Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Facts from the Clothing and Fashion Encyclopedia

A worker spins a Beighau beret. 
This great picture comes from The Clothing and Fashion Encyclopedia, offering some interesting facts on the beret. Factually not always correct ("Originally worn by nineteenth-century French seamen, it was adopted during World War I for alpine troops"), sometimes very funny:
"The beret is worn by modern armies worldwide, including Russia, Iraq, Pakistan, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Africa".

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Le Quai des brumes

Port of Shadows (French: Le Quai des brumes) is a 1938 French film directed by Marcel Carné. The screenplay was written by Jacques Prévert based on a novel by Pierre Mac Orlan. It is a notable example of the poetic realism genre. The film was the 1939 winner of France's top cinematic prize, the Prix Louis-Delluc.
A scene from the film is seen projected in the 2007 Oscar-nominated dramatisation of Ian McEwan's wartime tragic drama Atonement.
 Jean, a deserter from the French army arrives in the port of Le Havre where, by chance, he is offered a change of identity and the opportunity to sail to the safety of South America.  He is reluctant to leave, however, because he has met and fallen in love with a young woman, Nelly.  Jean’s fortunes take a turn for the worse when he makes a stand to protect Nelly from her guardian, Zabel, and a former admirer, both of whom are ruthless crooks. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Scandinavian Series #8 - Ingrid WV Wiberg

Ingrid WV Wiberg (died 21 May 2010) was a polemical and dedicated debater, particularly on issues concerning refugees and peace work and a passionate beret-wearer. 
She was a member of the Swedish parliament for the Liberal Party 1958-70, chairman of the Swedish United Nations Association 1968-73 and worked as a journalist on both GT and Göteborgs-Posten.

In her honour, Göteborg tram 837 was named after her. 
Thanks, Baskerspaning

Monday, September 27, 2010

Green Beret - Royal Marines

The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines (RM), are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the UK and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service. 
They are also the UK's specialists in amphibious warfare, including the operation of landing craft, mountain and Arctic warfare. A core component of the country's Rapid Deployment Force, the Corps's 3 Commando Brigade is capable of operating independently and is highly trained as a commando force. It is trained to deploy quickly and fight in any terrain. The Royal Marines have one of the longest basic infantry training courses in the world.
WWII Green Beret, Royal Marines

As far as the green beret is concerned, it is claimed that 41 (RM) Commando was the first to wear the beret. Lieutenant Colonel B J D Bertiell Lumsden was visiting SS Brigade’s HQ and saw one of the first green berets. Taking an immediate liking to it, he was allowed to take one away with him. He decided to put his full dress collar badge into it in place of a normal cap badge, a custom adopted only by the officers of 41(RM) Commando. This beret is on display in the Royal Marines Museum, along with the Commando fighting knife (and you can get your own green beret lapel pin here).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Víctor Julio Suárez Rojas a.k.a. Jorge Briceño Suárez a.k.a. Mono Jojoy

I couldn't let this news go by without mentioning (The Green berets Series will have to wait till Monday...). In the "The Terrorist for One is the Hero for Another Series":
One of the most senior leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) has been killed, say reports.

Jorge Briceno, also known as Mono Jojoy, died in a military air strike in the Macarena region, known to be a Farc stronghold, local media said.
President Juan Manuel Santos said Jojoy's death was "the hardest blow" in the history of the rebel movement.
The Marxist Farc rebels have been fighting the Colombian authorities since the mid-1960s.

Jojoy was believed to be leader of the Farc's strongest fighting division, the Eastern Bloc, and had eluded Colombian security forces for almost 10 years. Jojoy didn't go anywhere without his trademark black beret.
The United States had offered a reward of up to $5m (£3.2m) for information leading to his arrest or conviction.

"A military source has confirmed that it defeated a group of rebels during an operation involving the four branches of the military," Colombia's attorney general Guillermo Mendoza said in a radio interview.
He said soldiers had found the body of Jojoy.
"The symbol of terrorism in Colombia has fallen," Mr Santos said.
"To the rest of the Farc: we are coming after you, we are not going to let down our guard."

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Bike Series #6 - Porteurs de Journaux

I remember -decades ago now- observing, open-mouthed, couriers on mountain bikes racing down steps somewhere in Seattle; a very spectacular sight. These days one has to be careful not to run over one maneuvering through dense city traffic, in any city around the globe, and I still love the sight and the principle of bicycle use over cars. 

Not every motorist would agree and, sad to say, I wouldn't like to ride my bike among New Zealand motorists...

You might think it's a sight of these times, but actually, it was much, much bigger in the 1920's and 30's, with many competitions in France, Belgium and Germany.
The two winners Gilman (men) et Mme Athenase (women) both from la Presse
And this being the era before compulsory bicycle helmets, what better headgear was there for these 'porteurs de Journaux' than a beret (tight around the head, no peak that would lift it off your head in the wind and the most aerodynamic headgear available - still).
From Le Miroir des Sports (France), 22 Jan 1929

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wayne Pate's Merman

Wayne Pate Jacques and Sammy Seagull Silkscreen PostersL » R : Wayne Pate Jacques and Sammy Seagull Silkscreen Posters
Little French beret-wearing mermen?! Pipe-smoking seagull sailors?! For Wayne Pate (an artist who claims he doesn’t dream) these whimsical silkscreens by Good Shape Design are clearly the product of a very awake and observant imagination: just take a peek at the BrooklyniteWayne Pate’s blog – full of snippets of his daily musings paired with spirited doodles mixed with a smattering of his ongoing illustration & design commissions. The screenprints (approximately 1.5′ x 2′) will cost you a mere $35.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lunch Atop a Sky Scraper

Are there, or aren't there, any berets on this famous picture
'Lunch on a Skycraper' 3D Poster
The photograph depicts 11 men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling hundreds of feet above the New York City streets. Most, if not all of them, wear newsboy caps (or Gatsby Caps, Baker Boy or 8 Panel caps), but the guy on the right may be wearing a Basque beret... Not likely, call it wishful thinking*, but there were a few Basques working in NY's construction industry in the 1930's.
Ebbets took the photo on September 29, 1932, and it appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in its Sunday photo supplement on October 2. Taken on the 69th floor of the GE Building during the last several months of construction, the photograph Men Asleep on a Girder shows the same workers napping on the beam.

The man sitting fourth from the left is Native American John Charles Cook of the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, also known as the Akwesasne.
The copyright owner of the photograph, the Bettman Archive, did not recognize Charles C. Ebbets as the photographer until October 2003 (reportedly after months of investigation by a private investigation firm). However, authorship of the photograph, popular as a poster, was listed as 'Unknown' on many prints.
From the photograph, sculptor Sergio Furnari, got the inspiration for his sculpture Lunchtime on a Skyscraper – A Tribute to America's Heroes, and the same question arises here: berets or no berets? I'll have to contact the artist and shall keep you updated on this one...
* Wishful thinking is interpreting facts, reports, events, perceptions, etc., according to what one would like to be the case rather than according to the actual evidence. If it is done intentionally and without regard for the truth, it is called misinterpretation, falsification, dissembling, disingenuous, or perversion of the truth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bridget's Beret

Bridget loves to draw, and she likes to wear a beret for inspiration. So when her beloved beret blows away, Bridget searches for it high and low. She files a Missing Beret Report. She even considers other hats, but none of them feel quite right. It’s no use; without her beret, Bridget can’t seem to draw. How will she overcome her artist’s block?

Make sure to check out Bridget’s notebook scribbles at the end of the book for her thoughts and facts on art!
“Unexpectedly clever.” —The Washington Post

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen with the Donostia Prize 
Sir Ian Murray McKellen (born 25 May 1939) is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award and two Academy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction. He is known to many for roles such as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy and as Magneto in the X-Men films.

Sir Ian McKellen to step back into Gandalf's robes for The Hobbit
In 1988, McKellen came out and announced he was gay. He became a founding member of Stonewall, one of the United Kingdom's most influential LGBT rights groups, of which he remains a prominent spokesman.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Green Beret - Israel

Starting this Green Beret thread lightly with Israeli Cpl. Elinor Joseph, the first female Arab combat soldier in the IDF (Israel Defence Force). 
Good on her, I suppose, but when searching the net for information on Ms Joseph, she seems to be very much used as a role model to proof Israel's multi-cultural society; only in the small print one learns Ms Josef is a Christian Arab and how great is it really to have the 1st female Arab soldier joining the army since 1948...? But indeed, that hasn't got anything to do with the subject of green berets.

 In the IDF, green berets are used by a variety of units: Intelligence, Border Guards and Nahal. To me, Nahal is the most interesting: it's history going back to the early days of the Jewish state. In 1948, a gar'in (core group) of Jewish pioneers (settlers) wrote to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion requesting that members be allowed to do their military service as a group rather than being split up into different units at random. In response to this letter, Ben-Gurion created the Nahal program, which combined military service and farming.
Gar'inei Nahal served together in various army units, most famously in the Nahal Mutznakh (Airborne Nahal) battalion of the Paratroopers (Tzanhanim) Brigade, the reserve battalion of which was instrumental in the Israeli victory in the Battle of Jerusalem during the Six-Day War (1967). Also, many Nahal-founded settlements are still thriving today in the Galilee, the Negev, and the West Bank (as well as formerly in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip).

Today, a gar'in refers to a group formed by a youth movement, such as the Israeli Scouts, for the purpose of volunteer work.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Birthday: Matti Mattson

Matti August Mattson (17 September,1916) is a Finnish American labor organizer, social activist, and Veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.
Strongly opposed to Fascism, Mattson was one of four Fitchburg volunteers who went to Spain in a clandestine manner to help the Spanish people defend the legally elected Spanish Republic against the Spanish generals' betrayal, aided by their backers Hitler and Mussolini. He sailed for Spain on the SS Washington.

Once in France, he boarded a small wine-transporting boat that the small businessman risked losing (along with his life) in the Mediterranean port of Sète, about 100 miles from the frontier with Spain. He told the New York Times: "We got on at night when no one was looking — we hoped." He and others reached Spain in March 1937. In Spain, he was in infantry training for about two weeks and was then assigned to the XIII Brigade Intendencia as a truck driver on the Southern Front. After Brunete, Mattson transferred to the XV Brigade as a front-line ambulance driver where he was with the Lincoln-Washington Battalion at all of its actions until the Ebro Crossing.
During World War II, Mattson joined the US Army and was trained as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. He graduated with his class but was not permitted to fly because of his political activities. 
Mattson worked as a printer in New York until his retirement. He was an activist in Local 6 of the Printers Union.

On January 29, 2010, Mattson was honored with the President's Medal by Fitchburg State College at its Commencement ceremonies. On this occasion he said:
"I am and will still be a staunch anti-fascist and will oppose war to the same extent as before I went to Spain, and after I returned to my country. I know that my life has been somewhat different from some others during my time on Earth, but it has always been an honest effort, and has fulfilled the teaching that my immigrant parents gave me: ‘Try to leave the Earth in better condition than you found it."

Watch this video on YouTube.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A New Name for the Bandana Blog

The Bandanas! blog saw it's last post today.

That is, it changed name and set-up - the blog continues living under the name 'Neckers' at , but contents and style remain the same: a more-than-bi-weekly-updated blog on neckerchiefs, bandanas and scarfs with all the political, cultural, historical, ethnic and criminological background behind it!
And with so many things in common with the beret (origins, functionality, ethnicity, practicality - to name a few ), I hope The Beret Project visitors may find an interesting distraction in this blog.


The Fedora Lounge - Berets Anyone..?

Exactly one year ago, I wrote about The Fedora Lounge, a forum on all things Classic Fashion and of course, the beret is part of that. 

The thread Berets, anyone has some 16,500 views so far and contains 235 postings. Some very interesting, some better be ignored, but altogether good to pay a regular visit when interested in berets.

I believe it's well worth mentioning The Lounge here again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Still from the film Utopia 79

The United States supported the brutal Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua for 40 years.The people of Nicaragua, led by the Sandinistas, overthrew this regime in 1979 a breathtaking popular revolution.
The Sandinistas were not perfect. They had a fair share of arrogance and their political philosophy contained a number of contradictory elements. But these were intelligent, rational and civilized. They set out a stable, decent, pluralistic society. The death penalty was abolished. Hundreds of thousands of poor peasants were brought back from certain death. Over 100,000 families were given title to land. Two thousand schools were built.A quite remarkable literacy campaign reduced illiteracy in the country to less than one seventh. Free education was established and a free health service. Infant mortality was reduced by a third party. Polio was eradicated.
The United States denounced these achievements as Marxist / Leninist subversion.From the standpoint of the United States government, was setting a dangerous example. If Nicaragua was allowed to establish basic norms of social and economic justice, if it was allowed to increase levels of health and education and achieve social unity and national self respect, neighboring countries will ask the same questions and do the same. At that time there were of course a fierce resistance to the status quo in El Salvador.
1984 Bulgarian postage Sandino stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of Sandino's assassination

I recall then President Reagan, made the following statement: "The Contras are the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers..."