Missing Canadian Woman’s Body Found on Hotel Roof

A Los Angeles TV news report on the finding of Elisa Lam’s body.

Elisa LamThe story of Elisa Lam, the 21-year-old UBC student from Vancouver who’s been missing in Los Angeles since the end of January took a sad, tragic turn yesterday. A maintenance worker at the Cecil Hotel, where Lam was staying, was investigating the run-down hotel’s rooftop tanks in response to complaints about low water pressure when he found her body in one of them. According to The Globe and Mail, each of the tanks has a small, sealed opening, making the extraction of Lam’s body difficult.

“With its low-cost accommodation,” the Globe and Mail article says, “the aging, downtown hotel, close to the city’s Skid Row area, attracts numerous backpackers.” It also attracted the travel agent working on behalf of my employer back in late 2008, who booked me there on a last-minute trip to attend Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference. I wrote about my experience at the Cecil Hotel in a post tellingly titled A Dump with a Future. The article has been getting a lot of hints lately as readers — many of whom are visiting this Chinese new site — try to find out more about the Cecil Hotel and what sort of place it is.

One of the clues as to what happened to her is surveillance video footage from the elevators, in which the elevator seems to be malfunctioning and Lam is acting strangely, as if being followed. Los Angeles police put this video online in the hope of finding someone who might be able to provide more leads for her whereabouts:

At this point in the investigation, while foul play seems most likely, the police are not ruling out the possibility that Lam’s death may be the result of “a very, very strange accident”. That’s a bit of a longshot, and it’s more likely that given the sketchiness of the Cecil’s neighbourhood, the former is the cause.

I’d like to express my deepest condolences to Ms. Lam’s family.


It Looks Like It’s Going to be THAT Sort of Day


icy stairs

knee saver

toilet paper

the GPS lied to me



Missing Canadian Woman Seen Acting Strangely in Dumpy L.A. Hotel

Hotel Cecil exterior
For some reason, an article of mine from 2008, A Dump with a Future, was getting a lot of hits over the weekend. (Go ahead, give it a read — it’s pretty entertaining.) It was an article about my stay at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, located at the corner of Main and Seventh, a short walk from Pershing Square and a stone’s throw from the fashion district. The neighbourhood’s fairly rough; it kind of looks like many parts of “Los Santos”, the ersatz Los Angeles in the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In that article, I wrote that while the Cecil had the potential to become a revived fleabag in the way that Toronto’s Gladstone and Drake Hotels did, it had a long way to go.

It turned out that the readers were coming from a Chinese news site reporting on Elisa Lam, a young Canadian woman of Chinese descent who’s been missing since the end of January. She was in Los Angeles and staying at the Cecil. The police have released this video of her taken by the elevator surveillance camera. In it, she’s acting rather oddly:

The blog LAist reports:

Elisa LamThe search for missing Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, last seen January 31 in Los Angeles, continues, and now the Los Angeles Police Department has released surveillance video of the missing 21-year-old taken inside the hotel where she was staying.

The video shows Vancouver resident Lam entering the elevator at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown, pressing several floor buttons, and then pressing herself against the wall as though she were hiding from someone. The elevator doesn’t go anywhere, though, and Lam can be seen edging out the doors, ultimately gesturing in the hallway, possibly in conversation with someone. Lam goes back into the elevator and again presses multiple buttons, but when the elevator doesn’t move, she exits.

Lam was last seen in the lobby of the Cecil. She had been in California a few days, and the college student’s final destination was reportedly to be Santa Cruz.

Her parents say she last contacted them on the 31st, but that it was extremely unusual for her to not be in touch with them.

Lam is described as an Asian woman of Chinese descent. She has black hair, brown eyes and stands 5 feet 4 inches tall. She weighs about 115 pounds. She is fluent in English and also speaks Cantonese. According to the “Find Elisa Lam” Facebook page, Lam was last seen wearing a purple/blue t-shirt and black basketball shorts, and she was not wearing her glasses. The LAPD have noted Lam may suffer from mild depression.

Anyone with information about Lam’s whereabouts is asked to contact the LAPD.


Could “The Breakfast Club” be Remade Today?

breakfast club

The Breakfast Club was released in 1985 and was a big coming-of-age film for my generation. The setup for the movie was pretty simple: five high school students from five completely different cliques — “a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal” — spend a Saturday in detention and find out that what they have in common far outshines what separates them.

As with most cultural artifacts, it’s a product of its time. The soundtrack and clothing clearly mark it as an ’80s film, and the scene where Molly Ringwald’s character has sushi for lunch is supposed to seem fashionable yet a little edgy to North American audiences of that era (many non-Japanese thought it was weird to eat raw fish, and I used to chide the sushi-squeamish by teasing them with “I know you’ve had worse things in your mouth”).

Could The Breakfast Club be remade today? Chris Rusche, creator of the webcomic Shotgun Shuffle doesn’t think so due to mobile technology:

The Breakfast Club, if everyone but Bender had smartphones.

He may have a point.

Here’s a bonus: the trailer!


Valentine’s Day Post #6: Street Talkin’ Bear

Teddy bar with heart that reads 'Shit bitch you is fine'


Valentine’s Day Post #5: The Valentine’s Day Card of the Year

Valentine's card on a store rack: 'I would SO take it up the bum for you.'

In really special relationships, there’s no such thing as “too dirty”.


Valentine’s Day Post #4: Kinnon Elliott’s Valentine Infographic

infographic sampleValentine’s Day isn’t one of Accordion City-based illustrator and designer Kinnon Elliott’s favourite holidays, but that didn’t stop her from doing some research, putting in a little elbow grease, and creating this infographic full of Valentine’s Day data and trivia:


Click the infographic to see it at full size.