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The Murder Of A Young Asian Woman You’ve Never Heard Of

A young Asian woman was killed almost three weeks ago in September, and still no one seems to know who she was. I’m not, of course, talking about Yale graduate student Annie Le.

Her name was Lee, one letter removed from “Le,” Felicia Lee, to be exact. Professionally, the Singapore-born, Australia-raised 31 year-old went by Felicia Tang, and in addition to having bit parts in Rush Hour 2 and The Fast and the Furious, she had appeared on Playboy TV and in adult films like Hotel Decadence and Asian Fever. In 2003, she was in an online erotic video with Tila Tequila where they fondled each other in a pool. In some reports, she has been described as a “porn star,” but her career in adult entertainment does not appear to have been that extensive. Most recently, it was reported that Lee was working towards getting her real estate license.

She was found in the apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Brian Randone, on September 11 in Monrovia, CA, east of LA, beaten and choked, after Randone had called 911 to report that she wasn’t breathing. Randone, who has been described as a “self-styled preacher,” a “Christian mime,” a “former reality TV contestant” and a “pageant contestant”–having appeared on the 2000 Fox show The Sexiest Bachelor in America–was arrested within hours and charged four days later with killing and “torturing” Lee. The torture charges stemmed from the severity of Lee’s injuries, which were described as “gruesome” by the Superior Court Judge who arraigned Randone Tuesday, and from evidence that Lee had suffered dozens of these injuries in the 24 hours before she died.

As much as the details of Lee’s life and death, true or inflated, would seem sensational enough (porn, Hollywood, torture, a pretty victim) for widespread media coverage, unlike Annie Le’s murder, Lee’s has largely failed to capture the public’s imagination. In the week following her murder, only a scattering of newspapers and media outlets had actually bothered to report it. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune wrote a story about it on September 15 (Monrovia is in the SGV). The San Jose Mercury News posted one on the 16th. The LA Times Local section penned a blog post on the 17th. The closest thing to a national media outlet to report on Lee’s death in that first week was CBS News’ Crimesider blog, described as “The True Crime Destination from the Producers of 48 Hours Mystery,” which published a story on September 18 entitled “The Preacher and the Porn Star, the Tragic Story of Felicia Tang Lee (Photos).” Within that same timeframe, several Chinese-language newspapers also picked up the story.

To understand why Felicia Lee’s murder has had less media “value” than Annie Le’s, I re-read Joan Didion’s “Sentimental Journeys,” from her 1992 collection Ask Henry, in which she examined the way the media covers crime vis-a-vis the Central Park Jogger case. In the essay, Didion writes that the “preferred tabloid (crime) victim” is someone who’s “presented as fate’s random choice,” “attended an expensive school” and/or “been employed in a glamour industry.” Annie Le–high school valedictorian, Yale graduate student, fiancee of her college sweetheart–certainly fit that bill. Felicia Lee–topless model, adult film actress, girlfriend to the man who allegedly murdered her, whom she met around the Las Vegas MGM Grand swimming pool in April–did not.

Felicia Lee, in the only non-made-up photo I could find of her on the internet, gardening with a friend

To that point, it was a full two weeks after Lee’s murder, on September 25, before the Associated Press finally got around to reporting it. By that time, about 600 articles could be found online about her death. Contrast that with the tens of thousands of stories about Annie Le, whose body was found two days after Lee’s.

Shortly thereafter, the blogosphere got around to reporting it, too. But only to an extent. The blog posts that have emerged haven’t focused on Lee so much as they have on her boyfriend and alleged killer, Randone. The fact that he was on a reality TV show–albeit 9 years ago–has given the story legs. The fact that another reality TV contestant, Ryan Jenkins, killed his lover recently, has made the story run. And since two murders with perceived similar circumstances–however tenuous–were committed within a month of one another, the story’s suddenly become “news,” in the way that Didion described it, in that it now offers “however erroneously, a story, a lesson, a high concept.”

Brian Randone in court Tuesday

On Sunday, September 27, 16 days after Lee’s murder, Gawker spelled out exactly what that story, lesson, and high concept was in the post, “Another Reality TV Contestant Accused of Murder, But There’s a Twist!”:

“So, the lesson here: America’s popular culture, not the four horsemen, will spark the apocalypse. Also, if you meet someone who’s been on a reality star, run, because they will kill you.”

Let’s re-phrase. So, the lesson here: the story of Felicia Lee’s murder isn’t about Felicia Lee at all. It doesn’t matter if she was a “porn star” or “a human being, a daughter, a sister, a friend to many who continue to love and honor her,” as the Lee family described her in a statement to the LA Times. (My god, to have to remind the world that your murdered loved one was a “human being.”) She isn’t, as it turns out, the story, the lesson, or the high concept. What an odd thing it is, to have to be cut out of your own narrative, in order for it to be told.

[Crimesider: The Preacher and the Porn Star, the Tragic Story of Felicia Tang Lee]
[LA Times: 'She did not deserve to be beaten … she was a nice gal and she didn’t deserve it']
[Gawker: Another Reality TV Contestant Accused of Murder, But There's a Twist!]

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A Prayer To Mother Nature For Our Kinfolk In Asia

Dear Mother Nature,

First you flood the Philippines, where the homes of over 2 million people have been affected and 246 people have been reported dead so far. Then you unleash an undersea earthquake that turns into a tsunami on the Samoa Islands, killing dozens. After that, you take the same storm that menaced the Philippines, and move it over Laos and then Vietnam, where 170,000 homes have been damaged and 41 have been reported dead at last count. Still hell-bent on destruction, you then toss in another earthquake Wednesday–with a magnitude of 7.6–in Indonesia, near Padang, the capital city of West Sumatra, that claims 75 lives.

From the Philippines (Reuters)
From Padang, Indonesia (Reuters)

Lady, WTF? What did Asia ever do to you? Sleep with your fella, Father Time?!

Amidst all of this apocalyptic disaster, we did notice one tiny shred of good news:


No harm has come to the 20th season of Survivor? PHEW. Let no one say Mother Nature is without mercy!

On that note, do you think you could find room in your heart for a little more of that and, like, TAKE A FUCKING CHILL PILL?

How do you end a prayer to Mother Nature? Amen? Gaia be with me? LYLAS? Anyway…

yours sincerely,

DISGRASIAN

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ROCK OF ASIAN: Where the Wild Things Are Soundtrack


Confession: I’ve never read Where the Wild Things Are. I know, I know, it’s only ten sentences long. But I don’t think I’d even heard of it until college, when I learned it was not only a children’s book but this huge cultural meme, but by then it kinda seemed too late for me, you know? It’s like with this friend of mine, who had, by the age of eighteen, never eaten a peach and subsequently vowed never to do so; every time she considered it, she couldn’t help but wonder, Why now?

This is the problem when the first books you remember reading are encyclopedias and when you’re forced by your Hardass Asian Dad to learn algebra and geometry in the 3rd grade. You miss all of these childhood touchstones. Or you don’t “get” them. You certainly don’t spend a whole lot of time reading books like Where the Wild Things Are that actually acknowledge a child’s “feelings.” (I didn’t like Sesame Street either. I always thought it was talking down to me and that Big Bird was a creep.)

But the Spike Jonze-directed Where the Wild Things Are movie’s coming out in a couple weeks, and it looks good.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to approach this completely ass-backwards the way any former-overachieving-child-who-missed-out-on-all-kinds-of-cool-kids’-shit-to-learn-geometry would. First, I’m going to buy the Karen O and the Kids-composed soundtrack that was released yesterday (and is also streaming for free at Stereogum). Because Karen O rules my universe. And then I’m going to see the movie when it opens on October 16. Lastly, I’m going to FINALLY read the book. All ten sentences of it. And maybe, just maybe, I’m going to “get” it, too.

Buy the Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack here.

[Where the Wild Things Are Official Movie Site]

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BABEWATCH: Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn sets a really unreasonable standard for all of us mere humans. First of all, she’s brilliant. A decorated writer, educator and businesswoman, she is no stranger to success. Then there’s the pioneer aspect of her career: she’s the first Asian American person to have ever won a Pulitzer Prize. She’s a dedicated wife and partner (hubby is writing partner Nicholas Kristof). And she happens to focus on important stuff, like China, and worldwide female empowerment.

Surely she must be a stiff, right? Wrong. She’s not only likeable, but dang adorable when she opens her mouth. (See her most recent interview, where she talks about new book Half the Sky with Stephen Colbert, here).

So what’s wrong with WuDunn? Well, nothing. Except that in addition to all of these qualities, she also happens to possess one of ravishing beauty, making her just perfect. So there you go.

[Half the Sky - Official Site]
[Colbert Nation: September 28, 2009 - Sheryl WuDunn]

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Thanks, Dave!

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BABYWATCH: Barack Obama And Niece Savita Ng In The World’s Most Adorable Hangout Sesh

Not gonna lie–my womb does a little dance every time I lay eyes on a cuter-than-a-panda toddler, especially one with almond eyes, jet-black hair, chubby little hands and feet. This occurs especially when I gaze at a munchkin with a sweet name like “Savita Lola Yan-Song Ng,” whose giggly, tiny face is the product of genetics from two crushworthy, Babe-a-licious parents (we’ve had our eye on hot Mom and Dad for a long while, to be sure). And even more especially when that little ‘un is being tossed in their air by our cool-ass President:

The Prez and niece Savita. Warning: This photo may cause a diabetic coma.

Look at that little cardigan! The squealy laughter! Those pink cheeks!

Unfazed? Try to resist this (you can’t):

Tee hee!

Oh, if only this precious scene could last forever. My uterus is literally doing the freaking Roger Rabbit.

[TPM: Fore! Obama's White House, End Of Summer Edition - Photo Gallery]

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Thanks, Abe!

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Gimme Gimme Gimme: The Diamond-Dipped Amosu Blackberry

Asians love bling, and Asians love gadgets.

What do we do when our gadgets get blinged?

Behold… Bedazzly Blackberry Bold

Well, some of us put the $200k gold-and-(hopefully green)diamond gadget on our birthday wish list, especially since our birthday is coming up in less than a month. Then we drop casual hints to our close friends (Hi, Jen!), family members (Hi, Dad!), co-workers (Hi, Jasmine!), and gents (Hi Marty/Chaz/Morridge/Laphonz/RabbiBerg/Ned/Maz/JohnCho/Blaine/Buddy/Billy/Bob/BillyBob/RyanGosling!) to start saving up.

Ahem.

Clock’s a-tickin’. Not trying to be pushy here, though! Just stating the facts! Uh, clock’s a-tickin’.

[UberGizmo: Amosu BlackBerry Dipped In Diamonds]

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SPORTS ILLUSTRASIAN: Weak 3 Of The NFL Regular Season

NFL’s Week 3… oh, what a week. Did y’all see what we did?

Amazian blasian Hines Ward hit a major milestone Sunday afternoon during my Steelers’ away effort against the Cincinnati Bengals–he became the first black-and-gold-bleeder to surpass 10,000 receiving yards (further solidifying a future bid for the Hall Of Fame). Huzzah!

Sadly, the achievement was mired by Pittsburgh’s second 3-point loss in two weeks. To the BENGALS. Oy oy oy. Heal that knee, Polamalu, Heal! Our D needs you, baby!

But hey, it wasn’t all bad. Before MNF’s kickoff last night, Jen wondered aloud who the biggest QB tool of the evening would be: her Cowboys’ Tony Romo or the Panthers’ Jake Delhomme. Turns out, Delhomme served up more turnovers than a European bakery–perhaps suggesting what job he might actually do well at when he gets booted from Carolina–and America’s team added one in the win column. Phew.

Frankly, the Cowboys needed a home win like that, especially one on Monday’s snazzy nationwide stage. It was heartbreaking to watch them christen the new $1.5 billion dollar stadium in last week’s shameful loss to the Giants, particularly because Romo’s dorky disappointment was super-sized and crystal clear on that beautiful new Jumbotron.

But back to Sunday. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that perennial grouch/sweatponcho pioneer Bill Belichick might be considering a career change: WILL HE OR WON’T HE–join the Misfits, that is?

Just assessing the evidence being placed before our eyes. Mark my words, guys. Belichick is a punk.

And speaking of punks, can somebody please drive up to Buffalo to knock some sense into Terrell Owens? How can an avid Twitterer and star of a trashy VH1 reality show have the gall to lash out at “the media?” Is he not constantly serving himself up on a roasting dish for public consumption? Does he not understand what medium affords him the luxury of being known worldwide as “T.O.?” Aw hell no.

If only Owens could simply suit up, catch the ball (unless he’s playing the Saints), and shut the fuck up, for just one season. I just want to shake the dude and scream: “Play, Terrell! Play well! Play with the team! That’s all you need to do, for crying out loud! And while you’re at it, stop blaming everyone else and find yourself a rad therapist to quiet those angry voices in your head!”

Sigh.

On the other hand, one man proved himself for the billionth time, with one last-second torpedo into the end zone, that he is worth the hype:

Brett “Don’t tell Me I’ve Still Got It Cuz I Already Know It, Biatch!” Favre. I don’t care that he’s a Viking. The dude is magic–yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is everything that is great about football.

And the neon-green nightmare that is the Seahawks’ alternate uniform… is everything that is not great about football.


From the sportscaster desk, Howie Long called these “flat-out distracting.” I mean, wow–I am painfully embarassed for this team.

I’ve got a theory, though. The Seahawks are from Seattle: a place with clean air and beautiful cedar houses, where chanterelles grow a-plenty, delicious Kumamoto Oysters avail themselves as openly as slutty undergrads at USC, and–while wrapped in cuddly, North Face fleece–every ruddy-cheeked resident is at all times sipping on a perfect cup of coffee or a fine-tasting microbrew. Life is too good in the Pacific Northwest to warrant a winning football team. Awesome NFL teams were created to add awesomeness to an otherwise tough, shitpile existence (like living in Green Bay or Detroit). Seattle’s team doesn’t need to be awesome. And clearly, they don’t need to be suitably or subtly dressed, either.

Last but not least. Couldn’t help but notice that the Peyton Manning/Justin Timberlake Sony Ping Pong Commercial that aired during the Sunday games was not the “Mandarin” version hampered by their shoddy subtitles.

Are they listening to us? Or did they simply realize airing a commercial that’s actually funny yields great rewards?

Doesn’t matter. I just can’t wait for next week.

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Steelers Notebook - Ward's Milestone Dampened By Loss]
[Dallas News: Romo Gives Panthers Nothing In Dallas Cowboys' 21-7 Win]
[ESPN: Owens Critical Of The Media]
[Seattle PI: So What Do You Think Of Seahawks In Green?]

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Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute Puts Out Calendar, Believes Liberal Women "Look Like Men"

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute will release its fifth annual calendar this week, celebrating 2010′s “Great American Conservative Women.” Unlike last year’s “Pretty in Mink” calendar, this one is decidedly more recession-friendly, depicting all 12 women in white shirts and soft lighting.

As for the name of the 2010 calendar, I can only conclude it references the following:

“Great” as in hyperbole, as when calendar girl Michelle Malkin claimed an anti-Obama protest that took place in DC this month was attended by two million people, instead of the 70,000 estimated by the fire department.


“American” as in the opposite of “un-American,” an accusation Miss November Michelle Bachmann leveled at Barack Obama–and certain members of Congress–during his campaign.


And “Conservative” as in gay-hating and other civil rights-denying values, a mission newest calendar addition, Carrie Prejean, Miss October, claims God chose her to carry out.


In an attempt to counter the great Greatness, the American American-ness, and the Conservative Hatey-ness of this calendar, HuffPo is putting together a “Great American Liberal Women” Calendar of its own.

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute’s official Facebook Fan Page seems dubious about this counterpunch, however, judging by the wall post they put up on Monday at 1:04 pm:


Yes, it does in fact read: “The Huffington Post is trying to make a “Great American LIBERAL Women” calendar. This might be difficult considering their women look like men *cough*rachelmaddow*cough*.”

Stay classy, you great women, you.

[The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute]
[FOX News: "Great American Conservative Women" Calendar PICS]
[The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute Facebook Fan Page]

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Jon Gosselin Is Killed Off His Own Show

TLC announced Tuesday morning that, as of Nov. 2, Jon Gosselin will be dropped from the reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8.

Can you imagine being KILLED OFF THE SHOW OF YOUR OWN LIFE?! Does that mean Jon Gosselin even exists anymore? While we’re at it, can he be deleted from our collective consciousness, too?

Meanwhile, TLC is currently in talks with Corey Haim, Matt LeBlanc, and Mario Lopez to replace Jon Gosselin in the role of Jon Gosselin, so as not to confuse viewers or the Gosselins’ eight young children.


[People: Jon Gosselin Dropped from Jon & Kate Plus 8]

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AMAZIANS OF THE WEEK! L. Mahadevan, Lin He And Maneesh Agrawala

Good fellows: (left to right) L. Mahadevan, Lin He, and Maneesh Agrawala

Names: L. Mahadevan, Lin He and Maneesh Agrawala

Hail from: While Mahadevan holds court at Harvard in Cambridge, MA, He and Agrawala both operate out of Cal in Berkeley, CA.

Occupations: Mahadevan is an applied mathmetician, He a molecular biologist, and Agrawala a computer vision technologist.

Known for: Being all smart and stuff. Mahadevan, He and Agrawala were three of the twenty-four (that’s 1/8, or .125 for all you math lovers) recipients of the 2009 MacArthur “Genius Award”–a $500k Fellowship grant awarded to 20-40 Americans each year who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.”

We’re with the MacArthur Foundation on this one–these remarkable folks’ repective fields of work show extreme promise. Mahadevan’s mathematical analyses of practical problems (like how cloth folds when draped) may overwhelm us a tad, but tickle our left-brain fancies almost as much as knot theory and fractals. We fully believe that He’s microRNA research will lead to great strides in cancer research (We all agree… cancer is wack), and are psyched that Agrawala understands how important it is to create visual interfaces in computers that enhance users’ ability to process tons of info (part of the reason we buy Apple ‘puters).

Bottom line: We love geniuses. But who the heck doesn’t?

[MacArthur Foundation: Meet the 2009 Fellows]

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Thanks, Jennifer!

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Ketsana/Ondoy: Let America Guide The Way

The death toll of the Philippines’ Tropical Storm Ketsana (referred to in The Philippines as “Ondoy”) has reached 144, and is not done growing.

A few images of the devastation and panic caused by rapid flooding:




The country, described by AP this week as “doomed by geography and hobbled by poverty,” saw a rise in anger as stranded and suffering residents saw little or no quick aid from the government.

Dr. Prisco Nilo, chief of the PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration) who briefed the National Disaster Coordinating Council on the disastrous events, took an opportunity during an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer to blame the residents: “Instead of just watching the soap operas on TV, they should also watch the news,” he said.

But the government–particularly its leader, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo–pointed elsewhere, noting that the Philippine government’s response and public cry for International help was “quick” …compared to the response of the United States to Hurricane Katrina (and despite more than 7 additional inches of rain).

The mighty United States–not known, by and large, to be crippled by location or poverty–clearly pondered this statement, looked up to the sky, twiddled its thumbs and began to whistle nonchalantly.

[Times UK: Hundreds Featred Dead As Tropical Storm Ketsana Lashes Manila With Month's Rain In A Day]
[ABC News: Anger As Philippines Flood Death Toll Rises]

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Changing The World, One Hardass Asian Day At A Time

That’s “Mr. President,” if you’re nasty

It finally happened! On September 22, amazian Jim Yong Kim was inaugurated as the 17th President of Dartmouth College.

If you recall, he is both the first physician to lead Dartmouth in all of its 240 years and the first Asian American to head an Ivy League institution.

Never mind that he’s already a decorated student and educator, with an A.B. from Brown and both graduate degrees (M.D. and Ph.D.) from Harvard–where, prior to his move to Dartmouth, he held professorships at the Medical School and School of Public Health. Or that he’s commonly regarded as a “global health pioneer” for his work with various health institutions and the World Health Organization, and for co-founding the nonprofit medical organization Partners in Health. (Ed Note: My dad just read the last paragraph and started crying.)

We just watched Kim’s inaugural speech, and can totally see why students have found him to be a “most inspirational instructor,” guiding young people to feel they can change the world:

…but we couldn’t help but notice that all of Kim’s warm and cuddly stuff seems to be frosted with just a hint of awesome Hardass Asian Presidentialness: All that talk of excellence, persistence, preparasian? Thank bejeezus! He knows how to talk on our terms!!!

Even WE can’t help but feel rather inspired by Kim’s philosophies (but we’re sure as hell not going back to school to prove it!).

[DISGRASIAN™: AOTW - Dartmouth Prez Jim Yong Kim]
[Dartmouth.edu: Dr. Jim Yong Kim Appointed 17th President Of Dartmouth College]

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Thanks, Jasmine!

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