By Ray Downs
By Lindsay Toler
By Danny Wicentowski
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By RFT Staff
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By Allison Babka
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Crawford started his first blog in college. "It was mostly about Bobby Brown and retarded kids," he says of the site, which was also called ByronCrawford.com. Along with consuming copious amounts of Natural Light, blogging was how Crawford passed his time at Truman State University.
Admitted on a scholarship -- he was a National Merit Scholar semifinalist in high school -- his funding was yanked after he failed to keep his grades up. Majoring in business administration, he finally graduated after five years in May of 2004, then took a series of grunt-level jobs back in the St. Louis area, including flipping sliders at White Castle.
"I wanted him to find a regular corporate job, but I just couldn't persuade him," says his father, Byron "Joe" Crawford Sr., a St. Louis tax consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers and amateur marathon runner.
"He never was the kind of kid that went out running up and down the street," he adds. "He's always been a trivia-buff kind of person. Music, movies, TV programs -- he has this memory for minute details."
Crawford's mother remembered when, as a Parkway East eighth-grader, her son wrote a class paper on water, in which he asked the question: "Do you ever wonder what happens when you take a dump?" His mortified teacher nearly failed him.
Crawford started his current blog two years ago. An account of his tenure at Super Smokers -- the barbecue chain where he worked in the summer of 2004 -- gained him widespread notice:
"What I'm about to reveal to you here, is the top secret ingredient which has led to Super Smokers being the only barbecue operation in the St. Louis area to win at the World BBQ Championships held annually in Memphis.
"That secret ingredient? You guessed it, human piss.
"I know, I was shocked too when I learned that the secret that gave Super Smokers BBQ its unique taste was that its employees, mostly the male ones, would pee on the pile of wood that was kept out back to be used in their smokers."
Crawford swears the story is true, but his former manager denies that Crawford or anyone else urinated upon the wood.
"Ridiculous," says Jeff Basler, now general manager at the chain's Glendale location. "I couldn't believe it when I saw it on his Web site." (Crawford's entry ranks third when you Google "Super Smokers BBQ.")
Crawford's rap-focused entries are distinguished by their acrid tones. Unlike the almost universal adoration mainstream hip-hop outlets like Vibeand XXLpay rap stars, Crawford is unafraid to take on hip-hop's elite. In one post, he declared Phil Collins' No Jacket Requiredto be superior to Jay-Z's The Blueprint. Another found the Gin Blossoms' New Miserable Experiencebetter than Nas' Illmatic. "J-Kwon beats his baby's mother," screamed one headline. "The Game was a gay stripper," said another.
"I know tons of editors and writers that think an artist is stupid, and you turn around and that artist is on the cover," says Ex. "I think Byron is just reacting to that hypocrisy."
More than 30,000 people read his August post, titled "Is Andy Milonakis dying?" The entry speculated that Milonakis -- a diminutive MTV VJ -- had a medical condition that would eventually kill him. Angry at the unsubstantiated speculation, Milonakis fans e-mailed him death threats. Someone posted Crawford's phone number to a Milonakis fan site, and hundreds of fans called to bitch at him.
The only problem was that it wasn't Crawford's number -- it was his parents'. They received harassing phone calls for two straight weeks. Now, Kim Crawford monitors her son's site closely. "I'm worried that someone might knock on my door sometime," she says.
Matt Drudge and Byron Crawford have more in common than just their popular sites. They've both been subjected to vicious rumor mills.
In David Brock's 2002 book, Blinded by the Right, the author claims Drudge hit on him, an allegation repeated by actor Alec Baldwin on the Howard Stern Show. (Drudge denies that he is gay and has threatened to sue Baldwin.)
As for Crawford, nobody seems too concerned with his sexuality (he's girlfriendless, but straight). It's his race that has his readers talking.
"So for all those that have been harassed by Byron's racist campaigns, understand that he isn't the real cat that he claims to be," wrote someone called 'djhaze' in Crawford's comment section in April. "He is a white boy acting like a black man."
"Hell at this point you could be a 70-year-old Asian woman for all we know," wrote a blogger called Trader Mike.
The speculation arose partly because of racial slurs Crawford employs liberally in his posts.
"Wildly untalented R&B singer Houston, who's obviously crazy and possibly teh ghey [gay] has gone and gouged his own eye out," Crawford wrote last February. "No word yet on whether or not he actually tried to eat the eye after he gouged it out, which I know is common for jigs who go fucking around with those white people drugs."
Crawford is black but grew up surrounded by whites. When he was twelve, his family moved from University City to a Creve Coeur cul-de-sac, and he attended the largely white Parkway North High School.