Paris, the prison diaries

JOHN KENNEY is a writer in New York.

Paris Hilton, after attending Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards, was then off to the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood. She is expected to serve about 23 days for violating her probation stemming from an alcohol-related driving charge. “I hope that I’m an example to other young people,” she told reporters.

DAY 1: Arrived late Sunday night. So tired. Asked if I could check into my room immediately. Quite possibly the rudest concierge I have ever met. I told him he was fired. Not the effect I’d hoped for. And no, I did not register under the name “Little Miss Whore.” What kind of hotel forces you to strip and delouse (maybe Marriott?). Although instead of a robe I got a fabulous orange jumpsuit with a cute number on it. Nothing to do at night. I’m told (as there was, like, no information in my room) that there is no bar or lounge area. I wish I’d brought flats.

Day 2: My room is insane! TINY! How is it even possible that I got a room without any view? A tiny stainless steel toilet. There is an incredibly thin mattress. If I didn’t know I was in prison I’d think I was in an Ian Schrager hotel.

Day 3: So that’s what a bitch slap is. Wow. Just ... wow. MUST remember not to make that sarcastic face again anytime soon.


Day 5: Gandhi went to prison. So did Martin Luther King Jr. So did Robert Downey Jr. and Martha Stewart Jr. and I think Nelson Mandela Jr. Mandela was imprisoned for, like, 50 years or something for being black and also for driving an uninsured vehicle, if I’m reading Wikipedia correctly. Nicky often mentions me and Gandhi and how incredibly thin we both are and how she wonders if he used bronzer.

Day 5, shortly before lights out: Must remember not to complain about lights out. Hope mother can contact a good dentist, as the whistling from where the tooth is missing is embarrassing as well as annoying.

Several of us were talking after the movie tonight (“The Shawshank Redemption”) and one gal posed a question to the group: Would you crawl to freedom through a sewer pipe, like Tim Robbins’ character did? I would have answered “no” but was unfortunately bound and gagged (practical jokes are big in prison).

Day 7: Mail today. One piece. A small note from Nicky that was actually a Xerox of a text message that her assistant put a stamp on and mailed. She wrote, “Ya know that band from a long time ago, 10,000 Maniacs? There were only, like, five people in that band.”

Day 9: What is time? How do we measure it? What does it mean? I find these questions on my mind more and more, especially since someone stole my Audemars Piguet watch. Shame.

Day 10: There is no TV, no iPod, no cellphone. Just -- I hope I’m spelling this right -- “boks” or maybe “bowks.” Whatever. I took a few from the cart and have been looking at the covers. Then, last night, I looked inside and there are, like, a million words, page after page. Are these new?

Day 11: Jayne Mansfield spoke five languages. She was a concert-level pianist. Marilyn Monroe was a Formula One race car driver. Twiggy built her own home, raised guinea fowl and invented penicillin. Eleanor Roosevelt patented commercial air travel. And yet all of us played a role, the blond bimbo, the ditzy, fun-loving “party girl.” Roosevelt especially. But what’s to say I couldn’t be the first person to walk on the moon or be the first woman to go to college?

Day 14: Yeats writes that the falcon cannot hear the falconer. What the hell? Is the falcon listening to a, like, falcon iPod or something? Also, what if the falcon was deaf? Did the falconer ever think of that? Also why “gyre?” Why not just say “swirling vortex?”

Day 18: This “Jesus Christ” was an amazing guy. It’s so sad he died so young.

Day 19: While walking in the yard today, I was put in the mind of Rilke’s “Requiem for a Friend.” “For somewhere an ancient enmity exists between our life and the great works we do.” This, I feel, is my plight. My life is in a constant struggle with my works: my “works” being staying out late and buying stuff. Also the word “enmity” is a hard one and looks misspelled to me.

Day ??: I have stopped counting the days. I live in the now.

What is freedom? It’s not free, that’s for sure. It’s “free” with “dom.” And that seems right to me. I feared prison once. I see it now as a great gift. Once, I wondered if I would have to wait in a chow line. Is there a way around the chow line, I wondered? A kind of “chow bouncer,” a chow doorman I might smile at as I breeze past on my way to steamed broccoli and fried bologna? How funny to think back. Because there is a chow bouncer. And her name is Brick. And she hates me.

Joy is like steam from the kettle that the Mexican servants used to make me tea in the kitchen, wherever that was located in my former home.

Lately I’m identifying with the Jews and all the horrible things that happened to them during Vietnam.

Brick said to me today, “Ya know, I stayed in a Marriott once. And truth be told, I’d rather stay in prison.”

We both laughed. And then she beat me up.