Oops, I Did It Again
Between 1988 and 1990, the magazine butchered the spelling of Mayor Geline Williams' name. We had her as Gellene, Jollene, Gailene. Well, even The New York Times admitted just recently they'd consistently goofed 49 times on the spelling of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. That doesn't make us feel any better, though.
A March 1996 feature story covered gay Christians. A cross with an AIDS ribbon draped over it ran in the bottom-right corner of the cover. Poor judgment on our part. One reader wrote to say that while pleased with the article, the cover art disappointed him. "Gay" and "AIDS" are not synonymous or interchangeable," the writer said, and rightly.
Can I Get a Do-Over?
A reporter interviewing Lt. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder in 1986 realized that — after an hour in — the tape recorder wasn't working. Wilder redid the interview. Somehow, when the late great Studs Terkel did this, it was endearing.
Down the Wrong River
The dramatic cover of our 1988 Sourcebook Edition featured a house set up on a wharf in the middle of a dusk-lit river. Thing was, this was the New York state's Hudson River, not the James. Photographer Ron Wu supplied the image, originally shot for a furniture company.
Maybe They'll Write It In
A subscription card in the late 1980s, titled "a real work of art," was inserted in our issues without the magazine's return address. That explains why our ink costs were a little under budget that month.
A 2-Yard Penalty
In April 1990, a residence in a "Homes of the VIPs" photo spread was identified as that of football great and Wheat First Securities vice president Willie E. Lanier. Editor Frances Helms wrote that Mrs. Lanier called to say, "I know where I live, and that isn't it."
The confusion came with two houses on the same street with the same number but one on the east end of it and the other on the west.
It Didn't Work For Madonna, Either
In large, unambiguous type, our September 1993 cover (perhaps the magazine's worst ever) flashed the word "Sex" to trumpet a story examining sexuality among Richmond singles. The cover line's placement next to two photos also implicated Sesame Street's Ernie and Bert (seemingly confirming all those rumors) and trivialized a serious story about Alzheimer's. An offended shopper at a local grocery store complained, and the magazine was pulled from shelves. That's what happens when you make a joke in a staff meeting, and the headline ends up on the cover.
One Name at a Time
In the June/July 1991 issue, actress "MacKenzie Phillips" was identified as a native Richmonder. The erroneous information, including her misspelled name, was pulled from a book about Virginia trivia. An alert reader who knew Mackenzie Phillips' mother confirmed that she was born Laura Mackenzie Phillips in Alexandria, the daughter of John E.A. and Susan Adams Phillips. Which goes to show that even before the Internet, stuff got published that was just flat wrong.
What's Up, Doc?
The January 1996 "Top Doctors" feature used survey information provided by the authors of The Best Doctors in America: Southeast Region, 1996-1997. An omission in the feature, carried over from an error in the book itself, was the heading for cardiology, though cardiologists were listed. Also a host of specialties, like ENT, oncology and urology, were missing. One reader denounced the list as "incomplete and naïve in the extreme." Disgruntlement about the survey was compounded by typos.
Since then, our "Top Doctors" feature has relied on a survey sent out to all licensed physicians in the region and tabulated by the magazine's staff.
Before Madoff, There Was Bressensdorf
Baron Otto and Elena von Bressensdorf came to Richmond in 1993 from Los Angeles, oozing with accents, titles and the baron's story about his family trying to fight Hitler. Otto had a picture of himself with Ronald Reagan and stories of Hollywood hoi polloi.
The couple first appeared in the magazine in December 1994, and by November 1997, they'd renovated the Brockenbrough House, where they were pictured in our "Castle in the Rough" feature that also detailed Elena's fascination with feng shui.
Then, in January 1998, the FBI indicted them on 209 counts of fraud and money laundering. Their take was estimated at $12 million. They were found guilty of 26 counts that October and sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison. The house and its contents were auctioned.