Awards ceremonies have a reputation for being boozy affairs, but the liquor wasn't flowing at last night’s Grammy Awards. Not that everyone was sober—rapper Jay-Z was seen drinking out of his own glass tumbler, and Best Pop Vocal Album winner Kelly Clarkson gave a shout out to alcohol during her acceptance speech. But overall, the event is traditionally dry, since it is hosted by MusiCares—the Recording Academy’s initiative to help musicians in need, particularly addicts. The initiative provides "Safe Harbor Rooms" at venues and events around the country, which offer safe spaces for artists, staff and crew to congregate and attend 12-step meetings. “It's our building, and our show, and since we have MusiCares Safe Harbor Room, it's a dry house,” a Recording Academy representative says of last night’s ceremony. MusiCares also provides addiction recovery services, as well as financial and medical assistance for those in recovery. “We help everyone—from roadies to engineers to songwriters to the musicians themselves,” Shirren Reid, manager of MusiCare’s Musicians Assistance Program (MAP), told The Fix. “And it can come in many ways: financial assistance can mean rent, utilities, car payments, insurance, burial, dental, or medical bills. Through the MAP Fund, we do everything from offer scholarships to treatment centers and sober living houses to helping music professionals who are already in recovery—through counseling, education, or ongoing needs in recovery.”
An optometrist in Brooklyn's trendy Park Slope neighborhood has devised a plan to help patients relax before eye exams: he offers them a drink. Dr. Justin Bazan, 34, who opened Park Slope Eye in 2008, says that "after 5 p.m.. it's happy hour." Not everyone is happy about it. “I was offered a beer on my first visit,” complains one patient, Mark T., on Yelp. “Seriously, alcohol before an eye exam? And in a medical environment?” But Dr. Bazan says he's got his patients best interests at heart. "We are beer lovers," he says. "We have beer/wine tastings all the time. Heck, if its been a rough day and you need a something strong just ask. We got you." He insists, though, that "none of the team is drinking! We are not a sterile hospial. We are friendly, helpful and like to have fun!" The business is evidently geared towards a younger crowd; customers have also reported offerings of candy ring pops, Park Slope Eye-branded lip balm and an iPad to browse while waiting. And of the "Top 5 Signs Park Slope Eye may not be the best fit for you," Bazan includes: "You still call a travel agent to book a flight" and "You don't know what a txt msg is." He says overall, the liquor-and-eye-exam combo has received rave reviews: “Everybody except that guy ‘Mark T.’ has loved it.”
The Mexican military announced they have arrested Jonathan Salas, the suspected chief of security for Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman. After Salas was detained on Saturday near the town of Costa Rica in the Sinaloa State, he was allegedly captured with the help of three helicopters and at least eight navy vehicles. Prosecutors accuse Salas of being the man in charge of protecting Guzman, the fugitive leader of the Sinaloa cartel, who was first arrested in 1993. He escaped from a maximum security prison in a laundry basket in 2001 and has since been the most-wanted man in Mexico, with the US State Department offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest. Guzman narrowly escaped capture last March, around the same time Sinaloa Governor Mario Lopez Valdez announced that Salas, known as "The Ghost," had been killed by the Mexican navy; the statement turned out to be false and Salas reportedly escaped. Lopez has not yet commented on his recent arrest.
His time on NBC music competition show The Voice has come to an end, but 30-year-old singer/songwriter Jamar Rogers is still using his voice to raise awareness about addiction and HIV. Rogers became one of the show's most beloved contestants during the second season after revealing that he is HIV positive. The singer tells EBONY.com that he learned he was infected seven years ago, after contracting the virus during his five-year addiction to crystal meth. “I would snort it, smoke it, shoot it intravenously, I shared needles. I was hard core,” says Rogers. “I had sex for money and for drugs. I slept with men and women. I was just trying to get as high as possible as often as possible. That’s what happened.” Rogers admits he was a "late tester" and didn't get diagnosed until roughly three months after he had kicked his addiction, despite the fact that he had visited the emergency room "at least eight or nine months" in the previous two or three months before his diagnosis. By that point, he had developed AIDS and his viral load was in the millions, landing him in the ER; he just narrowly survived. “Not one doctor or nurse in the emergency room asked me if I had an HIV test,” the singer recalls.
Crystal meth has long been associated predominantly with white club-goers, but a 2008 study published in Addict Behavior shows an increase in meth use among gay and bisexual black men; 44% of all new infections occur among African-Americans and other Black communities, who represent only about 12% of the population. “As a community, we need to talk about this openly and honestly," says Rogers. "Speak up if you want your brothers and sisters to live.” As the singer tours the country promoting two upcoming EP's, he is also lending his voice to "Let's Stop HIV Together," a social awareness campaign launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Jamar Rogers is a role model—especially to younger Black men,” says Venton Jones, senior program associate for communications at the National Black Gay Men's Advocacy Coalition. “He has fame, success and is living his dream as an artist—and a positive diagnosis. HIV is not a death sentence. If people adhere to their medications and are on treatment, they can lead happy, healthy and successful lives.”
Missouri is now home to large numbers of Central American immigrants who have been coerced into trafficking Mexican methamphetamine, USA Today reports. After paying a fee to cross the border, immigrants from Mexico, Honduras and other parts of Central America come to the US under the impression that they will land decent jobs and make enough to improve the lives of their families back home. But the reality is far more grim. Facing unemployment or low wage jobs, in addition to massive debts owed to the organization that got them across the border, many have become reluctant participants in the trafficking of Mexican methamphetamine. Their illegal status makes them especially vulnerable, since they are unlikely to report the illicit activity to police. “Most of these migrant workers are truly looking for a better way of life—money for their families,” says Jerry Craig, a supervisor in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s office in Springfield, Mo. “These organizations capitalize on their vulnerabilities.” Federal court documents filed last December have named Juan Moreno-Malagon as a leader in a major drug organization that smuggled meth into the Springfield area since at least September 2010. Court records say that Moreno-Malagon had “extensive connections to individuals experienced in helping people illegally cross the US-Mexican border."
On this weekend's Saturday Night Live, pop star Justin Bieber apologized for last month's marijuana debacle...in third person. The 18-year-old singer, who hosted SNL for the first time, indirectly addressed the controversy while playing the president of The Miley Cyrus Fan Club in a reoccurring sketch called The Miley Cyrus Show. While in character, he first refers to Justin Bieber as "a douche." “I also heard he got busted for smoking weed," he says. "And he’s really sorry about it, and people make mistakes, and he’s never going to do it again.” Cyrus (played by Vanessa Bayer) replies, “Yeah. Me too.” Pictures of Bieber smoking weed at a party in Newport Beach, California, surfaced on the web early in the new year. The singer first addressed the incident on Twitter, writing: “Everyday growing and learning. trying to be better. u get knocked down, u get up. back on tour tomorrow. ready to see u all smile. time to do what im supposed to be doing. performing.” Pop singer Miley Cyrus has also stirred up controversy with her use of herbal remedies; in 2010, she was caught on camera smoking legal herb "salvia" from a bong.