How did you spend your New Year's Day? Below is how I spent mine--an afternoon of about 1,800 words of bliss for me, and of twists and turns for Curtis Stanfield and co. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
Riding The Rocket!
Back in the helium-filled, heady days of wine and roses at SnowBalls, everyone in the high-tech industry seemed to be unanimous on a common definition of “up”; they called it “Hockey Stick Growth.” Even the bronze-skinned Silicon Valley VCs whose only exposure to ice was in a tumbler of single malt understood the metaphor: a prolonged shaft’s-length period of ground-level survival followed by a sharp, 45-degree kink of skyward expansion along the blade. Hockey Stick Growth was the Holy Grail of every young company and their hopeful investors.
But what Curtis Stanfield was now experiencing redefined “up,” literally turning the meaning of Hockey Stick Growth on its head. Since deciding to put all he had on one spin of the roulette wheel, Curtis enjoyed a brief period of blade-on-terra-firma stability before his life exploded straight-to-the-heavens, almost a full 90-degrees north, along a seemingly never-ending shaft of sleek carbon fiber. As Joey used to say, and was now saying again, Curtis was “riding the rocket.”
On November 11th, a mere two weeks after taking a week off to get his head together, Curtis decided to leave work for good. At least temporarily. The Spin had now become his full-time job. Curtis Stanfield’s daily existence had taken on the feel of those clichéd movies where one’s life flashes by in a series of spiraling newspaper headlines and overlapping magazine covers, interjected with snippets of TV talkshows and news reports…the only difference being that this was actually his life, not a clichéd movie.
He closed his eyes and opened them again just to make sure.
“Would you like something else to drink? We’ll be landing in about a half-hour.” said the perky flight attendant, silver tray in hand.
“Uh, maybe another coffee, please. Espresso…”
“Double, with no sugar, right?”
“You got it,” he smiled.
Curtis heard the whir of the Clover single-serve machine as it ground up and pushed out his cup of steaming liquid perfection. He was flying to Las Vegas on Steve Wynn’s private jet to sign the contract that made the Wynn Encore the much sought-after “Official Home of the Spin.” The decision wasn’t an easy one, but despite the fact that Caesar’s was willing to top any “appearance bonus” by 15% (Wynn’s offer maxed out at $375,000), Curtis believed that “You dance with the one that brung ya,” and since Joel Fischman had called first, he felt a somewhat schoolyard friendship-like allegiance to him.
Well that, and the fact that the hotel’s stated theme, “Life Imitating Art,” kind of spoke to the Dali-esque surrealism Curtis currently found himself living.
Oh, and let’s not forget Wynn’s offer to displace country legend Garth Brooks from his home at the Encore Theatre for a pre-Spin private concert/party featuring Green Day, Curtis’ favorite band. (“You’re tempting fate,” Joey warned of that booking. “The one thing that can kill this whole red or black thing are the greenies. Who’s your second-favorite band? Get them instead.”)
Curtis pinched the dainty porcelain Italian coffee cup between his fingers and brought it to his lips. He looked across the aisle at Joey, who was asleep, yet twisted like a Keith Haring character in the oversized throne of an other-worldly-class airline seat. With no access to a cellular or wi-fi signal, Joey’s connection to his Twitter feed was lost, which seemed to deprive him of all energy. Unplugged may be a fine state for a rock band on MTV or in a cozy club, but it left Joey deflated, out of commission and ultimately silenced. At least until landing.
Which was a blessing for Curtis, who could finally find a few minutes to concentrate on the daily report prepared for him by Lisa. She opted out of the Vegas portion of this jaunt to concentrate on finalizing the three-day media whirlwind of major talk shows and news outlets in Los Angeles (one of her shrewdest moves was convincing the Wynn organization to pay for a prominent publicist who had pumped up and placed other viral phenoms). Working this close to her shone Lisa in a different light; beneath her frivolous and decorative veneer was a harder-working pro than Curtis could’ve ever imagined, notwithstanding her success as a money manager. The semi-superficial schmoozer was part of the act.
Curtis wondered if her recent come-ons were as well. (Come to think of it, he wondered if they were even come-ons at all.) With Miranda out of the picture—except for the lawsuit, of course—Lisa seemed to drop pretenses and jar his brain with comments like “This is just the beginning for us” and “Who knows how far we can go together?” She had also invited him to be on her arm as her date at her firm’s star-dripping annual Christmas Charity Ball in New York, saying that “the exposure will be a good thing for both of us.”
He pulled out a clear plastic folder from his Marc Jacobs messenger bag, a good luck present his parents bought for him, spread out Lisa’s daily brief (not so much anymore as it had now grown to three pages) on the tray in front of him, and read…shaking his head slightly in disbelief with every new bold paragraph heading.
I know you’re partial to BMW with your “Dance with/first-in” policy, but I’m urging you—BEGGING YOU!!!—to take the Ferrari offer. Red is their DNA, and they don’t want to lose this to the Germans. Drive up to the casino in a 599 GTB Grand Fiorano (did you see the star mag wheels?) and it’s YOURS!!! So is $250,000 if you do a promotional photo shoot and give them logo placement on Spin day. And they’ll fly you to any F1 races you want to see for the next year (as their VIP guest!!!)
Joey was right. And this is unprecedented. We got Red Bull AND Johnnie Walker Black. Not just both of them, but both of them TOGETHER!!! They’ve agreed to CO-BRAND a new mixed drink called “The HeadSpin,” basically Bull and Black shaken together like a martini. Gotta give them logo placement on Spin day and agree to appear live in person at 10 bar promotions over six months. But it’s worth $200,000. EACH!!!
Good news—you’ll be wearing Armani. They like the fact that Ferrari may—WILL!!!—be part of this…an Italian thing, I guess. Anyway, they’ll outfit you, head-to-toe from today (actually, as of our trip to LA. when I take you to their celebrity outfitting showroom) until the end of next year, and integrate all the logo patches we need. And they’re interested in follow-along projects, too. $125,000 plus $10,000 EVERY TIME you mention their name on-air or in a national print story.
Hope you’re sitting. You said you were the mouthpiece for Snowballs, right? You spoke at all the industry conferences and the audiences loved you, right? Well, you’d better be able to live up to your hype, because I got you hooked up with the WASHINGTON SPEAKERS BUREAU!!! Yeah, you and Elie Wiesel, Tony LaRussa, Arianna Huffington, Tom Peters, Dubya Bush…need I go on? You START at $35,000 per chat, which are MAX one hour!!! Already got three booked—National Entrepreneur’s Conference (San Francisco) and Worldwide Gaming Summit (New York) in January and CTIA (Atlanta) in the fall. More to come!
These are some of the categories we are trying to lock down. Only categories in which we have received at least one firm offer are listed.
- Mobile Phone
- Athletic Shoe
- Breakfast Cereal
- Casual Dining Chains
- Pizza Delivery
- Luxury Watch
- SLR Camera
- Credit Card
- Shaving Product
- Pet Food (Can’t forget the doggies!!!)
- Energy Snack
- Cruise Line
Read these carefully, Curtis. They are “bubbling under,” but still important. Especially the last one!!!
1) The WWE called. They want you to be what they call a “guest ring announcer” at Wrestlemania XXX (roman numerals for 30; don’t get scared!) Fee is only $20,000, but it’s post-Spin and good for our future
2) Bodyguards. I know we spoke of this before, but money attracts crazies. We don’t want nothing to happen to you before The Spin. After that, we’ll re-evaluate, ha ha. But I found a great company; big guys, will take a bullet, and VERY discrete. NO HEAD-BASHING, I know…
3) Still embryonic (love that term!!!) but could be the biggest of all. Got a call from Mike Darnell’s office at Fox. He’s the guy in charge of, also the brains behind, all those wild reality shows there. American Idol and evetything after! They want to talk about the possibility of a live special the night of The Spin. Still vague, but they’d need to work a three-way with the casino to move forward, so I guess we can—we WILL!!!—explore further once you and Joey lock things down with the Wynn-folk (love that term, don’t you? Sounds so homey!!!)
“Mr. Stanfield?” The perky flight attendant derailed his train of thought. “Can you please put your tray up? We’re in our final approach to McCarron Airport.”
“No problem,” Curtis said. He didn’t even have time to digest the page labeled LOS ANGELES MEDIA PLAN but caught a glimpse of names like JAY LENO, JIMMY KIMMEL, CRAIG FERGUSON, CONAN O'BRIEN, L.A. TIMES, CNN and VARIETY in Lisa's bold caps as he shuffled his papers into their plastic sheath and tucked that into his bag’s back pocket.
“Good morning, amigo,” Joey croaked, re-assembling into a reasonable facsimile of a human being. “How’d you sleep?”
“Couldn’t if I wanted to,” Curtis smiled, his head still buzzing from the report. He was tired, but it was a good fatigue, one that came with a sense of accomplishment…although he hadn’t really done anything yet.
About ten seconds after touchdown, as was his tradition in the years criss-crossing the continent for SnowBalls, Curtis turned on his iPhone, amazingly beating Joey to the punch. He smiled. He only had one new message. Such is the case without Miranda (she’ll be back, he kept thinking) and with Joey next to him.
Steve Wynn’s ground staff boarded the plan and swiftly grabbed his and Joey’s bags. Curtis put on his sunglasses as he exited the plane and headed down the tarmac to the glistening ebony limo that awaited him. He pumped up the phone’s volume to hear the message as he walked.
“Uh…um…Curtis? It’s Andrea.”
Her message was blurted out in spurts, in between gasped breaths and muffled sobs.
“I don’t know how…to tell you this…but when I was walking the dogs on Blake Street this morning…Rockwell…Rockwell…well…Rockwell got hit by a car…”
Steve Wynn’s ground staff dropped the bags and swiftly grabbed Curtis as he fell to his knees.
To be continued next week...