News from the Mongoose Den vol. xxxviii

“Where is Richard Nixon, now that we need him? He was crooked in every way and his hands were covered with blood — but he was a rabid, high-rolling football fan with a sly taste for gin; and on some nights, he could be good company.”

– Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Neither Nixon nor Dr. Thompson are with us now, but we are gearing up for the Football Season even in their absence. Come watch the Games that Matter on our Secret Seventy-Inch Super-Screen while Shafer proposes outlandish Side-Bets on the Inevitable (and Total) Mike Shanahan Meltdown.

Tonight at 7 PM join us in our Safe Quarters for a special one-off edition of the Mongoose versus Cobra Reading Series when we welcome Nishta Mehra for a reading from and signing of her new book The Pomegranate King.

Follow the new Parking Tab at illustrating our replacement for the lost parking of Cadillac for the much healthier ones behind the Christus Heathcare building and for other insider tips on Midtown parking.

August 29th we will be sampling some of the newest brews from Buffalo Bayou. Most of you know what this means. Prepare accordingly.

And upon a special Friday afternoon on August 30th from 4PM to 7PM, we will celebrate the latest issue of Arts + Culture magazine with cocktails and socialization.

Mark your calendars for Sunday September 8th at 6PM when No Label Brewery will rise from the West for a party soundtracked by Jason “That 70s Guy” Parker. I “Feel Like Makin’ Love” already.

And in the meantime, to quote our Favorite Football Fan:

“Al Davis will rule forever.”

Yours (and Dr. Thompson’s) in the Bond,


And so begins our journey, friends.

Put on a good face and get your wits about you as we prepare to make friends and enemies alike. Adventuring to lands foreign never left a sweet taste in anyone’s mouth while moving about virgin lands with closed eyes. So then, let us voyage onward the right way, shall we?
I invite you to relinquish your grip on all things normal and comfortable; to open your eyes a little whilst we lose ourselves in translation, little by little. Even if only to capture a tiny, raw, unsolicited peek at the this-and-thats, the gadgets-and-gismos, and the who’s-its-and-what’s-its that walk about, one foot in front of the other. Who speak in absurd yet tempting tongues, which sound familiar still, and feel like passion and excitement wrapped into a big ball of delight, or worse, immortality.  The destination – Argentina. In and around one of it’s most enticing cities, whose very name loosely translates to “Good Airs.”

Buenos Aires – the land infamously known, to a small amount of folk unfortunately, for its good vibes and good airs. Consider yourself one of the rare breed, one of the chosen few who is about to discover one of the world’s best kept secrets. A land of succulent foods and supreme libations, she is. We will explore the whos-its and whats-its around her provinces and neighboring lands, and return with fascinating gems and jewels to show all of Texas. If you’re still with me, good. Pack your essentials, zip your case of suits, lock it, and then quickly bury it in your closet alongside the rest of those skeletons. You won’t be needing a bag of hodgepodge where we’re going. Nope, just your wits.

Now then, let’s discuss [our] mission at hand. [I’ve included you by no mistake]. The good folks at Mongoose Versus Cobra have implored me to explore this land. I am therefore seeking a companion to, at the greatest hour and during the sweetest climactic moments, make things look easy. You fit the bill, my friend. And because I know you so well, this should be as easy as pie indeed. I left my family behind and have thus been given, by our country’s most valiant defender of integrity and selfless pride, the title of conquistadora… and you, my faithful squire. Just as MvsC “strives to champion the most artfully and passionately made beer and spirits” in Houston, so shall we champion the treasures of this Southland with a passionately filled belly of lustful libations, great airs, and unabashedly encouraging vibes. It is therefore up to us to cast a light on its hidden treasures, and return home with a little more gold and cojones than what we left with. Too valiant, you say? Perhaps. But just think of the duty we have. The courage we must show. All of the drinking to be done…I  should mention that I have already come across a rambunctious bushel of Irishmen and Englishmen, who are a long way from home, and who do this sort of thing from sunrise to sunset, with their eyes closed. And so they thrive.

I’ll do my best to lay out a most appetizing smorgasbord of all things art, literature, culture, and damn good libations from the Southland – Argentina – so that we might feast like kings! And because we are all aware of what you read when no one is watching, those trivial, self exposing yet chivalrous pieces of literature, I am quite certain you’ll enjoy this adventure in the key of Cervantes’s most valiant being, Don Quixote de La Mancha.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote was once noted as the finest novel ever written and the greatest story ever told. Not just during the Golden Age, but during the entire spectrum of human existence. To some, Don Quixote is regarded as the birth of modern literature and the breeding of characters set out on knight-errant journeys in search of adventure. Many have attempted to translate the original Spanish text into English while staying true to its original intentions. Unfortunately, many have mistranslated the piece while attempting to please all parties involved in the accreditation of the work – It’s critics, It’s public, the Spanish Dynasty, and perhaps even the Pope. And so this becomes our mission, except for the pleasing all parties bit, to tell the greatest story ever told, through our eyes. For if you don’t offend your neighbor with a good sense of wit to challenge them, to challenge ourselves, and to question the clouds in the sky, then why are we here? We will get lost in translation as we channel our inner Don Quixote, learning from his mistakes and using them in our defense to make life a bit more worth living.

More to come in the next few days. Stick with me, faithful friend. Bring your flask and your honor. They say there’s a little bit of Texas around every corner. As such, we will journey forward and conquer this fertile piece of heaven and hell on earth, together.

The Golden Age is no longer behind us, it is at our very fingertips!

Chapter 1 will begin with finding damn good spirits along the countryside. And this shall be the quest of the rest that follow.

Until the next time we meet…

MVSC’s Foreign Corespondent – a year in Argentina

MsdMaryella Shelton-Dyson broadcast her special brands of passion, fun, and creativity here at the Mongoose over the last year.  Now she is visiting the Land of Good Breezes, and as Mongoose Versus Cobra’s first International Literary Correspondent, she will be regularly updating us on her experiences both inside bars and outside in the World.  Travel on, Maryella; your Safe Quarters wait for your return!

About her: Maryella Dyson describes herself as a free spirit, eager to travel the world with paper and pen in hand. She is a creative soul with a passion for influencing the masses with words on a page, through the arts, and through all avenues of creative expression. Maryella writes poetry, character sketches, plays, short stories, children’s stories and never ending to-do lists. Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Jonesboro, Georgia, Maryella put her creative wits to the test by obtaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre, with a Concentration in Writing, and a Minor in Spanish, from The University of Georgia. She moved back to her native homeland of California after graduating in 2010, and worked as a an actor while simultaneously developing and pitching her scripts in Los Angeles. She also worked as creative consultant and executive assistant to one of Hollywood’s most ambitious executive producers. While there, she gained expertise in developing research, creating unique writing content, editing, and developing manuscripts. She was also responsible for drafting outlines and conceptualizing stage production for various projects.

Her most treasured works include her original one woman show, Blue Skies, performed to three sold out audiences on Theatre Row in Los Angeles, California and in Athens, Georgia; Minnie Monkey in Bonkersville, a children’s interactive book series that combines written text and visual web scenes targeting 2-8 year olds, to be released this year; and her collection of short stories and poems to be released in 2014.

Maryella has lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and in Valencia, Spain in an effort to become bilingual, to study different cultures, and to expand her global awareness. During her past travels, she served as Arts and Culture Analyst at Elkafka Teatro in Buenos Aires, Argentina where she researched literary material, organized and transcribed catalogues, and evaluated students and instructors in an institutionalized performance environment. She was also an active member and volunteer teacher for a prestigious linguistic and multicultural exchange program in Spain.

Maryella lived in Houston for a spell after Los Angeles, and fell in love with Texas! She is now living in Argentina, and will write for Mongoose Versus Cobra´s Blog as she settles into her new life as an American Emigrant. She hopes to find the hidden treasures of this unfamiliar country while discovering the similarities of her former lover, Texas. Some of her favorite writers include Oscar Wilde, Woody Allen, Eugène Ionesco, Aaron Sorkin and William Shakespeare.

Some of her private works can be accessed at:

News from the Mongoose Den vol. xxxvii


“Forehead to forehead
we stand on a hill
with no view. The car
a few paces back, in a thicket
violent with
an absorbed sunset.
The stream gurgles
in place, in an ecstasy of hands.”

— Ana Bozicević, The Night Meal

Join us today (Monday, August 12th) at 8PM when the Mongoose versus Cobra Reading Series Number Ten will bring us Ana Bozicević, Dan Magers, and Sampson Starkweather, hitchhiking across space and time to learn new things about us and about themselves.

On August 14th we will welcome the fine folks from Infamous Brewery. Meet the crew who Infamously brews while you sample any of five of their finest stews.

Also please note a special one-off book party on Monday, August 19th at 8PM when we we will celebrate the release of The Pomegranate King, a collection of essays by Nishta Mehra. Nishta will read from and sign copies of her new book. Light fare will be provided.

This Tuesday, Imperial Andy will celebrate the Mayan New Year (how do you say Auld Lange Syne in Mayan?!) with his historic cocktail specials, and Jason “That Seventies Guy” Parker will be back on August 18th to give us his View from the Back of a Buick Roadmaster.

In the meantime, come on by our safe quarters and have a pretzel, recently named one of Houston Press’s Hundred Favorite Dishes!

Yours in the Bond,


News from the Mongoose Den vol. xxxvi

“Page 122 ripped out, rolled up in a pinch, a canoe full of burning grass…the smoke said… who falls…all of one mind…black dishwater of love…sunken spoon. Much of the ink is smeared like a slapped mosquito on the collar bone of a beautiful woman. The book is chained to a dresser in a Motel 6 in South Carolina. Its author has gone into hiding.”

But here comes Sampson Starkweather out of hiding, with unapologetic cohorts Ana Bozičević and Dan Magers. They have been on the run for decades now, dodging court-martials and gambling debts while publishing their own peculiar brands of poetry for above-ground fans young and old. Join us on August 12th at 8PM, when they will invoke international law to avoid extradition in our safe quarters beneath the ivy for one night of strange incantations.

Some of you may be asking “who the hell are these people?”

Well… Sampson Starkweather was born in Pittsboro, NC. He is the author of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather and 5 chapbooks from dangerous small presses. He is a founding editor of Birds, LLC and works for The Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY where he helps run the Annual Chapbook Festival and Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. Dan Magers’s first book of poems, Partyknife, is published by Birds, LLC. He is co-founder and co-editor of Sink Review, an online poetry journal, founder and editor of Immaculate Disciples Press, a handmade chapbook press focused on poetry and visual arts collaborations. He lives in Brooklyn. Twitter: @Partyknife.

Ana Bozičević is the author of poetry books Stars of the Night Commute (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2009) and Rise in the Fall (Birds LLC, 2012), translator, and new media artist. She studies English at The Graduate Center, CUNY, where her research is in poetics, medievalism and psychoanalysis. More at

And every Monday night still features the Sammons and Hall “Oh My God Did I Wake Up In 1995” Cocktail Party. Whence you will be asking yourself “just what did he put in that gin fizz?”

Watch out this Tuesday for Imperial Andy’s historic exploration of international football a/k/a soccer. Also look for the Sunday return of Jason “That 70s Guy” Parker. Like being in the backseat of a station wagon that runs both gasoline and love.

Also ask your bartender about nightly specials and Midtown parking secrets.

Yours in the Bond,


News from the Mongoose Den vol. xxxv

In addition to improved self-esteem, razed inhibition, and a romantic sort of social dissidence, much of our love for hard alcohol is rooted in tradition.  Many of our favorite boozes are crafted at distilleries many generations old, and we’d be lying if we told you that most of our beloved liquors don’t taste a hint of wilder bygone times.  But it is exciting now and then to sample quality beverages created at institutions new to our time.  The folks at Hans Reisetbauer’s distillery in Austria are producing fine contemporary whisky and gin.  Come by and give them a try.  Reisetbauer’s Blue Gin will make a fine compliment our house-made tonic; try it now!

Join us this Sunday when we kick the tires on our brand new Space-Age Supersound System; at 8PM our friends Sand Dollar Swing will be performing live their original tunes for fans young and old.  Look for live music every Sunday night as we explore the sounds of the Seventies… and beyond!

Please pay homage to our new bicycle rack, but if automobiles are more your bag, visit our website for parking tips, or ask your bartender to reveal Midtown parking secrets known only to us and a few tight-lipped marsupials.

This morning we said goodbye to our good friend and drinking companion Maryella Shelton-Dyson as she travels to the Southern Hemisphere in search of stranger oases.  Look for regular reports from Maryella on our blog via our website.

And join us on Tuesday when Imperial Andy pays homage to the Beatles, and look for specials from 4PM to 7PM almost any night of the week.  Never a dull moment at the Mongoose: we don’t even know what the word “dull” means.  And (for that matter,) what exactly is a moment?

Yours in the Bond,

Well Hello There, Charles!

Well hello there, Charles!

Dispatching some new info and a couple quick thoughts on things relevant and thing decidedly not so relevant…

We here at the Mongoose Den are glad you made it out of Thanksgiving alive and well, and we’re anxiously awaiting your imminent return to us. We want to hear all about your Thanksgiving as well as your plans for Christmas and Kwanzaa. We’ve a few new things to show you when you stop by at the Den. First off, our Draught Wall continues to beef up, and we are scouring the scene seeking out all those frothy brews we expect will please you most. Look out for a few special and rare seasonal beers both on Draught and on Cask coming very soon. Secondly, as the weather around here cools down and our tremendous city of Houston settles its bones into an almost slumbering pace, we have concocted a few new blood-warming cocktails to get you through the winter – think about the best Irish Coffee you’ve ever tasted and a scalding and toothsome Hot Bourbon Toddy.  Also, we’ve been aging batched cocktails over the last six months or so (in point of fact, since before we even opened our doors to you and all the other Charleses.)  Now the dust has settled over the rafters a bit, and we think these oddly delicious studies in what patience and time can accomplish are finally ready to be unleashed upon the masses.  A few new food items have appeared on our menu that we find rather more appropriate to the season, as well.  A particularly great one is spinach sautéed in olive salad, lemon and garlic on a toasted sourdough baguette with melted provolone. You must try this.

Lastly, keep your eyeholes peeled for the emergence of the “Charles Club”, a drinking and literature club that will surely prove legendary.

And last, lastly: We recently came across a relatively new book (2011) entitled Hello Goodbye Hello by one Craig Brown. It is a remarkable read in many ways; however, of particular interest is a section in which Mr. Brown describes a journey taken by one of the world’s most creative and elegant talents, Rudyard Kipling. Kipling had traveled much of the world by the time he was just 23 years old. He had witnessed a gunfight in Chinatown, met real Cowboys in Montana and landed a 12-pound Salmon in Oregon. He had also fallen in love with she who would be his first wife.  But none of this impressed Kipling so much as an encounter with a man who at the time was Kipling’s idol, Mark Twain, a man who was (is) the purest embodiment of all that is America. The two men met at Twain’s stately home near Elmira, N.Y. and talked for only about two hours. They discussed many things, including the possibility of Twain writing a final ending to his infamous rascal, Tom Sawyer. The curious thing here, what impressed us so, is that Kipling considered this moment the most intensely satisfying and amazing moment of his entire life. Seventeen years after this encounter, Kipling would go on to become world famous and, amazingly, Twain would become so enraptured with Kipling’s work and his creative oeuvre that he made it a point to read Kipling’s Kim at least once every year. Twain said of Kipling, “He is a stranger to me but is a most remarkable man-and I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known, and I know the rest.”

Here’s to Rudy, and here’s to Mark, but mostly here’s to you, Charles – let’s pick up where Twain and Kipling left off, for surely there is much more knowledge to be known.

Mongoose is Rock; Cobra is Scissors

Dear Charles,

We wanted to send you a note from here inside your safe quarters; this is your well-fortified former grocery.  It is the home of the big door, and it is the home of the even bigger fridge.   It is the home of over two hundred liquors, approximately one hundred draught, bottled, and cask-conditioned beers, and it is the home of one baboon named Charles.  That’s right.  We named him after you.

For those of you keeping score: the contents of your bottles, cocktail glasses, and imperial pints represent approximately twenty states in the Union over two dozen countries on four continents around the world.   In the coming months, we will strive to increase those numbers in a few different ways.  Corey has been diligently sipping new beers, and Mike and Theo have been carefully curating our liquor lists.

Andy, our beloved British Skipper who comes to his nickname by way of direct heritage from Lord Admiral Nelson, has initiated a Tuesday-night program of cocktails from around the world.  This month features French cocktails, including three different versions of the French 75, with creative new names that will surprise you when you see them.

A new initiative to combine our two favorite things, i.e. liquor and beer, will be introduced on Monday night, when Moonshine Mike and Half-Asleep Hall will be experimenting with beer-based cocktail recipes, some created by mixologists from around the world and some created in-house according to our demanding specifications and your own.

Live music is now available to you on Sunday and Monday nights.  Literary events and classic films are to follow in the next few months.  But in the meantime, Charles, just keep doing what you do best.  Keep keeping us busy.  Keep Shafer awake.  Keep your head up and diligently watch for the fangs of certain gaudily-decorated poisonous snakes.  Keep our quarters safe, that we may all continue to be that which we are.


Yours in the bond,



PS: Who was dreaming when the Roy Orbison came to us in our dream?  There is only one answer.  It was you Charles, and it was me.  Charles.

To Strive, to Seek, to Find, and Not to Yield

The sun was going down over our young Mongoose Versus Cobra, and Downtown Houston gleamed like a giant replica of the car in high school I always wished I had. The string of festive lights flicked on over the porch at Leon’s Lounge as we settled in for a long night of drinking beer and watching concrete dry.

Corey, Ian, Mike, and I were in a festive mood. The pouring of the multi-leveled concrete slab in front of the Mongoose was both a physical and a psychological victory for all of us. It was a substantial thing (that mere hours before did not exist.) It was also as close as we would come to signage—our friend Alan used styrofoam to create reliefs in the concrete. One side gives our address, 1011 McGowen, and the other side quotes Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses: “That which we are, we are.”

The Tennyson poem was important to us all. In addition to Ulysses drinking “life to the lees,” (the fermented debris at the bottom of the bottle) he describes a life in which “though much is taken, much abides.” Our beloved Mongoose is built on the site of the 1915 Auditorium Grocery. Though the meat and produce of the old grocery have long been removed, much abides in the brick walls, the concrete floor, the nearly-petrified wood beams, and in the signature of steel-worker B. A. Rifsner up in our black steel facade.

Continue reading