A once-popular Bay Ridge blog — the Bay Ridge Rover — has been taken over by a would-be Greek tycoon who has destroyed everything that the Rover stood for.
Especially local knowledge.
Fans of the acclaimed blog, which mysteriously ceased publication last fall, were shocked when new posts appeared on the long-defunct Web site last week.
And they were even more surprised by the content of the posts, which transformed the blog from a hub of hard-hitting Bay Ridge analysis to a smattering of innocuous gibberish about non-existent shopping malls and restaurants.
“Huh? What is this? Who hijacked Rover?” wrote one commenter on the Web site.
In a sharp reversal from the Rover’s previous incarnation as a hyper-local news and commentary blog, the new Web site consists of incoherent ramblings that seem like they were written from, well, halfway around the world.
A July 17 post extols on imaginary Bay Ridge eateries like “Purple Haze,” allegedly an Italian restaurant “tucked away in the serene ambience of Cherry Bay in the South East of Bay Ridge,” and the made-up “Hotel Prime Sweden,” which allegedly serves a popular meatball dish in the so-called “Columbia area” of Bay Ridge.
In a piece titled, “Bay Ridge, all set to stand tall,” the pseudo-Rover claims that the neighborhood is undergoing an “increase in immigrants, especially the Irish and Italians,” while a post titled, “The place to be” describes the nearby neighborhoods of “Green Park, Rock Avenue and Slopebush.”
This is only a sampling of the peculiar reportage that has turned the once-savvy community blog into a bizarre hub of misinformation — and Web-connected Ridgites aren’t happy about it.
“I don’t get it. You must be blogging from an alternate universe,” a commenter named Tara exclaimed after a particularly strange article touted fictional Bay Ridge stores like “Eva Mall Stop,” “Electronica Mall,” “Sparkle,” and “Jacy’s.”
But the new Rover told The Brooklyn Paper that he’s trying as hard as he can to cover Bay Ridge — even though he’s doing it from Greece.
“We intend to bring the site back to [its] previous glory either by keeping it [on] our network and updating it often, or giving it to someone interested [in] it,” said Stelios Vathrakokoilis, who noted that he decided to purchase the site because his grandfather was one of the first Greek immigrants in Bay Ridge.
“When I saw the site being filled with filthy ads and having lost all the content it used to have, I decided to pay the price and try to at least bring the old content back and then to add new articles,” he said. “Although it is hard for me to keep the standards the old site had, at least I try.”
But the founder of the Bay Ridge Rover — reached by The Brooklyn Paper for his first-ever interview — tells a slightly different story.
The elusive blogger — the neighborhood’s second most trusted news source — explained that Vathrakokoilis purchased the site in hopes of making money off of the Rover’s Web traffic after the real Rover allowed his ownership of the domain to lapse.
“When [domains expire], other companies come in and buy them, then load them up with Google ads, and loads nonsense posts with keywords for hits,” the mysterious Rover wrote in a text message. “That’s what happened here.”
For his part, the original Rover feels no need to return to the Bay Ridge blogosphere — even as his site is losing its good name.
“Bay Ridge doesn’t need a blog, it needs a miracle. It’s a small petty town run by clowns,” he said. “The Rover will never return.”