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Harvard Sucks

November 19th, 2010 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

A prank Yale pulled at the 2004 Harvard-Yale game

Harvard sucks.

Yes, I went to Yale, so I’m supposed to say that. But, no, really, Harvard sucks. Because, in advance of the Harvard-Yale game this weekend–aka “The Game”–Harvard comedy group, On Harvard Time, put out a video spoofing “Why I Chose Yale,” that singing-and-dancing Yale admissions video that made the rounds earlier in the year, only instead of just targeting the university, the Harvard spoof made fun of poor people in New Haven–which has the second-highest poverty level in CT and where 1 in 4 families live below the line–and mocked poverty’s attendant issues, like crime and homelessness.

Watch here:

Now, it doesn’t take a Harvard education to know that poverty really fucking sucks. But apparently it takes a Harvard education to think it’s hilarious!

(Sidenote: The majority of New Haven’s poor also happen to be people of color. Make of that what you will.)

Also hilarious: murder! The On Harvard Time video originally included a joke about the murder of Yale grad student, Annie Le–”What happened to that girl that got murdered and stuffed in a wall?” went the line around the :55 mark–which was subsequently changed after Yale students publicly expressed outrage.

Don’t get me wrong. Yale sucks too. Its admission video that On Harvard Time was Continue reading Harvard Sucks

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

September 30th, 2009 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

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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DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! The Murder of Annie Le

September 18th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

There are things I can’t stop thinking about in the murder of Yale graduate student Annie Le.

Like the fact that she was 4’11″ and 90 lbs, which seems oh-so-small.

And that she was killed in the middle of the day.

The fact everyone now knows and finds particularly cruel: that she was found murdered, stuffed in a wall, on the day she was to be married.

That Annie’s fiance’s name is Widawsky, calling to mind widows and widowers, people left behind by death.

That there’s a theory floating around she may have been killed over mice.

This phenomenon called “workplace violence.” Or that it’s the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the U.S.

The single bead of the necklace she was wearing that was found in the lab area where she was last seen alive. A bead that must have broken off her necklace when she was strangled. Was it precious? Was it cheap? Was it from a necklace you could buy at a jewelry store, at a street fair, on a beach?

A video taken of her sitting at a desk in front of a computer, her glasses on, a bottle of water open, where she waves a little stuffed penguin to the camera, all of it so mundane and normal.

This week, Slate‘s media critic Jack Shafer wrote in a piece called “Murder Draped in Ivy” that people have taken a particular, “prurient” interest in Annie Le’s murder because it occurred at Yale:

If you plan to be murdered and expect decent press coverage, please have the good sense to be a Harvard or Yale student or professor….

Members of the elite press identify with Harvard and Yale—even if they didn’t go there. They may work for someone who went, or wish they’d gone, or hope their children go.

I’m not a member of the elite press, but I can say I identify with Annie Le. And it’s not because I went to Yale, and my freshman year, a fellow student was murdered–shot and killed–about a stone throw’s from my Common Room window. It’s because Annie Le seemed like someone I know, someone I’m friends with, someone I might have competed against in high school, someone like me, a girl–and not a body, a height measurement, an anecdote about cruel timing, a bead from a necklace, a statistic–who was simply living her life before someone stamped it out of her for no good reason.

[Slate: Murder Draped in Ivy]

Thanks, Raymond

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Annie Le Murder Update: Raymond Clark Arrested, Charged With Murder

September 17th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana

Lab technician Raymond Clark was arrested and charged with murder this morning, for strangling grad student Annie Le in a case of what police are calling “workplace violence.” Clark was apprehended at the Super 8 Motel that he holed up in after being released yesterday, following a DNA test and police questioning. Clark’s DNA ultimately yielded a match with evidence collected from the crime scene, and there are currently no other suspects.

While it is a relief to see this investigation moving quickly and “smoothly,” it’s no doubt that the more we know, the worse we feel.

Thanks, Anthony

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Annie Le Murder Update: "Person of Interest" Raymond Clark Released By Police

September 16th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

Raymond Clark, the lab technician and “Person of Interest” in the Annie Le murder who was taken into police custody last night, has been released, after authorities collected DNA samples from him and searched his apartment.

Contrary to internet rumor, Clark had not been arrested or charged with a crime, and was only brought into police custody Tuesday on two search warrants.

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Annie Le Murder Update: Police Focus On Lab Technician

September 15th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Jen

With autopsy results in the murder of 24 year-old Yale grad student Annie Le still pending, it’s now being reported that police have descended in “large numbers” on the apartment building of lab technician who worked in the same building where Le’s body was found.

The lab technician has not been officially named a suspect, although a police source close to the investigation told CBS News Monday that the lab technician has already failed a polygraph test.


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