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January Duels #449

“Sir! You offend the feminine gender of the state of South Carolina with your crude and careless talk of hoop skirts! I challenge you to a duel!”

And with the slap of a riding glove in Charleston, Count Marcourte set into motion a series of January duels unprecedented in American history. His opponent, a rank industrialist from Boston, was shot squarely through the forehead the next morning as seconds and a sellout crowd observed from a nearby hill.

The victim’s name was never clear. It was either Hazelrod or Hazelbloom, or something designating yellowish brown. Count Marcourte had won the day and he reveled in his lopsided victory, as winter turned to spring in this coastal redoubt.

“No Yankee can hold a candle to a Southerner when it comes to combat,” said Marcourte. It was early June 1860.

The victorious count fought three more duels that year, winning all of them in the fine fashion displayed on that Charleston morning. In 1861, with the attack on Fort Sumter, Marcourte joined the Confederate Army and soon after lost an arm at Fredericksburg. After the war, he returned to the sport he loved so well and became a local legend as the finest one-armed dueler east of the Mississippi.

Finally, on Christmas Day 1879, Marcourte was struck between the eyes by an insubordinate arrow of unknown origin. He lasted only moments.


A short quiz that allows our reader to stretch his/her literary legs before leaping into mounds of stimulating text. Please answer the questions honestly and to the best of your knowledge.
1.) WHO won World War II, you so smart? (Stolen from Firesign Theater)
2.) WHAT exactly do sociologists mean when they refer to the “ski culture”? Where is the bubble? Is it in tune with the Protestant ethic?
a.) The term refers to a popular brand of Yogurt produced by Mormons in Park City. I can’t read music.
b.) A feudalistic system that demands daily worship of Moguls. I can’t read music.
c.) What about the Catholics?
3.) WHEN was the last World Series played?
a.) 1893
b.) 1993
c.) 2019
4.) WHERE did the term “Deep in the Rockies” originate?
5.) WHY can’t penguins fly?
a.) They don’t have insurance.
b.) Where would they go?
c.) Small wings, big butts.
– Dolores Alegria
The Dog Bar

The Dog Bar

The surfers had enough trouble honing their skills on the less than crashing waves without their dogs tagging along to Ditch Plains. So they’d just leave them, incrementally at first, at Jimmy’s bar “just for a few minutes” in the morning.

Jimmy O’Dea, the proprietor was a good guy and not stupid. He knew that some of the surfers were taking vantage of his kindness but that most were loyal customers and spent a good deal of money in his establishment. In addition, unlike a few of the hodads from down the island, they never started trouble and tipped his employees most of the time.

It could be quite the scene some days when there was an offshore wind and healthy beachbreaks. The concrete floor of Jimmy’s bar looked like a canine Penn Station with labs and collies and shepherds and retrievers scattered about making it difficult to walk from the bar to the pool table. When nobody was looking Jimmy would bring them water and treats. He was their favorite, like an eccentric uncle who let you get away with things that your parents would never allow.

He warned the surfers that he ran a tight ship but the dogs already knew that. They loved the place and their manners reflected that affection. They also knew that good behavior was imperative and that Jimmy was a soft touch. All they had to do is conduct themselves as “ladies and gentlemen” and they’d never spend the day out in the rain or snow. On hot days the concrete was cool and on cold days there was the little potbelly in the corner.

But what was the most amazing is that there were never dogfights. Almost never. It was if the mongrels understood the perplexities and nuances of Jimmy’s tavern. Tact and refinement was the order of the day. Dogs, although they may not exhibit much logic, are quick to learn with a nose for reality and instincts that people don’t possess.

Most days in winter one could pass by and look through the window at Jimmy and his patrons. Lots of tails wagging. Lots of sniffing. Lots of hanging out waiting for their owners to show back up, thank Jimmy and slam a beer or two before going home. Doggie Day Care at it’s finest.

No growling would be permitted. No accidents on the floor or leg lifting, a very impressive display of excellent manners. Share the water. Share the treats. No aggressive behavior would be tolerated at Jimmy’s.

Then one day a spacey surfer, who looked worse than the mangiest of breeds, left his dog Max at the bar. Poor Max was a mess just like his owner. Max was smaller than most of the other hounds and one uptight asshole. The first day he tangled with Mona, a no-nonsense Rottweiler. He got pinned to the floor and nipped on the nose before retreating to a neutral corner, ostracized by the rest of the day’s pack.

“Don’t be sniffing Mona,” said Jimmy to Max, who would not listen worth a hoot.

Jimmy later warned the surfer who brought Max to the bar telling him his dog was disrupting the peace and interrupting the cosmic flow. He would give the dog one more chance but if he misbehaved he would be 86ed (That’s 602ed in dog years). The surfer nodded and stumbled out of the place, an oaf with Max on a leash when maybe it should have been the other way around.

The next day was a Saturday when Jimmy often hosted a full house until he threw the mutts out in the late afternoon. He would never really throw them out but you had to pick up your dog in the early afternoon of risk losing preferential status. There were tourists from The City in town and the cash register would be humming. These folks didn’t appreciate slobber on their designer footwear or climbing over dogs to use the facilities. Some were even afraid of the dogs when these teapot refugees probably should have been afraid of each other.

It was on a Saturday that Max blew it. Moments after his dippy owner dropped him off he started it with a German Shepherd named Alfonso who was not about to take any guff from the insolent Max. The smaller dog circled and Alfonso nailed him. That was it. Max was banned.

No matter how much the oafish surfer whined Jimmy would not budge.

The Dog That Smokes Saloon in Montevideo, Uruguay

“Rules are rules,” said Jimmy.

The canine congregation seemed to nod their heads in approval. Max was history. And still to this day Max sits across the street under a salty sun waiting to be reinstated and trying to figure out what went wrong.

This was some years ago and Max is no doubt six feet under. But the story still circulates in Montauk warning bad dogs and bad owners that the spoils of comfort and joy are earned not handed out like kibble.

As the years went by Jimmy got old just like the dogs. He retired and left the place to his daughter, Fiona, who carried on the tradition until the bar began serving food and all dogs were kicked out. On his retirement day Jimmy received a remarkable gift from the surfers who had enjoyed his kindness and hospitality for a good many years. It was a felt painting: not of Jesus or Elvis but from a long-closed bar in Montevideo, Uruguay called El Perro Que Fuma. The painting (above) now hangs in a place of distinction in a small cabin on Jimmy’s Boston Whaler.

– Connor Sturgeon

Highway 550 Shipped to Denver

(Colona) Colorado State Highway 550 will be transported to C-Dot bunkers in Denver as part to a plan to repair the road before tourists begin arriving in May. The principal artery will be hauled away in 5-mile increments and restored “in just a day or three months” according to officials familiar with this sort of excavation.

What this means for motorists accustomed to using the thoroughfare was not particularly clear this morning. Royal bridge builders and road maintenance engineers have already begun stockpiling massive piles of beetle kill near the roadway leading observers to believe that material will substitute for the more traditional asphalt. Until we know more it is apparent that venture brain trusts will persevere and the people will endure.

That stretch of highway from Montrose to Ouray has always given us trouble,” said Willy “The Pirate” MacLeish of C-DOT.  “And that says nothing of its bastard cousins “The Three Saints” – Red Mountain, Molas and Coal Bank Passes on the way to Durango.

There was no mention of conduits further south to Farmington since C-DOT does not recognize the sitting government in New Mexico and prefers to ignore all reference to the state, much like the EPA, which is allegedly engaged in a giveaway of public lands and the ED, which offers equal and inferior education to all.

The whole damn highway needs a lesson in humility,” continued MacLeish. “The highways in The Pale (The Confront Range) come first and these hick paths can just wait their turn. So what if thy were built based on traffic in 1965.”

– Kashmir Horseshoe


from Seamus McGinty, Skibbereen, Cork, Republic of Ireland

Please be careful with Harry and Meghan. Centuries ago when we allowed English gentry, not to mention royals, to land on our coast, things went bad fast. Cheers!

Bibliophiles must register in Montrose County

(Simms Mesa) Persons convicted of literary crimes must register with local law enforcement agencies after February 15. These generally well-read, often erudite offenders will remain on a Colorado database for 6 months.

After that time these bookish felons must renew/update vital information including address and telephone number so as to earn a safe conduct passage, dismissively referred to as a library card during more archaic periods of book burnings and pious interdiction.

Person deemed guilty of risk levels higher than 1.5, on a scale of 1 to 10, will be monitored for indications of loud talking, loitering and in some cases destruction of checked out items. Overdue fines could be levied and usually are when the person fails to honor his/her contracted responsibilities according to Penal Code 86R-Y, established in 2008.

Furthermore, the much-maligned Bookends Project demands that suspect persons must submit to indiscriminate ordeals and surgical diagnosis if behavioral patterns persist. Physicians may then prescribe colorful pills and failsafe injections (inoculations, vaccinations, flu shots) in hopes of driving out the parasitic demons of these so-called bookworms.

Bibliophiles who ignore this warning could face fines (compiled daily), loss of inter-library privileges and banishment to the Dark Ages.

-Tommy Middlefinger

For more turn to Celtophiles- Scourge of Connemara in your prayer books.

Elkin and his brother (s)

A few years ago a guy named Elkin came up to me in front of La Tampa in Jardin and tried to make my acquaintance. This abrupt behavior (especially here in Colombia where things tend to be a bit more formal) sent up a red flag but he was just a little feller and I figured I’d humor him for a while.

He said (surprise…surprise) that his brother was down in the hospital and he needed money to visit him and bring him a few things. I said I was sorry about his brother but had no spare cash. He kept on.

“I want to go and see him. It could be the last time,” he squawked.

“Oh, it’s serious then?”

“Yes, he boinged, “could you spare 50,000 pesos ($17 or so)?

“No, Elkin, I already told you I wasn’t going to give you any money.” But I am sorry about your brother.”

“But he has cancer, señor! He’s my only living brother. The others dropped dead of tuberculosis and the measles years ago. Please…just 20,000 then?”

Elkin, I’m beginning to think that you only want my money,” I jabbed, “because you think I’m a rich gringo and such.”

“Oh no señor. How could you think that? I’m just stretched thin and need to visit him before it’s too late. If you…”

“Where is he? Which hospital is he in?” I counterattacked.

Now I could see scammer’s wheels spinning inside that all too transparent cranium. This loutish hoodwinker! I did not know these accusing words in Spanish or I would have crucified him right on the spot. I had to hear more before I struck, plus I was mildly impressed by this little man’s brash hullabaloo.

Sly without the trump card, lacking even a butterfly net, catching caterpillar collapses without wings – This is your man Elkin. A myriad of minute conscience, delusional deception with grandiose cajones? Perhaps. Delicately, like the sound of heavy coins dropping into a metal bucket from the roof of a 5-story building, he went on.

“Just 20,000?” he asked flinching at this stubborn gringo. Most of his marks were either afraid of him or just wanted him to take his leave. That could translate into beer money or maybe even a bottle of Aguardiente on the weekends when business zipped along at full throttle.

“Ave Maria!,” he must have thought. “This was getting involved.” He hesitated, analyzing the state of affairs. This could quickly get sticky and complicated. He could tip his hand if not careful.

“In this hospital, here in Jardin,” he nodded, taking my hand with false intent and not letting go until I gingerly pushed and more forcefully pulled, escaping from his grip without shifting weight. I bent his wrist ever-so-slightly in a rear-guard maneuver. He winced.

He was beginning to aggravate  me, to the passing attention of some people I know in town, who were nursing cold beers nearby. Even his smile had now become annoying. It was yellow, maybe for all the lies.

But I am a guest in this country and should conduct myself as one.

“Elkin, I have an idea,” I said. “Let’s both go and visit him right now,” I said taking his arm this time. “It’s only a short walk away.”

He stopped, stuck like Br’er Rabbit to the tar baby, caught like a rat in a Pompeii of peanut butter. He looked from side to side as if someone in the plaza crowd might rescue him before he drowned.

“Oh, no, señor, he recanted…not now. I can’t. I have an appointment. I cannot….”

Then I heard my friend bellow from his perch in front of the bar:

“Hey Elkin: Enough,” he pleaded. “You croon the same song with different lyrics! And I, in all these years don’t remember you having a brother. You never even had a pet fish. Now if you don’t back off, your next “appointment” will be in the hospital. Se va! (go away!)”

And off slid our warped warrior, the champion debater, the fiscal wizard of Antioquia who could bamboozle these gringos with just the turn of a phrase. He seemed not the least bit offended by the inglorious banishment, keeping his eyebrows lurched and his posture tense for other los cadidos (naive ones) on the street. It’s a numbers game, heh Elkin?

Nonetheless we drank an acerbic toast to Elkin with tragos de anejo (shots of aged rum) lightly peppered with heart-of-sarcasm. We had another, after enduring an impulsive obituary about a deceased logger that I had never met.


One afternoon, two years later, Elkin again approached me up on Calle 12 and told me he was suffering from cancer. I had already seen him coming down the sidewalk and crossing the street to my side. This time I was ready for this jackal of all trades.

Sadly and dramatically, as he wove fantastic, his story was concocted: He now had cancer. He had barely a week to live. As proof he removed his sombrero and showed me his close-cropped hair. It didn’t look chemo-radiated. It just looked like a howler monkey had gotten ahold of some dull scissors. He didn’t remember me from years ago because all gringos look the same.

Amused, and somewhat impressed with his blubbering, I went along avoiding any remote reference to finances. He kept up crisp dialogue, quite politely getting to the meat of the issue. He continued trimming the fat until I stopped him like a hurled, ripe mango hitting a steadfast garden wall.

“So, Elkin,” I began “How is your brother, you know the one that was in the hospital with cancer a few years ago?”

“Who?” he blurted out, taken aback by the shift in the dialogue and my familiarity with his name. His con confronted, his armor extinguished, his plan now plummeted like clown pants tumbling down to his boney knees.

“Your brother…your brother, man. You said you had to see him for the last time and asked me for money to bring him a few things. Don’t you remember me?”

Now he was perplexed. He looked around for familiar redoubts. He shifted his stance.

“I don’t have a brother señor,” he frowned. “But I do have an uncle with diabetes. He is in the same hospital in Andes where I am getting treated. Maybe you could spare a few pesos so I could bring him a few things.”

“No, but I’d buy you a bus ticket out of town if you promise never to come back,” I mumbled.

“OK,” he smiled.

– Kevin Haley



With the holidays upon us local residents and visitors alike are hereby warned that the artsy-craftsy types are out in force and could be working your neighborhood at this very moment. These annoying individuals can even be observed going through the winter garbage in order to satisfy their creative obsessions. Fresh from looting the alleys they will then return to their little hovels and attempt to turn stinky milk cartons into furry little bunnies and even fashion Yuletide headgear from pizza boxes or banana crates.

It’s real bad. And the potters haven’t even began their cyclical counterattacks.

Please watch your coffee grinds since these warped craftspersons will often attempt to reconstruct replicas of ski villages from soggy grinds and bits of aluminum.

Birdhouses are particularly popular, especially within circles of depraved artists who intend to spend the rest of the winter somewhere warm, with your money as a cushion.

To further illustrate our point were you aware that the state of Colorado reported that over 400 traffic signs were stolen between December 1 and December 20 in 2019 alone? Many turned up as pirated lazy susans by New Year’s Eve. The best advice? Withhold all your garbage until after the new year. This way a concerned citizen deprives these parasites of the raw materials necessary to continue the age-old assault on all that is still right and decent within our borders.

If this doesn’t work we suggest a nine-iron at close range. Sure, that’s radical but considering the circumstances…With the cops out patrolling the bars for revelers during the holidays we must take matters into our own hands or soon there will be no garbage left to hand down to our children. Lest we forget, we are all responsible for the trash that we generate until it hits the landfill and that’s the American way.

And a further holiday warning: The heroes over at TSA will be scrutinizing stuffed Christmas stockings in airports through the New Year. According to our source they are looking for bombs and toothpaste. If you are traveling with Christmas stockings or small children be aware that you may be molested by these security personnel, who like the demons of Hades love to stick their pitchforks in the sides of the already tormented.

If given the choice between an eternity at DIA, DFW or LAX or the rest of eternity downstairs in the Netherworld this reporter would opt for the flames.