Charlie Sheen is like a slow-motion traffic wreck we can't turn away from. Set to haiku cadence. With a laugh track.
Some of his pronouncements have a scripted quality ("Can't is the cancer of happen"), but many have an uncanny brilliance. Who knew the 45-year-old furloughed sitcom star had a future writing captions for motivational posters? But there's a foreboding that hangs over his every frenetic outburst, a sense that something's about to blow. And once the national media has satiated us with the minutely parsed details of his inevitable implosion, who will be there to mop up the tiger blood except the people who begged him to climb down from the tower before it was too late?
Assuming such people actually exist. We can't hear them through the din of reckless media enablers. Here's Sheen on ABC's "Good Morning America"; now he's on NBC's "Today"; now it's a "20/20" special. Now he's on "Today" again, because he has decided he has more to say, and "Today" absolutely agrees. To paraphrase Don Henley, get the wacko on the set.
And now here he is in Bakersfield, dropping the puck at a minor-league professional hockey game. Or so the Bakersfield Condors may secretly hope, having declared their March 12 game against the Idaho Steelheads "Charlie Sheen Night."
Actually, unless Sheen plans on showing up at Rabobank Arena and spontaneously combusting at center ice, he can do the Condors only marginally more good than the teams' snarkily creative marketing department has already done with promotions such as "two-and-a-half" dollar admission, Tiger Blood Icees and free admission with documentation of a clean drug test. Pony up $2 million -- the amount Sheen was making per episode of "Two and a Half Men," before exasperated CBS execs prematurely shut things down for the season -- and you can own the team.
Sheen's warlock media tour is a hoot, unless you've dealt with someone in your life who refuses to take his meds. It's a nonstop laugh fest, unless you've agonized over someone who prefers reveling in the manic euphoria of Adonis DNA to the mundane chemistry of this mortal existence. We'd collectively rise up and demand that Sheen get some sort of treatment before he acts on one of his violent fantasies, such as beheading his estranged wife, but, jeez, he's just so handsome and famous and unpredictable and alive!
Sheen's father, the actor Martin Sheen, must by now have internally replayed the culminating scenes of "Apocalypse Now," in which his character stalks Marlon Brando's Col. Kurtz, the charismatic, deranged renegade officer, deep into the netherworldly jungles of Cambodia. Charlie knows the story line: His autobiography, he says, will be titled "Apocalypse Me," but he's not interested in his father's intervention. "Shut it!" he told Martin last week, rejecting his father's suggestion that something insidious -- perhaps borne of Charlie's longstanding crack cocaine use -- has taken hold.
"Hey, man, you don't talk to the Colonel," Dennis Hopper's character confided in "Apocalypse Now." "You listen to him."
And so we listen, egging on Sheen every step of the way, indulging his every outburst, his every excursion into bizarre exuberance. Marketing tie-ins, authorized or not, are simply an inevitable outgrowth.
Even the American Red Cross has tapped into the Sheenspeak phenomenon, tweeting recently, "We may not collect #tigerblood, but we know our donors & volunteers have fierce passion for doing good!"
The tiger blood show comes to home ice Saturday night, with or (more likely) without Adonis himself. No word on whether the severed head of one's significant other earns any special discounts.