Regarding the controversy outlined herein, I received the following email from Daniel Case today, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007:
I apologize profusely for insinuating that you were responsible in some way for yourlate brother's suicide. It was vicious and over the line. It was late at night and I was letting my emotions get the better of me after reading some of the comments to your blog post ... my attention should have been directed at the commentators in question, not you.
I wrote this column on Wikipedia for the Cleveland Free Times in January 2007. In it, I rant about blatant falsehoods I found on Wiki concerning my brother, his watch, and a supposed cameo he did on a 1970 film "Scrooge." The article garnered this letter from one Daniel Case, who called for me to be fired and sent off with unfavorable references.
Nothing pleases me more than shining a light on my critics, so I announced and linked Case's letter in this January 2007 post. That entry got its share of comments at the time. Then nothing until the day before yesterday, nearly seven months since the whole thing transpired. And it was Mr. Daniel Case himself who published this comment:
The fact is that you lied. Lied like a rug with cement blocks on it.
Every Wikipedia page has a history section, which anyone can look at, which shows all the edits changed and saved. None of the pages you claimed to have edited showed any record of the edits you claimed you made.
Those history pages (required under the licensing scheme we use) are like phone bills. If you did it, it's there. If you didn't, it's not. It's right. You're wrong. End of discussion.
As for your editor standing by you, I hadn't intended that email for publication, but, since I didn't say so, that's on me. All I can say is that that sacrifice of integrity (I would speculate from it that he's sleeping or has slept with you at some point ... I hope it was good for you because he writes like a guy with a tadpole in his trousers) in favor of friendship is proof positive that the Free Times has indeed gone waaaaay downhill under its present ownership. Cf. New York Times, Jayson Blair.
Your blog speaks for itself. Your brother was a truly talented writer ... I'm sure part of the reason he drank so much was having a bitter hanger-on like you as a sister.
September 5, 2007
I did those edits, Mr. Case.
I am very protective of John's memory. I don't know why the edits did not show up in the history, perhaps there was a technical glitch on Wiki's end or on my end (this was ages ago when I was still on dial-up). Every person reading this has seen computers eat files. Or maybe I effed something up while doing the edits, (although I tried to be very careful). I've also heard of super Wiki administrators who can delete stuff no one else can touch. Could some unseen power have effed with my edits? It doesn't seem likely, but who knows? There are some very powerful people who have a vested interest in the "mystery" and "legend" surrounding John O'Brien, his life, his death, and his work. I have no idea what happened, but I tried in good faith to set those Wiki pages straight. This was long before I was a columnist for the Free Times.
Then at some point, I revisited John's page and the "Leaving Las Vegas" page. The erroneous stuff was back. I was completely stunned. I thought: shit, someone must really have a good reason to keep putting this shit back up. Maybe there was something I didn't know about. So I talked to Mom and John's wife of 13 years, asking about whether John did do a cameo in a film unbeknownst to me, or if there was anything that might have been misconstrued as such. We talked about his beloved Rolex watch.
The Wiki statements were just plain wrong as I had thought. But to be sure I poked around trying to find if there was another John O'Brien who did a film cameo in "Scrooge." Maybe there was a mix up. No, it was all just a bunch of tripe. I tried to figure out what happened in the histories, but was completely confused. I was fed up with Wiki and its impossible pages at that point and decided not to re-edit (I have no idea if it's improved, but at that time editing pages was a nightmare). After all, what was the point if anyone could change it back?
Free Times Editor Frank Lewis and I talked about all of this when we got Case's first letter right after the column ran.
I am not going to gas on defending myself against the rest of Case's rubbish. But I will say this: I have nothing to hide. I invite anyone to edit my Wiki page or for that matter Case's Wiki page and link all of this.
One other interesting tidbit: after my Wiki column ran, someone edited out the stuff I said was false regarding John. But they did so very grudgingly, immediately stating in a discussion page that the edits should not be reinstated until another source could verify them--apparently John's Mom and sister are not reliable enough sources for verifying whether or not he traveled to California in 1970 to appear in a movie at age 10 (we lived in Brecksville, Ohio at the time).
People, this is who is running Wikipedia.
This is what happens when you publish an "encyclopedia" in which you let anyone say anything about anyone and and then let anyone else edit it. Granted, the vast majority of contributors are well intentioned, but even so, the pages are inundated with misinformation.
Don't believe me?
I just visited the "Leaving Las Vegas" Wiki page, wherein under "Production" it references John's suicide then states (at least until someone edits it), "As a result, the production was stopped temporarily." John died on April 10, 1994. I am pretty sure that film production had not yet begun. I am pretty sure this is bullshit. And although I am not cock-sure positive, I'm fairly certain I could dig through my boxes of LLV stuff and find a document that specifically references when production began and that it was a couple of months after John's death. And I suspect that someone somewhere planted this seed of misinformation in order to pump up the story behind "Leaving Las Vegas." It may have originated elsewhere ... until a completely honest and well-intentioned person read it and thought it would be a cool thing to add to the Wiki page.
Someone else do the research and correction. I'm too effing tired.
In the meantime, don't believe it. I was on the set of "Leaving Las Vegas" in October of 1994. Don't believe me? Here's a picture. I'm on the left. That's my sister-in-law on the right.
Now then, how many other itty-bitty details like that are floating around Wikipedia?
Note: I privately emailed Case to verify it was he who left that comment on my blog. This was his response:
"I wrote it but you can delete it ... it was rather rash and, in the morning light, I have reconsidered. In retrospect, better to let this drop for now.
I still know you made that bit in your column up, though ... I notice you have never denied it. My guess is that you'll do something like that again and get caught, so I'll leave it to fate."
Another note: There are plenty of other people who have hurt me and my family by way of my brother's memory.
And one last note: I am writing this because Case has ignited an email firestorm over it and I felt the need to tell the truth once and for all and put this to bed.