Sunday, June 17, 2007

Paris Hilton Jailed for... Driving? That's what you get for moving to LA!

Walking around the West Village on any ordinary old day, lingering over coffee in the Grey Dog cafe, when I should be writing, or hanging out with my dogs in Washington Square Park, when I really should be writing, if I notice someone who looks vaguely familiar, she's much more likely to be Drew Barrymore, or Sarah Jessica Parker, perhaps, than anyone I've ever actually met. I've gotten so used to this fact of downtown life, that, I must confess, it takes me completely by surprise when it occasionally happens that whoever I've been stealing those furtive glances at, trying to place, to remember exactly which movie, what HBO series I know her from, comes up and says hello, isn't Chloe Sevigny after all, but is instead that girl I used to work with, the one I'd forgotten all about.

Things don't really work that way in most places, you know. For one thing, if you go around furtively glancing at strangers in most cities, people will think you're a little creepy. I know this, because I've been spending more time outside of New York lately, specifically in Alabama, where I grew up. When I'm down there, if someone looks familiar, I've learned it is extraordinarily unlikely to be because she is an Olson twin, or Parker Posey, and very likely indeed to be because she's someone I went to high school with, or elementary school even. But the fact of familiarity never ceases to bring its own brand of disorientation, all the same.

I'll probably be down there next weekend, in fact, when the Gay Pride march hits Manhattan. So I'll miss, among other things, all those ersatz celebrities making their way down to Christopher St., those gorgeous drag queens, with their meticulous attention to detail, their impossible perfection, and the different sort of vertigo their presence always induces. And in the midst of all that beauty, those Madonnas, Anna Nicoles, Marilyns, and all the rest, I feel pretty safe in guessing there'll be bound to be a Paris Hilton or two somewhere, having the time of her life, while the real thing is languishing away, in the LA county jail.

Paris has become the embodiment of all things LA to such an extent, that it's easy to forget that she did in fact start out right here in Manhattan, was born here, no less. But think back, if you will, to those halcyon, turn of the century days, when Paris and her pals dominated the Post's Page 6, with their underage drinking, table top dancing, club hopping ways. Remember those days? Fun times, all around! Then, of course, she hit it big with "The Simple Life," and headed off to Hollywood, hoping, we were told, to further her imaginary acting career.

That hasn't really worked out so well, as far as I can tell. If you've seen so much as a second of Paris's film debut, "The House of Wax," which she once mysteriously described as being the thing of which she was the very most proud of ever having done, you have a pretty good idea as to why. Paris has been wildly successful, though, as we all know, at turning herself into a brand. She's pulled the silliness of "The Simple Life," through into it's impending fifth season, signed seemingly endless licensing deals, and reputedly gets oodles of cash just for showing up at other people's parties. And perhaps most impressively, she's successfully convinced the entire world of her own attractiveness. This one's always stumped me most, as I find her singularly strange looking, and not in any sort of exotic, jolie laide, kind of way. It's more that she's always looked to me as though she'd had way too much work done, before she'd ever turned eighteen, unlikely though that is. But as they say, there's no accounting for tastes, and a good publicist can work wonders for any girl.

These days, Paris's looks have taken such an LA turn, it's hard to imagine her anywhere in Manhattan, if you think about it. That blond, blond hair, the glossy lips, all of that mascara, and of course the permatan. Not to mention the colorful wardrobe, and the constant tiny dogs with whom she chooses to accessorize. She'd fit right in with the other tourists in Time Square, I suppose, or possibly on the Upper East Side, but I really can't see her happily partying with the Olson twins downtown, for instance, not without a serious style overhaul, can you?

And that's kind of a shame, because watching all of Paris's legal woes unfold this last week or so, one thoughts been running through my mind. I can't help thinking that, if only Paris had stayed here at home, in New York, she'd never have gotten into all of this trouble in the first place. If only for the simple fact that here, nobody drives, not even the celebrities.

Paris's problems all began with an LA DUI, last September, after which her license was suspended. For some reason though, she just couldn't bring herself to stop driving, was, predictably, pulled over twice more, and wound up with the jail sentence she's now serving, in the "special needs" section of the LA County jail, whatever that means, exactly.

LA's celebrities do seem to have these endless legal problems, don't they? As I write this, Paris, of course, is doing her time, while her off and on best friend, Nicole Richie, awaits sentencing for a DUI arrest last December, and her sometimes rival, Lindsay Lohan, is in rehab, with a DUI charge, at the very least, stemming from a car crash last month, hanging over her expertly styled head. And if we look back, just a little, we have to remember Mel Gibson's DUI arrest, with those bonus PR points he earned for his bizarre anti-Semitic ranting and raving, just last summer. And who could forget Robert Downey Jr.'s epic legal battles, culminating, as they did, with his year long imprisonment? His problems, like Paris's, began when he was pulled over for speeding by the LAPD, and happened to have a surprising smorgasbord of drugs, from heroin to crack, and an unloaded gun, in his car at the time.

I'm not suggesting that New York's celebrities never get into any trouble with the law. Of course they do, they're only human, after all. But when they do, it's usually for something more interesting than a mere DUI, which I personally appreciate. Naomi Campbell throwing cell phones, or whatever object happens to be handy, at her assistants, or Russell Crowe having tantrums at the Mercer Hotel,, if nothing else our celebrities are never boring. And then of course, 50 Cent had to go driving around in midtown last fall, almost inevitably leading to his arrest, because really, celebrities just shouldn't get behind the wheel, whichever coast they're on. No good ever seems to come from it.

Nor would I want to imply that there's less celebrity intoxication happening in our fair city than in any other. Sadly, I don't get invited to those parties, so I haven't got a clue. I'm just saying that, when celebrities here engage in whatever overindulging they may or may not be prone to, the opportunity does not arise for them to drive, and place themselves in any further legal jeopardy, not to mention danger.

So Paris, in the unlikely event that you might be reading this, once you've paid your debt to society, you really might want to consider moving back home. Here, we have these great things called cabs. They can make a starlet's life ever so much easier!

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