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, February 22, 2018

Link to Senior Reporter Article: "Election Time: Be an Informed Voter" (Feb. '18)

Here's a link to my latest article, "Election Time:  Be an Informed Voter" on p. 42 of the Senior Reporter (Feb. '18). It's part of my continuing "Life in Long Beach" feature:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Book Review: The Bonobo Way

Random Lengths News features my review of the book The Bonobo Way by sex therapist Dr. Susan Block (Gardner & Daughters 2014) in the Feb. 8-21, '18 issue. Find the link for the online version below:

Make Love the Bonobo Way by Lyn Jensen
Couples should make love like apes — or more specifically, like bonobos. That’s what Los Angeles sex therapist Susan Block suggests in her latest book, The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure.
Her thesis maintains that the way to improve human sexual relationships is to seek peace through pleasure, what she calls “the bonobo way.” She suggests we need to become more like sensitive bonobos and less like aggressive common chimps, our other close cousins in the tree of evolution.
Think of The Bonobo Way as similar to the work of pioneering primatologist Jane Goodall but “after dark,” suggests Discovery TV producer Thomas Quinn, who is quoted on the book jacket.
Block’s book is part scholarly evidence of ape behavior, sexual and otherwise and part sex manual. She discusses the physical and mental differences between bonobos and common chimps that began more than one million years ago, about the time humans were evolving, when the Congo River divided the great apes’ habitat. Today’s chimps were confined to the savannah, where food is scarce and there are many predators. Present-day bonobos were free to evolve in the rainforest, where life’s a peaceful endless salad bar.
“Some primatologists place the bonobo IQ at the level of the average seven-year-old,” Block says. “But their EQ or EI (Emotional Intelligence) is much higher.”
She discusses at length the considerable scientific evidence that bonobos show a higher degree of both sensitivity and intelligence than any of the other great apes, sometimes to a degree unexpected even in the average human.
These sensitive and intelligent bonobos very often use sexual activity as a form of conflict resolution, in ways that might get humans arrested if we went ape and behaved similarly. Block describes a comparatively G-rated example:
“Ouch! Time out! Let’s turn around and rub butts—quick before someone really gets hurt! …  Do you remember why we were so mad at each other before? Because I don’t! Now how about a kiss?”
“Does this mean that when apes like us feel safe and have enough to eat, we’re not as apt to kill each other and more inclined to make love?” Block asks, rhetorically. “Yes.”
When she turns to sex therapy, what she calls “The 12 Steps to Releasing Your Inner Bonobo,” her thesis rests on shakier ground. She delves into bisexuality, polyamory (emotionally non-monogamy) and group sex, all of which have long been fairly common in human sexual behavior, but don’t necessarily lead to peace through pleasure. At a time when non-consensual sexual activity is in the news cycle, and a world leader is bragging about the size of his nuclear button, Block’s book serves as a reminder of how far we humans have to evolve before we find peace through pleasure.
Block’s 12-step “Bonobo Way” program is much more helpful on a very intimate, personal, individual level. Couples experiencing difficulty in the bedroom, or who’ve hit a rough crossroads in their relationship, may well find mutual peace and pleasure by going bonobo.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Chely Wright: LGBT Role Model and Sexy Lesbian

This article, in a different version, originally appeared in Blade California, Aug. 2012.

Chely Wright's signature song, "Single White Female," is an inspiration about looking for "a one-woman man who doesn't want no other." The hit made her a top country star in 1999 but the truth of her life remained private until her book Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer (Pantheon 2010) was published. It revealed that the simple Christian country girl who was living a dream of Nashville stardom was also leading a lifestyle that her church condemned.
Chely Wright:  Wish Me Away, a documentary based on Wright's book, was released in 2012, and describes how, as a young girl in Wellsville, Kansas, she heard preaching against a "huge horrible word, homosexual." She spent years desperately trying to pray the gay away, publicly dating men while privately engaging in closeted lesbian relationships.
Wright agreed to the documentary project, with filmmakers Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf, because she hoped the film might reach an audience the book didn't. Even with so many passionate and intimate scenes shared, the film only gives a glimpse of what Wright risked:  her career, her personal relationships, even her life.
After a suicide attempt, she believes her faith in God allowed her to survive. She wrote her autobiography--along with working on the film project and some new music--because, as she explains, "I wanted to be understood by the gay community and I want to be understood by the non-gay community." She hopes to counter what young people are still being told in conservative churches, just like she was.
Some of her emotional turmoil is revealed through her sharing of her video diaries, including some additional controversial moments. She remains a conservative Christian who hopes to still reach that audience, but she dropped the f-bomb while venting about an argument with her book editor over some long-ago swimsuit shots.
When I interviewed Wright about the scene, she admitted it was something she was reluctant to make public, "but if it was edited out, it wouldn't have been genuine." She explained the argument started over whether the book cover art should show her plain, make-up free, and scholarly-looking, or something closer to her established brand. "I'm a sexy lesbian," she declared. Eventually, the book cover used a glamour shot.
Although she came out to America on The Today Show on May 5, 2010, that was just part of a process that lasted several years and across multi-media platforms. (One major flaw of the film is that we don't see the Today Show interview.) During that period she moved from Nashville, where she lived one dream, to New York, where she began another. She married a woman, Lauren Blitzer, in Aug. 2011.
A CD, Lifted Off the Ground (Vanguard 2010) also came out of what Wright calls, "the trauma of being gay." While recovering from her suicide attempt, she took some songs to acclaimed singer and producer Rodney Crowell. In the film he describes himself as her "straight ally" and relates how she shared a song with him, about how a lover could be either sex, enabling her to come out to him on a private, personal--and musical--level.