Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Random Lengths News: Replacing the Gerald Desmond Bridge (5/30/19)

Random Lengths News ran my article on "Replacing the Gerald Desmond Bridge" in the May 30-June 12, 2019 issue. The online version was posted, 5/30/19. Here's the link:

Here's the lead:
Replacing the Gerald Desmond Bridge isn’t one of Long Beach’s more controversial projects. The landmark 50-year-old bridge, which spans the Port of Long Beach’s Back Channel, is simply no longer up to handling today’s road and harbor traffic. Although it remains structurally sound, chunks of concrete have been flaking off for years, and a safety net has been installed to literally hold some parts together.
After many years of planning and securing funding, the groundbreaking ceremony for a new bridge was held Jan. 8, 2013. The old bridge remains open to traffic while the new bridge is being constructed just to the north. When the new bridge is completed and opened to traffic—scheduled for late 2019—the old bridge will be closed and torn down.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Book Review: The Golden Age of Gay Fiction

This review first appeared in the Nov. 2010 issue of the Orange County & Long Beach Blade.

Consider how much landmark twentieth-century fiction was gay or, at least, had gay overtones. Think about how many classic movies (some with the gay content excised) were based on such fiction, and then add how much popular gay-themed pulp fiction of past decades may be unjustly forgotten, and you'll find a book like The Golden Age of Gay Fiction to be an invaluable reference.

In this book, 19 authors contribute 23 essays analyzing 20th-century literature often written largely by and for the evolving gay community, and the emergence of a distinct literary tradition within that community. One entire section is devoted to legal battles involving pornography (which affected explicit sexual content whether gay or straight) including the relevant Supreme Court decisions on freedom of speech and expression.

Some other essays contained here are devoted to the emergence of gay themes in genre fiction. Gay horror didn't start with Anne Rice's vampire Lestat, gay Westerns didn't start with Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" and, since the 19th century, much classic detective and crime fiction has had gay overtones. Many major authors were part of what the book calls, "the first great explosion of gay writing in history," including Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, John Rechy, John Cheever, Mary Renault, Patricia Nell Warren, Patricia Highsmith, Jean Genet, E. M. Forster, and Christopher Isherwood.

One of the more interesting aspects of this book is how much of modern pop culture has been influenced by gay novels (or, at least, literature with gay overtones). Isherwood gave us the Cabaret franchise. Rechy's "City of Night" inspired a Doors song.

Some movies that were based on popular novels--often considered shocking when first published because of their gay themes--range from Maurice, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The Sergeant (which kept their gay content in the transition to the screen) to From Here to Eternity and Knock on Any Door (which didn't).

This book also reminds us how some landmark gay-themed properties have languished undeveloped in Hollywood for decades--one glaring example being Warren's The Front Runner. If such an unforgettable best-seller can be so easily forgotten, out of sight and mind in some Hollywood file cabinet, then perhaps some of the more obscure titles unearthed here need to be freshly approached as well.

Link on Amazon:

Link on Goodreads:

Monday, April 22, 2019

Book Review: Yield

This review first appeared in the Nov. 2010 issue of the Orange County & Long Beach Blade.
With his debut novel, Yield is the title, Lee Houck writes of troubled gay youth battered literally and figuratively by contemporary urban life, with a result somewhere between J. D. Salinger, Jack Kerouac, and a John Hughes movie. As a slice of realistic fiction, Yield is set in New York but contains a certain Southern Goth flavor, as if Tennessee Williams found a New York accent. Houck's book won the Project QueerLit 2008 and is published by Kensington.
Houck writes with realism too cynical for a simple romance novel, of the dramas and romances that make up his characters' daily lives:  personality disorder, crime, dead-end jobs, and and the old-fashioned quest for love in all the wrong places. Simon, the main character, works two jobs to get by--as a file clerk by day and a prostitute by night--until he and his model-friend Louis are victims of a string of unprovoked anonymous gang assaults that are terrorizing New York's gay population. Another friend keeps mutilating himself and ending up in the hospital. One of Simon's clients may be a romantic rescuer, then again, maybe not. The story is not about the resolution of the assaults but instead how the hate crimes form just another layer of disorder to these intertwined young lives where any shreds of pleasure are few and far between.
That Houck makes us care about these characters' struggles is what makes the story exceptional. The copy provided for review contains an "alternate" beginning, what the author calls a "DVD extra." Why it was excised from the main story is a mystery because it reveals much about both the author's craft and his characters. It starts as just two guys sitting on a rooftop, observing the neighborhood. Nothing much happens in the way of drama or plot development but it draws us into the world these characters inhabit.
Whether we're members of the GLBT community or not, we live in the same world they do, and struggle with many of the same issues.
Link on Goodreads:
Link on Amazon:

Friday, April 12, 2019

"Was Wright's Pardon Wrong?" in Random Lengths (Apr. 4-17, '19)

My article, "Was Wright's Pardon Wrong?" concerning Jerry Brown's pardon of former state senator Rod Wright, ran in Random Lengths, Apr. 4-17, 2019.

Here's the link:

Here's the lede:

Most remaining records related to former California Gov. Jerry Brown’s pardon of former state legislator Rod Wright became public March 21, the result of a lawsuit by the First Amendment Coalition, which challenged the decades-old California Supreme Court practice of automatically sealing all documents related to executive clemency.
“The public has a right and interest in knowing what justification the governor has in [granting] a pardon,” said David Snyder, the coalition’s executive director.
Snyder recounted that, when the coalition sought the records related to Wright and “about five or six” other cases stemming from Brown’s large number of pardons, they found the court was automatically treating all such records as confidential, inconsistent with California law.
Unlike many other states, California checks the governor’s authority to pardon twice-convicted felons, by requiring approval from the state Supreme Court first. Wright fit the category because he had a prior conviction—from 1972, when he was 19, for auto theft—before his 2014 conviction for perjury and voter fraud, for living outside the district in which he was elected.
Wright spent six years representing the 25th state senate district, which included Carson and Inglewood, and 12 years in the legislature all together.
In 2008, an investigation by the Los Angeles district attorney concluded that when Wright  ran for office in 2007-2008, he was not residing in a “domicile” in the 25th district—in Inglewood, as he claimed.
Wright was convicted on eight counts involving perjury and voter fraud, as he also used the Inglewood address for voting. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail (he actually served less than a day), three years’ probation, 1,500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $2,000 restitution. He was also banned from ever holding state office again.
Here's the link to Random Lengths:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


Carol Martini, who's long played the Los Angeles and Orange County singer-songwriter scenes, has released an ambitious 23-track CD The Fine Art of Singing While Drowning, her first recording since Songs of the Girl on the Swing (2016). Here she's the singer, songwriter, and co-producer, while co-producer Daniel Martin provides all the musical accompaniment. A third co-producer, Keith Taylor, provides vocal harmonies.

Martini's style has long ranged from poignant love songs to playful humor to autobiography. Here she provides some examples of just about everything she can do. Even though each song is good, having so much offered at one time may limit the ability of this CD to find its audience. The arrangements, too, don't have the kind of punch that's needed to stand out from all the other music that's available online now.

Of the more playful offerings here, one stand-out is "Pirate Chick," the latest in Martini's series of "Chick" songs about bold adventurous women. Another of her more humorous works is "Hit Man," a whole song that plays on the words in reference to music and that other kind of hit. It's like the story of a comic-book villain in musical form. Some of Martini's love songs are humorous, too--laugh along with "I'm a Little Obsessed" sometime.

For Martini's more poignant side, try "There's a Suitcase Packed" about that moment when the last thread(s) of a relationship are about to snap. Some of her songs are on You Tube--the romantic and poignant "You Made Good-bye an Art" is one. "Hit Man" is another.

Perhaps next we'll see Martini make an album where all her songs match a certain mood--either romantic, or humorous, or jazzy. To explore Martini's musical wares, search for her on You Tube, Amazon, and/or Facebook.