If It’s News, It’s News To The Coconut Grove Grapevine
Let’s have a Tomversation, Tom.

Longtime followers of Not Now Silly can attest, I have been trying to Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House for more than 5 years.

Back in 2009 I tried to get Tom Falco, publisher of the Coconut Grove Grapevine, to help me. We engaged in a series of emails that went south really quickly. I explained my background. Then I offered my early opinion (which has only grown after researching more history) that much of what happens in West Grove is informed by Systemic Racism, I received the following reply from Falco, grammar, lack of punctuation, and misspellings unretouched:

[8/31/2009] Well some of the residents on the block are to blame too.

The first house was given over $700,000 by the city in grant money to renovate and the owner painted it white and took off.

Other areas were to be an arts district, but someone involved and part of the black community bought up all the land cheap and then tried to sell it to the artist for exhorbatant prices, so they just walked away.

You were wrong to place this on the facebook page it is off topic and really if you want to be taken seriously you need to do it by not spamming places. It makes you look unprofessional and people won’t take you seriously.

I do since I have done stories on the subject, but it is best to try to spreaed your info the proper way, and spamming blogs and facebook is not the proper way.

I’m just sayin.. Also it wasn’t “Whitie” who scammed the artists, it was the black something initiative that screwed the hood.

Tom Falco

Tom Falco [L] sharing information in downtown Coconut Grove

Wait!!! What???

I was surprised that Falco was so unconcerned about Charles Avenue and the E.W.F. Stirrup House. His larger issue — one he has to this very day — is about SPAM. All links in comment threads are SPAM, as far as he is concerned. It would never have occurred to me that a post about news in Coconut
Grove would be considered Off Topic on a blog with the rubric COCONUT GROVE’S ONLY

Silly me!!!

As for professionalism: I’ve been a professional writer-journalist for more than 40 years. While it’s so easy to dismiss that experience in the cyber-world, where anyone can claim to be a writer, at least I spell words correctly and know how to use punctuation properly. Yet, Tom Falco has a sizable readership despite his grammar and run-on sentences. More’s the pity.

Clearly Tom and I have a fundamental disagreement. Falco feels sharing information through a link is SPAM. I believe information should be shared. I’m not sharing the link to get traffic to Not Now Silly. I don’t make money off web traffic, like he does. I am sharing the link in order to share the information contained within. Three days later he wrote to me because I transgressed again:

I asked you in a nice way to stop spamming my face book page.

If you do it again, I will have you blocked from the page.

Thank you.

Falco did eventually block me from his facebookery. I was never successful in recruiting him to my efforts to save the E.W.F. Stirrup House, even when I tried again in 2012, when he dismissed me with:


I really don’t want to get involved with that.

I am really trying to ease out of the Grove these days and am not taking on any more causes.


Nor was I successful in recruiting him to the other West Grove issue that cropped up a year ago, Trolleygate.

Funny story about that. Al Crespo, the great Miami muckraker and publisher of The Crespogram Report, tried to get him involved in Trolleygate. Without knowing of the enmity that had built up, Crespo made the mistake of including in his email a link to one of my blog posts and CCed me. Falco blew a gasket, which was so funny and outrageous that I wrote all about it in Go Home, Coconut Grove Grapevine, You’re Drunk! Hilarity ensued. However, Falco’s yet to apologize for the libelous statements in his email.

That’s why it was so surprising to see the Coconut Grove Grapevine recently take up the issues of both the E.W.F. Stirrup House and Trolleygate. What was not surprising is how he has continued to block my comments on his threads because I continue to link to my blog posts.

However, I recently learned that it’s not just me who is being blocked at the Coconut Grove Grapevine. I am now in email communication with someone else (with Tom Falco CCed). This person has also been trying to get comments posted on Falco’s blog. Falco not only refuses to publish the comments, but has refused the courtesy of a private reply as to why the comments have been blocked.

Let me be the first to defend Tom Falco. Only Tom Falco should decide on what gets published on the Coconut Grove Grapevine. Having said that, no one”s trying to SPAM his blog. We are trying to provide his readers more information on issues of importance to Coconut Grove. A real writer would WELCOME that kind of dialogue with its readers. Falco really should drop the pretense that he’s serving his readers; he’s serving his advertisers.

This advert was out-of-date on
March 1st when the MPA took
over the Playhouse parking lot.

When Falco falsely labels informative links SPAM, it’s a convenient excuse not to publish comments that might lead to criticism of any of his advertisers. F’rinstance: Gino Falsetto (the marauding developer I have written about extensively) has been an advertiser at the Grapevine through various companies, including his (possibly illegal) parking concession at the Playhouse and the several restaurants in the Grove Gardens Residence Condominiums.

With Aries Development Group‘s fingers in so many Coconut Grove pies, much of the reporting Falco does is compromised. His recent two-parter on the Stirrup House, spurred on by the destruction of the trees and the public outcry, is an exercise of saying almost nothing while giving the Stirrup House lip service. Laughably he says in one of those posts:

For some years now, a few people asked me to get involved but I always felt there was nothing I could do. After so many years, the Stirrup family gave up the house, which was given historic designation in 2004.

And, nothing is what Tom Falco did. He ignored the Stirrup House from the day I tried to get him to help until now.

And, nothing is what Tom Falco still does. In neither post does he really come out and criticize the rapacious, marauding developer, Gino Falsetto. Furthermore, he won’t publish comments that do.

TO BE FAIR: Falco’s absolutely right that there’s nothing he can do, unless he’s willing to piss off his advertisers. However, if he wants to serve his readers and the larger community can help me pound the drum to Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House.

Either run as the Unofficial Mayor of Coconut Grove, or do some real reporting.

Even his reporting on Trolleygate is back-asswards. He never comes out in favour of his neighbours against the non-complying Coral Gables bus garage, although he mentions the controversy almost tangentially.

What Falco actually has done is to start a petition to demand that Miami bring its fake trolleys into Grove Center. He takes no position on whether these fake trolleys should loop along Grand Avenue into West Grove. Nor does he mention the latest news in the fake trolley story, that Coral Gables has voted to loop its fake trolleys to the MacFarlane Homestead Subdivision Historical District, but not to Douglas Road, in West Grove, just one block away and where its developer sited the fake trolley maintenance garage.

The MacFarlane Homestead Subdivision Historical District has a fascinating history. I barely touched on it in No Skin In The Game ► Part Three. In short: Coral Gables hid its racism in plain sight by making its only Black enclave, where it ALLOWED its servant class to live, an entire historic district.

Once again West Grove is being frozen out while Center Grove is begging for crumbs from Miami for a fake trolley. However, for a change, Historic Black Coral Gables might finally get served. But, you’ll never learn any of the context from the Coconut Grove Grapevine.

If Falco remains true to form he will next take another wrong position. In no time at all I expect to read him call for grandfathering the illegal, non-conforming Douglas Road diesel bus garage because, with the expansion of the fake trolley lines he’s pushing for, it will be needed, despite the fact that it belongs to the next town over.

I guess what really has me irked, however, is he managed to get quoted recently by other publications who jumped on the both the E.W.F. Stirrup House and Trolleygate issues. He had to be dragged — kicking and screaming — to barely write about these Coconut Grove issues in the first place. Then Miami media quotes him as if he knows what he’s talking about.

Clearly, he’s got a much better press agent than I do and I am jealous of the attention he gets.

However, I’ll warn Falco publicly (again) that he needs to be careful who he says what to. Some of what he says actually gets back to me. In fact, people seem gleeful to repeat it. Some of it sounds suspiciously like slander. People he believes are his friends do not keep his confidences. Who knew FAM would provide so many Friends of Falco a night to unload?

On the other hand: Everything I have said to people in private about Tom Falco, I have also stated in public on my blog more than once:

The Coconut Grove Grapevine is a joke, and Tom Falco is a panoply of a parody of a journalist.

About Headly Westerfield

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

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