looks like a tatty piece of hessian, so to achieve felting, or "fulling", it is submerged into a tub of soapy water and pounded by a special mallet. Next the beret is dyed (always black in Bearn since about the 13th century). The beret is then shaped in a large press, before being "shaved" and ironed to achieve the smooth finished texture.
In Bearn and the Basque country, I haven't seen many youngsters wearing the beret, so I ask the curator if she thinks it is a dying tradition. "Not at all," she interrupts strongly before I can finish.
"Young people are still wearing the beret, it's just that its role is changing. Because there are less of us working on the farms, we instead wear our berets to parties and other special occasions. Why would I stop using a hat that can act as a beanie and umbrella at the same time?"
After finishing in the museum, guests are encouraged to peruse its shop, where hundreds of berets wait on stands for prospective owners. When I am thrown one to try on, I unwittingly learn perhaps the beret's greatest use as it whizzes towards me. Not a bad frisbee at all.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel (born August 29, 1921) is an American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon.
Born Iris Barrel in Astoria, Queens, New York, Apfel is the only child of Samuel Barrel, whose family owned a glass-and-mirror business, and his Russian-born wife, Sadye, who owned a fashion boutique.
She studied art history at New York University and attended art school at the University of Wisconsin. As a young woman, Apfel worked for Women's Wear Daily and for interior designer Elinor Johnson. She also was an assistant to illustrator Robert Goodman.
In 1948, she married Carl Apfel. Two years later they launched the textile firm Old World Weavers and ran it until they retired in 1992. During this time, Iris Apfel took part in several design restoration projects, including work at the White House for nine presidents: Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton.
Apfel still consults and lectures about style and other fashion topics.
In 2005, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City premiered an exhibition about Apfel titled Rara Avis (Rare Bird): The Irreverent Iris Apfel. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

US Marines taught how to shoot by French Chasseurs

Much of my time spent on The Beret Project is going through endless files of photographs and, over the years, I continue to be amazed how many Americans hold anti-French sentiments. Alas, I have posted on that before. 
Pictures of Obama, photo-shopped with a  beret and cigarette hanging from his lips, meant to symbolize cowardliness and "un-Americaness"; pictures of French soldiers with "funny" comments, etc. 
Here in New Zealand we shrug our shoulders; "they're Americans, after all" (and we have our own sentiments about the French based on very different matters). 
But for all those Americans who curse the French (military), their berets, their perceived lack of bravery, I thought the above picture would be nice to have a look at: French Chasseurs Alpins with their distinctive berets were used as instructors for the first American units landing in France. Here they watch a demonstration of M1911 pistol marksmanship by a marine.  (2nd Div. 1917).

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pepe el Ferreiro (2)

Where yesterday's post on Pepe el Ferreiro was pleasant and positive, this one turns nastier. With my limited knowledge of Spanish, I find it hard to get the facts clear, but my understanding is that Pepe is the subject, and victim of dirty games in local politics.
The Principality wants (or wanted?) to fire Pepe from his job as museum director, which caused an outcry all through the larger community.
Interesting I find that in the protest, Pepe's beret plays a prominent role.
The text on the posters below says:  "Absurd. Scandalous. And cacique. Pepe does not deserve this.
Pepe el ferreiro: only faithful to his ideas and his people".
If anyone of you knows more, I'd love to hear the details!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pepe el Ferreiro

José María Naveiras Escanlar, commonly known as Pepe el Ferreiro was born on March 31, 1942 in Grandas de Salime, Asturias. He worked as blacksmith in the forge of his father and in other activities related to metallurgy.
Together with two friends he discovered the first dwelling of the Castro (village), called Chao Samartín, in 1977.
Because of the friendship he had with the owner of the estate, Don Manuel Barcia Monteserín, he was allowed to excavate this buried building, a work he accomplished together with José Manuel Villamea, and together they managed to bring to light an important collection of ceramic fragments. He took the archaeologist D. Miguel Ángel de Blas Cortina of the University of Oviedo to see the Castro, who subsequently studied the excavation site.
In the year 1983, José Naveiras Escanlar founded the Ethnographic Museum of Grandas de Salime. He investigated into anthropological subjects to develop the museum project in the best possible way.
In October 1984, at the antique ruins of Melgar de Tera that were turned into an improvised mausoleum, he excavated a glass made of fine materials, dated to the first half of the first Century, 10–20 B.C.
In April 1986, on his own initiative he presented some samples coming from Chao Samartín to Mr. Fernán Alonso, Q.E.D. of the Carbon-14 Department of the Institute for Physics and Chemistry of Rocasolano (The High Council for Scientific Investigations) in Madrid. They did an analysis and dated the castro at the second half of the first century A.D. 
Personally, I think Pepe makes great advertising for beret-wearing.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cats, Berets and Adult Films

Hi, I'm a cat "adult erotic art beatnik filmmaker" and this is wild, right?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Bosnian Series #8 - Abdulah Sidran

Abdulah Sidran (October 2, 1944 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), often referred to by his nickname Avdo, is a Bosnian writer and poet who is renowned for his screenplays and dramas.
His major works include Šahbaza, Bone and meat, The Sarajevo tomb (Sarajevski tabut), Why is Venice sinking (Zašto tone Venecija), several books of poetry, and screenplays for award-winning movies from the Former Yugoslavia, such as the Oscar-nominated When Father Was Away on Business and Do You Remember Dolly Bell?, directed by Emir Kusturica; and Kuduz and ThePerfect Circle, directed by Ademir Kenović. 
His opus is characterized by a soft and soothing sensibility, where tragedy, meditativity and a specific and humorous irony change sides and play tricks on each other more often than not.

After spending most of his life in Sarajevo, Sidran recently moved to a small village near Goražde where he currently lives.

Marko Vešović, Dževad Karahasan and Abdulah Sidran