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Author Martin J. Smith

  • Martin J. Smith

    Editor-in-Chief

    Smith is a veteran journalist and magazine editor who has won more than 40 newspaper and magazine writing awards. He became Orange Coast’s top editor in 2007 after nearly eight years at the grandly ambitious but ultimately doomed Los Angeles Times Magazine. He also spent nine years as a reporter and columnist for The Orange County Register. In addition to his 30-plus years as a journalist, he is the author of three crime novels (including the Edgar Award-nominated “Straw Men”) and two nonfiction books. Still, he’s most proud of his ongoing series of crank letters to inept service vendors and the makers of faulty home appliances. He considers “Re: Cuisinart Toaster Model CBW-177” to be his masterpiece.

 

Editor’s Letter: August 2014

We focused our attention on the kind of luxurious bites that can change lives. You know the feeling—almost primal. When the craving hits, nothing else will do. The moment you take a bite, the Earth stops spinning, the firmament opens, and the angels belt out the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah.” Read more...

So Far, So Good

Like a lot of people in Orange County, I have parents who are aging, increasingly frail, and living on their own far from their children. At 96 and 92, they’re struggling to remain independent, and the distance between here and there has never felt so vast.

Before I tell you about the odd little video I shot of my blind, 96-year-old father unloading the dishwasher—and why everything you need to know about living honorably and on your own terms is contained in those six minutes—let me give you some backstory. Read more...

Watching Dad Unload the Dishwasher

For the story, click here. Read more...

Editor’s Letter: June 2014

I used to greet summer’s arrival with the same anticipation and fanfare I reserved for the ice cream truck. Three glorious months unfurled before me like a blank canvas, and it was my job to use the standard tools of boyhood—baseball bat and glove, bicycle jumps, a snorkel, model rockets, dangerous fireworks—to create something extraordinary. My career may have peaked on the Fourth of July when I joined a fellow 10-year-old in a successful bid to each eat a full-sized watermelon. Then I grew up.  Read more...

Editor’s Letter: May 2014

Lindsey Stirling was booted from “America’s Got Talent.” The judges felt the world wasn’t ready for the Santa Ana-born hip-hop violinist whose website describes her as “some strange, electro-pastoral rave fairy.” Read more...

From Surf to 70mm to the South Pacific, Orange County Legend Featured at Newport Beach Film Fest

Locals will get the rare chance to celebrate an Orange County film legend this month when the Newport Beach Film Festival spotlights the work of Laguna Beach's Greg MacGillivray and MacGillivray-Freeman Films, one of the world’s foremost independent producers and distributors of giant-screen 70mm films with 37 films for IMAX and other giant-screen theatres to its credit. Throughout the company’s 50-year history, its bigger-than-life films have won numerous international awards, including two Academy Award nominations, and had three of its films inducted into the IMAX Hall of Fame. Read more...

The Thinking Person's Vacation

Not that you asked, but some of the smartest people in America have chosen their favorites from among the nation's 58 national parks. Read more...

Editor’s Letter: April 2014

The clip shows Mission Viejo botanist Robert Allen standing on a hill near Modjeska Peak. The co-author of a new and hopelessly obscure guidebook about local wildflowers has just found a rare and endangered plant named the Santiago Peak phacelia. Read more...

Editor’s Letter: March 2014

The coolest areas in this vast expanse of remarkable neighborhoods—places with a mysterious combination of distinctive homes, walkability, and safety; amenities such as matchless shopping, cafes, and restaurants; and what contributing editor Valerie Takahama calls “that innate wonderfulness.” Read more...

Solve This Mystery: "Ladies of Intrigue" Isn't Just For the Ladies

A day-long crime novel conference hits Huntington Beach

Which is why anyone who aspires to writing crime novels, male or female, should plan to be at the Hotel Huntington Beach (near Bella Terra) on Saturday, March 29, for "Ladies of Intrigue," a day-long conference featuring L.A. and O.C. writers such as the internationally popular creator of the Molly Murphy and Her Royal Spyness series, Rhys Bowen, shown, Death on Demand series bestselling author Carolyn Hart, and a dozen others. They'll reveal how they come up with murderous plots, villainous killers, and brilliant sleuths in panels such as “Down a Dark Alley: How Setting Shapes Story,” “Tough Cookies: Strong Female Protagonists,” and “Passport Required: Mystery Goes International.” Read more...

Editor’s Letter: February 2014

On a recent cross-country flight, I sat beside an Orange County man who operates seven Southern California burger franchises of a major nationwide chain. During our conversation, I mentioned that Orange Coast was preparing a cover story on Lynsi Snyder, the president of his local archrival, Irvine-based In-N-Out Burger. Read more...

Hey, all you lesbian cairn terrier owners, let’s ... Meetup

Pagans and witches and knitters, oh my. They’re all out there, sifting themselves into ever-smaller subatomic clusters on social networking sites such as Meetup. In the process, they’re also creating an online psychosocial X-ray of modern Orange County.

I was at my home computer scrolling through the staggering cross-section of humanity on a website called Meetup. Since relocating to Laguna Niguel a few months ago, I’d successfully mined the social-connection site for fellow soccer players interested in weekly pickup games. But while doing so, I stumbled upon what may be the most perfect spot from which to survey the curious breadth and depth of modern Orange County. Read more...
READ NOW: Serial Killer Seduction

Our "Center of the Universe" story is being read all over the world right now. Click here for the story.

 

Who Did Randy Kraft Seduce?

Current photos of author Jay Roberts.

 

A Fact-Checker's Journey to a 1980 Afternoon

Our intrepid intern tracks down the details in Roberts' story.

 

Why Isn't Randy Kraft Dead?

Our original piece on one of California's deadliest and most depraved serial killers. 

 

Editor's Letter, October 2013

Our editor considers "Center of the Universe" to be compelling—and incredibly frightening. Click above to find out why.