If you happened to be on Facebook over the weekend, and of course you were, you probably saw some exciting celeb news in your feed.
Lady Gaga was moving to St. Petersburg! We had arrived! You immediately started dreaming of drinks with her at Green Bench Brewing, taking her out on Beach Drive for some charcuterie and Roquefort, helping her live simply in our waterfront oasis.
Except, the report was false. Ellen E. Clarke, editor of the Times' sister publication, tbt*, explained that a sketchy website called wleb21.com was actually behind this latest Internet hoax designed to bait you into clicking.
"A quick search showed the site also has Ben Affleck moving to Beaumont, Texas, the next Star Wars movie being filmed in Wyoming, Justin Timberlake moving to Norwalk, Conn., and Katy Perry moving to Olathe, Kan. — all reported within the space of a couple of days," Ellen reported. "If you click on WLEB 21's 'contact us' button, they confess right away: 'WLEB 21 is a fantasy news site. All news articles on wleb21.com are satire or pure fantasy.' "
Another site, Local News 33, also had Robert Downey Jr. moving to Safety Harbor. Not true. And in March, Times movie critic Steve Persall debunked a fake story on a site called AlyNews that a sequel to The Notebook would be filmed in Clearwater.
Sad that shady Internet goons have to capitalize on our dreams. I'm a really major fan of Lady Gaga. I will gladly defend the Artpop album to anyone who asks. I regularly fantasize about her singing at my wedding one day, with or without Tony Bennett (I'm flexible!).
So what if the story was false? It's time to take a minute and do some persuading. Why wouldn't Gaga want to get a little vacation place in this corner of the world?
Here are some things she would truly love about St. Pete:
ARTpool Gallery: There's no way Gaga, with her art house, performative fashion sense, wouldn't adore the vintage mix ARTpool owner Marina Williams has curated in her Central Avenue shop, restaurant and art space. I could definitely see Gaga working the runway during one of ARTpool's frequent costume parties.
The murals: Gaga loves the visual arts. She and fiance Taylor Kinney did the deed on a canvas and photographed themselves covered in paint (to each their own?). American artist Jeff Koons designed the cover of Artpop. Gaga is bound to love the murals covering the downtown walls, from the snake-face combo by Chris "Pale Horse" Parks and Leon "Tes One" Bedore on the back of the State Theatre, to "Space Rainbows" by Ricky Watts on the Sage building.
Italian food: Gaga, a.k.a. Stefani Germanotta, has posted photos of herself cooking up big Italian meals as a nod to her family and heritage. We could show her some quality pasta at BellaBrava, Il Ritorno and Gratzzi. And let's take an idyllic stroll together through Mazzaro's Italian Market.
The Tampa Bay Times: SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT. But, really. Wouldn't Gaga love Florida's Best Newspaper? And wouldn't she want to be pals forever with the people who work there, specifically, you know, this person? Please?
Don't answer that. Just let me have this.