E A R L Y    L I F E :

The formative years that would birth his musical interests
... as well as his early literary influences and rhythem of dance.
The divorce of his parents that would later influence his youth-angst novels,
and compel him enough to prevent his generation from being named a letter.

 
    Once thought to be lost, and uncovered only after the six year duration of time in writing the epic novel, this rare photo from 1984, taken at the real “
SIGNATURE
PLACE
” (where Crawford lived at for only a year) that has been used as the novel's back inside jacket, strongly parrallels the book's leading nine-year new-kid-on-the-block character from California named TOPH, who eventually unites the many ethnicities in his new neighborhood by amply displaying his breakdancing and eclectic taste in music.     
    Often going over the heads of the average reader on a first glance, deep-thinkers, who have begun to read the novel a second and third time (as the author has often remarked were his intentions), have found deeper meaning in Toph's  "VANS" slip-on shoes (originally a surfer's shoe created in the late 1960s) beyond what even the author perhaps intended: deeming the shoes "culturally significant" in more ways than one. As not only do they immediately associate themselves (and the reader) with the 1980s that made them popular (thanks to actor Sean Penn wearing them only in a few key scenes in the 1982 film “FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH”), but they also subliminally metaphor Toph's gradual breakdown of the area's ancient CONFEDERATE stereotypes (Midland, Texas; a rich oil community where not only does the story take place, but where two United States Presidents came from) and its remnants of African-American slavery ... in the form of merely black and white checkers. Toph often leads the neighborhood's children (who have only studied black culture from afar), into one of the nearby black churches, sometimes in the form of dance, often itself displaying the heroic aftershocks that Michael Jackson's “THRILLER” album was able to cause in allowing more black artists onto radio and Mtv at the time; which of course Crawford named his generation after; 
THRILLER-BABIES: THE GENERATION BORN 1970-1980 AND THE OFFSPRING OF THE BABY BOOMERS FROM WHICH THE NAME IS DERIVED.

        Born on Dec 5th, 1974, in Roswell, New Mexico to a mother who had aimed to bare her children osteopathically by natural child birth and with no assistance of pain-killers (radical at the time, but now considered radically healthy if one can bare it), Joshua Markl Crawford’s mere arrival into the world was marked by a struggle unto itself. As he was very large headed and weighed a full ten pounds, causing extreme labor for his mother, who carried him full term, and who after delivering him, was appalled to discover that all her osteopathic doctors had gone home for the day … all while she was still hemorrhaging quite badly and in desperate need for more of a medical watchful eye than what had been given her.

            Relieved when finally allowed to go home with her newborn son, the very first song in which would inspire such a mystical mind (which was later revealed to Crawford by his mother upon entering his twenties), was literally one that holds strong significance all on its own; John Denver’s “Back Home Again”, which was accordingly playing on the radio as Mr. Crawford drove his wife and son home. As not only were its lyrics metaphorical which stated for the new mother, “It’s good to be back home again,” but its singer, Denver, had been born in Roswell as well; a little known fact to most of Denver’s fan base at the time, who closely associated him with Denver Colorado due to his residency there, his song Rocky Mountain High, and of course, his last name … which in itself, was a stage name.

Death seems to have had a strong interest in obtaining young Joshua Crawford long before his time, on several occasions in the man’s life, beginning with his birth that nearly killed his mother, and then again, several times throughout his life.

            When he was a toddler, and left to wander about in his play-pin behind his grandparents’ family cabin in the upper canyon of the Ruidoso, New Mexico mountains, a large grizzly bear approached him face to face, and just as the bear was about to reach for him, his great aunt, who had been keeping on eye on him through the cabin’s kitchen window, rushed out to him and quickly fetched the young one, just moments before the bear reached for him. Though he wouldn’t remember it, the event does seem to mark one of the many and almost surreal circumstances in which Crawford was almost lost to death itself. His journey in life, has been far from being an easy one, to say the very least.

            Walking by the age of nine months, Crawford was obviously an early developer. With a mother of Irish and German decent who had once aspired to be a model and had been raised “in the city” to a well-known father of real-estate for the community and a socialite mother who favored the art of the well-known Peter Hurd (also of Roswell’s community) … and a father of Scottish and Polish decent who aspired to be anything he could, who had been raised “on an alfalfa farm” outside Roswell to a well-known family of farmers for the community who lived directly behind what is now known as “The Henge” (a sculptured architectural landmark of abstract-looking monoliths designed to ‘house art’ by Howard Cook under the property’s owner, Don Anderson, whose brother¾ Robert O.¾ and Robert’s son, Phelps, would later turn out to employ Crawford’s father), Crawford’s parents were believed to have been star-crossed and an unlikely match, but a very enthusiastic and a charismatic one at that, if not a bit striking in looks; witch each of them (and their own parents) having green eyes; a trait the future author would come to be known for, and often asked about, much to his astonishment; as he apparently was a shy young boy, who found it difficult to assimilate with any peers his age and didn’t find a singing voice until returning from Spielberg’s … eighteen years later. Being a middle kid between an older sister and a younger brother, has often been attributed to this, as has the brutal divorce of his parents and the custody battle that would later ensue it.

            Though Crawford has often claimed (as has Spielberg surprisingly) that he seldom enjoyed reading in his youth, feeling it to be, at the time, “too endorsed as a requirement for an assignment in my younger days at school, when all I wanted to do was draw, listen to music, do jigsaw puzzles, and watch Spider-Man”, what few literary influences that did endorse themselves into Crawford’s world, were, by all accounts, very influential, if not life-altering in the sense that they would obviously shape the taste of his coming-of-age novels in which he would later write, if not influence the author himself (especially the subplots in Signature Place), and were either strongly already considered literary classics by the time they were read to young Crawford, or were soon to be controversial underground favorites, just as Signature Place has somewhat become.

These included merely five books:

1.) Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” (which spans a single man's entire generational life and his love for nature-mixed-with-capitalism … as does Signature). The book was, and has, always been met with a bit of controversary for its depiction of possibly aiming a book at children (authored by a one-time writer for Playboy Magazine no doubt!) which might emplore "selfishness" in the sense that by the end of the story, the tree has given everything it has to the boy ... its leeves to play on, its fruit to sell, its branches to build a boat out of ... with being left nothing more than a stump, to which the now grown-boy who is old, decides to sit on as he reaches the twilighting years of his entire life. Metaphorical to life itself, and very appealing to adults, as well as children, it grew to fame in the 1970s when so many babyboomers heard about it through their church, and wanted to buy it so that they could read it to their young thrillerbabies. The book ends with an individualally-interpreted outlook as to what it ever was trying to say. And it has been debated my many. (Crawford would later make a coming-of-age song out of it that depicts two thrillerbaby kids who live next door to each other, while each of their parents are divorcing. It would end up on his heavily bootleged 49$DEMO: a compilation album Crawford made after the turn of the 21st century by means of looping his voice into already pre-existing soundtrack instrumentals of the early 1980s in which he felt had been overlooked by the general music-buying public, all by means of a fourty-nine-dollar DVD/karaokee-player he had bought as Best Buy.)

2.) Helen Bannerman's “Little Black Sambo” (a story about an India boy who while on a nature walk, outwits predatorial tigers and turns them into butter which he later uses on his 169 pancakes; a book that would later be pulled from schools and go out of print shortly after Crawford receiving it, due to it being deemed “stereotypical” by certain ethnic groups … including the SAMBO'S restaurant chains that it would inspire, which have now gone out of business due to the controversy). (A very positive look at black culture runs fluently throughout Signature Place, and Crawford has claimed he was naturally unaware as a child that the word, Sambo, had racial slur connotations, feeling the book to be greatly inspiritive to children who faced incredible odds),

3.) A. A. Milne’s “Winnie The Pooh” stories (the leading character in
Signature, is often referred to as placing “Christopher Robin” in a real and un-imaginary world that sadly grows him up, all too quickly)
… these books were read to Crawford continually by his mother in his preschool years (even though he never attended preschool, and would thus later be considered for acceleration of a grade or two upon entering kindergarten). Often, such books were translated to screen in the form of small 30-minute shorts by the Walt Disney company, beginning in the late 1960s and 1970s, a mere three decades after the first book had been published in 1926, and Milne's characters were then re-animated to modernize them and make them more appealing to children through the use of Read-Along Book and Record sets that were very popular amongst thrillerbabies in the 1970s and 1980s; allowing them to not only read the story, but at the same time, hear the actual soundtrack and dialog in which the story was from; always narriated by the same opening line, "When you hear the chimes like THIS ... turn the page!" Many of these "shorts" eventually culminated into one single motion picture called The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh in 1977, and for many years, Pooh toys and clothing (such as the Pooh-shoes that Crawford wore as a kid, and his Pooh briefase record-player) were marketed exclusively only through SEARs up until Pooh made a comeback in the 1990s. Coincidentally, Pooh, himself, was named after Milne's own son's favorite stuffed toy; a son whose actual name was Christopher Robin. Robin would later reveal, shortly before his death in 1996, that he had suffered an estranged relationship between he and his famous author-father, who had marketed his entire childhood to children all over the world. Signature's plot intertestingly reveals a major generation-gap between a father and son, spread out over the course of 600 pages divided into 3 parts. And its often talked-about massive soundtrack of many rare 1980s songs which has been highly bootleged over the years, was very much inspired by Crawford's love of marrying-visual-pictures-with-music in the same way that the many Read-Along books-and-records had done for his entire thrillerbaby generation, who often found comfort in hearing familiar voices while their parents were out busy working; leaving them home alone to be latchkey kids, often into the evening hours. (Notice how the above picture of "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" displays a book that "comes alive". Ironically, this particualr book-and-record/short was released the same year as Crawford's birth; 1974.) This "visual-music" comfort was made even more relevant to thrillerbabies once Mtv came out in 1981, and inspired many films to be married with multiple memorable rock songs to their soundtracks such as Footloose, Flashdance, Staying Alive, and Dirty Dancing, unlike any generation that had come before them. "Return to Pooh Corner", a 1994 song written by a young Kenny Loggins and originally released as the single "House At Pooh Corner" by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970, are each featured on the Signature Place soundtrack and are incoporated into its plot that's based around a boy named "Toph."
Crawford, afterall, was originally going to be named Christopher, until his parents decided on Joshua.

4.) “The Boxcar Children”, however, created by Gertrude Chandler Warner (who wrote the first 19 books in the series that began in 1924), read to him by his sister (in his preschool years as well), perhaps resembles Signature Place the very most, even up till its very ending. As this well-known classic series of books, published in the early part of the 20th century, deals with “parentless children” who decide to run away from their cruel grandfather after their parents have died, and end up catching a ride on an empty boxcar [train], where they spend many adventures living from town to town, and dealing with the many vast cultures and pressures of society; somewhat of a precursor to what Crawford's life would later lean towards, once his parents divorced and he moved from the very ethnical-relaxed mood of New Mexico … to the ever-Confederate atmosphere of Texas, where many schools are named after Robert E. Lee, such as the one depicted in the 1993 film, Dazed And Confused. (Signature tells the story of an ethnically cultured boy from California, who moves to a Texas town that still struggles to deal with integration of African Americans; with the boy wearing a Michael Jackson Thriller t-shirt in what is often thought of as a ‘subliminal attempt’ by its author to ‘break the ice’ for future generations … and readers. And with the ThrillerBabies being primarily the first generation to have vastly grown up parentless, much less, Crawford’s own childhood, one can only guess how taken Crawford might’ve been with The Boxcar Children, even though at the time it was read to him, he was most likely far from thinking its fictional premise could ever happen for his own entire generation! Ironically, he only saw the strong similarities in his book, and Boxcar, long after he had completed his novel, with many years having already passed since he had first read Boxcar as young boy and only had images of its characters and themes.) The books were some of the first literature aimed at young children to ever be controversial; as many librarians at the time, often felt the stories depicted kids having "too good of time WITHOUT adult supervision" ... which was exactly why children liked it!
Signature Place often takes the same approach, but rewards its mischief ... by allowing a lesson to be learned by many generations; not just the thrillerbabies, babyboomers, and big-banders.

5.) The fifth book, he would later be turned on to, by watching its short film in elementary school; being intrigued enough to rent the book from the local library to study it more closely; “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams which places the premise of “Pinocchio” onto a stuffed-animal rabbit owned by a boy who desires to become real, once it notices the boy’s other toys to be authentic, due to the boy’s deep love for them.

In an effort to become real, the rabbit soon gains the boy’s love … until the boy is stricken with scarlet fever. After a doctor obligates the boy’s eventual recovery by ordering that his old play things be burned (due to their contaminated germs), the rabbit cries a real tear and is soon rescued by a fairy who reveals to the rabbit that it was real all along, placing it with a entire race of wild rabbits in which the now healthy boy one day stumbles across, and remarks how one of the rabbits looks very similar to the one he once had, even though he never fully realizes the truth behind his love.

¾ These obvious strong traits of a love for animals, are threaded deep into Signature, considering much wordspace is given by its author to the children’s many pets (3 incredibly active dogs, and one lazy cat named “Tigger” of all things) who are often considered well-written characters in their own right; as periodically, the book shifts to their view of the children and their own struggle to get along with each other when the children force their worlds together by interacting with one another at each other's condominiums, all while their parents are all busy working. (Signature ends with not only revealing the children’s whereabouts once they grow up, but it reveals the whereabouts of all their pets as well; something Crawford felt was “extremely mandatory”!)

This very, and sometimes surreal, elaboration of the many characteristics of his pet characters (as some of them even bob their heads along to the children’s stereos in the novel), could also easily be contributed to the fact that although the first film his parents ever took him too was the very first Star Wars release in 1977, Crawford has claimed that the first film he actually remembers seeing in a theater, was a summer-movie-camp re-release of 1972’s Charlotte’s Web … which accordingly, scared him into going without any bacon for several months. And the fact that he and his sister as children, upon one of their walks to a grocery store behind their house to buy bubblegum, happened to pass by a tombstone-merchant, where many tombstones sat for sale, engraved with pictures of lambs … which the children mistakenly misunderstood as being a “pet cemetery” built especially for baby sheep and therefore sent them home in tears(!) … probably didn’t hurt his “appealing to children” writings either; as it flavored and peppered his kid characters with ample amounts of respect for their beloved furry creatures who seem just as hungry for a parent’s love as they do. (The novel’s time frame, 1984, occurs at a time when the AIDS crisis first gained national attention, and one of the book’s most touching moments, is when all the kids “misinterpret”¾ as America did in this time¾ that they have all contracted the disease by “sharing a softdrink together” at the premiere of Spielberg’s Gremlins movie at the local mall, so they decide to all have a sleepover in which they believe they will never awaken from; a “social suicide” if you will.)

Other pieces of literature that would not enter his life until his pre-teen years in Texas, but are worth mentioning because of the fact that he seldom read much as a youngster (often claiming as an adult, that he didn’t want to accidentally rob anyone’s writing style or be too influenced by outside formats for such styles) … yet would later somehow write epic-novels about ostracized children (with unheard-for-their-time time lengths even prior to the very first Harry Potter book which popularized such lengths), were:

6.) The Pinballs by Betsy Byars … a story about three foster children from three separate homes which was later made into one of the many ABC AfterSchool Specials that were popular amongst his generation,

7.) Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby … which he has claimed was his heaviest literary influence upon reading it his junior year in high school and finding its storyline of “the depressed rich” very realistic to the lifestyle of many Texas oil-families and the entire 1980s, and also his own. The Fitzgerald classic book would largely influence Crawford's 1st novel; "TRUE."

8.) and Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire (coincidentally, Rice entered the same Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas which Crawford’s mother’s mother had attended in the 1940s), which he read during the course of writing his first novel (entitled TRUE), upon moving out of the house at the age of 19, having been taken with its storyline about a vampire who got sucked into being one, and often wished he wasn’t. (Crawford is known to have acute insomnia, and is allegedly very nocturnal; having written both of his epic novels, and most of his songs, only at night, which has often been attributed to the condition of his heart at the time, and its capability to function best, only in cool weather. Midland, Texas, where he still currently resides and where the majority of his work, so far, has been written, is notoriously known for its west-Texas brutal summer heat year, yet cool evenings because of its location in a flat desert basin with hardly any noticeable trees, causing ample amounts of sunsets because so. One of his medications reportedly magnifies sunlight, and thus can cause him to get overheated and burn rather easily. So vampire films, such as 1987’s The Lost Boys and 1922’s Nosferatu, have been closely associated with his pop-culture influences for “creating characters who come alive at night” for years. As Signature’s many characters often do.)

These are all in addition to,

9.) The Holy Bible that he often read as a child in the form of The Comic-Strip Bible which contained visual comic-strip drawings depicting brutal Jewish ancestry, and then The Holy Bible once again, in which would later be part of his scholastic studies upon entering Christian school for four years when he arrived in Texas.

Stacking on those religious writings, would be most of the world’s other religions and their belief systems, that would come to his attention by way of his father (a study of such movements throughout the course of history) in his later teens and early twenties, as well as other books exploring religious-themes and their origins such as:

10.) Erich Von Däniken’s Chariots Of The Gods (which was loosely made into a documentary film in the 1970s.),

11.) Zecharia Sitchin’s The 12th Planet. (Signature Place’s use of religious pluralism and how it compliments a belief in The Trinity, has yet to be overtly dissected, but it is obviously there. Aiding much of the book’s appeal to so many cultures, thus often fueling its strong word of mouth on the underground.)

*Of special interest to note, Signature Place’s most talked about book among the thrillerbabies in the novel itself,

12.) S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (who like Crawford, began writing novels at the age of fifteen; with The Outsiders being her very first), ironically, is a book Crawford claims to have never fully read, but was of course introduced to it by its film-version repetitively airing on HBO during the summer of ‘84 (the year the novel opens with), a year after the film had been dismissed at the box office as a ‘bomb’ by critics. (Most movie-guides gave the film a single star, or sometimes even a TURKEY symbol, in their rating-system for merely 20 years after its initial release in 1983.) Crawford, however, naturally ate it up; as it is considered “THE BIBLE” amongst his ThrillerBabies in his novel because it so depicted parentless children in the form of a cast that would escalate to fame, shortly after their initial appearance in the movie, long before the word “brat pack” (which wasn’t coined until 1985) was ever created to reference certain teenage stars in the 1980s, who often did numerous movies with each other (mostly known as the cast from St. Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club.)

The unknown-at-the-time cast of The Outsiders, consisted of C. Thomas Howell, Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Diane Lane, Nicolas Cage (in a brief cameo), and of course, Matt Dillon ¾ who would be idolized by one of Signature’s leading female thrillerbabies throughout Crawford’s book … to the point where Dillon, himself, makes a surprise cameo appearance at the end of the novel, to marry her off (!); a lifelong hidden dream (as her real dad is not part of her life).

The poster for the film, would be tacked onto Crawford’s own bedroom ceiling for years until it was damaged, but then to his own shock, was replaced with an “autographed” replica signed “to Joshua”, which was Fed-Exed to Crawford by the director himself (Francis Ford Coppola) in the summer of 1999, right after Crawford had completed the novel, and was briefly living at the REAL Signature Place to celebrate his 6 year victory in composing the book; a task all in itself.

An exact miniature version of this personalized poster to him from Coppola, is what makes up the outside back cover to Crawford’s novel, itself, that has been floating around since 2001.

But we’ll get to that later.

            Born into an era of music known for its birth of strong singer-songwriters, which consisted of artists such as James Taylor, Carly Simon, America, The Eagles, Bread, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Don Mclean, The Carpenters, Carole King, and of course, John Denver, Crawford’s father and mother made much use of this music for their household, deeming it to be “the only form of rock ‘n roll” allowed; as both parents were strong devout charismatic full-gospel Assembly-of-God Christians at the time, as were many of the Baby Boomers who went the opposite direction of the hippie culture, and instead, opted for energetic churches ¾ often deeming them, and those like them, “the Jesus generation” because so … with much credit given to this name by the decade’s strong “doomsday” theories that had been fueled not only by the summit of the Cold War (which president Regan would manage to put an end to the following decade), but by Hal Lindsey’s bestselling book in the 1970s, The Late Great Planet Earth, as well as the first batch of horror films made by major studios with big budgets and directors at the time, that depicted Satan influencing children, such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist (which based on its book, to the shock of many, was the first horror film to win Best Picture), and most importantly, 1976’s The Omen … which in itself, escalated the sale of The Holy Bible by 3 times during this point in history, because of its strong attempt to interpret The Book of Revelations; one of the first (if not the first) films to ever tackle such material. (Its director, Richard Donner, would later direct the first two Superman films with Christopher Reeve, and The Goonies; three films which would heavily inspire Signature Place.)

Thus, by all accounts, Crawford’s parents were a bit strict with worldly outside secular influences onto the lives of their young. Popular TV-shows during the times of Crawford’s early years such as The Dukes of Hazard, were deemed safe … where as The Incredible Hulk which aired right after it, wasn’t considered safe enough, because of its depiction of the supernatural to be too similar, if not greater than, Christ’s.
            The film, Superman, and of course, Star Wars, were considered rare exceptions; perhaps because they mirrored the strong father-and-son elements of the Trinity belief system, as does Signature, which itself, is seasoned with Star Wars heroes and weaponry, much less, Superman himself … who inspires one of Crawford’s youngest characters (a three year old named Gabriel of all things) to escape his own childhood trauma of witnessing his father abandoning his family.

            An early seller of microwave ovens, Crawford’s alfalfa-farming father (a distant kin to Lemuel Crawford, who had heroically fought to the death alongside Davy Crocket at The Alamo in 1836, and whose name often appears directly next to Crocket’s due to alphabetical order), had attended the famous New Mexico Military Institute; another Roswell landmark known as “The Hill” or “NMMI” to its locals where the 1981 Tom Cruise film, Taps, once tried to use as a location, but had been denied access, due to its hostile storyline.)

            Yet not only had his father sought a career in real-estate, but he had once been an aspiring drummer in a local garage Beatles-like band, and had to sell his drums in order to pay for his son’s birth; as the family was of moderate low income in the 1970s, and much of their house décor consisted of bean-bags for couches, and second-hand clothes often bought at garage sales. Coke-bottles were often traded in for cash during this time in history, and Crawford’s parents often did so in order to buy diapers for their three children.

Both parents, however, played the piano;
his mother by lessons in her youth, who often played only a mere handful of songs which included Michael Row The Boat Ashore that had been a hit by the group The Highway Men in 1961 (which is of unique interest considering the song is an African American slave spiritual and that Crawford would later write about the musical influences that African Americans had over his generation, so much so that he named an entire generation after an African American album which would go on to be the most successful album ever created; Thriller) … and Crawford’s father, who, unlike his wife, played by ear … having come from a long line of by-ear musicians in the Crawford farming family, yet intriguingly, only played original pieces, with no such coversongs at all, considering he had once been in a band. And very few originals at that. Each child supposedly had their own designated original ballad that was used as a lullaby of sorts, to put the children to bed, once Crawford’s father had noticed that his piano-playing had put his kids to sleep … faster than he ever could!

            Though both parents had originally rented this piano in order for Crawford’s older sister to take lessons on (which she never took to), it would be young Joshua, at the age of three, who would one night (while he thought the family was preoccupied and wouldn’t notice), sneak up to the instrument, and begin playing the opening riff to Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer, which even though the song had been written in the “ragtime-era” and was released in 1902, it had been so popularized at the time by the 1973 Redford/Newman movie, The Sting (which had used it somewhat historically inaccurate because the film took place in the 1930s and not the turn of the century when the rag was first born), that it had grown into a hit single on the radio (astonishingly going all the way to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart the exact year Crawford was born) and is now heard in ice-cream/snowcone-trucks throughout America.

(Crawford would later write about such a truck in Signature in the character of “Skippy-the-snowcone-man”, but would replace the song with Percey Faith’s famous rendition of A Summer Place; a song he felt was more suitable for the novel’s “summer” setting.)

            Again, of historical and analytical interest, since Crawford’s life has now been accessed as one that’s been full of precursive premonitions and coincidences to the things he would later write about, The Entertainer, unbeknownst to him at the time (and to some extent, many people today), was written by an African American (Joplin, also from Texas) who literary created what has now been called America’s first “music genre”, long before jazz, pop rock, disco, heavy metal, or grunge would ever exist; ragtime ¾ which was popular at the turn of the 20th century, but had begun to twilight by the Fitzgerald 1920s that birthed The Jazz Age.

            Crawford’s contributions to the arts is often looked upon as a prime example of how one decade’s lost pastime, can brilliantly get reintroduced to an entirely new generation several decades later and inspire a new artist, much in part due to perfect timing; with The Sting, itself, responsible for influencing the look and style for Baby Boomers in the mid 1970s, as it helped cause a “ragtime revival”, in addition to many of the motion pictures that were released around its same timeframe which also featured similar turn-of-the-century periods including 1967’s Bonnie And Clyde, 1969’s Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (also with Redford and Newman), and 1974’s The Great Gatsby; originally scripted by Coppola himself and like Sundance and The Sting, starred Robert Redford once again.

            When Crawford’s parents walked in on him to see who was playing, however, and found their oldest son to be startled and shy, thinking he had done something wrong and deserved punishment, to his own shock, his father ordered, “Play that again son,” and so he did.

            They soon placed him in lessons in lieu of his sister, and to their own confusion, found Joshua to refrain from playing as often as he had done before the lessons ever started. So they allowed him to quit taking them altogether, and guessed that perhaps he would only play in private.

            Though it may seem baffling now, he would continue to play this song, and only a handful of others (most of them also scores from motion pictures), and would not write his first song until the age of 18; which is why so much interest has been given to the likes of Spielberg and what his connection to Crawford must’ve done to him; as 18 would mark the birthday that Crawford spent up at Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment office in Universal City.

            In the 1970s, it was becoming more and more popular for families to gut garages and turn them into bedrooms. The Crawford home was no exception. And in doing so, Crawford’s father, who had often placed one of the living-room’s stereo speakers up to an air vent in order to serve piped in music (ala Muzak) to his children’s bedrooms, installed a literal speaker into the ceiling of the now-converted garage (just like the ones in department stores), so that Joshua could hear an even better reception. (As his father was having quite a problem with his young son's devout love for music, who, by age two, often stacked dresser drawers up to the tallest cabinet in the house where the stereo sat, and had almost started a fire, due to shoving an 8-track cassette cartridge in the wrong way!)

            After his father started to climb the corporate ladder and the family relocated to a different house, however, the stereo-speaker-to-the-airvent maneuver had to be used once more. But it did whatever it did quite well. Serving all sorts of adult-contemporary artists into a now-larger house for all the children’s bedrooms. Crawford has said he went to bed hearing “the needle groove the record” at the age of only six and seven, listening to heartbreaking melodies like Barry Manilow’s Mandy, Elton John’s Your Song, Billy Joel’s She’s Always A Woman, McCartney’s Silly Love Songs, Bread’s Diary, America’s I Need You, Neil Diamond’s Hello, The Carpenter’s This Song’s For You, John Denver’s Annie’s Theme, Olivia Newton-John’s Sam, Gilbert O Sullivan’s Alone Again, Naturally, Lionel Richie’s Still, Earth Wind and Fire’s After The Love Has Gone, and Kenny Roger’s You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me Lucille. With many of these artists, being the groundbreaking ‘piano men’ that they’re still known for even today; allowing Crawford’s musical ears to study their keys in the dark, and with intense imagination. Often, if he awoke to the needle of the record-player having reached the end of the record with staticy blank-space echoing through his air-vent, he would get up to start the record over:

“I awoke the next morning to melodies that I’m most certain were aimed at reflecting heartbreak in adults, not children. But the melodies stayed with me for the rest of my life. And they were some of the best ever created. I’m honored to have grown up in the singer-songwriter-seventies. They don’t write songs that good anymore and with that much storyline that often takes a motion picture an entire 2 hours to tell. It takes a song 3 or 4 minutes. In my case, it’s mostly 5. I hope to continue their torch through my own art. That’s not to say I don’t love KISS, I do. But had my dad been the average psychedelic druggy baby-boomer in love with Zepplin and Clapton, I imagine I wouldn’t have written the kinds of melodies that I’ve become known for. Slow songs do stick with you more, perhaps because their pace forces you to clarify their lyrics. Most hard-rock bands make their biggest mint off their one or two rare power ballads; that is why. KISS did it with Beth, Aerosmith did it with Angel and Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing … even Zepplin did it with Stairway To Heaven and Clapton with Beautiful Tonight. Lovesongs carry longer torches because love is always being made, and lost. That’s life. It’s not always my life, but it does seem to be everybody else’s and I somehow seem to know that, without having experienced it much myself. Go figure.”

            These early years of Crawford’s life were, for the most part, cushioned with the suggestion of the his mother (a lover of the arts herself who had once attended a casting call to be in a movie with Paul Newman and got the part, only to have her mother mistakenly delay Newman’s call-back months later, after the film had already started shooting and a replacement had been found; some speculate it was the Katherine Ross role in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid that would popularize the song Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!) to place young Joshua in what is now somewhat of a lost activity for children, perhaps because of the lack of G-rated films over the years, as well as the invention of the VCR that only became popular in the early 1980s; “summer movie camp¾ a season-pass ticket (in which one would often get a hole punched through upon every attendance) that allowed children to see an entire festival of previously released family films throughout the summer, which often fed his young mind with the last group of the MGM musicals in their day like Fiddler On The Roof and Singing In The Rain, in addition to things like the original Rex Harrison version of Doctor Dolittle and Disney’s The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg and the original Escape to Witch Mountain and its sequel; ironically a story about two ostracized runaway orphaned kids who are trying to find their own identities; forshawdowing Signature's premise about the lost children of America's first escalated divorce-rate that the babyboomers caused.

            To know that a three-year-old was exposed to such a diverse amount of storytelling, all before ever entering kindergarten (as he was often left alone at the theater under his sister’s eye who was only three years older that he was), is quite phenomenal in the sense that it seems obvious where his self-reliance skills came from, and how they would form his character that would later require such skills, in order to survive the soon-to-be harsh realities of his own life.

            Though by all means, Roswell was still considered a rather small and unmapped town then in the late 1970s (even though its famous UFO crash had occurred in 1947, it would not bring national attention to the town until the 1990s, shortly after actor Robert Stack deemed it one of the world’s Unsolved Mysteries on his famous TV show), society still permitted such freedom for the youth at this time in American history, because massive kidnappings (that would later perplex and ad much paranoia for the entire country) had not yet started to occur yet, and by all means, September 11th of 2001 was years away from happening.

            It’s also intriguing to note, that due to the family’s lack of finances at this point in time, many of their nightly meals consisted of soup and of all things, popcorn ¾ because Crawford’s farming father knew it to be healthy and filling … yet very inexpensive. Naturally, this made the Crawford house a bit popular with the neighborhood children, who found their nightly menu rather delightful. And Crawford, himself, has stated that this only fueled his love for the movie theater that much more so, “because it smelled like home.”

            By the age of four, Crawford’s aunt (his father’s sister who could play the piano as well and would later end up partially raising Joshua) had taught the young boy another instrumental pop hit on the radio at the time, Music Box Dancer by Frank Mills, which was recorded the year of Crawford’s birth, but not released in the US until 1978 that like The Entertainer, historically shot to the exact same position on Billboard’s Hot 100 charts ( #3), and would later end up another common standard played on the country’s many ice-cream/snow-cone trucks from there one after. (One can only imagine, how Crawford might’ve been easily inspired to finally write his ultimate summer novel for latchkey children”, given that he must’ve grown up hearing the first two songs he had ever learned to play … popularized enough to where they were engraving themselves onto his brain every summer of his life, because of such trucks that played them ¾ whose goal, or course, was aimed at delivering cold refreshments to neighborhoods of children throughout the nation.) Thus, another song had been added to Crawford’s playlist … as had 1938’s Heart And Soul and Chopticks (written in 1877); two very common piano pieces that were taught to him by his mother.

            For the most part, at this point in time, the family was considered to be an embraceable one, and Crawford’s parents were enjoying a decent marriage. Soon, Crawford’s father traded back in that piano he had once rented for his daughter to take lessons on, and merely bought a better model to be permanently placed in the new household while again, desiring of his son to attempt lessons once more … which Joshua did, but failed at miserably; as his teachers would play the desired piece just once in order to demonstrate to him what could be accomplished after 20 or 30 lessons, but would grow angry with their student … when they could see that a one-time run-through demonstration, was all that he needed, and could play the song right away … all without looking ahead to read the notes. He has often joked that, “…they fired me several times. Or I’d quit. Whichever came first.”

            Kindergarten would reveal that he excelled in the arts and to his teacher’s surprise, would often befriend only those that didn’t raise their hands; feeling that they needed help more than others. Crawford’s mother soon considered the fact that her son, indeed, might be gifted. And after his father noticed that he could keep rhythm quite well as a toddler, hopping along to the many disco songs of the era in the back seat of his father’s car while in complete synchronization with the beat of the song, his mother later placed him in what was then called ‘modern dance’ (or modern jazz) class which he entered by time he had reached the first grade; as he was extremely taller than most of his peers. Though the young boy was horrified to know that he was the only boy in an entire class full of girls (some of which who went to his same school and initially made fun of him when seeing him at school), it was soon discovered that Crawford could not only dance, but dance so well, that he was coupling with the many girls who eventually embraced his many talents and exposed him to a mass dose of the opposite sex, long before his teenage years or even puberty; as allegedly, his first desired ‘sleep-over’ as a child, was in kindergarten … with a girl … which after much deliberation between Crawford’s mother and the girl’s mother, eventually came to pass:
“I liked it because after a few weeks, the girls finally quit making fun of you and start to ask you about all kinds of things that they never ask at school. I really learned to appreciate women after that, probably a little quicker than I should’ve. And I learned early on what kind of women I was attracted to; THOSE kind; as they are more articulate and cultured and I can relate to them easier. One also has to remember that rock’n’roll was outlawed in my family, so hearing Donna Summer's Bad Girls” in dance-class at the age of seven, really broadened my horizons, to say the very least. Looking back, it’s no wonder that by the 3rd grade, that I was contemplating marrying my childhood sweet-heart. But my parents’ divorce kinda caused OUR divorce as well.”  

            These early social developments with the opposite sex, obviously would later compel the mature nature of his many child characters in his novels. After all, the book’s tagline is “for the kid in every adult, and the adult in every kid.” And his dancing skills would later lend credibility to his fondness for Thriller, which would soon be released, as would the birth of Mtv that promoted the album enormously for his generation. Many of the children dance throughout the novel with each other in their bedrooms, at the local roller rink named Xanadu, and even in an all-black church located in their back alley that’s aptly named The Brothers-uh-Soul-Church!

            By the time 2nd grade came around, his enthusiasm for life and the arts had started to grow tired however, as his homelife was becoming more and more complex, with a hidden revelation that the marriage of his parents, was indeed suffering … badly. Crawford’s father had now become not only a successful realtor, but one that was now working with the real-estate/oil-tycoon whose brother’s art-deco monument house, had graced the backyard pastures of the alfalfa farms he had once farmed as a young boy living next to it; Robert O. Anderson. And for whatever the reason, nightly arguments between the parents would grow so heated, that Crawford’s mother often had to walk away from them in order to cool off. Joshua, feeling quite confused on the matter and a bit worried for his mother when she’d walk off into the night alone, started to accommodate her on the walks, and perhaps this is where he developed his nocturnal tendencies.

            Often, the boy and his mother would return home by the midnight hour, and sometimes even later (and sometimes on a school night); with a only a few hours left until school started the following morning. A popular movie at the time, The Jazz Singer, with singer-songwriter Neil Diamond (an initial bomb in theaters, but over time, has become something of a cult film), became something of a profound experience for young Crawford, as he and his mother would see this move often, sometimes staying through two and three viewings. The story, about a Jewish singer-songwriter cantor who begins his life in the church, then leaves it for fame in Hollywood, only to leave his wife (and even his mistress) in return, somehow struck a chord with his mother. As he remembers her crying endlessly with each viewing by the time the credits rolled. Diamond’s father in the film, portrayed by Sir Laurence Olivier, soon ostracizes his son for wanting to achieve his dreams of speaking to people with his music, and the film ends with Diamond running off from his mistress-manager, enduring a mental breakdown, writing a love song, then returning to find that his mistress has given birth to their son … which he embraces with hopes to be a better father than that of his own. Released in 1980, its soundtrack would go on to sell millions, and Diamond’s song, Love On The Rocks, which seemed to amplify and sum up the marriage of Crawford’s parents at the time, ended up in Signature Place. Diamond’s voice and sense of torch-song melody, would also heavily inspire Crawford’s music and vocal style of often singing so close to the microphone, that it can sometimes seem that the singer is more authentic in what he’s singing about, than perhaps intended; very raw, and with an up-close-and-personal intimacy that Crawford, a shy middle kid, perhaps wasn't always able to express outside his music. Aiding a singer-songwriter very well, particularly one such as Crawford, who plays the piano and often sings about love and its heartaches. Many of the entertainer’s recordings, contain somber “breaths” interspersed throughout their arrangements; something that has become somewhat of a trademark for him, though he has remarked in the past that the breaths were often just him trying to keep from developing knots in his throat, due to the all-too-real sentimental nature of the lyrics and/or melodies that often leave him quite emotional by the song’s ending. The 3 songs that make up “the most passed around demo in Hollywood” (the Play Me recordings), interestingly enough, are all torch songs of love gone sour; as are most of the songs that make up what has been called “the $49 demo” (also known as BOI; “Blood On Inspiration”); a series of underground bootlegs of pre-existing songs that could’ve easily been hits, but weren’t (for whatever reason), which Crawford (due to a lack of finances) looped his voice into, by means of an alleged forty-nine-dollar DVD/karaoke-CD-player around the turn of the 21st century, in order to suffice his fans, who have been patiently waiting for years for a full album of Crawford’s originals that remain unrecorded (allegedly numbering in the hundreds); something in which he thought he would be able to deliver years ago, before the music industry kept rejecting his work … let alone, his novels. Because a 'lisp-screen' (a sock-like device that is often placed directly in front of a performer's microphone in order to prevent loud 'S'-sounds from occurring during the recording) was allegedly not used when recording this $49 Demo, sometimes the literal opening and closing of Crawford's mouth can even be heard, which can thus add all the more realism to the song itself. (Karen Carpenter was known to be a 'soft' singer as well, which often required the mic to be closer to her ... that in return, left an imprint of her rawness on the final recording with much more clarity than most of her predecessors, doing justice to her unique sound perhaps even unintendedly.)  

            Though Crawford’s father would soon leave the house and both parents would later divorce within months, one remarkable milestone that would affect Joshua’s destiny, did indeed occur:

            In the summer of 1982, a little film about an alien, who befriends a “middle-kid” boy whose father has abandoned the family, was released to theaters and became, for a while, the highest grossing film of all time; E.T. The Extra Terrestrial … Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece that although it was originally marketed as a science-fiction fantasy film with cutting edge special effects (and a loose sequel to Close Encounters), years later, it would later be revealed by Spielberg, that the film had truly been about the effect that his parent’s own divorce had on him, causing him to imaginate a fictious friend in order to cope with it; something Crawford seemed to have been able to put together, long before it was ever well known to the mainstream world. (The way in which the boy and the alien first meet, is by the boy tossing a baseball into a shed, and the alien tosses it back; something a father and son would do.)

            So taken the young seven-year old was by the film, that by the time its credits rolled, he was in tears with shock that that character Elliott … had not gotten on the spaceship with the alien himself, whom had saved the boy’s life from the sadness of his parent’s divorce.

            Viewed by the entire Crawford family, it was to be the last film the family would ever see together. And by the time young Joshua exited the theater, he asked of his father, “who made this?”, having already been fascinated with directing motion pictures. Once his father walked over to the film's poster, the answer was merely, “Steven Spielberg.”

It was then, that Crawford decided that Spielberg would be the one whom he aspired to go to work for.

His father left the house soon after the release of the film. And a divorce soon followed.

            Fearing that he might end up like Elliott, (without a dad), when a bitter custody battle began, he decided to go live with his father, who by this time, had started his own oil and gas company in the new thriving oil boom of one of America’s most prospering cities at the time; Midland, Texas. His mother, unable to afford the rent on the house, saw it, and its items (including most of the children’s childhood belongings) be auctioned off at a local estate sale. One thing, however, she did manage to hang on to; the piano; in which she stored at her mother’s so that she could attempt to go back to school in Dallas, and get a degree in spiritual ministry. Though he wouldn’t retrieve the piano until his late teens, after he had already moved out of his father’s house, it remains the only memoir of Crawford’s childhood that wasn’t auctioned off.
(See cover photo on the HOME PAGE of this website.)

            Both parents would later remarry, but for a short time, the family (which now consisted of four; as both Crawford’s sister and brother had also decided to join their father in Texas), took up residency at a freshly built condominium complex at the time, simply entitled, Signature Place. Free of the many parental arguments that had once dominated the children’s lives, this was considered a liberating time for Joshua, as his father had not only gained personal wealth which had afforded him to have the then-new-invention of cable television, but also a brand-new little television network that in its infancy, no one in the entertainment industry thought would have much affect; Mtv.

            The conominium complex, itself, was of key interest to the now nine year old, who noticed that nearly everyone on the block … was also divorced. Yet most of the neighbors, consisted of freshly divorced mothers, not fathers. And Crawford found that the neighborhood children, often lived with these mothers, and saw their fathers very little, if at all. He felt odd having left his mother back in Roswell, and often felt out of place in explaining this to fellow neighborhood kids; the basis of his two leading characters, years later, in the book (Chase and Toph Stevens); as the characters each lose their mothers to a mysterious death on the very first page of the opening novel.

            Yet though the boy was living a rather unusual and odd life under his father, Schwarzenegger’s Conan movies and He-Man were big in pop culture during this time, and his summer days of 1984 amongst all the other neighborhood boys and girls, would often consist of finding old abandoned paint-bucket lids that had once been used to paint the complex, in order to us them as armoring battle-shields in fictitious wars with each other, as well as handmade wooden swords, made of out of stakes that had marked off the small area of undeveloped land which was located behind the complex. (This area, known in the novel as “the force field”, an obvious nod to Star Wars, has now been fully developed and is no longer vacant.)

            Crawford’s father also bought a baby-grand piano for the living room (something the neighborhood would often remember about the family), in which Joshua (who had begun to master chords at this point) often started to put his father to sleep with … instead of the other way around. And occasionally, he would play it for a few other kids who enjoyed his motion picture melodies. Sometime even playing in the local Midland Park Mall, where his aunt’s husband once sold the instruments, helping to entice local shoppers who would witness the young boy playing away, then would walk in the store because so

            Michael Jackson’s 14-minute Thriller music video would premiere on Mtv this same summer (often airing 10 times a day), altering the course of the music industry, making Mtv a required powerful medium of expression and style in households throughout America, and making a pop culture icon out of Jackson himself, whose dance moves and moonwalking had impacted a new generation, just as the Beatles and Elvis had done for the BabyBoomers. Today, an artist is considered a rock star if they can sell merely a few million copies of their album. To date, Thriller has sold 100 million. This should give one an estimate of the kind of magnitude and power Jackson’s music and pioneering high-production music videos had. He was everywhere. Dolls, magazine covers, adhesive stickers, narrating E.T.’s “read-along” storybook in which he won a Grammy for, Pepsi commercials (his hair caught fire while shooting the commercial which caused an outcry of even more fans), touring with his brothers, dating Brooke Shields (who had her own doll as well), all by the age of only 25; and often wearing sunglasses. Only giving the world a glimpse at his eyes here and there, leading to even more hysteria. (Audiences would often scream when he reached for his shades to barely remove them.) Even his outfits (which were only visible for merely the few minutes that his music videos lasted) sold themselves to millions of consumers. As did glitter socks and glitter gloves; his other fashion accessory that made men and women want to dance their hearts out. Mtv could no longer boycott black musicians from its playlist as it had once done. After Billie Jean aired in the early part of 1983 (the first video from Thriller), the doors opened up for Prince, Ray Parker Jr., James Ingram (who cowrote the song P.Y.T. for Thriller), DeBarge, and baby sister Janet. And radio finally started to play blacks … along with whites; as seen in every pair of Vans shoes in America. Jackson even released a “making of Thriller” home-video that was the first of its kind to deliver a commentary on the making of a motion picture; and only a 14-minute one at that. It sold millions; the first VHS video to do so next to Jane Fonda’s Workout which had launched the aerobics craze for health clubs across the nation. Opening up the doors for the movie-rental world along the way. President Reagan was soon inviting Jackson to the White House. Thriller was felt everywhere. Eddie Murphy often mimicked Jackson on Saturday Night Live; making Jackson (and Murphy!) even more famous. Was Jackson really living with animals and wanting to start a zoo? Was he really buying the bones of the so-called “elephant man” and sleeping in an oxygen-chamber to preserve his youth? Was Spielberg really considering him to play an updated version of Peter Pan? Had he really been abused by his parents growing up in the public’s eye as a child singer? Could he ever get a burger again and not be swamped by the media? The world, at the time, wanted to know. He, himself, had said it best in the most famous line from the Thriller music video that director John Landis knew would get a perfect one-liner laugh:
“I’m not like other guys.”

            Crawford was even now allowed to buy 45 rpm rock records, thanks much in part to his father’s new music-loving girlfriend … who had broken down the rock barriers that his parents had once established:

            “I saved every penny I had, every dollar I earned, every bit of lunch-money I had stashed away all year, so that I could blow it all at Kmart on 45s in the summer of 1984; the jewels of my life that I would later use as the soundtrack to an epic in which I knew not that I would one day write. I don’t quite know how, but I ended up with like $70 bucks. And with 45s only costing a buck-fifty in those days, you can imagine at how many songs I was able to buy. The first cassette-tape I ever made, I sold for $10 at the Signature Place pool to a woman who was needing music to exercise to. Looking back, I guess there was something there with me and the way I was able to learn how to reach people with music. I just didn’t know I’d ever write the music myself. I truly thought I would work for Spielberg and end up on a sitcom playing someone’s son in my spare time someday. Playing the piano, was just an end to my day. A hobby. Until I visited Spielberg’s office itself, and came back a singer-songwriter. I still don’t quite understand it. I don’t think Spielberg’s office does either.”

            Much to a reader’s delight of a novelesque setting that would years later, churn itself into ‘print’, towering over the entire Signature Place complex, was a huge white watertower; one of four main big ones that are dispersed throughout the city. (It is mentioned in the book, that Midland's tap-water is some of the dirtiest around, with the majority of the townsfolk, numbering about 100,000 in population, requiring bottled water in order to sustain themselves; the tower, itself, becoming a compelling character in the process since it seems to almost touch Heaven; especially since there aren’t many trees in the city.) And the tower can be seen at its most glorious, when one of the complex’s tenants are on their 2nd story; as each of these upstairs bedrooms lead out to a small ‘flat-top’ section of roof, which often enabled the young Crawford to sit ‘up on the roof’ in the dark of night, gazing upon the tower under the moon and stars, in addition to communicating with the other neighborhood kids on their rooftops (as one set of condos faces another set; creating a cul-de-sac in between the two blocks) who would often use ‘Morris code’ with flashlights, long after their parents assumed they were already in bed. (In the book, they use professional law-enforcement Walkie-Talkies that have been handed down to one of the neighborhood boys by his father, with these walkie-talkies carrying an extraordinary frequency range, sometimes getting them into trouble with the law itself, eventually causing them to develop alias nicknames in order to hide their true identity and prevent them from getting caught using such a frequency. At one point in the novel, the talkies are even put to an even greater use during a segment of the story where one of the neighborhood girls is being attacked by a man, and the boy, who is witnessing this from his upstairs window, cleverly uses his walkie-talkie to get in touch with the police a lot faster than he perhaps could’ve, had he dialed 911.)

            But Crawford’s father was gaining more success in the thriving field of west-Texas oil & gas which birthed Clayton Williams (whom his father would later work with) and two U.S. Presidents, and soon found his condo to be too small. So in the fall of 1984, the Crawfords left the condo (coincidentally the only one in the entire complex that has a yard and a tree in its backyard which still stands, in which Crawford’s father evidently planted for his kids upon his arrival), and they moved into a bigger house in a different area of town; devastating young Joshua for a while, as he had finally found assimilation with his peers; other children of divorce. And hated to leave their presence; leaving a bittersweet ending to his days of Thriller and imaginary gang wars behind. (He and the rest of the Signature kids reportedly also had a lemonade stand, which would end up in the novel as a cigarette-stand entitled, Cigarette Place; a clever gimmick the children devise once they discover that they desperately need more money to buy T-shirts at the mall, and selling lemonade just doesn’t seem to be getting the job done. They eventually gross several hundred dollars! As these were the last of the days when cigarettes didn’t have an age bracket on them and could often be purchased by children on behalf of their smoking parents!)

            Though the move would leave a tremendous amount of melancholy in the young entertainer (so much so that he would later devote 600 pages to it, beginning 10 years later), life went on. And as Crawford’s father found more success, Crawford found himself more alone with the piano. Again, his father enrolled him in lessons. And again, he couldn’t conform to them. Although he was given his first keyboard at the age of 12; an age in which he was shockingly allowed to drive he and his birthday-party friends to the local plaza club for hamburgers … which this might’ve inspired later scenes in the Signature Place novel that reveal two pre-teens, sneaking out for a few hours in one of their grandmother’s Porches, to go to the nearby Sonic and tour the city’s lit-up skyscrapers; as Midland, though far from being a Manhattan, is known as “the tall city” all over west-Texas for its ample use of such buildings. And because of the town’s oil, folks often treated two TV shows that were hugely popular at the time, Dallas and Dynasty, like the Bible itself.)

            On several occasions, he would also take this keyboard to school, to play for his friends at recess … though he was far from writing his first song, and never entered a single talent competition, despite many of his schoolmates feeling he should’ve:

“The elementary school I was attending was very small at the time, and many grades were combined together. Every year, only the high-school students would win the talent contest. I knew I didn’t stand a chance. So I simply played Van Halen’s Jump, or Harold Faltermeyer’s Axel F. Theme from the Beverly Hills Cop movies, or Europe’s The Final Countdown for the billionth time … and then moved on to my studies and Garbage Pail Kids. It was fun. I had forgotten that I ever played in public like that until a few old schoolmates dug me up later in life and reminded me. Considering what I was going through in my homelife at the time, it’s amazing I ever had such guts to take a keyboard to school at the age of 12 and play for twelve entire grades in the gym or the football field. Such resilience the youth does indeed have, all because they haven’t had the rejection of the world just yet, and know not of its critical judgments. They’re in it for fun. Never knowing that they’ll one day need to somehow find a way to make a living off whatever they’re good at. It’s when they start to do that, that they, and their talent, often start to go into reclusion in fear of being shot down again.”

            What Crawford isn’t telling, is that he also exercised his dancing skills with other children his age at recess, and even amongst his neighborhood, if the not the entire city’s in general. At the age of nine, he had entered a breakdance contest with his sister in front of the entire old Dellwood mall in Midland (now a ghostmall), and while doing such moves as “the spider,” “the back-spin”, “the centipede”, “the wave”, and of course “the moonwalk”, he had nearly won, but lost the title to his five year old baby brother at the last minute, whom Crawford had taught dance moves to during the weekends:

“I made him split the winning funds with my sister and I. Afterall, we were the ones who had taught him, and he had only entered the contest on the suggestion of my father at the last minute, which impressed the crowd with a mere few seconds of dancing. Having practiced for several months, needless to say, my sister and I were not happy campers. To our benefit, he was too young to know how much money he’d won. And was forced to pay up gladly. Fifty dollars divided by three was a lot for a kid at the time. I naturally blew it on records and Whipper-Snappers at Spencer’s. The 1980s. Such happy-go-lucky days. Where every day was like Halloween, yet it was socially and culturally acceptable. Hairstyles, odd mixtures of clothing, everyone was cutting off their sweatshirts after seeing Flashdance and Footloose, ambiguous musicians like Boy George and Annie Lennox were loved by toddlers who had posters of them on their walls … political incorrectness, all while Reagan and his wife, two actors, were trying to instill “just say no” to drugs into everyone … yet cocaine was more affordable than ever … the new PG-13 rating blurred the lines of the R-rating even further … Robocop, Freddy Kruger, and Rambo, three very R-rated films about killing, all had action figures … video-game arcades were considered the new playgrounds for American children that would never perish (boy were we wrong, NOW you play them from your LIVINGROOM!) … and the richest man in America was portrayed as a black doctor, of all things, who had everything in the world that his heart could desire (including plenty of spare time for his many kids!) in the form of Bill Cosby each Thursday night, followed by the youngest American highschooler to have ever carried a briefcase and contemplated the success of the American dream, Michael J. Fox’s Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. Saturday-morning cartoons still existed … Everyone had a soundtrack for a different day due to Mtv playing whatever video it could get its hands on until it later wouldn’t even air videos anymore … it all seems like another world, not just a decade that’s a couple of decades old. How far we’ve come, and how far we haven’t. I think back then, we expected to have gone further than we now have. Reaganomics made everyone hopeful. Michael Jackson still looked like Michael Jackson. And Madonna was inspiring the slut-look into seven year old girls. Yet, somehow, it all worked out just fine and dandy for a while, and seemed just as innocent as Marry Poppins. What a pair of sunglasses the decade, indeed, was. Even Tom Cruise had unknowingly caused Ray Bans to become household names due to Risky Business; the story of how an average highschooler turns his house into a capitalistic brothel, once his parents leave for a trip.”

            Though the footage for this “break-dance-contest” event was later lost, soon after the event took place (summer, 1984), the event itself, in addition to his dancing at school and teaching others how to moonwalk while dressed in his back and white checkered Vans shoes (made popular by actor Sean Penn at the time, and his brief wearing of them in 1982’s Fast Times At Ridgemont High, somewhat of a bible for the ThrillerBaby generation in addition to The Outsiders), remain early examples of Crawford’s approach to uniting ethnic groups, considering this was early-1980s Texas Confederate territory, and that Crawford, a man who had been raised amongst Hispanics during his days of Roswell, had often found Midland’s racial dividing lines with its own civilians, quite unnecessary and irrelevant. Signature Place’s inside introduction-page simply states the following: 

An oasis for the major in every minor, and the minority in ever majority.
Red and yellow … back and white … depending on your blueprints.

Thus the metaphorical slogan can have several meanings, including the blueprints themselves, which not only uniquely represent the ‘map’ of the book’s many condos, but the literal metaphorical map of all the children’s many destinies … and whether or not they will ever be able to rise above the limitations that their own set of parents are continually carving out for them; the normalization of single parenting, let alone, 
                                                                    recreational drug-use.

            One of the more well-known bits of humorous dialog that is often used by readers to sum up the book’s nine-year character (who finds the lack of African Americans in his new Texas surrounding somewhat baffling), is a mere simple question that the young boy has for his fellow older schoolmate, who eventually recruits the boy into the neighborhood’s secret gang of rejects of society (known as The Warriors, taken from the 1979 cult film of the same title), once he sees that the boy is very intelligent for his age and could perhaps contribute to the gang’s guerrilla-warfare with the rest of the town’s bullying pre-teen thugs who have a gang of their own (The Ozzys, named after Mr. Osbourne himself):

Where are all the brothers in this town? Back home, I was the middle of an Oreo cookie. Here, I fell like a Nilla Wafer!”

(Each of the gangs have their own unique graffiti tag ¾ which is on the cover of the book ¾ that they often spray paint on each other's territories in order to prove their ownership of it ... until one of the gangs goes a bit too far ... and vandalizes the toy store in which the boy's father works for. Leading to a mind-blowing and horrific morality tale in which the two gangs approach each other in the book's final climatic face-off of an ending. One in which most definitely is likely to teach children ... and their parents ... a brutal lesson.)

            At the age of fourteen, however, Crawford’s dancing would suddenly stop, and his life would be forever changed by an unknown illness that would nearly rob life from him. Sending shockwaves throughout the world of cardiology and the medical industry, where they would ultimately reach Spielberg himself.

( Joshua Crawford’s biography continues by clicking on  HIS  TEENS )