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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Link to Random Lengths: Women's Rights at Historic Crossroads (1/25-2/7/18)

Random Lengths News posted an online version of my article about the women's march, "Women's Rights, Trump at Historic Crossroads" which is also printed in the Jan. 25-Feb.7, 2018 issue:

Should the link be down, here's an edited version:

January 20, 2017:  Donald Trump became president, Republicans dominated Congress, and the outlook on any progress for women looked bleak. Republicans had been waging political war on women’s rights for more than a quarter-century—and now appeared able to pass and enforce any anti-woman laws they pleased, at least until the 2018 elections. 

Women wasted no time mounting opposition. On January 21, millions of women—and others—took to the streets to peacefully and legally demand women’s rights. A protest that started as a social-media post by some disappointed Hillary Clinton supporters morphed into a historical global action. Mobs of protestors thronged to great American metropolitan areas including Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as red-state capitals like Little Rock, Arkansas, and small towns like Chelan, Washington.

 What women’s political empowerment could do was abundantly demonstrated in several states’ off-year elections in November:  Democrats turned Virginia, New Jersey, Washington, and even Oklahoma a little bluer. According to Steven Rosenfeld at Alter-net, “The nation’s leading voter turnout experts said the race was marked by women voting in historically high numbers and overall voter turnout exceeding expectations in non-presidential years.”
On Keith Olbermann’s video-blog “The Resistance,” he noted about half of November’s election results could be seen as morality plays. In Oklahoma a young lesbian Democrat won in a district chockful of Trump supporters. In Virginia a Democrat who identified as transgender beat a Republican who campaigned on keeping public restrooms safe from transgender intruders. A man who lost a woman to gun violence beat a pro-NRA Republican.
As 2017 concluded, Time magazine chose some women it labelled “silence breakers” for its Dec. 10 “Person of the Year” cover. Some were famous (singer Taylor Swift, actress Ashley Judd), others ordinary (engineer Susan Fowler, farmworker Isabel Pascual, lobbyist Adama Iwu, and an anonymous woman only partly seen). Together they represented what Time characterized as the “#metoo” movement, from a Twitter hashtag where thousands of women (and men) had recently begun sharing experiences of sexual harassment. The accompanying lengthy article reported dozens of them. Some were formal legal complaints, others were, well, “just” complaints.
Time was referencing a new surge of outrage against sexual harassment—the movement’s birth may have been Oct. 5, when the New York Times broke the story that powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had a history of sexual harassment. Judd, Rosanna Arquette, Lupita Nyong’o, Daryl Hannah, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, and Gwyneth Paltrow were among the dozens of actresses and other working women who reported incidents with Weinstein. In the backlash he was run out of Hollywood.
The fallout turned into a mighty stream that’s still cascading, as public accusations which a short time ago might have been scorned, mocked, or simply pushed aside as lacking “evidence” are suddenly being taken seriously. The lasting effect on America’s political landscape is uncertain as the 2018 election season looms.
So far the outrage has only resulted in the downfall of two major politicians—both Democrats. Sen. Al Franken resigned after several women accused him of kissing them without their consent years ago. Rep. John Conyers, a civil-rights icon who presided over Nixon’s downfall, resigned after his history of settling sexual harassment complaints was revealed. Both men were dependable votes for women’s rights, but their party told them they had to go.
At the same time Republicans—the party and its voters--appear to care little, if at all, about credible allegations of outright sexual abuse, including complaints about Trump, Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, and others who openly despise women’s rights. Election season 2018 will tell whether voters will continue to allow Republicans to make war on women. The Trump presidency has put women at a historic crossroads.  

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.