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.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Link to Random Lengths Story, "Council Seeks Way out of Lawsuit," (Jan. 11-24, 2018)

Link to online version of my Random Lengths News story, "Council Seeks Way Out of Lawsuit," (Jan. 11-24, 2018):

Should the link be down, the lead and partial text of article follows:

Carson City Council’s vote allows members to hold two offices at once

By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter
Carson Mayor Albert Robles is due in Los Angeles Superior Court Jan. 25 for a case rooted in two issues — his refusal to resign from the other elected office he occupies with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California and questions about where he lives.
California law prohibits elected officials from holding two offices simultaneously, with one exception; the state approves of local government bodies crafting ordinances to work around that law.
So with Robles’ court date looming, the Carson City Council used its Dec. 19 meeting to provide  Robles with a legal loophole. It passed an ordinance — and an urgency ordinance containing identical language — that allows council members to simultaneously as “elected or appointed officers” on sergeral other specific governing bodies, including the Water Replenishment District.
At the meeting, City Attorney Bill Wynder said the action would “create a mechanism which will avoid the appearance of incompatibility of holding multiple offices in a manner recognized by law.”
Court documents declared the Los Angeles County District Attorney wants to remove Robles from his water board seat arguing the “opportunity for conflict between the offices is formal and constitutional, as the jurisdictions overlap.”
“The district attorney wants to pursue this complaint against me because she happens to favor the oil industry,” said Robles during the meeting.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Short Story Anthologies from Wapshott Press

Annie Proulx, Anne Rice, Patricia Nell Warren, Mary Renault are all part of a long and venerable literary tradition linking women writers with LGBT themes. Following that tradition, Ginger Mayerson, a Los Angeles writer, began Wapshott Press in 2007 with a gay-themed anthology, Chase and Other Stories. Today she continues to provide a rare literary outlet for the art of the short story, although recently she's focused on anthologies involving a single author.

"It started as a one-off idea," Mayerson says. "It turned out to be a fabulous idea."

"I got into publishing on a good deed,” she recalls. The good deed was triggered when Mayerson’s friend and fellow writer Anastasia Whitchhazel was very sick and very broke, and a publisher rejected her short story, “Chase,” after first accepting it. 

“I couldn't do anything about her life, but I could certainly publish her story,” Mayerson remembers. She created Wapshott Press, and published Whitchhazel’s story in an anthology called Chase and Other Stories. She themed the collection around male homoerotica written by women. 

As Tally Keller writes in the Chase introduction, “This erotica playfully thumbs its nose at conventional morality, tastefulness, and all other things proper young ladies are supposed to happily accept.” Mayerson likes to compare the collected stories to Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain.”

Three Chase stories began as unsold narratives for graphic novels:  Witchhazel's title story, and two of Mayerson's own contributions, "Chiaroscuro" and "The Accompanist" (written under the pen name Amy Throck-Smythe). The latter was partly inspired by Mayerson's background in the world of chamber music.

After Chase came a follow-up collection, The Tagger and Other Stories. featuring more gay-themed short stories written by multiple authors and edited by Mayerson.

Like the debut collection, the stories in The Tagger varied widely in genre and sexual content. Most explicit--but also perhaps the most realistic--was Logan's "Fast Forward." If it were a movie, it'd likely be rated NC-17. It described a tragic life in the contemporary San Francisco gay scene, with cultural references to DVD rental stores and the Golden Gate bridge.

In contrast Chad Denton's "The Unsent Letter" was implicit, as much about what the author's letter didn't say as what it did.

Mayerson's contributions to the second anthology were also gritty realistic romances set in contemporary urban culture. She wrote the title "Tagger" story and "You Know You Should be a Better Person (but You're Not)," the latter written under a pen name. Both imparted the flavor of her Lincoln Heights neighborhood just outside of downtown Los Angeles, a place with its share of graffiti "taggers" and junkies, some of whom are gay.

Some other Tagger stories, including Laura Dearlove's "Across the Universe," represented a burgeoning sub-genre that crosses gay themes with fantasy and science fiction.

After the first two anthologies, Mayerson began Storylandia for short romantic literary work. The first seven issues were published between 2009 and 2012, and included much adult fantasy and science fiction.  

Starting with the eighth Storylandia in 2013, Mayerson moved away from short story collections by multiple authors. Recent issues have contained single book-length works of genre fiction, but the door at Wapshott Press remains open to the possibility of a future collection of short stories by one author.

"We don't publish things that are going to sell, we publish things that should be published," Mayerson has said. In that spirit, Wapshott Press has recently become a non-profit organization.   

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Random Lengths Link: Agencies Work to Keep Winter Floods Away

Random Lengths News featured my article, "Agencies Work to Keep Winter Floods Away" in the Dec. 7-20, 2017 issue. Here's the link to the online version, which you may copy and paste in your browser:

If the above link is not active (doesn't work), below is the text:

Several of the biggest news stories of 2017 involved flooding, especially after the hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean in August and September, resulting in hundreds of deaths and otherwise endangering public health and safety. 

Carson experienced flooding, too, last January 22, when one of the heaviest storms to hit the Los Angeles area in several years flooded the 110 freeway under the Carson Street overpass. TV news crews including KTLA reported water as high as car hoods, resulting in the freeway being shut down and traffic diverted.

That day KTLA’s website also posted a cellphone video that showed dangerous flooding on Sepulveda Boulevard in West Carson between the 110 freeway and Vermont Avenue, engulfing several cars--and their occupants. Here, too, water was up to car hoods.

As another winter storm season approaches, Random Lengths contacted Carson’s public works department about what’s being done to protect the city and adjacent areas from dangerous levels of flooding. 

Julio Gonzalez, a city senior engineering technician, responded local flooding has to do with the capacity of storm drains. City crews have been making sure the city’s storm systems, including catch basins, are clean and free of debris. If not, then the drain can get clogged. To prevent that, the city is in the process of putting screens on its catch basins.

Another concern is assessing that everything’s operable concerning the city’s several pumps, including the Dominguez pumping station at the east end of Torrance Boulevard. That station, one of Carson’s largest, was installed in 2001 to mitigate what had previously been one of the city’s most obvious problem areas. It pumps water into the Dominguez Channel from an underground storm system.

Gonzales said there are no plans for system improvements at this time because the city’s storm water system currently in place is sufficient.

Concerning flooding on the 110 freeway, he noted Carson doesn’t have jurisdiction. The California Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans, does.

When Random Lengths asked Caltrans about last January’s freeway flooding, spokesperson Timothy Weisberg responded, “[I]t was caused by a variety of factors … The Carson pump house also had a mechanical issue that kept it from operating at full capacity, and there was a power outage in the area. … The pump has since been fixed and is ready to run at full capacity.”

Weisberg added, “Pump houses all across the South Bay region have been inspected to ensure they are working properly.”

As for the stretch of Sepulveda in West Carson that has a history of flooding, who has jurisdiction may be an issue. West Carson is an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, outside Carson’s jurisdiction. The nearby Bixby Marshland is within Carson’s city limits but is maintained by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Department. It provides a natural low area for large volumes of water to collect--and perhaps backflow.

Gonzalez suggested a channel just south of Sepulveda, which he identified as part of the Wilmington Drain, a tributary of the Dominguez Channel, may have a maintenance issue, or a right-of-way issue. 

Ed Teran of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works responded that the stretch of Sepulveda Boulevard in West Carson is not on his department’s radar. He commented the “hot spots” for flooding tend to be along coastal areas, while cities like Carson and Torrance are normally not considered a problem.

Kerjon Lee, Public Affairs Manager for the county department of public works, said cities work with the county when improving drainage infrastructure. He suggested persons concerned about flooding, or potential for flooding, may contact their city’s public works department or, for unincorporated areas, their county supervisor’s office. He directed persons with urgent needs to visit the county website or phone the public works dispatcher at 1-800-675-HELP.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Link to Random Lengths Article: Coping With Fruitcake

Random Lengths News published my article, "Fruitcake:  Cope with This Much Maligned Holiday Tradition." Here's the link for the online version, which you may copy and paste into your browser:

Below is the article, should the link be down:

Fruitcake: Cope With This Maligned Holiday Tradition

By Lyn Jensen

If you love fruitcake—also called fruit bread, Yule cake, or Christmas ring—you’re probably planning to get one (or more) from a local retailer such as Amalfitano Bakery in Rancho Palos Verdes, or order online from a world-renowned company such as Collin Street Bakery based in Corsicana, Texas.

If you dislike fruitcake, you may find yourself with one, anyway. Maybe you’ll get one at a party. Maybe you have that relative that always bakes fruitcake for gifts, like Truman Capote’s cousin Silk did in the classic story A Christmas Memory. Maybe this is the season for you to confront the reality that you have a fruitcake stored away somewhere--for longer than you want to admit. If so, consider options beyond throwing that fruitcake away. Adding food to the waste stream isn’t environmentally correct.

Browse around the Internet for ways to get away with serving fruitcake. The Collin Street Bakery website provides some ideas. The following suggestions are culled from several Internet and print sources.

·        Some people eat ice cream even when it involves fruitcake. Fruitcake purists may insist fruitcake is to be eaten plain, but if you’re not a fruitcake purist, slice it and top it with ice cream and/or whipped cream, and you’ll find it tastes much better. You can even make a fruitcake sundae the way you’d make a brownie sundae. A variation is to crumble or cube bits of fruitcake as garnish on a sundae.

·        Try toast. Put thin slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, then top them with butter or cream cheese for breakfast or snacks. You can also use the slices to make French toast.

·        Make trifle or bread pudding. Both are time-honored ways to recycle leftover bread or cake, and that includes fruitcake. Find a recipe and hit the kitchen.

·        The right wine makes a marriage. If you serve fruitcake with compatible dessert wine, such as Riesling, tawny port, or cream sherry, you’ll find they make each other taste better. You may even want to throw a wine-tasting party. Invite guests to blind-taste several selections of dessert wine, and serve fruitcake to cut the liquor. Award a door prize to the person who eats the most!  

If after considering ways to make fruitcake enjoyable, you still can’t face serving/eating it, dispose of it in a useful way.

·         Repeat, trashing or composting fruitcake is not a good idea. Fruitcake infamously lasts years or decades. It’s not going to break down in a compost pile anytime soon.

·         Our animal companions like fruitcake even if we don’t. Humorists sometimes wonder how many fruitcakes end life as bird feed. How about gifting your backyard’s wildlife with an appropriate feeder, too? If you know a friendly dog, horse, pig, chicken, parrot, or goat, maybe they’ll like your unwanted fruitcake!

·         Call food charities about making a donation. Ask about donating some butter or cream cheese, too!
  • Don’t tell anybody but you’re re-gifting it. Johnny Carson is credited with originating a joke about how maybe there’s just one fruitcake in this world, and it’s forever being passed around as a gift. If you do this kind of recycling, make sure it’s going to someone who’ll be pleased to receive it and stop the chain. Otherwise you may find it coming back around. Do the recipient a favor, too—type or write up serving suggestions (like these)! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Link to Published Story: Fighting Hunger, Random Lengths, 11/9-22/17

Random Lengths has published my round-up of food charities in the Los Angeles Harbor area in the Nov. 9-22, 2017 issue and online. Here's the link to the online version (please copy and paste in your browser):
Should the link be down, the text of the article follows:
More people go hungry in Los Angeles County than anywhere else in America — the roughly 1.5 million people who need food assistance is a number that’s remained fairly constant throughout this decade. Other counties across America rank higher in terms of population percentage, but Los Angeles ranks highest in the sheer number of chronically hungry mouths to feed.
Government and private programs address hunger based on the principle that freedom from hunger is a right. Article 25 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.”
Giving Tuesday is Nov. 28 but the fight against hunger never ends. For communities in the Harbor Area, several food banks and charities are constantly serving residents who need food assistance. With the holidays approaching, many organizations are scheduling food drives — but they’re always in need of food, money and volunteers:
  • Carson: St. Vincent De Paul Society, in partnership with St. Philomena’s Catholic Church, distributes bags of groceries every Tuesday, 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. The volunteers estimate that 25 to 30 families and 5 to 10 homeless individuals are fed every week. Most of the clients come from Carson, but also from Torrance and Long Beach. They also distribute clothing and toys. 21922 S. Main St., Carson. Details: (310) 835-7161,
  • San Pedro: Harbor Interfaith has no kitchen or pantry but accepts donations of food (and money and clothing). 670 W. 9th St., San Pedro. Details:  (310) 831-9123, (310) 831- 0603,
  • Torrance: New Challenge Ministries is the largest food bank in the South Bay, said John Hernandez, president and senior pastor. It distributes about 4,000 pounds of food per week to about 15,000 people every month via about 20 organizations. They include the Boys & Girls Club and the Los Angeles Unified School District. (The district assists about 600 hungry families, including Washington High School, which teaches more homeless and foster children than any other school in California). Many grocery and other food companies donate their surplus. 21804 Halldale Ave. Details: (310) 320-4171,
  • Torrance: GA United Services, through which Vern Ryan and his daughter Arlene Hyde have distributed about 150,000 pounds of food to perhaps a dozen organizations in almost as many communities—including Long Beach, Carson, Watts, Lomita, Gardena, Wilmington, and Torrance. They estimate they feed about 500 people on a weekly basis. Torrance’s post offices donate everything collected from their annual food drives—about two tons of food every year. Other support comes from such companies as Trader Joe’s. 22121½ Vermont Ave., Torrance. Details: (310) 530-0400,
  • Long Beach: Food Bank of Southern California distributes food directly and through other nonprofit organizations to about 250,000 people throughout the county every week (about 2.5 percent of the population). Truckloads of surplus produce come in and corporations provide employee volunteers regularly. 1444 San Francisco Ave., Long Beach. Details: (562) 435-3577,
  • Long Beach: Rescue Mission is planning Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, along with food and gift drives. Volunteer coordinator Bethanie Miller estimates, “We serve about 19,000 meals a month and distribute about 2,000 articles of clothing.” The mission serves meals at the 140-bed Samaritan House (for men) and the 50-bed Lydia House (for women and children) and to the general public. 1430 Pacific Ave., Long Beach. Details: (562) 591-1292,