You know who’s had a worse 2011 than Charlie Sheen? Every last person in Detroit. Not that there are many of them now. In March, its population officially sank to the lowest point in century. Vandalism and violence, if you believe the newspapers, are doing the inverse. Meanwhile, people all around the world look at photos of a midcentury boomtown’s millennial bust–you’ve seen them, too, these modern ruins—and say “wow.” Or, “shit, dude, come check this out.”
So maybe Sheen should have picked another place to live-air his grievances. Like Miami.
Still, however ill-advisedly, the twenty-city “standup” tour opened in Detroit’s Fox Theatre and nearly 5,000 people bought seats. Perspective: on the same night, Saturday night, only four times that many went to the last-ever-ever-ever-for-real-this-time LCD Soundsystem show at MSG. I’m not aces at math, but it seems like a far huger percentage of urban Americans are Charlie Sheen fans than James Murphy fans—losing your mind is so much more entertaining than losing your edge—and that by itself is enough to make you wanna to turn on the oven and wait.
But do wait a little longer. Turns out that Sheen, with characteristic humility, had titled his tour “My Violent Torpedo of Truth: Defeat is Not an Option.” Then he got up, strapped himself to the end of the torpedo, and launched himself into oblivion. It was, according to every report, pure comedy suicide. Maybe the guy doesn’t consider suicide “defeat,” and maybe, for that Goethean sentiment, he could be applauded.
For that, and shit else. Sheen’s reported fails include:
- Cracking a crack joke. Like, the drug. I’m not sure where the best place is to joke about crack, but I’m going to go ahead and say it’s not Detroit.
- Complaining. “They took my awesome children. They took my sometimes groovy job. They tried to take my brain and my heart and my titanium spine,” he said, according to this one site. Sheen, these people ain’t never had titanium spines. Or six-digit salaries. Be quiet. (2.1 This happened in front of a sign reading “The Warlock States of Sheen.”)
- Promising to deliver Snoop Dogg, then bringing up someone named “Simon Rex.”
- Making two girls—er, “goddesses”—kiss on stage. What’s this, the MTV Movie Awards? In 2003?
- When the audience began to boo and hiss, retorting with “I already got your money.” Oh. No. You didn’t.
Charlie Sheen: not a “standup” guy, so much. Hopefully you already knew that. More hopefully still, the majority might be catching up to you.
I guess it took Detroit, which knows a thing or two about violence, to realize it’s not the “truth,” or “funny.” Those people heckled the shit out of Sheen. Or they left. After seventy minutes of not #winning, the tiger-blooded Vatican assassin went for “a break” and never came back. One small defeat for Sheen, one large victory for non-woman-beating mankind.
The next night, Sheen went to (relatively) prosperous, urbane Chicago. He received, they say, a big ovation. What the fuck, Chicago. And suddenly Detroit, a place where things can only get better cause they couldn’t possibly get worse, a place with rad public art and really cheap art-deco lofts and 5,000 people who hate Charlie Sheen just as much as everybody should, is sounding like the most optimistic place in America. Road trip, anyone?