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 9, 2017

Random Lengths News, June 8-21, 2017: Trumpers Shout Down Barragan

Link to my story in the current issue of Random Lengths, "Trumpers Shout Down Barragan" is below:

The lede appears below:
Rep. Nanette Barragán hosted a town hall June 1 in the auditorium at Stephen M. White Middle School in Carson, but it was disrupted by about two dozen Trumpers from the Beach cities and Orange County.
Barragan’s standard town hall format is a 15- to 20-minute recounting of her biography after she’s been introduced. Then she opens the meeting up to questions from the audience.
The 90-minute town hall started at 6:30 p.m. with an estimated 200 in attendance, including Carson Mayor Albert Robles (who introduced Barragán), Councilman Jawane Hilton, former Mayor Jim Dear and former Mayor Vera Robles-DeWitt.
Barragán started her first town hall in Carson by recounting her biography as a student in the city’s school before the Trump contingent interrupted her.
“You’re disrespecting our flag,” they shouted, as they stood up and said the pledge of allegiance. About half the room joined in.
Barragán continued her introduction, remarking that she was the daughter of immigrants from Mexico, who went on to college. Only about 10 percent of students in “this district” go to college, she said.
“We have a president who’s acting like he can do anything,” Barragán said.
The group in Trump gear started chanting:  “Build that wall, build that wall” and “We want Trump” and “Respect our president.”
Some other audience members boo’ed and shouted at them. Barragán kept on talking into the mic but nobody could hear hear over the shouting and chanting.

(To see the entire article, go to the link. You may copy and paste it if necessary.)

Friday, June 2, 2017

DVD Review: Making the Boys (2010)

Drama as a Force of Revolution
Two decades of gay-rights activism preceded the Stonewall riots in 1969--and Mart Crowley's 1968 stage play The Boys in the Band may have had more profound and lasting impact on America than one incident of cross-dressers throwing rocks at police did.
Before or after watching the William Friedkin film based on the play, watch this 2010 documentary, which places Crowley's work in the context of larger shifts within the American social climate.
In 1968 even the word "homosexual" was still largely taboo across American media (and "gay" meant happy and "queer" meant strange). The more informal term "gay" to indicate a sexual minority had yet to be widely accepted, and few writers, directors, producers, or actors we willing to risk their careers on material that portrayed homosexuals realistically and sympathetically.
Boys resulted when Crowley took up a challenge issued by Stanley Kauffmann, then a New York Times drama critic, in the aftermath of the success of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Many speculated (and still do, despite repeated denials by playwright Edward Albee) that Woolf portrayed a gay relationship disguised as a male-female one. Kaufmann wrote that certain unnamed homosexual playwrights should "just write about how they are."
In response Crowley wrote Boys about a clique of gay men who meet for a birthday party where out comes the liquor and the ugly secrets. He persuaded Richard Barr, who was looking for a follow-up to Woolf, to produce it, and found a niche for a production in the Experimental Playwrights Unit. A cast was found who was willing to handle such controversial material.
Crowley's play was a smash, and moved on to Broadway and Hollywood, where Friedkin, an up-and-coming director, added the film adaptation to his resume.
The script was and continues to be controversial even within the gay community, because it doesn't adhere to certain expectations of political correctness. Albee, for example, admits here that he found the story detrimental to a respectability that gay activists were working hard to promote.
Elsewhere, another interview subject, Carson Kressley of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fame, describes Boys as, "Like Friends without Prozac."
Besides Albee and Kressley, people who comment on Boys and its long-lasting cultural impact include Crowley himself, Friedkin, Robert Wagner, Andy Cohen of Bravo and original cast members Lawrence Luckenbill and Peter White. Much of the original cast and production team have since died of AIDS.
"Do we need another Boys in the Band piece of art? Yes," says Cohen near this film's conclusion. "There's so much lack of understanding, lack of equality--the fight is not over."
A different version of this review appeared in Random Lengths, July 1-14, 2011.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

DVD Review: The Owls

A different version of this review was printed in Blade California, Sept. 2011.
Cheryl Dunye is a film professor and fairly successful black lesbian filmmaker, but she's never broken into the commercial mainstream. The Owls, available on DVD, is meant to be low-budget and experimental, but it's possible this work could attract an investor who wants to provide Dunye with the opportunity to make more diverse and more commercial cinema.
Approximately 66 min. in length, the movie concerns the multiple dysfunctional relationships between women who are bound together by their glory days as a big-time all-girl rock group, the Screech--but to paraphrase the Rolling Stones, it's all over now. The former band members all think they've become older wiser lesbians (owls)--but that doesn't hold true when one strangles a young starry-eyed lesbian to death in a drunken rage and the others help hide the body. As the plot unfolds, the four suffer the consequences--but in an ambiguous way that’s meant to stimulate audience discussion afterwards.
The primary reason The Owls will never amount to anything more than a cinematic experiment is how it breaks a major rule of dramatic narrative. The actresses regularly break character to tell us their characters' motivations--instead of the narrative showing us their motivations. The effect is like those true-crime TV reports that combine interviews with re-enactments--but the true crime here is that Dunye does so little to develop her premise.
The Owls was the first feature to come out of The Parliament Film Collective, a diverse but interconnected group self-described as "lesbian and queer" filmmakers, including Dunye, Alex Juhasz, Candi Gutierres and Ernesto Foronda. They have attracted a diverse gay and multi-racial community, at all levels of professional and artistic development, who work together in creating their art.
This film may be purchased from Amazon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Random Lengths Article About Possible Violation of Americans with Disabilities Act

Link to my April 21, 2017 article in Random Lengths News about a lawsuit that charges the Los Angeles Unified School District is perhaps violating the Americans with Disabilities Act in its accommodation (or lack thereof) of students with special needs:

Here are the lead graphs:
Does LAUSD Policy Violate Rights of Special Ed Kids?
By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter
Rights of thousands of children with special needs in the Los Angeles Unified School District are at stake in a lawsuit that’s spent four years bouncing between United States District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. LAUSD is the defendant in a class action suit filed in 2013 by several parents with special needs children.
At issue is whether the LAUSD is complying with a 1975 federal law and a consent decree issued in 1995.
“The LAUSD has routinely been violating the rights of the special needs children,” charges Eric Jacobson via e-mail. He’s an attorney representing the parents who, on behalf of their children, allege the LAUSD has engaged in a district-wide pattern of improper activities in violation of the 1975 federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, by forcing students with special needs into general education schools.

Often referred to as IDEA, the law says each student with special needs must be assessed as to the “least restrictive” placement on an individual basis. The parents argue that for their children, a special education center is the least restrictive environment. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Anthology Review: Erotique

by Lyn Jensen
From 1981 to 1996 Yellow Silk:  A Journal of the Erotic Arts served as an anthology for sexually explicit material--of high literary and artistic quality, with redeeming social value, of course. It provided a much-needed outlet where feminist writers could present eroticism that countered male-dominated expressions of power and subjugation.
Today the closest the publishing world may have to Yellow Silk is Erotique: The Wapshott Journal of Erotica.  You may buy current and back issues at where Ginger Mayerson has edited seven collections--and counting--since 2009.
Mayerson presents many flavors of sexual activity throughout these publications, and one of the best early collections is found in Issue 3 (Winter 2013). Your mind--and your passions--will be bent by five stories that demonstrate the breadth and depth of possibilities when writers travel into adult territory:

  • "Sky Clad" by Sharanya Manivannan--in an exotic setting there's a brutal coupling and break-up that you may not get even after reading it repeatedly.
  • "The Priestess and the Sorcerer" by David W. Landrum--a Viking priestess takes metaphysical revenge on evil Christians who raped her, and Game of Thrones fans will probably be pleased.
  • "Escape on the Paracosm Express" by Carolyn Foulkes--a paracosm is a prolonged fantasy world invented by sensitive intelligent people who have been traumatized, a condition that includes its own geography, time, and history. A woman lives in three such paracosms. In one she's a fifties' housewife seducing an innocent boy, in the next she's a Depression-era innocent abused by an older man, and finally she learns to appreciate her womanhood with a lesbian at a seventies' protest march.
  • "Too Late" by Raven Ramsey--geeky Hobbit-loving friends become more, helping the girl achieve self-confidence, thanks to her two guy friends.
  • "Bonfire" by Raven Ramsey--in the woods behind a bonfire, a young man shares a secret with his married crush, but their secret may not stay secret for long.
Issue 5 (Winter 2014) is also highly recommended, including five short stories by Raven Ramsey, Butch Lee Rivers, Paullette Gaudet, Colleen Leah, Anne Namyr, Roger Leatherwood, and Rory Ondine. It's a collection you can let your mother read, provided your mother keeps Lady Chatterley's Lover on the coffee table.
Starting with Issue 6 (Autumn 2015) Mayerson has formatted the journal to feature a single author--either a collection of short stories or one work of 20,000-50,000 words. Issue 6 is a collection of short stories by Landrum, who contributed "The Priestess and The Sorcerer" to Issue 3. Issue 7 (Spring 2016) presents several short stories by Robert Earle.