Monday, August 31, 2015

Cabanes des pyrénées

The French word Cabane is hard to translate directly. The English 'cabin' is related; 'shack' can be appropriate, but not necessarily; a 'crib' could be, but in the sense of the Cabanes des pyrénées, we're talking a hut or shelter build of stone, often without or with little cement to house the shepherd(s) in the high mountains.
Generally, these structures are very primitive; running water provided by a stream or spring, light by candles or oil lamp and warmth by a wood fire.
For many centuries these cabanes have sheltered beret-ed shepherds and mountaineers from the extreme weather in the high Pyrenees. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015


When a beautiful first-grade teacher (Olivia Williams) arrives at a prep school, she soon attracts the attention of an ambitious teenager named Max (Jason Schwartzman), who quickly falls in love with her. 
Max turns to the father (Bill Murray) of two of his schoolmates for advice on how to woo the teacher. However, the situation soon gets complicated when Max's new friend becomes involved with her, setting the two pals against one another in a war for her attention.
The film was well received by critics, earning mostly positive reviews. This cult favorite is a quirky coming of age story, with fine, off-kilter performances from Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

P'tit Louis

Espezel (in Occitan Espesèlh), is a French village , located in the department of Aude in the region Languedoc-Roussillon. Its inhabitants are called the Espézelois.
Apart from Louis Bes (finalist of the France rugby championship in 1929 with Lezignan), Espezel is famous for another Louis: Louis Pech or “P’tit Louis” is the colourful beret-wearing owner of Relais du Pays de Sault, the local auberge famous for its country cuisine in unlimited quantities.
Wine can be served in a porron and you could be unlucky if P’tit Louis chooses you to show the workings…

Friday, August 28, 2015

Weather & Berets

 I found this picture of an old tin that once held a barometer on an auction site. Very pretty and it shows once again how ingrained the use of berets was in France; berets were just everywhere and no one would have thought anything of the picture. These days it would be making a statement, adding a beret to any picture.
And of course, there are multiple links between berets and the weather; isn't "the weather" the prime reason for the beret's existence? 
The US Air Force took it a step further; gave their 'combat weathermen' their own berets, in raincloud grey. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Teddy - Dog Painter

This photograph, and the accompanying information, comes from the blog of Marco Carnovale
"Teddy is a painter of dogs. He has a dog with him, a small hairy dog called Jock. I know the dog's name because it carries a bright golden badge around its neck with the owner's phone number, in case it should get lost. Teddy paints Jock a lot, it is his main subject, but he also paints other dogs. Occasionally, he paints something else, mostly when he gets motivated by a commission for a specific subject, he told me. But dogs is what he likes to paint."
From Knysna, South Africa.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jean K. Jean

He is the most popular comedian on the French version of Def Comedy Jam, but speaks perfect English and has an act that consists of Americanized urban quips and zings. The punchline of these zings incorporate French words or references. Once accomplishing the zing, he shouts "Zut Alors!," stands up, and grooves to a hip-hop beat, waits three seconds and gives the cut-off hand signal (swift hand movement across the neck). The music stops sharply on his cue, he sits back down, and shouts "Incroyable!" His attire consists of various outfits, but the only stereotypical French items appearing in all of his appearances is a beret and a scarf.
Jean K. Jean is occasionally introduced as being from Paris but according to one segment he claims to be from Marseille.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Steve Walker

Canadian artist Steve Walker has been called the Norman Rockwell of Queer Art. 
Steve Walker is driven by a social need to depict a particular kind of gay culture: his own.
The painter invites us to take a closer look at life. He shows us that gay life has its uncertainties, its tenderness and its own spirituality. His large-format paintings are completely enveloped in this tenderness. 
Light is one of the main qualities of his paintings. It resides in the work, vibrant and tranquil. His technique may be classical, but his subject matter is completely contemporary. 

Monday, August 24, 2015


Bagnères-de-Luchon (Occitan: Banhèras de Luishon), also referred to as Luchon, is a French commune and spa town in the Haute-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region of south-western France, located on the Spanish border.
The inhabitants of the commune are known as Luchonnais or Luchonnaises.
 Aux Quinconces, Bourdette and Belloc, Luchon, 1897
The town has existed for more than 2,000 years. The presence of a population has been attested since Neolithic times in the Saint-Mamet Cave. The presence of Stone circles also attests to an ancient occupation.
Thermal baths, Luchon, 1908
In 76 BC Pompey, returning from a policing expedition in Spain (where he founded the city of Pamplona named after him), stopped in the area and founded the new city of Lugdunum Convenarum where he brought together the scattered Convènes tribe: this was the future Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges.
One of his soldiers who suffered from a skin disease immersed himself in the thermal waters of Luchon and its "Onésiens" baths where he discovered their thermal properties. After 21 days (the traditional and still current duration of a cure) he came out completely healed.
Aux Quinconces, 1897
After an initial decline during the last century, the mineral baths of Luchon are gaining in popularity again. Luchon mineral water has been marketed in recent years throughout France.
Arrival at the Luchon hospital, 1892

These vintage photographs are all from Luchon and come from the Library of Toulouse. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Charlie Dunn - Boot Maker

Charles Russell "Charlie" Dunn (1898-1993) was an American bootmaker of handmade Western, or cowboy, boots for more than 80 years. Dubbed the "Michelangelo of cowboy boots," he first gained widespread notice in the wake of Jerry Jeff Walker's song "Charlie Dunn" (1972). By the time he retired in 1988 from Texas Traditions, his shop in Austin, he routinely charged up to $3000 for a pair of boots, had a waiting list of hundreds of interested buyers willing to wait three years for delivery, and had made boots for a long list of celebrities, including Arnold Palmer, Mary Kay Place, Gene Autry, Slim Pickens, Don F Brooks, Harry Belafonte, Ernest Tubb, Peter Fonda, and Carole King.
Known for his colorful language and broad sense of humor, Charlie in his customary black beret and cobbler's apron measured out at 5'4" and 135 pounds of pure imp. Folks may have come to him wanting his boots but they stayed because they wanted his affection. All who knew him well fell under his spell.
When Charlie died at 95 from complications arising from a stroke, he had passed along his bootmaking mastery to Lee Miller, his heir-designate, thus assuring the survival of exceptional bootmaking in the traditional, handmade manner. As with four generations of Dunns before him, Charlie had persevered in and prolonged the production of custom boots, despite the general trend toward bootmaking in factories. 
One of a handful of survivors of an endangered species—the half artisan, half artist maker of once-common items—Charlie managed, in passing his skills to a new generation, to make sure that the world continued to enjoy prized bootmaking.
Thanks Richard

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vilma Espín

Vilma Lucila Espín Guillois (1930 – 2007) was a Cuban revolutionary, feminist, and chemical engineer.
She was married to Raúl Castro, the current Cuban President, who is the brother to former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Espín had four children and seven grandchildren. Her daughter, Mariela Castro, currently heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, and her son, Alejandro Castro Espín, is a Colonel in the Ministry of Interior.
She became involved with the opposition to the dictator Fulgencio Batista after returning to Cuba from studying in Cambridge. A meeting with revolutionary leader Frank País led her to become a leader of the revolutionary movement in Oriente province. Espín acted as a messenger between the movement and Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement, which had been relocated to Mexico in order to plan a future invasion. It was in Mexico that Espín met Raúl Castro. She then went on to assist the revolutionaries in the Sierra Maestra mountains after the 26th of July Movement's return to Cuba on the Granma yacht. She and Raúl married in January 1959.
Espín was often described as "Cuba's First Lady". Espín died in Havana, following a long illness.

Friday, August 21, 2015

André Bérard

André Bérard is a teacher at the Collège Saint-Joseph de Jurançon and also manages the family farm near Nay in Pontacq.
Bérard 's fascination is corn and corn he grows; the most beautiful plants 4 meters (16 foot) tall!
He makes beautiful braids of ears of corn that suspend from a beam of the barn. For pollination, he gets the decorative corn cobs with grains in unusual colors (yellow, red, white, brown, blue ...). He also cultivates different species of cucurbits he exhibits during the season in his barn. 
His enthusiasm for growing and teaching is locally famous. Bérard is a teacher who has convictions, passion and love of his profession and children. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Seaman Trainees in 1944

Seaman trainees wearing black berets in this 1944 video clip. Boys rowing, on the bridge, knot tying lessons and hoisting up the sails. 
Various shots of cadets being shown the correct way to lay a table and serve dinner, as well as shots of cadets cooking in the galley. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Grant Drumheller

Artist Grant Drumheller relates on his web site how he went para-sailing, pulled behind a speedboat, on his 21st birthday during a holiday in Mexico. The experience stayed with him and gave him a way of seeing groups of people in the randomness of large public spaces, such as piazzas, on beaches, in parks and in museums; wherever people tend to congregate.
Rainy Promenade
And it shows. Many of his beautiful paintings have a feel of space, seen by a distanced observer. But, the observer is not detached from the subjects; Drumheller’s paintings are very humane; intimate but not passionate; romantic at a distance.
Fourth of July

For those lucky to be living or travelling in MA, a new exhibition on Drumheller’s work opens August 29 at The Gallery at BarringtonCenter for the Arts in Wenham. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cycling Tips (1936)

Evelyn Hamilton, women's professional cycling champion gives cycling tips - covering fashion and safety, while wearing a revealing bikini and beret.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Władysław Bartoszewski

Władysław Bartoszewski  ( 1922 –2015) was a Polish politician, social activist, journalist, writer and historian. A former Auschwitz concentration camp prisoner, he was a World War II resistance fighter as part of the Polish underground and participated in the Warsaw Uprising. After the war he was he was persecuted and imprisoned by the communist Polish People's Republic due to his membership of the Home Army and opposition activity.
After the collapse of the communist regime, Bartoszewski served twice as the Minister of Foreign Affairs from March through December 1999 and again from 2000 to 2001. He was also an ambassador and a member of the Polish Senate. Bartoszewski was a close ally and friend of Polish anti-Communist activist and later president Lech Wałęsa.
Bartoszewski was a chevalier of the Order of the White Eagle, and an honorary citizen of Israel and a member of the International Honorary Council of the European Academy of Diplomacy.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Two Ex-Kings Play Golf Tourney, 1949

Mandelieu Golf Course, Cannes, France: the Duke of Windsor (Formerly King Edward VIII) and exiled King Leopold III of Belgium play a game of golf, with Princess de Rethy and party (from 1944 until 1950, Leopold's brother, Charles, served as prince regent while Leopold was declared incompetent to rule).  A few berets to be seen, including on the Duke of Windsor's head.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Dr Alexander Rich

James Watson and Francis Crick worked out the spiral structure of DNA in 1953, but they were not proved right until Dr. Alexander Rich used X-rays to produce a distinct image of the famous double helix in 1973. After he saw it, Dr. Watson phoned Dr. Rich to thank him; it was the first good night’s sleep Dr. Watson had enjoyed in 20 years.
For nearly six decades, Dr. Rich, who died at 90 on April 27 in Boston, doggedly investigated DNA and RNA, the fundamental molecules of life. He helped puzzle out the structure of collagen, a protein that is abundant in ligaments and skin, and he discovered that DNA can exist in an odd zigzag form, which he called Z-DNA. His work provided insights into how cells manufacture proteins, and laid the groundwork for techniques that scientists use to identify, manipulate and replace bits of genetic material. Diagnostics for H.I.V. infection and tests for genes that cause breast cancer are among the technologies built on his discoveries.
“I can think of no one else who has made as many major contributions to all facets of modern molecular biology,” said Dr. Robert C. Gallo, a co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and a professor at the University of Maryland.
In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Dr. Rich the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor bestowed by the federal government.
His death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he had been a professor since 1958.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Australian Ace of Bowmen

A 1939 film from Australia, showing an ace bowman (with beret, naturally), firing an arrow at two hearts drawn on a tree. Then a girl, first occupied with powdering her nose, holds up various items for him to shoot at, before doing a Wilhelm Tell imitation.
When she motions towards the camera, the archer takes another arrow and shoots it straight at the camera...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Professor Auguste ("Calculus") Piccard

Auguste Antoine Piccard (1884 –1962) was a Swiss physicist, inventor and explorer.
In 1930, an interest in ballooning, and a curiosity about the upper atmosphere led him to design a spherical, pressurized aluminum gondola that would allow ascent to great altitude without requiring a pressure suit. Supported by the Belgian Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) Piccard constructed his gondola.
An important motivation for his research in the upper atmosphere were measurements of cosmic radiation, which were supposed to give experimental evidence for the theories of Albert Einstein, whom Piccard knew from the Solvay conferences and who was a fellow alumnus of ETH. On May 27, 1931, Auguste Piccard and Paul Kipfer took off from Augsburg, Germany, and reached a record altitude of 15,781 m (51,775 ft). 
In the mid-1930s, Piccard's interests shifted when he realized that a modification of his high altitude balloon cockpit would allow descent into the deep ocean. By 1937, he had designed the bathyscaphe, a small steel gondola built to withstand great external pressure. Auguste Piccard was the inspiration for Professor Cuthbert Calculus in The Adventures of Tintin by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Piccard held a teaching appointment in Brussels where Hergé spotted his unmistakable figure in the street.
This connection was confirmed by Hergé in an interview with Numa Sadoul.
"Calculus is a reduced scale Piccard, as the real chap was very tall. He had an interminable neck that sprouted from a collar that was much too large... I made Calculus a mini-Piccard, otherwise I would have had to enlarge the frames of the cartoon strip."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tornado Smith (again)

Beautiful video (1935) of Tornado Smith, a man with a thin moustache, glasses and black beret, taking his pet lioness for a walk around a seaside town. They go past some shops, then stop at a tea-shack where Tornado gives the lion a saucer of milk - she is not impressed!
The pair then sit down at a table with a woman and eat. The lioness laps milk from a bowl, and Tornado puts some meat on the end of a stick in his mouth so the lion can bite it off. Tornado and the woman play with the lioness, pulling her tail and so on.
Note: I think the lion is called Briton 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Frank Martin

Frank Martin (1890 – 1974) was a Swiss composer, who lived a large part of his life in the Netherlands.
Frank Martin at sea off the coast of Iceland, 1963
Born into a Huguenot family in the Eaux-Vives quarter of Geneva, the youngest of the ten children of a Calvinist pastor named Charles Martin, Frank Martin was improvising at the piano even before he started school. At the age of nine, despite having received no musical instruction, he wrote some complete songs. He attended a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion when he was 12 and was deeply affected.

The Petite Symphonie Concertante of 1944/45 made Martin's international reputation and is the best known of his orchestral works.