Monday, May 31, 2010

Pio Baroja y Nessi

Pío Baroja y Nessi (1872 – 1956) was a Spanish Basque writer, one of the key novelists of the Generation of '98. He was a member of an illustrious family, his brother Ricardo was a painter and engraver, and his nephew Julio Caro Baroja was a well known anthropologist.

Although educated as a physician, Baroja only practised this trade briefly. As a matter of fact, he would use his student's memories - some of them he would consider terrible - as the raw material for his novel "The Tree of Knowledge". He also managed the family bakery for a short time and ran unsuccessfully on two occasions for a seat at the Cortes (Spanish parliament) as a Radical Republican. Baroja's true calling, however, was always writing, which he began seriously at the age of 13.
His first novel --La casa de Aizgorri (The House of Aizgorri, 1900)-- is part of a trilogy called La Tierra Vasca (The Basque Country, 1900–1909). This trilogy also includes El Mayorazgo de Labraz(The Lord of Labraz, 1903) which became one of his most popular novels in Spain.

However, he is best known internationally by another trilogy entitled La lucha por la vida (The Struggle for Life, 1922–1924) which offers a vivid depiction of life in Madrid's slums. 
Some believe his masterpiece to be El árbol de la ciencia (1911) (translated as The Tree of Knowledge), a pessimistic Bildungsroman that depicts the futility of the pursuit of knowledge and of life in general.
In keeping with Spanish literary tradition, Baroja often wrote in a pessimistic, picaresque style. His deft portrayal of the characters and settings brought the Basque region to life much as Benito Pérez Galdós' works offered an insight into Madrid. Baroja's works were often lively, but could be lacking in plot and are written in an abrupt, vivid, yet impersonal style. Sometimes he is even accused of grammatical errors, which he never denied.

Baroja as a young man believed loosely in anarchistic ideals, as other members of the '98 Generation. His vitalistic vision of life -although pessimistic- led his novels, his ideas and his figure to be considered somehow a precursor of a kind of Spanish fascism. In any case, he was not loved by Catholic and traditionalist ideologists and his life was at risk during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).
Ernest Hemingway was greatly influenced by Baroja, although this is not fully appreciated by English-speaking critics.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Dear readers and followers of this blog,
Thank you so much for sticking with me! Jet-lagged behind the computer it is great to see how many people returned every day to this site (and thank you for all the encouraging comments regarding my father - it is much appreciated). A great incentive to continue and do better than what you've seen over the past two weeks. 
Dr Al and myself, on our grand Citroen DS-tour through the Belgian Ardennes at a stop at the Hombourg Railway station Cafe
To start with, just a few pic's of my beret-wearing brother and friends during my time in the Netherlands and, from tomorrow, back to the "normal" posts.

Emile Kolthoff, skipper of the ST37
All those people who have ordered berets through South Pacific Berets, your orders will be processed and send out today!
FriendsTruus and Al, at a Verviers cafe

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Away 13

A farmer who has brought his grapes to the Hennessy & Co. distillery sampling some brandy

Monday, May 24, 2010

Away 12

A man feeding a pigeon from his mouth, Paris, circa 1950.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Away 9

NZ Woolworths (N.Z.) Ltd girls marching team competing in the third annual sports meeting of the Wellington Inter-House Girls' Association at the Basin Reserve in November 1935

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Away 8

Sardine fishermen, France
M. Masson and his team of fishermen prepare to go out to sea. Roscoff (Finistère), 6th April 1920

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Away 2

Madagascar. - Tamatave, "Débarquement de Marchandises"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Away 1

Moving to New Zealand has been one of the best decisions I've ever made, but... there are also disadvantages. My aging parents, 20.000 km's away, is one of them. 
Realizing that time is running out, I had to take the plunge and booked a flight to the old country a few months ago, but then that dreaded phone call came a few days back: "may be best if you'd come as soon as you can...". 
So... I am away for the next two weeks.
Not wanting to stop the daily posts to The Beret Project, I made a selection of photographs from my files; maybe not the best of posts, but at least interesting, funny, historic, sexy, or at least amusing beret-related pictures - one photograph a day. 
South Pacific Berets stays 'open' and most orders will be processed during my absence. It may take some extra time though and in the worst case, your order may be shipped on the 28th of May, after my return (but that's a worst case scenario...).
I'll be back on the 28th! Till then...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I.M.: Ferdinand Hackl

Unplanned, an extra post, after I read about the death of Ferdinand Hackl. I quote Gerhard Hoffmann in the ALBA-newsletter:
"On the 10th of May has died Ferdinand Hackl, ex member of the International Brigades, prisoner in the nazi Concentration Camp of Dachau.  Ferdinand Hackl was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1918, in a very poor worker family. Since his childhood he knew the penuries of the underprivileged of the society. With 15 years he joined the Communist Youth and was consequently imprisoned by the fascist chancellor Dollfuss.
In 1937, we see him in Spain in the 86 Brigada Mixta, fighting in the South and Centre.  In January, he is among the volonteers who undertake the vain attempt to halt the fascist advance on Barcelona, which ends in the Camps in the  South of France, in St. Cyprien and Gurs.  In 1940, France is occupied by the Nazi Wehrmacht and Ferdinand falls into the hands of the Gestapo who bring him to the Nazi Camp of Dachau, from where he is liberated in April, 1945 by the US Army.
Ferdinand Hackl has been an active political fighter unto the end, although critical with regards to the obvious failors of the Communist Party, he was never prepared to abandon it.
The few surviving Austrian brigadistas and the many friends he has all over the world will never forget this never tiring fighter against the in justice of our society and for a socialist world."

This video on Youtube shows Mr Hackl in a German spoken documentary of survivors of the Lichtenfelde Concentration Camp. 

The NZ Series #14 - Secret Service Berets

Regular readers of this blog know how rare a sight it is to see (male, non-military) New Zealanders with a beret and I am always on the look out for  pictures of this rare species. 
When attending our niece's wedding on Waiheke Island earlier this month, my partner Megan spotted a limousine pulling up with some high ranking passengers: the baron and baroness d'Putiki Rotschild,  accompanied by what is obviously not-so-secret secret police or some other kind of security.  

I love it how  these bodyguards live up to their image; it's not just the mafia style dress, tan and dark sunshades of the guys involved, it's the black Basque beret in a place where one would least expect one.
I do appreciate them all posing for the camera. 
Thanks, Megan 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

French Francs

From a time well before the introduction of the Euro: two banknotes in French Francs depicting a béret Basque: 5 F.F. 1947 with a Pyrenean shepherd and a 1952 100 F.F. note with a worker in front of an ox-wheel. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

José Mujica - Former Guerilla Leader / President of Uruguay

The former Tupamaro urban guerrilla leader, José Mujica, is now the newly elected president of Uruguay, the very state he fought to overthrow. 

Mujica, a farmer and Socialist senator, has had an improbable political trajectory. He co-founded the Tupamaro movement, inspired by Castro’s revolution in Cuba, and he helped wage an urban guerrilla war in Uruguay, violently robbing banks and businesses and attempting to impose a Marxist-style government on the country by force. He spent almost 15 years in prison in between his revolutionary life and his political progression.
Even more improbably, given Mujica’s past, his running mate was Danilo Astori, the former finance minister under Vázquez who gets much of the credit for the kinds of macroeconomic policies that improved Uruguayan social conditions after a financial crisis at the beginning of the century.
While the more populist-socialist regimes in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador have increasingly chased off foreign investors by nationalizing industries, this non-dogmatic mix of policies has succeeded in lowering unemployment and poverty levels, even as it has generated increased confidence among potential investors. While generally under the leftist banner, Mujica and Vazquez’ Broad Front has actually followed reformist economic policies that track with those pursued by Brazil, Chile and Peru. 
And of course, Mujica dons a boina, made in Uruguay by the Fabrica Nacional de Sombreros

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Don't let them break you, punch back!"

It is only 30 years ago that I was drafted into the air force; military service was still compulsory in those days in the Netherlands. Already it is hard to find photographic evidence of the unrestricted hair-length that was then allowed in the Dutch army. 

To be honest, I didn't mind too much when I got in, aged 18 and naive, but I learned fast. I never became the sergeant that I was meant to become; instead I was promoted to chaplains clerk - a cynical punishment for my political activities - there was literally nothing to do but wait for a telephone to ring in an office where telephones never rang - 9 hours a day, 5 days a week.
The military was good for my personal education though; becoming an active member of the VVDM (the Union for Conscripted Soldiers) and the BVD (the -illegal- left wing Conscripted Soldiers Union).

"Don't let them break you, punch back!"
Looking back at it, I can't help feeling proud of what the Dutch army was like then; the liberalism, progressiveness, the mix of people in the forces gave a good reflection of society at the time (compared to the all-voluntary professional army of these days). Compulsory saluting was abolished, much to the chagrin of a visiting US Army major who started a court case against a sentry who didn't salute him (the American lost, by the way). 
And yes, long, long hair was flowing from under our berets.
This cartoon translates as follows:
The Dutch soldier must have discipline, but not at the cost of his personal freedom.
He must be armed, but it shouldn't cost too much.
He must be vigilant, but not too much...

Friday, May 7, 2010

'True West' Bob Boze in Granada

No, it's not that I am desperate for material that I post something like this (below); it just struck me as entertaining, this Arizona cowboy in Spain. And for you who enjoy The West as much as berets, click here on Bob Boze's web site. 

Spain Flashback: here’s a photo of me in my Gay Beret in Arab Alley (Granada). The woman walking towards me thinks I’m muy guapo (very handsome). You can tell by the smirk on her face. Actually, I’d date her but she only came up to my thigh.

Bob Boze
“We are a people who do not want to keep much of the past in our heads. It is considered unhealthy in America to remember mistakes, neurotic to think about them, psychotic to dwell on them.”
—Lillian Hellman

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Michael Economides

Michael Economides was born January 17th, 1910 in Nicosia, the son of a wheat merchant. He left Cyprus at the age of 16 for Latin America but an illness delayed him en route and he ended up in London! He arrived in 1929 and found it difficult to get a job. Already influenced by the British Communist Party's stance on Cyprus, he joined the League Against Imperialism and the Communist Party in 1932.
He travelled to Spain in 1936 to fight for the republic; he became a captain and fought in many of the bloodiest of battles, including at Jarama, where he was shot in the leg and the Ebro, where he received a chest wound.

Michael Economides
Once back in Britain, he became vigorous in the campaign for independence in Cyprus, he helped to found the British-based Greek language paper, `Vema'. In 1946, he was in the Cypriot delegation at the Paris Peace Conference.
Between 1943 and 1968, he had a restaurant and, after his marriage in 1952 to Bernice Holmes, he ran it with his wife. In his last year of life, already terminally ill, he read in impeccable Spanish a poem dedicated to the Brigades to a crowd of 12,000 at the Madrid Palace of Sports. Twenty days later, he was dead, aged 86, on November 25th 1996.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Among photographers, Rober Capa must be the most famous for wearing a beret, and with good reason; how much less would we know of the horrors of the Spanish Civil war if it had not been for Capa's great work?
Of course, it is not a coincidence that the beret is so popular with photographers and cameramen; there is no peak that get's in the way and it sits solidly on the head in any weather.
Au Jardin de Luxembourg, 1930 
Then many people who read this blog will know about Seattle photographer Ron Greer, the man who introduced me to the Spanish berets by Boinas Elosegui

And, of course, berets makes great advertising for camera's:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prosper Blancq, Olibet & Cie

I feel very lucky to have got in touch with Marc Ancely, member of the Blancq Olibet family, who not only proved an enormous source of information for me on French berets, but also sent me some beautiful material about the company's history, like these pieces posted here.
Pieces from a different era, but then, BEATEX-Laulhere's new web site came alive not long ago... French berets from Oloron are still going strong!