Oops! We did it again! 

15 years of things we wish we hadn't done.

The bad thing about being a newsweekly is that if you make a mistake, it's in print. The worst thing is that it will sit in the racks for a week.

Luckily, we're perfect, and we've never had to worry about that. ... Why are you laughing? That's not nice.

Okay, that perfect thing is not quite true. It turns out that over the years, we've made plenty of mistakes. There have been the run-of-the-mill reporter's mistakes -- dates wrong, bad math, fraternities identified as sororities. (Back then, eye care wasn't covered by our insurance.) And then there have been the kind of mistakes that make you say, "D'oh," and slap your palm to your forehead like Homer Simpson.

Here are 15 of our biggest "oops," counting down ...

15. Back in 1995, we made fun of one of the casino's buffets in our annual "Best of Memphis" issue. A casino employee had tested positive for hepatitus and we alluded -- okay, outright said -- that eating dessert there was the worst gamble in Tunica. "Boy," we wrote, "talk about the wrong kind of craps."

Not only were people offended by how cavalierly we treated a serious disease, but the casino -- formerly a paying advertiser -- wasn't too pleased with us either.

14. Since our offices are situated on scenic Tennessee Street, we had a firsthand view of the construction of the Bluff Walk. But back in the '90s, we were among the biggest opponents of the project. We thought it was a waste of money. Tom Lee Park already offered a good view of the river.

But now, we have to admit we were wrong. We're sorry. It was a good idea.

13. THROUGHOUT the year of our 10th anniversary, we put "10 Years of ... " on the cover, like "10 Years of Stirring Up Trouble," "10 Years of Irreverence," "10 Years of Tim Sampson."

But there was the week that we put "10 Years of Mispellings" on the cover and misspelled was misspelled. Of course, we told everyone it was a joke, but guess what? It wasn't.

12. It's been a while since the Flyer has had the same sexy personal ads that grace other newsweeklies. Yes, much to the dismay of the lustily unsatisfied, we don't run ads for commercial phone-sex numbers, massage parlors, or escort services. But it hasn't always been that way.

One day, a person brought in an ad for private maid service. (Who knows what they thought they were cleaning.) Not realizing that this was pure kink, the sweet people in our classifieds department shrugged their little shoulders and said, "Make the check payable to The Memphis Flyer."

After we ran what we now call the "naked maid ad," massage parlors and lingerie models all wanted in on the act.

We decided that wasn't quite the image we wanted, so in 1994 we stopped running such ads. But you have to love that we once ran an ad with the slogan "Dust or Bust." Really.

10. If you remember our 269th issue, way back in 1994, you'll know that former county mayor Bill Morris was on the cover. But you might not remember that John Buchanan, former head of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, was also on the cover of issue 269.

Actually, they both were cover boys for issue 269 -- in consecutive weeks. We forgot to change the issue number, so issue 270 doesn't exist.

9. Everybody loves News of the Weird and Jeanne Seagle, who does the illustrations for us, is wonderful. One week, though, she was a little off.

A Weird item told of a Valentine's Day tour at the San Francisco Zoo and the trouble that pygmy hippopotami Roly and Poly were having mating. Roly just couldn't figure out where he was supposed to stick his ... um, well, stick. He keep getting poor Poly in the armpit or the ear.

But it turns out we were as confused as poor Roly -- our illustration of the unhappy couple showed two rhinos.

8. Speaking of sex ... alternative newsweeklies are usually seen as more open to so-called alternative lifestyles (wonder why that is?). There was an issue in 1997, however, when we caused a bit of a stir in the gay and lesbian communities with one of our ads.

"I used to be a homosexual," the ad read. "There is hope for you." Pictured was the executive director of a Christian ministry to "cure homosexuality."

We're not sure about the product, but we do know that a week later, many of our readers were not gay with us.

7. From time to time, even our writers have problems (aside from their typical mental state). But in one issue, very early in our history, one writers (who we will not embarrass by naming) wrote a story about a big environmental problem. It was going on somewhere in Memphis but the story doesn't say where. It might have had something to do with asbestos, we think, but the writer didn't seem sure to know for sure.

You see, the story was just incredibly ... vague. We think it was a legitimate problem, whatever it was, but maybe we just didn't have all the information we needed to back it up. Or something. And it was, like, Tuesday, and we, like, had to go to press, and ... well, we just knew there was problem, somewhere. We can't even find the issue, it was so vague.

6. In April of 1993, things got a little catty around here. We ran a short item about Cat Country opening up at the Memphis Zoo and said this: "The zoo bills it as 'Independence Day' for the canine population being moved out of cages into an open air environment."

No wonder we didn't know the difference between a hippopotamus and a rhinoceros.

5. Every week, Fly on the Wall provides comic relief to the readers of the Flyer. But one week in March 2001, the joke was on him. That week, the Fly column was a little short and no one noticed that when it went to press there was a big gray hole in it filled only with the art director's questioning words "fluff fluff???."

4. Then there was the time we decided to do a story about the best barbecue in Memphis. (Now there's an original concept!)

As a cover illustration, our art director had what she thought was a cute idea. She found a staff writer with, shall we say, a little excess pork around the waist, had him take off his shirt, and then smeared a Q around his belly button with sauce.

It was a great idea in theory, but the cover photo was confusing. No one was quite sure what it was. All they knew was that it grossed them out. One popular misconception was that it was photo of a pig's butt, with our fair reporter's belly button as the ... well ...

To him, we apologize.

3. Last October, intrepid reporter Bianca Phillips wrote two great stories in one week: one about a technique to improve eyesight and the other about providing options for home care for the handicapped. We had just started experimenting with a new-fangled technique (which is called digital) to send our paper to the printer and somewhere there was a glitch.

The right ads got on all the right pages, but one of Phillips' stories, headlined "Can You See Me Now?," ran twice, right next to each other.

2. Two months later, it happened again.

Chris Davis had followed local band the Porch Ghouls on their tour with Aerosmith and KISS. Though the beginning and the ending were good, it was the middle of the piece that really told the story. It was moving and revealing, with dynamic language and wonderful use of allegory and characterization. Many people who read it simply broke down and wept, so beautifully did Davis capture the passion of the men and their music.

Unfortunately, even though we were using our old-fashioned production technique (called paste-up), the pages were mislabeled and Davis' story had one beginning, two ends, and no middle.

1. And finally, there was the time we sent former reporter Phil Campbell to do an in-depth investigative piece on a nudist colony. With a photographer. It wasn't pretty and we're sorry. We're really, really sorry.

*Can you find the "oops" in this story? Careful, there may be several.


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