Welcome Back Coconut Grove Grapevine

Despite my minor feud with Tom Falco, it was with great interest that I noted that he’s fired up the Coconut Grove Grapevine again. For those not paying attention, Falco wrote back in September

I have decided to end the Grapevine, but maybe not totally end it, I don’t know yet. What I am doing is stopping daily publication for now, only because I feel that I have other things I need to do and I believe that you physically have to shut one door to have another door open. I want to immerse myself into the cartooning world and so that is what I am going to do. I plan on traveling often, my first trip is to New York for the New York Comic Con, where I can mix and mingle and pick up tricks from other cartoonists. I need to promote myself and my comic, Tomversation, full time. While I bought a 4-day pass, I was also given a press pass, so I will be covering the event for publication, maybe for the Huffington Post.

I could keep the Grapevine up and running, but not on a daily basis, but I feel that would be doing it in a half-assed way. I don’t want to do that. I have tried hiring photographers and writers but it doesn’t seem to work. So rather than run the thing into the ground, I will take this break, most likely it will be final, but I am a Gemini and I change my mind often, so maybe I’ll start it up again in a few months, we’ll see. [Editor’s note: That’s a hell of a run-on sentence, Tom.] There are almost 9000 stories here believe it or not, all done in the 7.5 years we’ve been up and running, so you can always go back into the archives and have a laugh or two if you feel like it. [And, again.]

Tomversation, Falco’s cartooning site,
is also part of his vast publishing empire.

However, 4 months later comes word that it’s all been a terrible dream and Bobby was just in the shower for the season. The other day Coconut Grove Grapevine announced:

I’m a bit rusty, but I am thinking of returning to the Grapevine. Why? I need the money. My business has been floundering, like many in this economy, I assume, and I am stopped daily, literally daily, on the street, and asked by people to come back. [Same Ed. note] I am thinking of doing so, but with some changes.

One big change — no politics. I don’t want to get back into that. I really don’t I never enjoyed that part of it and sort of got sucked in years ago and never got out. Most people who stop me on the street tell me they want news but news of what’s going on around the village, you know, what’s new? what’s coming in, what’s going out, etc. I’ll do that. I will also cover events and such, but this is going to be a money making venture now. In the past, I had ads, but 99% of those ads were not paid for.

I’ve been cheated by people, one prominent restaurant still owes me lots of money, oh wait, I said I wouldn’t go there. But most of the ads were friends or trades or things like that. I didn’t make money in the past. I honestly didn’t. Now I plan to make money. I am going to charge for coverage.

No politics? That’s really a damned shame, Tom. As I have been trying to get you to understand since we first made contact, you have (had?) a strong voice in the community and could use it for good. When you gave my blog just ONE mention, I received 122 visits from your readers. That’s still the largest referring URL to my blog (discounting my own front page). That’s a testament to the influence you have (had?).

And it’s not like there are no serious political issues to explore in Coconut Grove, Tom. Certainly the E.W.F. Stirrup House (my own pet project) is one. The Coconut Grove Playhouse is another. That Marc D. Sarnoff runs Coconut Grove like an Imperial and Imperious Emperor is another. You almost touched on politics this morning when you mentioned Emperor Marc Sarnoff’s upcoming meeting on Trolleygate. You’re really missing a trick here, Tom. Trolleygate is a scandal that’s tailor-made for a good muck-raking journalist working for the interests of ALL the people of Coconut Grove. Too bad you aren’t that guy. Hopefully, someone will come along and take up the mantle of Coconut Grove Muckraker, but it won’t be me. I am too far removed geographically from the Grove to do an adequate job, as much as I have fallen in love with the West Grove and would love to be that guy.

SPOILER ALERT: However, I will tackle Trolleygate, Tom, so stay tuned for my new series on the so-called Trolley Garage. Overall it will be about the wisdom of putting a mechanical garage for diesel buses smack dab in the middle of a residential neighbourhood that’s trying to rehab itself with several urban renewal projects — literally — on the drawing boards pending approval. It’s a story I will be able to use to prove my original thesis about Coconut Grove: That its curious development over the years, from Mariah Brown right up to today, is the result of systemic racism. Same as it ever was.

IRONY ALERT: During my previous criticism of the Coconut Grove Grapevine I accused Tom Falco of only writing about topics that would help his bottom line, such as stores in the Grove and community events with an advertising budget. I also accused him of not writing about topics that might hurt his bottom line. F’rinstance, as just one example: writing about the Coconut Grove Playhouse and/or the E.W.F. Stirrup House might anger the rapacious developer Gino Falsetto, who controls both and owns restaurants that advertise in the Coconut Grove Grapevine. Accused (by me) of not wanting to bite the hand that feeds him, Falco denied this most vociferously. However, it appears I gave him an idea. You’re welcome, Tom:

So I’ve come up with a price schedule for coverage, also for running regular, good old fashioned ads that will surround the content.

I am going to offer actual ads in the content area, you know, event flyers, then, there is a price for press releases, photos and also having me actually come out and cover an event. I feel these prices are fair. I went by the monthly circulation to see how many eyes will see the content, keeping in mind that various other publications also pick up and share my content. The Huffington Post links to the Grapevine and also the actual stories are picked up, so many eyes see these Grapevine posts from other publications, too. And keep in mind that once your name or business name is posted, it is picked up by the search engines, which gives you extra cache.

I think by now that we all know that everyone reads the Grapevine and if you want to get your event, business or party noticed, this is the place to be seen. All the other Grove publications are now gone and Community Newspapers and Neighbors stories are few and far between. By the way, you’ll notice the Herald ran a story on the new Pan Am Museum/store last week and it is running in today’s Neighbors in print. My content (your content) gets around.

So, if you want to learn about what all the cool, groovy White hipsters in The Grove are doing, read the Coconut Grove Grapevine. If you care about what’s really happening in the Grove, you may have to go elsewhere.

Welcome back, Tom. Hopefully Coconut Grove politics will get along fine without you.

About Headly Westerfield

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

5 thoughts on “Welcome Back Coconut Grove Grapevine

  1. Having read the Grapevine for years and despite his best efforts, Tom is not a journalist. To tell you the truth, I don't know what he is! Is he a publicist, a promoter, a marketer? I don't know!

    For a start, and I hate to be critical but the guy can barely string a sentence together and he constantly writes himself and his opinions into a story. Thats not journalism, that's self promotion. Journalists report facts, not opinions.

    I agree that Tom only ever wrote about what was happening on Commodore Plaza rather than the real issues that affect Coconut Grove.

    From reading his new updates, he wants to charge people $500 for his presence at events (You could probably get a Kardashian for that) and charging people for stories and press releases! A journalist would never charge for turning up at an event as once you introduce money into the equation, he has to be favorable to it. Who is going to pay for a bad review?

    If I were the business owners or community people of the Grove, I would club together, pay $10 each per month and employ a proper publicist. Hell, they could even start their own blog, give each of them login details and they could publish their own stories and press releases without paying Tom. The Grapevine is a glorified pin board for press releases and notices.

    If I go to an event and he is there, I think I may leave in protest. I'm not going to pay to attend an event to sit beside someone who is being paid to be there.

    I admire what he did with the Grapevine, it was a great community service and I was sad to see it go. It was a very handy resource but now that I know issues and events are being omitted because the business or organization can't afford it, the Grapevine has certainly lost some of its appeal.

    By the way, you should print out a poster for your Stirrup house posts and pin it to the board in the Starbucks at Cocowalk.

  2. Thanks for the response.

    I tried really hard to get Tom to help me with my Stirrup House campaign, even offering him off-the-record deep-background if he would help me understand the various levels of government, and factions within. Even then he said he didn't "want to get involved in that."

    TO BE FAIR: I tend to write myself and my opinions into stories. The difference is I have 40 years experience as a professional writer and journalist. My opinion, and presence, are not for sale.

    I'd love to use the Starbucks board, but I always assumed that was for charity events and the like.

    Feel free to pass along my post to people who may enjoy it. Anyway, thanks so much for the comment. I'm starved for them, to be frank.

  3. I've seen Tom's card (both grapevine and tomversation) posted to the Starbucks board many times.

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