Give Pease a Chance

Near the beginning of the catchy tune “Bhindi Bhagee” when Joe Strummer encounters a New Zealander “looking for mushy peas,” the natural assumption is that the visitor is yearning for a foodstuff. However, this curious listener wonders if that man was not inquiring about the availability of a vegetable dish but rather the whereabouts of a quaint character with a peculiar moniker. Instead of stopping someone along the High Road, he might have had better luck along the Low Road.

Mushy Pease might be found trading punches down at the local gym with the likes of Boom Boom Mancini, Bobo Olson, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom or listening to the birdies sing with Red Skelton’s Cauliflower McPugg. Next, try any racetrack in Damon Runyonland where Mushy might be rubbing elbows with Rusty Charlie, Bookie Bob, Harry the Horse, Little Isadore, Sam the Gonoph, Dream Street Rosie, Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Madame La Gimp, Hat Horse Herbie, Society Max, Angie the Ox, Dave the Dude, Sorrowful Jones, Louie the Lug, Upstate Red, and Little Mitzi.

But if Mr. Pease really wanted to feel at home he would be living in Crooper, Illinois, the town Paul Rhymer created for the denizens of radio’s Vic and Sade. There Mushy might be playing indoor horseshoes with Vic in Ike Kneesuffer’s basement, dozing on a cart at the railway station with ne’er-do-well Hank Gutstop, chatting through a mouthful of shingle nails with Dwight Twentysixer, riding shotgun on the garbage wagon with Mr. Gumpox, listening to Rush unspool the wheels within wheels of high school life involving chums Smelly Clark, Rooster and Rotten Davis, Bluetooth Johnson, and Cracky Otto, or conversing on the phone with Gus Fuss, Charlie Razorscum, Robert and Slobert Hink, or Rishigan Fishigan from Sishigan, Michigan.

The search for the elusive Mr. Pease would probably end in Crooper at the foot of Sade’s garrulous Uncle Fletcher, who seemed to have a tale for all seasons and all reasons. After detailing in his usual roundabout fashion the missing person’s tenuous relationship with old acquaintances Cliff Dirtshirt and Virgil Dejectedly, Fletcher would likely conclude his folksy reminiscences by remarking that “Mushy Pease was born in Syracuse, Nebraska, moved to Dismal Seepage, Ohio at the age of eight months, married a woman named Flossie Toothpowder, went into the galvanized peanut brittle business, invented a butter churn that would print counterfeit postage stamps, and later died.”

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