The midweek line —- Oxford American UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The midweek line —- Oxford American UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 4:05 PM

FREE TWINKIES: A giant Twinkie handing out his namesake snacks, plus free Petit Jean hotdogs and free bread were among the features at opening day of the Walmart Neighborhood Grocery in Riverdale this morning. The parking lot was chockablock throughout the day.
  • FREE TWINKIES: A giant Twinkie handing out his namesake snacks, plus free Petit Jean hotdogs and free bread were among the features at opening day of the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Riverdale this morning. The parking lot was chockablock throughout the day.

The Wednesday line is open. Closing out:


* OXFORD AMERICAN'S FORMER EDITOR SPEAKS FURTHER: An earlier blog note on the firing of founding editor Marc Smirnoff at the Oxford American magazine has drawn a further response from Smirnoff. Read it here. He takes exception to Publisher Warwick Sabin in several respects, including the literary quality of Sabin's prose.

In cold, stiff, lifeless legalese, he strains to prove a pulse. This is the hardy pen that will lead The NEW Oxford American into realms of “new energy”?

UPDATE: An FOI request to UCA , which houses the magazine's editorial offices, has produced letters written to University President Tom Courtway by Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald, the managing editor who also was fired, in which they elaborate on their contention that Oxford American officials hadn't given them adequate time to respond to "preposterous" allegations against them by three employees who'd either been fired or were in danger of losing their jobs. The letters are lengthy and explicit. But Smirnoff's adds some to what he'd said previously about what the magazine board questioned him about in advance of the firing.

The gist of the questions directed at me concerned whether I had ever served alcohol to minors at my private residence (yes), whether I had ever sexually harassed an Oxford American intern at or during our UCA existence (no), and whether I had ever touched or photographed the feet (no other body part mentioned!) of an Oxford American intern (yes).

He elaborated later:

"Yes, I allowed drinking in a controlled environment (guilty, but, fyi, off-campus and no kids were allowed to drive); Yes, with their permission I have touched the feet of two ex-OA interns (guilty, but, fyi, off-campus and also I must plead guilty to other approved touches: kissing some heads (both genders), patting some backs (ditto), even lifting a person up once in a while — but I have never had, and never will have, sex with one of our Arkansas OA/UCA, etc., interns."

For her part, Fitzgerald said she'd been a victim of harassment herself by another employee.

You'll see that Lindsey Millar has further updated his earlier report to reflect a statement from Rick Massey, an OA board member and lawyer, who said the investigation covered many more than three people, including current and former interns and employees. Smirnoff's letter to Courtway said he welcomed independent interviews with the OA's many past interns. He said the magazine had a "unique" internship program and participants were treated with "fondness and respect."

This is a good place to mention our Big Picture feature in this week's edition, a guessing game about who might succeed Smirnoff as editor of the magazine.

ALSO: Smirnoff complained in an interview with the Log Cabin Democrat about the OA Board and said the case pitted him and Fitzgerald against "fancy, rich, powerful, sharply dressed people."

* JOHN L. SMITH DOES THE SEC: Razorback football coach John L. Smith had his time on the main stage during the SEC media show today. He got national attention for a question about a favorite saying: "Get your piss hot."

"Who told you about that?" Smith exclaimed. "That was supposed to be a secret. 'Get your piss hot' means that it's time start revving it up. It's time to start getting after it. It's time to get that motor ready and get that emotion going."

...Smith seemed surprised about the question, but according to Travis Haney of, he shouldn't be. Arkansas running back Knile Davis told Haney that there are 'Get Your Piss Hot' T-shirts.

* FDA RAID IN JACKSONVILLE: Stephen Steed of The Leader in Jacksonville reports on a recent FDA raid of Laser Med, a company once based in Jacksonville that has been hit with a big judgment for selling phony cancer cures.

* CASINO PROMOTER WANTS MORE TIME: Michael Wasserman, the Texas promoter of a casino gambling amendment, says he should be given 30 more days to gather signatures for the amendment. The secretary of state last week disqualified the amendment because his initial submission, though meeting the gross signature requirements, didn't include the required minimums from at least 15 Arkansas counties. It's unclear if a court challenge lies ahead.

* EDUCATION DEPARTURE: Seth Blomeley, former Capitol bureau chief for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and, since February 2011, communications director at the state Education Department, worked his last day at the department today. He submitted his resignation July 12 to seek other opportunities, said Phyllis Stewart, chief of staff to Education Director Tom Kimbrell. Stewart said she'd be fielding communications inquiries while Kimbrell seeks a replacement.

* ARREST OF CRAIGSLIST ROBBERS: KTHV reports the arrest of suspects in a robbery of someone moving into a home on Kavanaugh Boulevard July 4. They are also suspects in at least one of two recent robberies of people who were victimized after going to West Little Rock restaurants to sell electronic gear they'd advertised on Craigslist.

* RIDING THE RAILS: A Middlebury College student is blogging about his cross-country passenger rail expedition, with stops to educate himself in eight small towns, including Malvern, Ark. Malvern?

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