It began at about 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 3, when a text message pinged my phone: “Justin Bieber is in town. I have a good source.”
These sorts of “tips” surface periodically, especially in Whitefish – Johnny Depp allegedly visits there at least once a year – and it’s always interesting to see how fast the gossip spreads. In this instance, it originated among locals in the north valley, spread on social media and somehow made it all the way down to a conversation in an alley behind our Kalispell office.
For those of you who don’t know any young people, Bieber is perhaps the most famous of all pop stars. No, I can’t name any of his songs, but lots of teenagers can. And these super fans apparently have a nickname: “Beliebers.”
Anyway, many of these Beliebers caught wind that the Biebs was in Whitefish. And according to another reliable source, who also wished to remain anonymous, a pack of these Beliebers gathered outside Casey’s Bar in Whitefish and yelled, “Justin, come down!” This source didn’t know whether Bieber was actually in the establishment.
Here’s what’s weird, besides the fact that a person can cause teenagers to chant outside a bar – at the exact same time the local rumor mill was churning out Bieber gossip, so was the mill in Eugene, Ore.
Like here, there were signs of him everywhere. His backup dancer was spotted. Biebs’ plane was seen at the airport. Bieber was reportedly rehearsing at a Eugene arena (his songs could be heard outside!) to prepare for his upcoming tour that kicks off this week in Seattle.
And similar to Whitefish, Beliebers gathered. From a report in the Register-Guard in Eugene: “Justin Bieber enthusiasts and security guards kept each other company Thursday at the Inn at the 5th as fans stayed outside the hotel hoping to catch a glimpse of the 22-year-old pop star.”
To their dismay, he never showed up.
Soon, there were reports that Bieber was actually rehearsing at the Matthew Knight Arena on the University of Oregon campus. Beliebers, once again, gathered outside. And again, he never appeared.
How could the Biebs possibly be at two places separated by 700 miles at the same time?
Well, he can’t. Bieber was briefly in Whitefish and he apparently hit the mountain and even ate at the Summit House. So all those local Beliebers hunting for him at least were in the right area code.
He almost certainly wasn’t in Oregon. So the fan who told KVAL television in Eugene, “I think I’d be too scared to talk to him and actually speak,” never really had anything to worry about it.
Celebrity, or even potential celebrity, sightings are a funny thing. My most memorable came while standing in line at Spokane International Airport when a well-dressed gentleman cut to the front. It was Pierce Brosnan, who had been filming a movie in the area about a deadly volcano called “Dante’s Peak.” I vaguely recognized him, but my mom sure did, and based on her reaction I assumed she had a small crush on him.
Brosnan, despite his roles as James Bond, can’t draw crowds to a hotel or arena when he is actually in another state. There are few beyond Bieber who can do that. There are fewer still capable of inciting their respective fans to chant their names outside of buildings.
But as KVAL in Eugene aptly put it: “If it Biebs, it leads.”