Sure, Justin Bieber has made mistakes. The monkey. The mop bucket. A few historical desecrations along the way. Then he spent all of last year telling us he was sorry. (Though it turns out he didn’t mean sorry so much as… Well, we’ll let him explain.) Now he’s found a better way to make up with the world: by making the best music of his life—and forcing all of us to rethink what we believe (Beliebe?) about him.
The chicken-finger platter that has just been placed before Justin Bieber is like something out of a children’s book—an illustration from a story about a boy who becomes king, whose first and last royal decree is that it’s chicken-finger time. The dish is so massive that in order to accommodate it, a metal urn filled with enough ice and soft drinks to sustain a pioneer family on a trek across Death Valley is moved to an adjacent table. Tenders are not even listed on the menu of this restaurant; its offerings are confined to ideas like “parsnip purée,” “pomegranate gastrique,” and “dill.” The fingers have been conjured, unbidden, out of the invisible fabric of the universe for Justin Bieber, who is not eating them.
It is an early-January afternoon, and Bieber and I are sitting in a private open-air cabana on the rooftop of the hotel in Beverly Hills where he now lives. Bieber moved into this hotel almost two years ago, after he sold his six-bedroom Calabasas mansion to Khloé Kardashian, following numerous clashes with neighbors and police. (His skate ramp was removed.) He is slight, with rashes of tattoos spreading down both arms. His hair, cropped close on the sides but long enough on top to be tied in a short bleached ponytail, is tucked under a gray Supreme beanie. His feet are snuggled into a pair of café au lait Yeezy Boosts. He is wearing what could be anywhere from two to 41 black sweatshirts of various lengths, layered, and distressed leather pants that retail for $2,590. Everyone else by the pool is wearing clothes; he is wearing fashion. When he arrived just a few minutes ago, he was escorted by a Def Jam executive for the five-second walk from the elevator to this cabana.