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The OA stuff gets weirder and weirder: Now, the Ole Miss sorority girl with the column in McSweeney’s online joins in

Update:  The essay quoted in this blog has been pulled off the McSweeney’s site…

If you are following the Oxford American flap, you are aware that one of the issues involves summer interns.

And it seems that one of the OA summer interns has been writing about lessons from her experience there.

At McSweeney’s online site…

Remember Mary Marge Locker?  The Tri Delta sister  who won a contest to write a year-long column for McSweeney’s online, and who has spent a year writing about being a freshman at Ole Miss?  I wrote about her in the third item down in this post last Spring.

That’s her on the left in the picture, as an Oxford American intern, drinking and underage at a party in Little Rock at the publisher’s office.  It’s posted (with a caption but without id’ing her by name) in Marc Smirnoff’s strange defense on his new website.

If you’ve read parts of Marc’s point of view about this whole fiasco, you know that he’s asserting that the firing was provoked over his firing and warning a couple of interns, and firing an editor.  Two interns and the editor then went to the board of the Oxford American with complaints about Smirnoff, and the firings ensued.

In a column in May, Locker mentioned that she was off to intern for the Oxford American, her first ever job, noting that she could not get a job at Square Books.  In a column in June, she wrote about servants at sororities at Ole Miss, titling the piece “The Help,” and noting, “I’d like to thank my current boss for inspiring me to write about race.”

Her latest column, dated August 6th, describes the life-lessons from learning about editing in her summer job editing and fact checking.

I’ve lived alone, paid my own bills, dealt with the personal pressures of office affairs (take that word as you will), and committed to the more straightforward ups and downs of working a 9–5. The magazine’s got a social climate all its own, but I’ve gained more knowledge about how to handle different aspects of my own social life simply through the hard-learned invariables of editing.

But more important (when you’re low as hell on the totem pole) than the relationship-via-email you have with your writers is the in-office relationship with your editors. They make or break your experience—mine was made and then broken in half, but it didn’t really matter because I figured out how to be polite and make it work.

In her list of life lessons from her experience as an intern is this:

Don’t play in to scandals or drama,
but build real relationships when you can.

By real relationships, I don’t mean making out with your supervisor or anything, but rather finding common ground with coworkers and superiors, maybe for the sole purpose of leaving a lasting impression, or maybe for want of something greater—friendships, camaraderie. But this want, if let to fester in the wrong environment, is mistaken. You shouldn’t come into a job expecting relationships… you should strive simply for connections. Yeah, there are people to drink with on the weekends or hit up a movie with, but enjoy them without expectation. (This rule took me way too long.) In the nature of a 19-turned-20 year old, I wanted something that wasn’t what I got, because I’d never had a job and didn’t know what it meant to be a coworker. But now I have what’s better: connections, and comrades, without the forced bond of overly committed and strenuous friendship, even though for now we are friends, and it’s worth the possibility of continuing; but there is no pressure, just understanding and relief.

This has taught me what the bond of sorority sisterhood should be like.


Gawd.  I just finished reading Smirnoff’s defense of himself.  There are a couple of pertinent intern references that leave it up in the air who the difficult intern might be.  One describes an exchange between Marc and the editor who he was about to fire, and names Lockner:

And I still can’t stomach a recent memory involving Enzinna and interns. Not too long ago, Mary Marge Locker, a current OA intern, and I were shooting pictures at an outdoor Shakespeare play when we walked over to a crowded nearby restaurant where we found Enzinna and Carol Ann having drinks (see, they kept hanging out together after October 8, 2011). After Mary Marge and I sat down, Enzinna, clearly drunk, began talking very loudly and meanly about another intern who he was sure (via intuition) that all the other interns hated. I tried to change the subject but he only came back louder:

“You just don’t like the fact that you aren’t the only with intuition! And you don’t like that I’m right!”

Though the damage was done, I rose from my seat and asked Mary Marge to join me outside for more photographs. The fact that a senior editor would trash another intern in front of an intern disgusted me profoundly and even though Enzinna later blamed it on his drinking, I think that moment was when I began to slowly but surely connect the dots. (I would later learn that it wasn’t “intuition” that gave Enzinna the idea about that intern but another intern who genuinely apologized to me for saying that. Such an apology never came from the senior editor.)

The second is from the section where Marc makes demands of the OA board:

Conduct a hearing for the intern I fired and who Massey later invited back to work at the magazine. We request the right to question her in front of The Board or an impartial tribunal so that we can present and question upwards to ten witnesses who, we are convinced, will corroborate our charges against her and dismantle any claims of “sexual harassment” she may have said (and invented) against Marc Smirnoff. (Note: The fired intern is not a minor and we therefore have the right to name her. We have decided not to do that yet. We also reserve the right to file a complaint about her behavior to the out-of-state university that sent her to us.)

I can now say I’ve read Marc’s point of view, all the way to the end.  The man needs an editor.


22 comments to The OA stuff gets weirder and weirder: Now, the Ole Miss sorority girl with the column in McSweeney’s online joins in

  • cg

    Also of interest:

    “I came into the small magazine the youngest intern and quickly proved this was of no great consequence. (Except when it came to barhopping or the like.)”

  • NMC

    Mary Marge is on the left, not the right. Post altered accordingly……

  • Terminator


  • Ben

    My response to Smirnoff: “You have me confused with someone who gives a *#~^.”

  • Observer

    Observation #1: Seems like several people are acting like middle schoolers.

    Observation #2: When you get fired, keep your mouth shut and your head down and move on. Does Smirnoff think all of this stuff is going to help him find another job? Anyone with a brain who reads any of this won’t touch him.

  • I thought nothing could be more boring than a hyper-self-conscious magazine of Southern exploitation edited by a tourist from San Francisco. I was wrong. I got about two-and-a-half paragraphs into it before I just started scrolling (and spiralling) downward. It made me pine for the half-baked sociology of a David Brooks column. The random bits I stopped and read along the way at times sounded drunk. Congratulations to anybody who actually read the whole thing. You are tougher than I.

    (By the way, since I do try to find common ground with some of my sparring partners on even on the slimmest of subjects, I think Observer is 100% correct on both of his observations.)

  • rogerwilco

    This is really entertaining. I hope Marc doesn’t decide to take your advice and get an editor.

  • David

    He needs to understand that:

    (1) serving alcohol to a minor is illegal;
    (2) hoisting, patting and hugging female interns is a good way to open yourself up to a sexual harassment claim; and
    (3) he just admitted to doing both.

    That’s some serious stupid.

  • Anderson

    David is right. Don’t hug interns.

    Either keep your hands entirely off them, or else have wild sex with them.

    But for god’s sake, don’t merely *hug* one and risk getting busted for something you didn’t even intend.

    (No sexism in this comment: goes for mentor-intern relations of all flavors.)

  • NMC

    You’re leaving the touching-feet thing out, David and Anderson.

  • Ben

    Trouble brewin’ ….

  • Snake Pliskin

    I find it almost mind-altering that Smirnoff believes that there’s someone in the world who’ll read his manically digressive and self-incriminating “defense” all the way through, all the more so because it’s evident that he didn’t read the thing through himself. Based on this document alone, we can safely conclude that neither Smirnoff or Fitzgerald will ever work in publishing again. Not in any meaningful capacity. Unless they win the lottery or rob a bank.

  • Anderson

    You’re leaving the touching-feet thing out, David and Anderson.

    It was a foot massage, a foot massage is nothing, I give my mother a foot massage.

  • NMC

    Snake, it may have been an absurd thing to do, but after the demands that his side be heard, I read through. I was amazed at the information-to-verbiage ratio, though.

  • NMC

    Word count, for the curious: 21,000 words. That’s a third the length of The Great Gatsby, or The Sun Also Rises, more than a third the length of As I Lay Dying, and pushing not that far under half the size of Slaughterhouse Five.

    Just for comparison’s sake.

  • Snake Pliskin

    NMC: Maybe you should be the new editor of OA if you read that thing all the way through. Certainly you deserve some kind of medal.

    What I found especially odd: Smirnoff asking for money donations so he can buy his own computer. Then asking for a used one, on the condition that it had to be a Mac. Does it get any weirder?

    On another note, a great deal of the document concerns itself with outing “fair-weather friends”. It’s a recurring theme, in fact. So where are the “real” friends? Are there any? Is there one?

    Finally: it strikes me as particularly disingenuous to have published Fitzgerald’s text exchanges with the young junior editor, whatever his name is. Disingenuous because the environment at OA very clearly sanctioned this kind behavior; it seems recurring and pervasive between all the employees. I think the junior editor can be forgiven his stupidity, to a certain degree, for his youth. But what about Fitzgerald entertaining this stuff? A woman in her 40s who should know better? Taking interns and employees on Bourbon Street? *Bourbon Street*?

    In in no way am I suggesting it’s Fitzgerald’s fault. Of course not. But why not fire the little hipster dweeb? Or get Smirnoff to do it? I’ll answer this a la Smirnoff in his broadside:

    Answer: everybody was complicit with this kind of activity. It was a dry rot that had settled in the attitudes of the staff. It was systematic, part and parcel of the OA itself, going all the way back to the early 90s.

    Well, enough of all that. It’s over. I just can’t get over how these “editors in love” could have thought sharing all of this was a good idea. They should step away from the computer for a year or two and get themselves together.

  • Ben

    Looking for a face to attach to the word “narcissist”? Welcome to the narcissist locker.

  • NotZachScruggs

    Reading this makes me realize how thoroughly dull I am, and how modest. The question isn’t who would hire this nut, but is this a “cry for help” of a different nature?

  • Anderson

    Bragging about your modesty *again*, NZS? ;)

  • Pigeons O'er the Gulf

    Oh, sheesh, his salvo contra the OA firing seems to have been written in the style of Mattie Ross in True Grit.

  • NMC

    As a Charles Portis fan, I will have to say I’m puzzled by that remark.

  • Pigeons O'er the Gulf

    O, you know, all the strung out retributive, “I’ll get you you lying curr of a coworker” stuff — though of course without Ross’s inability to suffer fools or Portis’s succinctness and underlying, ever-present dry wit.

    vis a vis:

    Marc —

    Where is the transparency in hiding the names of their accusers from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald? (The American Constitution says that the accused have the right to face their accusers.)
    Where is the transparency in hiding The OA Board from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald? The OA Board, presumably filled with honorable people, did not even hear directly from Smirnoff and Fitzgerald!


    “I have a newspaper record of a part of that Wharton trial and it is not an official transcript but it is faithful enough. I have used it and my memories to write a good historical article that I titled, You will now listen to the sentence of the law, Odus Wharton, which is that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead! May God, whose laws you have broken and before whose dread tribunal you must appear, have mercy on your soul. Being a personal recollection of Isaac C. Parker, the famous Border Judge.”

    And speaking of institutional dysfunction, did Smirnoff and Fitzgerald become romantically involved before or after he hired her? Neither is good.

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