South Florida Justin Bieber watchers weigh in on arrest

Rapper Ludacris, left, and singer Justin Bieber pose backstage at the SOS Saving Ourselves Help for Haiti benefit presented by BET Networks at AmericanAirlinesArena in Miami.
Rapper Ludacris, left, and singer Justin Bieber pose backstage at the SOS Saving Ourselves Help for Haiti benefit presented by BET Networks at AmericanAirlinesArena in Miami.
Manny Hernandez

Two days after the arrest heard around the world, the Justin Bieber tremors were still being felt.

Diehard fans weren’t sure what to think of their fallen idol, who was arrested early Thursday on DUI, driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest charges.

Mary Shelow, for one, is sticking with her guy and feels sorry for her crush.

“He’s his own worst enemy,” said the 16-year-old junior at Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High . “He’s acting really stupid and should know better because there are cameras on him all the time.”

More than anything, Shelow, whose wall is covered with Bieber posters, still likes his music and will still go to his concerts.

“I fell in love with him during his innocent years,” she admits. “And I feel like I’m growing up right along with him.”

Mary admitted that she and two pals stayed out until 5 in the morning every night he was in town just to get a sighting. She convinced her mom, Norma Shelow, co-owner of downtown sports bar Mike’s at the Venetia, to let her go. “I had to keep texting her all night and keep in contact,” said Mary, adding. “I'm pretty tired now.” (No luck, by the way; he was busy.)

Casey Halwani is over it. A freshman at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 19, she’s not Belieber not anymore.

“I do like his music a little bit, but all this negative media is kind of changing all that,” said Halwani, who graduated from Palmer Trinity and grew up in the Kendall area.

She has her own ideas about what happened to the wild and crazy Canadian.

“He had that pretty boy vibe, kind of a Disney Channel thing, and I think it got to his head,” she opined. “He wanted that perception of him to change, and I think he did a good job!”

The arrest was hardly shocking in the wake of the Baby singer’s past alleged exploits with egg tossing, graffiti, strip clubs and (fill in the blank).

“King of Diamonds is a place where Rick Ross and Lil Wayne and other rappers go,’ ” Casey said of the North Miami establishment where Bieber reportedly threw money around like a champ Monday night (although club owner Ricky Taylor said this week that Bieber didn’t come close to spending a reported $75,000). “It seems he wants to get more into that hip-hop frame of mind.”

So what is to become of the lad?

“I think his fan base is definitely gonna’ change when something this big happens,” said Halwani. “It’s like Miley Cyrus. It’s like, ‘Let me do these crazy things to show the world that I’m grown up. I’m an adult now and I can do whatever I want.’ 

Someone else who has followed Bieber’s career is celebrity photographer Manny Hernandez, who provides photos to the Miami Herald. He remembers in February 2010 shooting the then-rising star touching down at Miami International Airport for the first time. Bieber was here to perform at the AmericanAirlinesArena along with Ludacris and Chris Brown for BET’s SOs Help for Haiti Telethon. “He was so innocent back then,” recalls Hernandez. “He came on a regular plane.”

The haute-event shooter doesn’t see how the arrest can damage the singer’s career too badly. Hernandez has seen worse in this town.

“This [scandal] is getting blown out of proportion,” Hernandez said. “He didn't kill anybody. He's just devious.”

Hernandez does agree Bieber made a poor geographical decision.

“Who drag races on Pine Tree Drive? Have you ever been on that road? All those bumps? You feel them when you’re going 10 mph.”

In all seriousness, the arrest could be a wake-up call.

“Crashes happen all the time. It’s dangerous out there.”

Will the arrest and fallout affect Bieber’s career? Not in Hernandez’s opinion.

“Remember child stars like David Cassidy? They all go through problems. In 50 years we'll see Justin at Magic City Casino and say, ‘Remember when he got arrested in Miami Beach?’ 

Miami Herald correspondent Lesley Abravanel contributed to this report.

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