Me and Keon in 2009
(Edit 5/10/16: People have asked how they can help Keon’s family. There is a GoFundMe page here. Please support this veteran, patriot, hero, and artist by supporting the family in giving Keon the Buddhist ancestral farewell that he deserves.
About Keon’s anonymity: Everyone at the Banana Conference knew Keon by name, but he chose to use only his moniker online in order to separate his activism from his future work as a novelist. Keon never completed his novel. His family has approved the release of his identity so that this hero can leave the world proudly and to get recognition for his immense contributions to the Asian American blogosphere and the many people he influenced.
Photo credit: LeeLee Films, Inc.
Grace Lee Boggs has passed on. Check out her obituary. The woman is definitely a hero. But I wanted to take a moment to say that I think it’s important to honor people in death by describing what they did rather then what we would like them to have done. In other words, we need to do a better job of treating people as individuals. We need to take a broader view of the world.
T.H. Tsien, from University of Chicago
Interesting obituary on T.H. Tsien
, who died recently at the age of 105. According to the obit, Mr. Tsien hid and smuggled rare books out of China when it was occupied by the Japanese. He successfully saved around 30,000 volumes at great risk–the books would have been burned and he would have been executed had he been caught.
Rest in peace.
Photo credit: Michael Stroud/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Lee Kuan Yew died yesterday at the age of 91. He was authoritarian ruler, and he achieved wealth and prosperity for Singapore. Mr. Lee understood how cultures work, knowledge which he used to create a thriving country with a mind-blowing diversity of cultures, races, and religions. His work has enlightened many on the subject of Asian people and culture.
Mr. Lee was a master of “Asian values,” a concept in which the good of society took precedence over the rights of the individual and citizens ceded some autonomy in return for paternalistic rule.
Portland lost a hero today. Jerome Kersey has passed on at the age of 52, apparently from a blood clot.
I knew Jerome Kersey from when we worked at the same mortgage company years ago. He started as a mortgage broker at around the same time I did–it was the first job in mortgages that either of us had. (Of course he was retired by then and was doing it just to get out of the house, and he was there for about a year before moving on to a better and more enjoyable career, first as an exotic car salesman and then as an employee for the Blazers.). He was the friendliest guy one could ever meet. Outside of the fact that he was 6’7, you’d never know that he was one of the biggest stars that the Portland Trailblazers ever had. And since I wasn’t an NBA fan, I had no idea!
Photo credit: Victor J. Blue for the NY Times
It’s hard to believe, but Officer Wenjian Liu
was the first Chinese American NYPD officer to die in the line of duty. There’s a great article about the cultural aspects of his funeral here: For Officer Liu’s Funeral, Blending Police Traditions With Chinese Customs
. I appreciated this:
Little in the rituals of a police funeral will be familiar to Officer Liu’s relatives. At a traditional Chinese funeral, mourners wail and sob throughout. Some fall prostrate on the ground. Many attendees pay their respects and leave, rather than staying for the full service. Eulogies are not usually given.
Allan Kornblum, Photo credit: Becky Prentis
Allan Kornblum was one of those guys that you always heard about but who always worked behind the scenes. He was the founder of Coffee House Press, which published Frank Chin. He passed away a couple of days ago at the age of 65. From the NY Times:
For three decades, Coffee House Press, a nonprofit publisher based in Minneapolis, has been an advocate for poets, novelists and other writers who might have struggled to find another publisher. Many of its authors are women and members of minority groups, often Asian-American. Once obscure, Coffee House has published more than 400 books, and its books are reaching increasingly larger audiences.
What a fascinating life! Pete Seeger was a pioneer in grass-roots music based activism, embracing efforts towards peace and environmentalism through his music and celebrity. I didn’t know this, but he also wrote Turn! Turn! Turn! Rest in Peace.
Coming off the interesting discussion we’re having on one of the education threads: John Dobson dies at 98. John Dobson was born in 1915 in Beijing, where his parents were missionaries. The family reverse immigrated back to the States, and John eventually earned a chemistry degree from Berkeley. He spent the next 23 years living in a Hindu monastery where he led services, took care of the flowers, and was assigned by the head swami to “spend the rest of his life reconciling ancient Hindu scripture with modern physics.” He began to play with telescopes, and eventually got to the point where the monastery kicked him out for spending too much time with them. Afterwards, he became a sidewalk astronomer and founded a club, called the Sidewalk Astronomers, dedicated to bringing astronomy to the people.