02 February, 2011

Sneak Peek: MTV Cribs: Tha Big House

[Recently, I welcomed an MTV production crew for a tour of my surroundings, here at Crossroads Correctional Center. I'm told the first episode of MTV Cribs: Tha Big House — a penitentiary-themed spin-off of the network's celebrity homes covet-fest — will air in the near future, placing me in dubious company, with guided walk-throughs of the confining lodgings of actor Wesley Snipes and disgraced plunderer Bernie Madoff. Stay tuned for that, as well as my cameo (via phone) on the current season of Jersey Shore. Meanwhile, here's a teaser excerpted from my segment of the premiere episode of MTV Cribs: Tha Big House.]


Fast track through the prison yard to a wide two-storied concrete structure, up to its two outer doors. Along the way, we pass INMATES dressed in gray and giving confused looks to the camera.


Continued track into one of four window-fronted wings of the housing unit. Many green doors line two double-tiered walls that converge at the far end of the wing, forming an isosceles floorplan. Track upstairs, to the last door on the right. Door opens and BYRON greets the camera, dressed in a charcoal fleece and black state-issued boots.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to my — ugh, do I have to say it?

It's part of the show.

Fine. Welcome to my crib. Come inside, and I'll show you around.

We move through the doorway, into a gray nine-by-eleven cell.

I know you were probably hoping for it to be bigger on the inside, like the TARDIS on Doctor Who, but it turns out that that whole dimensional relativity thing isn't as easily accomplished as BBC sci-fi series would have us believe. Good thing I'm a minimalist. Oh, watch your shins around the commode, there. It juts.

BYRON indicates the gray metal desk, most of which is occupied by a thirteen-inch CRT television and a typewriter.

This is my workspace — where the magic happens, I guess. As you can see from the TV tuned to CMT, this blackened old coffee cup, and this stack of hard-rock cassette tapes, this side is my cellmate's. All this paper here, over here, and down there is mine. The typewriter, too, obviously. Old Faithful. Things aren't ordinarily this cluttered, but you guys caught me at the end of a big project. I planned to have my memoir finished last month, but I keep finding where it needs more work. You know how it goes.

BYRON regards some colorful wall decoration above and next to the desk.

My personal gallery. These are some of my favorite contemporary artists: Ray Caesar, Jonathan Weiner — over there's a snapshot a friend took in an Austrian market last year. It's a Banksy graffito. Good stuff. Here, above my "concert hall" are music-related images — band photos, some band flyers: the Black Heart Procession, David Bowie, Gary Numan, and so on.

Below the photographs of musical artists, BYRON draws our attention to a deep shelf bearing another small television, a boombox, paperback books, compact discs, an oscillating fan, and other smallish items.

Up here is my "private theater." The TV's only on for a few shows — Jeopardy! and news most days, Fringe on Fridays. The power button only works about a third of the time, and I change the channels by sticking a pen into this hole. The button broke out of it about six years ago. Thank goodness there's hardly anything worthwhile on.


Right. Except for MTV Cribs, of course. Naturally. Anyway, here are my CDs. Twenty — that's the property limit, so I keep only the basics. I have... let's see... some Depeche Mode, Einst├╝rzende Neubauten, Goldfrapp, Morrissey, a few Gary Numan albums — I'm kind of obsessed with him. Sorry, no Lady Gaga. She's lyricus incognita for yours truly. My CD player basically stays on all day to drown out the typewriter noise. That, and the neighbor likes to kick out the slow jams, like Kenny G, which is just un-[expletive]-bearable. These cells at the ends of the walk are generally prime real estate — the penthouses of the prison — but sometimes not so much.