Could use an editor ... Oh wait.
The Oxford American
magazine often described as a literary publication but something more along the lines of a New Yorker-style, general interest glossy with a literary bent (albeit a stranger beast
), has been in a wee bit of turmoil lately. The founding and longtime editor of the multiple-National Magazine Award-winning publication, Marc Smirnoff, was ousted in mid-July by the magazine's board in connection with charges of sexual harassment and serving alcohol to traditional college-age students, under 21.
The magazine is published by and has offices on the campus of the the University of Central Arkansas
in Conway AR, a college town located about half-an-hour from Little Rock. A New York Times
story, published yesterday, tells a story of a 19-year-old intern's sexual harassment charges against Smirnoff, who corroborates her story about how he insisted that she drive home alone with him after an overnight party/retreat that went awry (the interns drinking and whatnot, he berating staffers about it, then exploding on her the next morning), and once in the car asked her to hold hands, take him to her favorite make-out spot, hold hands, etc. (Her corroborated reply: She would have preferred to "hold hands with a dead dog.")
The editor insists that this was only fun and games, that sexual banter was common between these two, and everything was all paternalistic and playful, as was his hugging of interns and kissing them on the head, he was like the boss on "The Office" and legendary for his pathetic, off-color, non-PC jokes, others could attest to that. Also he'd taken photos of interns' feet.
Anyway, Smirnoff and longtime girlfriend Carol Ann Fitzgerald, the OA managing editor and art editor who as also fired by the board, have cobbled together an especially long and discursive counteroffensive on a website called, "Editors in Love," under the headline of, "Our Story of Losing the Oxford American." It includes all manner of loosely connected details, including texts from a senior editor who is still at the OA that show how he engaged in sexually-oriented banter with Fitzgerald (before allegedly charging her with sexual harassment, according to Smirnoff. The ousted editor admits to having served alcohol to students at the editing couples' home, meanwhile, but says the publisher who ousted them did the same.
And ... really, it's impossible to describe. Around mid-point, Smirnoff includes, in giant font, "“Fuck you disgusting cocksuckers," a line from what is termed as a not-so-secret top-secret diary from the OA senior editor mentioned above.
More from the Arkansas Times
Other interesting coverage and analysis comes from the North Mississippi Commentor
, a blog from Oxford MS, the original home of the magazine. Among the items
noted there is that one of the interns, Mary Marge Lockner, won the 2011 Column Contest of McSweeny's. Her last column, dated August 6
, alluded to drama at the Oxford American. That column has apparently been taken down.
As for Smirnoff, he writes at Editors in Love that he is open to other literary ventures, and meanwhile needs a new Apple desktop. A used one would suffice!
(Note: The magazine's high popular, annual Southern Music Issue is still set to be published in December. The issue will focus on Louisiana music. Alex Rawls
of New Orleans' popular OffBeat
, a local music publication, will serve as guest editor.)