Thursday, February 28, 2019

Arizona Dream

Arizona Dream is a 1993 French-American surrealist indie comedy drama film co-written and directed by Emir Kusturica, and starring Johnny Depp, Jerry Lewis, Faye Dunaway, Lili Taylor and Vincent Gallo. 
For years (after my first viewing in 1993, the night before moving to Bosnia), I claimed this was my favourite film ever, with its many layers, great music and inside jokes for fans of Emir Kusturica films.
The film won the Silver Bear - Special Jury Prize at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival, but wasn’t much appreciated by the American audience.
In the scene pictured above, we see a boinero talking vehicles with Cadillac salesman Jerry Lewis at his car yard (in Douglas, AZ).  

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna

Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna (1953) is a Dominican lawyer, academic, and was President of the Dominican Republic from 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 to 2012. Since January 2016, he is the President of the EU–LAC Foundation.
Fernández became the first elected president of the Dominican Republic under his political party, the Dominican Liberation Party ("Partido de la Liberación Dominicana"), although party founder Juan Bosch was also sworn in as president in 1963 after the first democratic elections held in roughly four decades in the country. Fernández's administrations have focused much on technological and infrastructural development and macroeconomic and monetary stability.
He is a native of Villa Juana, Distrito Nacional and lived for much of his childhood and early adulthood in New York City.
According to local sociologist José Oviedo, "The country trusts him with the economy, but he doesn't seem to pay that much attention to social issues." The economic prosperity which his government prided itself on, seemed to fail in reaching enough people.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the economy situation worsened during his last term.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Mirabal sisters

Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Dedé Mirabal were four sisters in the Dominican Republic, who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (El Jefe.  
They formed a group called the Movement of the Fourteenth of June, named after the date of the massacre Patria witnessed, to oppose the Trujillo regime. They distributed pamphlets about the many people whom Trujillo had killed and obtained materials for guns and bombs to use when they eventually openly revolted. Within the group, the sisters called themselves "Las Mariposas" ("The Butterflies"), after Minerva's underground name.
On 25 November 1960, Patria, Minerva, María Teresa, and their driver, Rufino de la Cruz, were visiting María Teresa and Minerva's incarcerated husbands. On the way home, they were stopped by Trujillo's henchmen. The sisters and de la Cruz were separated, strangled and clubbed to death. The bodies were then gathered and put in their Jeep, which was run off the mountain road to make their deaths look like an accident. Dedé, died of natural causes on 1 February 2014.

The assassinations turned the Mirabal sisters into "symbols of both popular and feminist resistance".

Monday, February 25, 2019

Beret (Boina) Wearing in Argentina

French emigration to Argentina originated mainly from the Basque Country, Béarn and the Périgord, while Basques from the other side of the (French-Spanish) border were keen settlers in South America too.
The first immigrants focused on Uruguay; Argentina was second choice. Immigrants were lured with big promises of opportunities and next-to-free land, which turned out far from the truth and many newcomers spent their life in economic misery.
Instead of owning land, they worked as peasants for the large land owners or got stuck in the cities doing low-level jobs. This is of course where the tango originates.
There were exceptions though; a good number of Basques and Béarnais made their fortunes from shearing sheep and the meat industry.
In the pampas, many became estancers; devoting themselves to breeding cattle and dairy production. This resulted in often violent and deadly clashes with the gauchos, who named them ‘lechero gringos’.
Lechero Gringos
In the late 1880s, a (French) Basque named Bautista Heguy, passionate about both horses and polo, started investing in horses. Several generations of his descendants competed at world level in this sport and they laid the basis for beret wearing among all people involved in raising and training horses.
Since then, beret (or boina) wearing has become pretty much universal among gauchos, farmers, peasants and people working outdoors and in the country.
All these berets, in merino wool and cotton, can be found here.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The "never seen images" of the Spanish Civil War #2

Part 2 of rare photographic material published by ABC:
Passersby carrying a wounded woman to the Relief House, after the explosion of a howitzer, on June 7, 1936
Basque soldiers at the Northern Front
Republican aviators prepare their plane before making a reconnaissance flight at the Extremeño Front, in October 1936
The popular militias at the 8th of August, 1936, after seizing the armament that the Franquistas left in the Castle of Ibiza
The torpedo boat No. 14, whose crew avoided being captured by the rebels, photographed in September 1936
Guardia Civil, Bilbao, June 1937

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The "never seen images" of the Spanish Civil War #1

Spanish newspaper ABC has published a treasure trove of photographic material that so far has been hardly seen.
A Republican soldier preparing his machine-gun at the Guadalajara Front, early 1937
The article (with many, many more photo's) and background information can be found here
A saddler from the Sorian militia near the front, at the beginning of 1937, Siguenza Front (Guadalajara)
Departure of the first Requetes of Pamplona, ​​on July 19, 1936
Group of militiamen, in the Port of Mahon (Menorca), waiting for the time to leave for Mallorca to fight against the Francoists, on August 1, 1936
Republican soldiers at the Northern Front, 1 September 1936

Friday, February 22, 2019

Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute-Montagne in Chamonix celebrates it's 60th Anniversary

The Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute-Montagne in Chamonix celebrated it's 60th anniversary in 2018.
And yes, the "On Special Combo" of a Chasseur Alpin Beret and Gendarmerie shirt is still on!

Tino Rossi

Constantin "Tino" Rossi (1907 –1983) was a French singer and film actor.
Rossi, born in Ajaccio, Corsica, was gifted with a voice well suited for opera. He became a tenor in the French cabaret style. Later, he appeared in various movies. During his career he recorded hundreds of songs and he appeared in more than 25 films, the most notable of which was the 1954 production, Si Versailles m'était conté...
His romantic ballads had especially women swooning and his art songs by Jules Massenet (1842–1912), Reynaldo Hahn (1875–1947), and other composers, sold out theaters wherever he performed.
During the Occupation by Nazi Germany Rossi's film career reached its peak, notably with Fièvres (1942), Le Soleil a toujours raison (1943), Mon amour est près de toi (1943) and L'Île d'amour (1944). Rossi was arrested on October 7, 1944 by several police officers in search of information on his close Corsican friend, Etienne Leandri, suspected of active collaborationism. 
Following three months' detention in the prison of Fresnes, near Paris, during which he stubbornly refused the assistance of a lawyer, he was freed from further detention by a judge, who deemed the charge levelled against him void of substance. 
Rossi who, in October 1943, had loaned his personal car to a resistance network to transport weapons and enable several escapes (including that of a general), accepted—an extremely rare action at the time—official apologies.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Tower of Eben-Ezer

The Tower of Eben-Ezer is a self-built castle constructed in the 1960s by a single man in the isolated Jeker valley of Belgium. The builder, Robert Garcet, was fascinated with the Bible, numerology, and ancient civilizations.
The entire seven-level tower is built of flint, and according to Garcet, was designed using ancient mystical measurements. On the top of the tower are four giant biblical animals, and the interior is full of Garcet’s biblical, archaeological, paleontological, and geological art.
Even more curious is that although the tower only looks ancient, it sits on top of a vast network of truly ancient tunnels. Garcet claims to have discovered over a hundred “new” fossilized creatures and a 70 million-year-old village in the labyrinth of tunnels under the tower! Unfortunately, the village was destroyed by a mining explosion before it could be studied.
A new educational space called the Le Musée du Silex (Museum of Flint) takes the visitor on a tour of the history and use of the flint stone. Individual admission allows entrance to several levels of the tower and gardens.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Make My Day...

A bit of a silly post, really, but it has become a tradition of sorts, since my daughter secretly introduced it all these years ago.
Yes, 56 today and the slogan is still: MAKE MY DAY, BUY A BERET!
(Please do, you really do make my day)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Maurice Carême

Maurice Carême was born in Walloon Brabant in Wavre, then a rural part of Belgium. Although he grew up in a family of modest means – his father was a housepainter, and his mother a shopkeeper – Carême had a happy childhood, which would be reflected in his work.
Carême attended school in his hometown, and in 1914 was awarded a scholarship to attend Normal School in Tienen. It was at this time that he began writing poetry. In 1918, he graduated from Normal School and was assigned a primary school teacher's position in Anderlecht, near Brussels.
Carême's poetry progressively took on a greater place in his life, and in 1943 he resigned from his teaching profession to commit himself fully to writing. He also translated works of Dutch poets into French.
Carême died in Anderlecht. At his request, he was buried in Wavre. His wife died in 1990. His home in Anderlecht, "la Maison blanche", now houses the Musée Maurice Carême.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Armand Roelants duVivier

From the regional headquarters of the Teutonic Order in the 13th century to a dramatic fire that set the place ablaze in 1971 ... Every stone of the Grand Commandery Alden Biesen emanates European history.
Today the Grand Commandery Alden Biesen is a unique heritage site, an international cultural and conference centre and one of the finest gems of Haspengouw.
Everyone knew the former owner, Squire Armand Roelants duVivier, a.k.a. ‘Lord Biesen’. Throughout his life, he fought to maintain the massive property and keep it intact. Gardening, repairing roofs, fixing the plumbing ... He did everything himself and no one could stop him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Citroën Type H

It is one of my all time favourite vehicles (as faithful followers of this blog know): the Citroën Type H.
Interestingly, these days I see more than I have done for decades. There is a massive (and world-wide) trend to restore these beautiful vans and turn them into mobile food and coffee places.
Even here in Wellington, at the bottom of the world, there are several to be seen. This one though, with the long legged boinera, comes from Perth (Australia).

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter (1915 –1997) was a Soviet pianist of Russian-German origin, who is generally regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.
Richter is known for the "depth of his interpretations, his virtuoso technique, and his vast repertoire."
Unusually, he was largely self-taught. His father only gave him a basic education in music, and so did one of his father's pupils, a Czech harpist.
Even at an early age, Richter was an excellent sight-reader and regularly practised with local opera and ballet companies. He developed a lifelong passion for opera, vocal and chamber music that found its full expression in the festivals he established in La Grange de Meslay, France, and in Moscow, at the Pushkin Museum. At age 15, he started to work at the Odessa Opera, where he accompanied the rehearsals.
In 1949 Richter won the Stalin Prize, which led to extensive concert tours in Russia, Eastern Europe and China. He gave his first concerts outside the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia in 1950. Having received the Stalin and Lenin prizes and become People's Artist of the RSFSR, he gave his first tour concerts in the USA in 1960, and in England and France in 1961.
While he very much enjoyed performing for an audience, Richter hated planning concerts years in advance, and in later life took to playing at very short notice in small, most often darkened halls, with only a small lamp lighting the score. Richter said that this setting helped the audience focus on the music being performed, rather than on extraneous and irrelevant matters such as the performer's grimaces and gestures.