My Little Chickadee

Dave “Chilidog” Crawford is a big guy with a baby face, a pocketful of untapped musical genius and a long-standing reputation as a sly-talkin’ rabble-rouser. If you haunt midtown, you may have seen him causing a ruckus at dives such as D.B. Cooper’s and Chez Charlie.

For example, a recent night out with Chilidog for some karaoke at Cooper’s began innocently enough. When I talked to him about my family’s dachshund, his eyes lit up and he squealed like a happy child.

But as the night wore on, Crawford got friskier with each swallow of whiskey. When a guy singing Roy Orbison‘s “Crying” dropped down an octave on the high part, Chilidog proclaimed, “What a pussy!”

Lately, though, the bloke has slowed down. In January, he took a nasty fall on some ice, breaking his fibula. The cast is off, but he’s on crutches for the next six weeks. The injury doesn’t stop Crawford from making like a modern-day W.C. Fields, dropping lines such as “You’re the most beautiful woman I’m looking at right now.”

Crawford’s endearing impishness also comes through in the musical projects he’s tackled through the years.

In the mid-’90s, Crawford was in pop punkers the Breakups alongside friend Benji King. After fours years, the band lived up to its name, and Crawford started penning country ballads. Unfortunately, he’s reluctant to share these songs with the world and forbids anyone else to sing them.

“I don’t know if it’s because he’s self-conscious,” King says. “He’s written some stuff that could seriously be hits. He gives himself no credit.”

Songs such as the ode “Be My Valentine, Pabst Blue Ribbon” (That girl’s a 10, but what can I do/Tonight I’m stuck with a 3.2) and “A Girl from Church,” about an easy girl
he met at mass (About the time that I caught on/To Matthew, Mark and Luke and John/She was on her second Timothy) are razor-sharp and sweetly self-deprecating. It’s a goddamned shame that only a select few know what a lyrical genius Crawford is.

Instead, many know him as a guy acting a fool. And some know him as Kandi Kanabi, the baddest girl in rock and roll.

In his punk band Switchhitter, Crawford dons a Bettie Page wig, red lipstick and fishnets to become Kandi. Originally he wrote the songs for a Donnas-like girl band that he tried to put together.

“I wanted to be like a Kim Fowley-type, but quite frankly, I thought I sounded better than the girls, so I did it myself,” he says, referring to the svengali behind the Runaways.

Although Crawford is charming as Kanabi, Switchhitter doesn’t quite match the brilliance of Crawford’s country ditties. Hitter played what was probably its last gig with young pups the Rich Boys back in October.

The Boys didn’t stick around for Switchhitter because they had to get to a party in the West Bottoms. But they were kind enough to invite Crawford.

“I show up, and everybody’s, like, 20, and I look like bald John Belushi. Someone comes up to me and says I need to ask permission to be at this kid’s house,” he says.

The people at that party might have lucked out. One of Crawford’s most infamous party-animal moments involves a wedding crash years ago.

“I’d been drinking all day,” Crawford recalls. He called up his friend Jay Zastoupil, guitarist for the Last of the V8s, who happened to be headed to bandmate James Fulton‘s wedding. “I said, ‘Come get me. I’m coming, too,” Crawford says.

He made an ass of himself at the reception, drunkenly attempting to corrupt the minister and making an inappropriate remark to the mother of the bride. Fulton was rightfully pissed.

“James was mad, but not at me. He was upset with Jay for bringing me, ’cause he knows what I’m capable of. It was horrible. I felt so bad about it,” he says.

I know he means it, but that remorse hasn’t stopped the prankster from doing things to get himself temporarily banned from playing certain local clubs.

“I’m 34 years old,” he says. “It shouldn’t be that hard for me to behave.”

It shouldn’t, but he wouldn’t be Chilidog if there weren’t a little misbehavin’ going on.

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