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 28, 2013

TAR Season 22 Recaps Online

MySpace has deleted its blogs so I'll be blogging about multiple topics here for a while, including some recaps I posted about Season 22 of The Amazing Race on the site.  Here's the main link:

Here are the direct links:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Vintage Concert Review: Culture Club

This review was originally published in San Gabriel Valley News, Jan. 8, 1999.

Culture Club still has the "Karma" (so does Berlin)

When Culture Club is back together making recordings and playing shows, we know the retro-eighties craze has arrived.  Those who are tired of "That 70s Show" can get to the next decade much faster than it took the first time.

From the stage of the Universal Amphitheater on Wednesday night (the first of two shows), Boy George greeted a return to the decade that gave us "Joan Collins... Madonna... leg warmers ... and Culture Club!"  The performance was an occasion to bask in memories of Culture Club's heyday, when the Boy George look was all the rage and the band dominated MTV alongside Duran Duran and U2.

It's also an occasion to remember a darker side, how the band's bitter personal problems caused a break-up even as their recordings were still riding the charts in 1986.

After Boy George's autobiography, Take it Like a Man, was published in 1995, apparently the foursome was able to put aside their differences and mount a reunion and comeback.  They made a new recording ("I Just Want to Be Loved") which was a British hit last year.  Since then they've been on tour and the two dates at the Universal Amphitheater allowed their Los Angeles fans to welcome them back.

Surprisingly the venue was not quite filled to capacity but the audience response made up in warmth what it may have lacked in numbers.  People danced and shouted and sang along to so many of these oldies that make a flashback to fun so easy.  "Church of the Poison Mind," "That's the Way," and "Karma Chameleon," to name but a few, function as instant natural anti-depressants.

Culture Club is a group that merely by existing makes a progressive artistic statement.  As their press release notes, one black (Michael Craig), one Jew (Jon Moss, of mixed-race ancestry), one Anglo-Saxon (Roy Hay) and one Irish transvestite (we know who) make quite a diverse Culture Club. 

Fans will also want to know about Helen Terry, the bluesy female vocalist who for a time was almost a fifth band member.  She was not present Wednesday, although George implied she'd been part of other shows.  Her part on "That's the Way" and other songs was taken by Zee Cowling.  George encouraged her as she reached those notes Terry used to do so effortlessly.

In an evening chock full of Culture Club classics (and they still missed a few), George inserted two of his solo hits, "Everything I Own" and "The Crying Game."

There was also the new song, "I Just Want to Be Loved."  Let's hope it's not the last.  C'mon, guys even the Beatles managed two comeback hits recently.

So now for the important question, what was Boy George wearing?  He had a black sequined coat, red platform sneakers, a black feathered boa, and a lacy crown-like hood and hat.  For the encore he changed to a red feathered boa and a Carmen Miranda-like feathered hat.  (His make-up looked the way it always does.)

Besides the songs "Victims" and "Karma Chameleon," the encore featured "Star Man," a tribute to David Bowie.  George spoke passionately of how, when he saw Bowie wear a feathered boa and do that song on British television, he knew he "wasn't the only one."

Berlin, the same controversial California-based band that did eighties hits including "Sex" and "Take My Breath Away," opened the show.

"Sex" was most likely what the crowd was waiting for their entire set.  At least lead vocalist Terri Nunn dances barefoot through it now, perhaps a reference to Patti Smith, and instead of her acting like a lap dancer, the guy cringes at her feet.  This refreshing twist showed that even when getting a blast from the past, there's room for progress.