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, December 29, 2011

Phil Ochs and News in Random Lengths

Random Lengths, Nov. 18-Dec. 1, 2011:

Phil Ochs: Even by the standards of the 60s, few singer-songwriters combined music with political activism to the extent Phil Ochs did. His music was a reflection of the times. Read more on page 11 of

If you care to scroll through this link, you'll find my review of the Phil Ochs There But for Fortune DVD and also my news report of a major fire that swept through part of a mobilehome park and a construction site in Carson on October 27:

You'll also find more of my reviews and news stories at the site.

Should the above link to the Phil Ochs review be down, here's the content:

Even by the standards of the sixties, few singer-songwriters combined music with political activism to the extent Phil Ochs did. His music was a reflection of the times but these days his contributions are largely forgotten. That might be partly because he's one of a long list of musical geniuses who died too soon, or maybe because his fan base is nowhere near the equal of Bob Dylan's.

Phil Ochs:  There but for Fortune, a documentary DVD from First Run Features, attempts to place Ochs in a broader historical context.

"Phil's very tough grieving songs were far more political, much more tough-minded than the much more generalized and accessible "Blowing in the Wind" [for example]," postulates writer Christopher Hitchens, one of many who shared their thoughts and memories for the documentary.  "There was a difference between the people who liked Bob Dylan--everybody did--and people who even knew about Phil Ochs."

Other interviews blend the personal, political, and musical:  Joan Baez, Peter Yarrow, Pete Seeger, Van Dyke Parks, Dave Van Ronk, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubins, to name a few, along with some of Och's surviving family and personal friends. Contemporary stars Billy Bragg, Jello Biafra, and Sean Penn offer a more current perspective.

The film mixes clips of Ochs performing, protesting, and being interviewed, with news footage of events he sang about and often was a part of. The result makes more of a history lesson than musical journey. That means his songs, even a classic like "There but for Fortune," simply aren't given adequate space.

"The topical song movement evolved out of opposition to segregation, the Civil Rights movement in general, and subsequently the Vietnam War," folksinger Van Ronk comments. "Without the howling injustices and outrages, there would have been no protest movement and probably no folk song movement."

That many of Ochs' songs remain relevant is demonstrated by how the punk rocker Biafra has often revived Ochs' "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," changing the president's name from Kennedy to Clinton to Obama--but the song remains otherwise the same. The film's thesis would have been greatly strengthened if the entire song had been performed here, and it's not.

Then there's a snatch of another sixties-era Ochs lyric about anti-union sentiment, "Some people think that the unions are too strong / Union leaders should go back where they belong," but the film doesn't even tell us the song's title.

Ochs went into artistic and personal decline after he saw his hope for a new youth-driven political party--the Yippies--smashed to pieces on the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention. He spun into alcoholism and mental illness.

Even so he went onto mark a few more musical milestones. He recorded with African musicians--the first white American musician to do so, a decade before Paul Simon and Graceland. After the 1973 CIA-backed coup in Chile, he organized the ironically named "An Evening With Salvador Allende" concert in protest.

"It was the first time people got up in public and said the CIA was behind the overthrow of Allende," remembers Arthur Gorson, who helped organize the concert.

In May 1976 Ochs observed the end of military action in Vietnam with another major concert, featuring Baez and others who'd protested the war. "That was the last dragon to be slain," comments Ochs' brother Michael.

Less than a year later Ochs committed suicide. He was 35. His songs and records survive--barely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Manga/Anime Review: Vampire Knight

Here's a link to my online 2011 Vampire Knight review for Random Lengths:

Should the link no longer work, here's what I wrote:

For vampire romance fans who've exhausted Anne Rice's vampire stories, along with Buffy and Angel, Twilight, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries--it's time to discover Matsui Hino's Vampire Knight, a manga and anime franchise that recasts Gothic traditions through a Japanese cultural perspective.
Publisher VIZ media put out the 13th of this manga (Japanese comic) series to coincide with the 2011 gift-giving season. These trans-genre paperback graphic novels, translated from the original Japanese, combine horror, teen angst, schoolgirl romance, class warfare, a little comic relief, and intricate artwork.
As happens so often with vampire romance, Vampire Knight tells the story of a young girl, Yuki Cross, who is privileged (or not) to share the dark secrets of a paranormal world, where she is protected (or not) by sensitive, brooding--even sexy--beasts embroiled in long-running wars, where vampires fight with humans and each other. Yuki Cross' powerful but sensitive vampire protector is Kaname Kuran. His rival is Zero Kiryu, whose relationship to both vampire and human worlds grows ever more complicated. It's easy to picture Vampire Knight fans dividing into Team Kaname and Team Zero.
Because the series is on-going and open-ended (note:  it concluded at 19 volumes in 2014), the plot more closely resembles a TV series than a novel or movie. There's no single beginning, middle, or end, only an ever-increasing number of twists, revelations, and new story arcs. The vampires of Hino's creation aren't the walking undead--they're a superior god-like race that humans can reproduce with--but watch out!  They may drink your blood, too!
Two animated Japanese TV series (anime) were based on the manga and VIZ has made these available on DVD in the USA as well. The first set (consisting of three DVDs packaged together) was titled Vampire Knight. This set roughly followed the plot of the first five volumes of manga. A subsequent three-DVD set, entitled Vampire Knight:  Guilty, followed he story through further developments.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Resume Highlights

Summary: Individual with over 10 years of experience in writing, editing, proofreading and the preparation of materials for print and on-line publication. Superior news judgment with experience reporting and writing news. Strong news-writing background and multimedia skills.

Random Lengths, San Pedro, CA (circulation 56,000) 2001-present
Carson Reporter (2001-present)

· Contribute biweekly to the paper's "Carson City Limits" section. Cover the Carson community including local government, civic organizations, sports complexes, Congressional District, state legislature, and the arts. Turn in beat copy and seek out enterprising stories.
· Cover other community news regularly within the newspaper’s coverage area.
· Produce short-form and long-form stories between 250-1800 words, including writing, editing, and publishing more than 500 by-lines in more than 200 issues over the past decade.
· Credits include more than seven cover stories about Carson politics and other subjects.
· Manage time and meet deadlines. Experience writing on deadline. Write, edit, proofread, and submit copy by deadline.
· Research information and verify facts. Interview sources when appropriate. Interact with all internal and external sources necessary to successfully complete assignments. Take photos and provide other graphic material as appropriate.

Editorial Assistant (2001-2003)

· Worked as editorial staff assistant, writing and editing in-house stories and columns in approximately 100 issues.
· Edited writing projects as assigned. Raised awareness of issues of strategic importance. Researched information and verified facts. Interviewed sources when appropriate.

Carson Venture Magazine, Carson, CA (circulation 70,000) 2008-2009

· Edited all editorial copy in four issues of bimonthly regional magazine.
· Supervised six freelance writers, assigned stories and deadlines.