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rumor has it

5/27/13 12:30pm

Billy Joel Is No "Hardcore Alky"


Joel just overdid it. Photo via

Despite his well-publicized history of substance abuse and a stint in rehab, Billy Joel says he "just overdid it" with the booze. In an interview in the New York Times Magazine, the iconic singer and pianist aims to clear up the "misinformation" about his rumored alcohol problems. He admits to indulging quite heavily in the past: "It started with Dewars White Label Scotch and then, when I really got heavy into it, it was vodka. Vodka is a hard-core alky drink," but says his drinking "wasn't consistent, it would be periods of time, during a divorce or something." Joel, 64, says he also turned to alcohol to cope with a "deep, deep depression" following the events of September 11th, 2001. "9/11 just knocked the wind out of me, and I don’t know even now if I’ve recovered from it," he says, adding that he "used booze as medication." It was also 9/11, he explains, that led to his series of auto accidents: "I was kind of in a mental fog, and [the accidents] had nothing to do with the booze. My mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t focused." Joel calls DUI rumors "a fallacy," and says his trip to Betty Ford in 2005 was only at the urging of his former girlfriend (and later ex-wife), Katie Lee. "I don’t know why I drank so much. I don’t subscribe to A.A.," he says, "I don’t subscribe to 12-step stuff. Sometimes I just overdid it." 

These days, the "Piano Man" singer says he drinks in moderation, and he's not ashamed of it: "I have a glass of wine once in a while, and I don’t hide it. I have a glass of wine with a meal." In fact, his lifestyle is so moderate that he pulled out of a $3 million dollar advance book deal from HarperCollins for his memoirs, because they "wanted more sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, and there’s not that much in my life." Says Joel: "What I wanted to do was have a book that set the record straight. There’s so much misinformation about me."

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By Sarah Beller


5/27/13 5:00am

Morning Roundup: May 27, 2013


How this smuggler blew his cover.

By The Fix staff


5/24/13 6:00pm

It's Time to Let Go of Intervention


Goodbyes are hard. Photo via

Letting go is hard—whether it's letting go of an addiction, or a reality show about addiction—but all good/bad/ugly things must come to an end. A&E announced Thursday that its hugely popular addiction-themed docuseries Intervention is ending after the final five episodes of its 13th season. During its long run, the show earned two Emmy nominations for outstanding reality series, taking home the gold in 2009. “As Intervention comes to an end, we’re proud to have paved the way for such an original and groundbreaking series,” says David McKillop, executive vp programming at A&E Network. “We’re honored to have been a part of the 243 interventions since its premiere in March of 2005. McKillop says the show's on-air interventions have culminated in "156 individuals that are currently sober to this day.” The show covers addictions ranging from gambling, sex, crack and inhalants to eating disorders. In each episode, the subjects are led to believe they are being filmed for a documentary on their addiction, and are then surprised by an intervention by family and/or friends. The Fix followed up with 10 of the show's alumni in 2011, some of whom had remained sober, whereas several had relapsed and one had passed away. The final five-episode season—starting Thursday, June 13, at 9 pm—will feature what the cable network dubs its most "intense" and "gripping" stories yet.

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By Sarah Beller

coke mouth

5/24/13 4:02pm

Diet Soda Rots Teeth "Like Meth and Cocaine"


Save your chompers! Photo via

Turn that smile upside down, diet coke addicts! A new study claims that a diet soda habit can rot your teeth just as badly as using meth or cocaine. "You look at it side-to-side with 'meth mouth' or 'coke mouth,' it is startling to see the intensity and extent of damage more or less the same," says Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny, a professor of restorative dentistry at the Temple University School of Dentistry in Philadelphia. In the findings of the study, published in the journal General Dentistry, a woman in her thirties who drank 2 liters of soda a day for three to five years had the same dental damage as a 29-year-old meth user and a 51-year-old crack cocaine user. "None of the teeth affected by erosion were salvageable," says Bassiouny, and all three study participants needed all of their teeth extracted. The woman said she consumed extreme amounts of diet soda because she was concerned about weight gain, and also because she associated regular sodas with tooth decay. But Bassiouny says that sugar-free soda is just as damaging to teeth as regular soda "if they are consumed in the same frequency, the same amount and the same duration.” 

Drugs such as crack cocaine and meth are known to damage the teeth because of their acidic content, and previous studies have linked "meth mouth" with dental decay. Soda (both diet and regular) is also "highly acidic," says Dr. Eugene Antenucci, spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry. "From my experience, the damage that happens to people's mouths from cocaine or methamphetamine are degrees greater than what I see from soda," he says, "but I see a lot of damage from soda." But a group representing soft drink manufacturers argue that the new study is misleading and should not deter people from drinking soda. "The woman referenced in this article did not receive dental health services for more than 20 years—two-thirds of her life," the American Beverage Association said in a statement. "The body of available science does not support that beverages are a unique factor in causing tooth decay or erosion." They recommend regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist to prevent decay. Regardless, Bassiouny says that, in addition to these measures, reducing soda intake is best for the chompers—and if you do drink it, do not keep in your mouth for too long.

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By Valerie Tejeda

organized crime

5/24/13 1:44pm

LA Mobster Indicted in International Drug Ring


Montreal Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto Photo via

In a scene straight out of Martin Scorsese's most fevered fantasies, suspected mafia drug trafficker Alessandro Taloni pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn courtroom Thursday to charges of trafficking cocaine for the infamous Montreal-based Rizzuto crime family.After a five year investigation, the DEA claim that Taloni and several others—including French Canadian drug kingpin Jimmy “Cosmo” Cournoyer—were involved in a vast cross border smuggling ring that funneled Canadian ecstasy and weed to New York before converting the profits into Mexican cocaine which was shipped back to Canada. During a search of Taloni’s two Beverly Hills mansions, authorities turned up $1 million and a staggering 49 kilograms of cocaine. Additional searches of other locations linked to the operation have turned up a further $1.6 million and 34 more kilos of cocaine. “Taloni was a major narcotics distributor who used his connections to powerful international organized crime groups to obtain and distribute tens of millions of dollars worth of deadly narcotics,” said Eastern New York US Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Prosecutors allege that Taloni, 39, who has duel Canadian and Italian citizenship, was one of 10 members of a Montreal-based drug ring that linked members of the Rizzuto and Bonanno crime families, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, Native American smugglers from the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation and Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel. According to the indictment, the operation would move ecstasy and hydroponic weed from Canada into the US to sell on the East Coast. The crop was then sold in New York, and huge sums of cash from the sales were routinely flown to Los Angeles aboard private chartered planes. On Oct. 13, 2010, U.S. drug agents intercepted one of the planes and reportedly found US$5.5-million in cash. Taloni is alleged to have flown from Montreal to Los Angeles to collect the money, which he then used to buy cocaine from Joaquin Guzmán Loera, the notorious leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, and one of the world's most wanted criminals. The cocaine would then be shipped to Canada to be sold and the profits used to underwrite the marijuana pipeline into the US. If convicted, Taloni could face 10 years to life in prison.

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By Tony O’Neill

drinking buddies

5/24/13 12:42pm

Stalin Got Wasted With Churchill in Wartime


BFF Photo via

Despite being allied against Germany during World War II, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and England's Prime Minister Winston Churchill didn't always see eye to eye. But it was nothing that a little a lot of booze couldn't remedy. According to files released by Britain's National Archives, tensions were eased between the two leaders when they once shared an alcohol-fueled all-nighter in 1942, at the height of World War II. Evidently, Churchill arranged for the two to meet up, with the help of interpreters, over a boozy banquet that lasted until 3 in the morning. In the previously secret files, Sir Alexander Cadogan, a British diplomat and under-secretary of Foreign Affairs, wrote that the two leaders shared "a heavily laden board between them: food of all kinds, crowned by a suckling pig and innumerable bottles." He described the mood of the evening as "merry as a marriage-bell." And though the British PM did complain of a "slight headache" at 1 in the morning, he was able to rein in the drinking after that, and "wisely" limited himself to "a comparatively innocuous effervescent Caucasian red wine." The two leaders largely avoided military chat, but Churchill did ask the dictator what was going on with the "kulaks"—the farming class Stalin had announced plans to exterminate. Stalin apparently responded "with great frankness" saying that the kulaks were "very unpopular with the rest of the people!"' But the two apparently breezed past past this topic and ultimately got along chummily. "Certainly Winston was impressed [with Stalin]," wrote Cardegan, "and I think the feeling was reciprocated."

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By May Wilkerson


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