An Open Email To Tom Falco of the Coconut Grove Grapevine — UPDATED

LAST MINUTE UPDATE

My attempt to send this via email just now was thwarted by a coward who, after falsely attacking me in print, has banned my email address from reaching his.

No matter. I still have several options and almost 2 years in which to get this done. I can still:

  • Find someone willing to deliver this via their email address;
  • Have a hard copy delivered by registered snail mail;
  • Carry an analog version with me in case we find ourselves in the same room again; or
  • Just bite the bullet and accept the proffered help from one of the lawyers.


TO: Tom Falco, Coconut Grove Grapevine
SUBJECT: Retraction vs. Lawsuit
DATE: April 8, 2017

It was so nice seeing you the other day at the HEP Board meeting to vote on the future of the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Too bad we’re not on speaking terms. Otherwise we may have found a way to resolve this by now. But, still, it was nice seeing you take an interest in something that will negatively affect the adjacent and contiguous Black Grove. Oh, wait. You never mentioned that in your article. I guess that will be my job once again.

As you well know, Tom, through the years I’ve tried to school you on grammar — because you’re so bad at it and it’s just so much fun to point that out. Just this week you crafted another delicious paragraph, which was poorly punctuated and bracketed by two fabulous run-on sentences:

At odds all evening was the issue of whether a 300 seat playhouse or a 700 seat playhouse should be built or renovated and that was another major issue, should the whole playhouse be restored or just the front section? The current plan calls for just the front section, while the rest will be rebuilt, not restored. Richard Kiehnel, famed architect of Kiehnel & Elliott, who created the original building in 1927, built it for movies, not theater, in future years, it was retrofitted and changed to house live theater by another famed architect, Alfred Browning Parker.*

Then there’s this gem from another article:

The purpose of this meeting is to interchange ideas for the future use of the Miami Marine Stadium.

Interchange I think the word you’re looking for is AND, YOU CALL YOURSELF A WRITER


Notice you never see Mr. Softee and Tom
Falco in the same room at the same time?

You bring shame upon a profession I have spent a lifetime perfecting.

More seriously, Tom, I have also tried to teach you a little something about Journalistic Ethics over the years. Like the need to mark advertorials as such; or not bartering meals or goods in exchange for advertising and/or positive reviews; doing more than just cutting and pasting press releases you’ve received; and about making declarative accusations without a scintilla of proof.

Sadly, I have been unsuccessful at educating you on grammar or ethics. Now I’m going to try teach you a little something about Libel and Defamation law. I hope I have better results because this is only going to get uglier from here on in.

First things first: It would seem that the legal system has its own set of ethics. Whodathunkit?

One of those pesky rules (and remember, this is a learning curve for me, too, because I’ve never been defamed in print before) is that before one can sue for libel (as opposed to slander, which is spoken and for which I have only hearsay and anecdotal evidence that you’ve done that about me, too), one must take certain actions and pursue other remedies before petitioning the courts for relief. [Tom: That’s just an example of a very long sentence punctuated in such a way as to avoid being a run-on. It can be done.] Chief among them: one must make a legitimate and legal request for a retraction and apology.

Yannow what else I discovered, Tom? Making such a demand on a comment thread on a crappy blog — like I foolishly did on yours — does not rise to the level of a legitimate and legal request. Especially since you deleted the entire comment thread, sending it down the memory hole so you could pretend it never actually happened.

I also learned that my blog post of January 25th, Tom Falco Libels Me Again. Then Runs Away, does not constitute a legitimate and legal request, even tho’ it’s on the interwebs for the entire word to see. One legal argument could be that it’s entirely possible you never saw it, Tom.

I also learned a little something about contingency lawyers recently. If they smell money, they’re willing to take a flyer on a long shot libel case. One asked whether I wanted a registered letter sent to you on stationary with legal letterhead. I declined (for the time being) because I’d much rather do this myself.

We’re gentlemen, right Tom? We should be able to agree on what was over-the-line speech spewed in anger, right? We can get over this unpleasantness without resorting to the courts, right?

That’s why I am sending this to your email address [and publishing it]. It’s a substitute for a letter from a lawyer, but doesn’t preclude a letter from a lawyer in the future. Even if you were to delete this email, there’s an electronic record of it.


I was so sad when this fell
off the All Time Top Ten

Look, Tom, this could have ended in January with a simple retraction and apology. Here we are several months later and this open sore continues to fester. Yet, it’s in your power to put a stop to this, Tom.

All you need to do is post a short paragraph at the Grapevine retracting your baseless accusation of me and apologize. Or, in the alternative, prove your accusations against me. If you do the latter, then I’ll owe you an apology. See how that works?

“Some people say” that all I am really doing is making you famous beyond your piddling local readership. I suspect that’s true because for a while you were #2 post at the new Not Now Silly Newsroom. As of this writing, 155 people have read Tom Falco Libels Me Again. Then Runs Away. I suspect that number will grow after this is published.

Tom, what you don’t seem to realize is that I find this fun. Whether it amuses you — or not — it amuses me to toy with you in public like this. I can easily keep this going for almost 2 years, when the statute of limitations runs out, before I finally have to file a lawsuit.

It’s in your power to end it.


* Like I do with Emperor Trump, when I quote you, Tom, I will use Comic Sans. It just seems appropriate.


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Headly Westerfield
Headly Westerfield
Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.