Archive for the ‘Best of 2011’ Category

It’s the end of the year so let’s look back at some of the best moments in The Suite (and give Stone a break). This was originally published on April 12. Let’s be honest, 2011 was the Year of Sheen.

In embarking on his Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option Tour on top of whatever you would call Sheen’s Korner, his Twitter feed, and all the bizarre antics over the past couple months, Charlie Sheen has fully embraced his reputation as America’s favorite nutcase. As sad as his fall from grace was, it has been the car crash that everyone is slowing down to watch.

It’s been a spectacle for sure. Entertaining, wild, crazy, funny. In a society where everything is so orderly and predictable, you never know what you’re going to get from Charlie and that’s what makes it interesting. One day, he’s chilling with Bree Olson and the other chick at the Sober Valley Lodge and the next day he’s storming the stage of Jimmy Kimmel Livewith Mark Cuban.Charlie is honest and unapologetic and that makes him endearing. He’s exposing his entire being to us, flaws and all. He’s just being himself and he’s a cool dude. Charlie’s the guy that lives next to you freshman year, drinks too much, hooks up with tons of chicks, and somehow gets an A. You could try all your life to be this guy but you never will. You might not want to be him but if you see him at a bar, you’d buy him a shot.

But we liked him because he was just living his life. Somewhere along the line, Charlie realized he could make more money and attain greater fame by sidestepping the media and making his own star. If that’s what people wanted, he could give it to them. Little by little, it became clear. The catchphrases, the appearances, the merchandise. He decided to stop being Charlie Sheen and instead started playing Charlie Sheen.

The only problem is that Charlie’s likeability is based upon his genuine insanity. Insanity is random. It’s not something you can stream on the Internet. It’s no surprise that the longer the act goes on, the more people are booing him off the stage like they did this weekend at Radio City Music Hall. An insane person wouldn’t market himself (or at least do it successfully). We like Charlie as the guy who might run on the court during a Lakers game, snort a line, and then bang Alexis Texas and Tori Black, not the guy that uses hashtags and sells T-shirts. At least Jack Nicholson would be amused.

On an episode of The Simpsons, Bart literally stumbles into superstardom after dropping the line “I didn’t do it” after ruining a sketch on Krusty the Clown’s show. The crowd ate it up and soon Bart was “I Didn’t Do It” Boy, breaking Ming vases and cracking his catchphrase. His popularity grew as audiences awaited calamity, bought “I Didn’t Do It” Boy CD’s (featuring MC Hammer), and watched him strut his stuff on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. Heck, even Mayor “Diamond” Joe Quimby was stealing his phrase. Bart was dubious of the affection but soon decided he would do his absolute best give the people what they want. Of course, when he did so, they weren’t entertained anymore.

 The “I Didn’t Do It” Boy saga serves as a precautionary tale for Charlie. He may be reaping the benefits from what he thinks the audience wants, but he will find that it is something else entirely. By serving us all Charlie Sheen on his own terms, he is depriving us all from what we really want: that original lovable train wreck that smoked so much coke that he got a hernia.

We don’t want the canned catch phrases and product placement. That’s why he’s getting such negative reactions at his shows. My mom always told me to be myself. Charlie needs to follow that advice. Be yourself, not a caricature of yourself. Either that, or in 10 years we’re going to be talking about “Winning” Dude.

2011 Rainman Suite Man of the Year: Vin Diesel

Posted: December 31, 2011 by Keith Stone in Best of 2011, Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel isn’t squinting because of his limited mental capacity. It’s just impossible not to squint when your 2011 was so bright. The thing I like about Vin is that he gives the people what they want. OK, he probably just needed the money because his film career fizzled out but rejoining the Fast and Furious franchise was such a genius move. It all crescendoed in 2011 with Fast Five. His love affair with the Brazilian cop was like The Notebook on HGH (not that I’m accusing) and the scene where he and the Rock finally joined forces has to make Vin the odds on favorite for the Best Actor Oscar.

Besides that, Mr. Diesel has been relatively quiet in 2011 but don’t worry, there’s a good reason. He’s busy at work producing F&F Parts 6 and 7. Vin explained, “With the success of this last one, and the inclusion of so many characters, and the broadening of scope, when we were sitting down to figure out what would fit into the real estate of number six, we didn’t have enough space.” That’s right. He’s probably casting for extras as we speak. When I said Vin gives the people what they want, I wasn’t lying. I want more cars, I want more romance, and most of all, I want more Vin Diesel monologues.

When Vin talked about the barbeques his father used to have, I started sobbing so uncontrollably I had to leave the theater. True story. It doesn’t matter that he sounds like a stroke victim. That’s part of his character and it’s the nuanced performance he brings to every fascet of life that makes Vincent Diesel our Man of the Year.

Best of 2011: Las Vegas Running Diary Day 1

Posted: December 30, 2011 by Keith Stone in Best of 2011, running diary, Vega$

It’s the end of the year so let’s look back at some of the best moments in The Suite (and give Stone a break). This was originally published on January 11. I’m still recovering from this weekend.

THURSDAY

12:30 PM-I arrive at JFK and BoozySleazy sends me a text to meet him at the bar.  No surprise.  I get there and he and Kanye are finishing up some fries.  BoozySleazy is two Coronas and a shot of rum in and been there maybe 20 minutes.  He’s earned his name for a reason.
1:15-BoozySleazy and I have seats together on the plane.  I let him have the window so he can have a good view of the Strip as we land since it’s his first time in Las Vegas.  I ask him if he’s going to sleep on the flight.  He tells me he never sleeps on planes.
1:18-BoozySleazy is asleep.

2:30-I brought a pack of cards with me to practice blackjack on the plane.  Whenever I gamble, it takes me a while to get heated up so I figure I’ll get that out of the way.  The now-awake BoozySleazy and I go through a couple of hands when the guy on my right says, “You should have hit that one.”  I look over and it’s Jon Favreau.  I’m going to Las Vegas and I’m sitting next to Jon Favreau!  Who’s the big winner?  KEITHY’S THE BIG WINNER!!!!!!

2:35-I ask Favs if he wants to join our game.  He says he’s fine watching.  He’s actually really good and teaching us little tricks to remember when to stay or hit.  BoozySleazy and I are on fire.  But something’s not quite right…
2:45-I notice that Favs’s eyes and voice are just a little off.  It’s not him.  Bummer.  Still, I take it as a good omen that the guy sitting next to us on the plane looks like him.  Plus he’s giving us killer tips.
7:15-Fake Favs turns out to be a lawyer heading to Vegas for business.  We invite him out with us but he says he’s too old.  He tells us he knows we’re going to have a great time.
7:30-We land and I can feel the adrenaline.  The entire plane is suddenly alive.  Everyone is looking out the windows and I’m ready to jump out of the plane Steven Slater-style.  The Luxor beckons me.  It’s like seeing a beautiful girl for the first time in a while.  It’s good to see her again, but sometimes she can be a bitch.
7:45-The McCarran Airport taxi line is long but moves fairly quickly.  Plus there’s one added bonus.  There’s a hot blonde girl behind us and every time we loop around, I get to check her out again…
7:49-and again…
7:53-and again…
8:00-Our cab is waiting for us in spot #15.  I hope it’s the last 15 I see all weekend.  The driver is a guy from Minnesota who moved out here to become a poker dealer but couldn’t find work.  He was apparently getting career advice from Conan O’Brien.  At least he doesn’t have to live in Minnesota anymore.
8:15-We arrive at the gorgeous new Planet Hollywood Westgate.  As we enter Room 3918 (check out what the digits add up to), my mouth is agape.  It’s a suite with two bedrooms, a Jacuzzi, a kitchen, a huge living room, and an unbelievable view of Las Vegas.  And the coup de grace is a 15-foot tall projection screen that descends from the ceiling to watch TV on.  I couldn’t be more blown away if Sasha Grey was involved.
8:20-The crew is almost all in Vegas.  Fugitive, Smooth, and TylerDurden are already here and we’re just waiting for Fela.  The suite is surreal.  I check out each room at least four times trying to process everything.   Everyone is smiling and giddy.  We haven’t even begun to drink yet.
8:30-Dinnertime.  We decide to head to P.F. Chang’s.  There’s a 30 minute wait.  Next!  There’s a Mexican restaurant in our hotel called Yolos and we go there.  We get a round of margaritas and toast to a grenade- and landmine-free trip.  Yay for alcohol!
8:45-The bad news is that the margaritas have the potency of Juicy Juice.  The good news is that the guacamole is delicious.  I decide to get to know some of the crew members I don’t know so well.  I ask TylerDurden what he does.  He says he can’t explain it.  Hmmmmmmmm.
9:15-Despite the fact that the waiter took forever to take our order, our tacos are great and we head out into the Las Vegas night.  I’m still curious so I ask somebody if they know what TylerDurden does for a living.  “He owns like four websites in Argentina” is what I am told.  Well then.
9:30-We head south on the Strip looking for a Walgreens to buy sunscreen and mixers.  I decide that’s a great name for a band.  I get a giant 1-liter container of Gatorade for hydration puposes.  Electrolytes.
9:45-I drink about three-quarters of the Gatorade on the way back to the hotel.  Way too quickly.  My stomach is already full and it’s not mixing well with the Mexican food.  Yikes.
10:00-Let the drinking commence!  I decide to only drink vodka on this trip because bad things always happen when you mix.  It’s like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters.  I’m overly excited and my first vodka/Red Bull has wayyyyyyyyy too much vodka in it.  It’s not playing nicely with the Gatorade.  But hey, why don’t I drink a little and then top it off it with some more Red Bull?  That’s a plan.

10:15-I’m on my second VRB.  I drink a little and then top it off with more Red Bull.  The drunker I get the less my stomach hurts.  I look down and my hand is banging against the table.  I feel like Sam Kinison circa 1984.

10:30-The screen comes down from the heavens and we start watching music videos on it.  The sound system is pulsating.  Every beat makes my brain want to explode and I wonder how this is legal in a non-club setting.  I feel like I’m a gangster rap video.  A superlame one but still.  Like Ja Rule or something.
10:45-Third VRB.  Andtonight’sgonnabeagoodnightyeahtonight’sgonnabeagoodgoodnight!
11:00-LET’S WALK DOWN THE STRIP!!!!  Some girls we know from back home join us and we walk north.  We go into our first casino: Bally’s.  I know, I know, but it was the first one we saw.  The lights and sounds envelop us.  I am so amped and everyone else is too.  We all throw $10 on roulette.  It’s our first bet of the trip and it could set the tone for the rest of it.  I bet black and I feel the rush.  Everyone else bets red.  I win, jerks.
11:45-Underrated thing about Las Vegas is being able to drink on the Strip.  It’s like a giant outdoor bar.  I switch over to vodka/cranberry so my heart doesn’t explode.

12:15AM-There’s an outdoor casino at the Harrah’s playing classic rock.  The girls stop to listen to the music.  You know what that means: it’s time for Keith to play some blackjack!  There’s only a few things that come close to matching the majesty of day drinking, and outdoor gambling is one of them.  I think back to what my mentor, Fake Favs, taught me and I’m inspired.  All the dealers are wearing classic rock gear.  I settle on one with a Def Leppard t-shirt.  I throw down $100.  I’m down a little at first but then they start playing “Livin’ on a Prayer.”  Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora will me to victory.  With all the Red Bull coursing through my body and money on the line, I can barely sit still.  I’m singing the whole time.  This is heaven.

12:30-The girls are bored.  They start to walk away but I’m up about $75.  I have no choice.  I can’t break from the group.  I run in the casino to cash my chips but when I come back everyone is gone.  I’m alone like Morrissey.
1:00-I wander around the casino and get a couple more drinks.  Drunk Keith has made his first appearance of the trip.  I’m talking to everyone I see, stumbling around, dancing.
1:15-BoozySleazy texts me and says they’re at the Venetian.  I run there and bump into the gang just as they’re leaving.  Great timing.  At this point, Drunk Keith decides he wants some ladies.  Uh oh.  Luckily, BoozySleazy and I see two very nice young blonde girls sitting at some slot machines as we’re heading out and go to talk to them.  The conversation goes like this:
Drunk Keith: Hey, you two look very nice tonight.
Girl 1: Thanks, so do you.
BoozySleazy: What are you up to?
Girl 2: Well, we’re $500 for an hour and we’re a lot of fun.
Us: Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, no thanks.
They came running after us offering $300 an hour but we’re not that desperate.  We got out of there like we were escaping a Carrot Top show.  Honestly, how lazy are you as a hooker that you can’t even stand up as you’re trying to get some johns?  Poor form, poor form.
1:45-“BOTTLES ON ME!!!!!!!  LONG AS SOMEONE DRINK IT!!!!!!!!”  We all look and it’s Fela, the last member of our crew, singing the official battle cry of the trip.  We all jump on him and then continue on our way.
2:00- The last time I was in Vegas, Drunk Keith got destroyed like Rocky in Balboa-Lang I to the tune of $300 on my first night.  The only rule I’ve made for myself on this trip is no Drunk Keith gambling.  We pass the Harrah’s classic rock outdoor casino and I realize that rules were made to be broken.  I find Def Leppard and put in another $100.
2:10-BoozySleazy stands to my left.  He is my Apollo.  DON’T TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!  GO OUT THERE AND GET A BLACKJACK!  BE MORE MAN THAN DEF LEPPARD!  EYE OF THE TIGER!
2:15-I start out slow but soon my alcoholism and the spirit of my trainer, Mickey/Fake Favs, take over.  I’m unstoppable.  I’m doubling down, splitting, go up to $25, $50 a hand.  AIN’T SO BAD!  AIN’T SO BAD, VEGAS!  HIT ME!  COME ON, HIT ME!  BoozySleazy and I break out some massive high-fiving and fist bumping and then the Boozy Dance.  Imagine a lanky, drunk British guy dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld.  That’s the Boozy dance.
3:00- The other guy at my table has had enough of our antics and gets up.  Now it’s just Drunk Keith vs. Def Leppard.  Our group leaves but I tell BoozySleazy I need him in my corner.  I get a 13 and tell Def Leppard to give me an 8.  He obliges and then gets two queens.  I’m just that good.
3:30-Unfortunately, my massive drinking and sleep deprivation have caught up to me.  I start losing.  I accidentally hit myself in the balls.  It’s time to pack up and go.  Def Leppard gives me my chips but I’m too drunk to count them.
4:00-We get back to the room and a party is going on.  People are in the Jacuzzi.  I have no idea what’s going on.  I have no idea who anyone is.  I have no idea how people are still drinking.  I’m dunzo.  I collapse on the pull-out bed.  I take my wallet out and somehow have an extra $400 in it.  The music is still booming like I’m in the front row at a Van Halen concert.  It’s going to be impossible to fall asleep.  I think this for about 12 seconds and then pass out to throbbing house music.

Continue to Day 2: Boobs and Blackjack

It’s the end of the year so let’s look back at some of the best moments in The Suite (and give Stone a break). This was originally published on August 25 taking a look at the greatest athletic competition of the year.

The stage is set. Three teams each from the guys and the girls took on an enormous mountain with $100,000 going to the winners and nothing for the losers. JoshyBananas, SnatchWalnuts, and BoozySleazy joined me in the Suite for this momentous occasion. Here’s what transpired.

9:57-Farrah from Teen Mom is hot. I need to start watching that show.

9:59-They play a preview of the finale. Looks like it’s going to be crazier than we expected. The mountain is huge and for some reason, they’re camping out in the wilderness. Oh, and puking.

10:03-The competitors are going to have to carry a heavy concrete ball with them the whole time. That’s not going to be fun. Ev and Paula struggle with theirs while Laurel picks it up like a volleyball. Cara Maria wants to name it “Rocky.” Good to know she’s focused. Rocky should date the Abram pillow.

10:04-Johnny Bananas and Tyler finish canoeing a bit behind Kenny and Wes. They change from their wetsuits into running outfits. Somehow a bandana appears out of nowhere for Bananas to wear. As Tim Gunn would tell you, “It’s all about the accessories.”

10:05-The kids have to memorize a campsite setup down to the smallest detail for later in the game. It’s Mike Mike’s time to shine!

(more…)

Dayyyyyyyyyyyyuuuuuuuuuuuuum.

Best of 2011: The Raven Run

Posted: December 28, 2011 by Keith Stone in Best of 2011, Miami, Raven Run

It’s the end of the year so let’s look back at some of the best moments in The Suite (and give Stone a break). This was originally published on February 2 in honor of one of the greatest runners in history.

The Raven has run eight miles along Miami Beach everyday for the past 36 years.  That’s over 100,000 miles through heat, wind, and rain from the era of Bob Griese and Sonny Crockett to Hanley Ramirez and Rick Ross.  He’s more unstoppable than the US Postal Service.  The remarkable thing about this is that there’s so much more to the story than just running and incredible perseverance.  Over the years, the Raven couldn’t help but accumulate some fans and 1,244 runners have completed the eight miles with him up to 2010.  Every runner is made to feel welcome as a part of the group and leaves with a sense of physical and mental achievement.  Some have run with the Raven over 500 times, others maybe once or twice.  In either case, everyone is bestowed a nickname and makes the Raven’s list, which he keeps track of with the help of a great memory.

Over the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of running with the Raven and his band of runners several times.  Every run starts with a roll call in which he introduces everybody.  Dizzy is a middle school assistant principal and greets everyone with a friendly smile.  Hurricane is pushing 80 years old but is a beast and ran 81 times last year.  Sheik is from Nigeria and does every run barefoot.  His love for running is matched only by his love for the ladies.  Warrior is like a machine never flinching day after day and did the Raven Run a few hours after completing a marathon.  He’s run everyday for almost three months straight.  Mule runs like he’s in tremendous pain every step of the way but he always pushes ahead stubbornly like a mule.  He’s helping put on the Super Bowl halftime show this week.  Triple is a 25-year-old kid who doesn’t know what he’s going to do with his life.  That’s me.  Raven even officiated a marriage between two of the runners during a run.  Where else could you bring together all these people?  Only at the 5th St. lifeguard stand at 4PM.  It’s a sight to see.  All these strangers running down the beach like a family, each one so different from one another but brought together by the Raven and the quest to run free.  Therein lies the Raven’s greatest feat.  It’s not the incredible streak, but the camaraderie of the people that are a part of it.

ravenrun.net

The New York Metropolitans had quite a year. After flirting with bankruptcy, failing to come through on their promise to sell David Einhorn a minority stake in the team, and finding embarrassing new ways to get fans to come to games in the midst of an uninteresting 77-85 season, this offseason has been brutal. Jose Reyes moved within the division to the Marlins and will haunt the Mets’ dreams for years but my favorite occurrence this winter is the announcement that the Mets will sell minority shares with awesome perks.

For only $20 million, you could own a piece of the Mess Mets and get your own business card! Ever dream of chilling with Mr. Met? Now you can. How about taking batting practice at Citi Field? Done. Also included is a reserved parking space, a weekend at spring training, and discounted merchandise. That’s right! If you give Fred Wilpon $20 million, you can get hats and jerseys for cheaper than they sell at the gift shop.

It’s like a fan club for douchebag investment bankers and lawyers, that is if anybody with an income over $20,000 actually liked the Mets. How about something a little more substantial, like actually being involved with personnel decisions? Isn’t that what an owner does? I’m not saying full-on making the decisions, but at least an invitation to a scouting meeting or something? It’s insulting to offer business cards in exchange for a $20 mil investment. If someone can shell out that much on a third-tier team, they could probably afford business cards. It’s thinking like this that makes the New York Mets our Team of the Year.