The Music of One’s Making

Two men, one from Las Vegas and the other from Reno, have pleaded not guilty in a slaying over a dispute involving a $9,000 debt.  Keon Park and Min Chang entered their pleas in the slaying of Young Park, who is not related to Keon.

Park’s charred body was found December 23 on the Arizona side of the Colorado River near Hoover Dam. Both Chang and Keon remain locked up pending a February 16 court appearance on murder and kidnapping with a weapon, armed robbery, and conspiracy charges.

Authorities say Park ran an escort business and brothel out of a home near Rainbow Boulevard and Desert Inn Road. She owed Chang about $6,000 and Keon about $3,000, with Chang as her driver and Keon booking appointments.

Authorities say both men confessed to their roles in the slaying, admitting to beating and strangling Park. They allegedly tried burning her body first with lighter fluid, but when that didn’t work, they returned the following day and used gasoline to burn her remains.

I need to write a letter to Keon and let him know he’s in my thoughts and prayers.

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Kick’em in the Left Knee

As I recall we had an undefeated football team at Margaret Keating School the year I graduated, so why Mr. Tom Brown was so angry at us, I don’t know.  All I can remember is we were singing rally songs on the bus home, when he stood up in the front of bus and started chewing us out.

It wasn’t like that was the first time he’d gotten made at us as a team. He became upset at one point when the cheerleading squad used the cheer: “Kick’em in the left knee, kick’em in the right, kick’em in the p—s…touchdown!

Yeah, it wasn’t the kind of cheer a bunch of 7th and 8th grades should have been using, but it was very funny. The looks on Mr. Brown and Mr. Jeff Neyenhouse’s faces were beyond priceless as Mr. Neyenhouse started laughing and Mr. Brown turned red.

I had never heard it before and have never heard it since — but I’ll forever recall it from that one event.

Joe Gensaw, 1962-2011

Another fellow Klamath River-Rat has been laid to rest. Joe Gensaw died January 12, 2011 in Eureka. Little Joe, as he was known by many who grew up with him, was born in Crescent City, November 15, 1962.

As a kid, Little Joe was a boxer on his dad’s boxing team, Gensaw Boxing Club. He and my brother Adam boxed together during their 8th grade, freshman and sophomore years.

Adam never did get over the fact that he couldn’t hit Little Joe hard enough to make him want to quit. But there a good many a times when Adam came home, nursing bruises, blackened eyes and bloody lips.

Sharon Jones-Hale, who also grew up in Klamath, says she remembers when Oscar, who was in her class at Margaret Keating School, came into class bragging he had a new baby-brother, named Joseph. She also recalled how Little Joe used to mow her and her mother’s lawn when they lived in the Klamath Glen.

As for me, I can’t recall not ever seeing Little Joe without a smile or having some funny comment to be made. He was jus’ that kind of a guy.

Joe is survived by many family members, including his sister Peggy Sue Gensaw and brother’s Oscar and Curtis Gensaw. He was preceded in death by his mother, Josephine, in 2010 and his father, Oscar Sr., in 2007.

Little Joe’s death leaves a certain void in everyone’s life who knew him.

The Case For and Against Individual Self Analysis

The on-air sign lit up and Fletch Taylor spoke to his unseen audience, “And tonight our guest will be renowned psychologist Doctor Sue Conrad. Doctor, it’s great to have you with us.”

“It’s great to be here, Mr. Taylor,” she replied.

“You can call me ‘Fletch.’ Everyone does, even my mother,” the announcer joked.

They both chuckled at the remark.

Fletch then added, “What’s the topic this evening?”

After a moment’s pause, Doctor Conrad answered, “Individual Self Analysis.”

“Hmm, sounds heavy,” Fletch replied.

“Not at all,” the doctor started, “Individual Self Analysis or ISA, is relatively simple and while it’s a new field of study, it jus’ may be the oldest search in the history of people-kind.

Doctor Sue Conrad spoke with finality in her voice.

Fletch looked perplexed at her, then asked, “What is that ‘search?’

“Self-truth,” Doctor Conrad blurted out, realizing her mistake.

“I see,” said Fletch, feigning understanding.

He leaned forward and pressed his forehead against the microphone. This pushed his glasses back up on the bridge of his nose.

The doctor went on, “Take, for example, a man who collects – say – teddy bears.”

Doctor Conrad smiled, showing off her large white teeth.

“What’s wrong with teddy bears?” Fletch interjected, “I jus’…”

He was abruptly cut off.

“Nothing — nothing at all’s wrong with it. But maybe that man doesn’t want to face the fact that he’s all grown up,” Doctor Conrad said, adding, “Then again…”

Fletch interrupted her.

“Do you mean to tell me,” Fletch asked, “that a man who collects teddy bears is a child deep down?

His face was pinking-up.

“Something like that,” answered Doctor Sue Conrad. She added, “Only much deeper.”

She could see the color forming in his cheeks and again she smiled.

“Bull-only!” retorted Fletch Taylor with flared nostrils.

“On the other hand,” the doctor started, “this same man could be a warm and sensitive person. He could long to love someone who’ll not hurt him or argue with him.”

Fletch shook his head sideways and remarked, “The warm and sensitive, I’ll give you – but what if he jus’ like teddy bears?” Then he added, “Is there any ‘self-truth’ in that?”

“No,” was all that was replied.

Then Fletch smiled and said, “I have a hypothetical for instance for you…” pausing a couple of seconds to collect his thoughts, before continuing, “Analyze a grown woman who will not eat vegetables or fruit.”

Doctor Sue Conrad glared hard at him as she mentally prepared her reply.

“Maybe she doesn’t like vegetables or fruit,” was the doctors’ answer. She added, “Many people suffer as children from allergies to some foods.”

She went on, “and many never learn to eat or like the taste of these foods. Okay?” she ended in a growl.

Fletch laughed out loud, “You forgot to mention, that maybe as a child, that now grown woman was jus’ plain spoiled.”

He had her and he knew it.

Fletch Taylor announced, “Tonight our guest is Doctor Sue Conrad. Our subject is Individual Self Analysis. It’s fourteen after and we’ll be back after these messages.”

Another voice came over the monitor. It was commercial break.

The shows’ engineer was sitting in the next room, looking through the sound-proof glass, shaking his head. He looked away momentarily as he cut to another commercial.

He looked back up, reached over and turned the intercom on and said, “I sure hope you two don’t fight like this at home,” pausing before he added, “At least in public you could acted like husband and wife.”

He suddenly went silent, and then said, “Stand-by, ten seconds until air — five, four, three, toon, one…”

The on-air light lit up.

Prince Pidera and the Valley of Bad Things

This is the very first story I ever wrote. It’s almost too embarrassing to share – but why stop now.

Once in a land, far away, a boy named Price Pidera asked his father, the great King Wezi, if he could go on a royal journey. His father, with reservations said yes, with a nod of his head.

“But you must promise me,” said the wise King, “that you shall not travel into the Iazd.”

“I promise my all-wise King and father,” answered Pidera.

But as he was preparing to leave he stopped and turned. He looked at his all-wise King-father and asked, “Forgive me Father if I seem to question your judgment, but may I ask why you wish me not to travel into the Iazd?”

His father, who had been working on a parchment of royal decrees, looked up at his son and with a smile, “It’s good that a son of mine should ask such a wise question, and therefore I, being wise myself shall honor it with this answer: Within the Iazd is a place of evil, it is called, ‘The Valley of Bad Things,’ and I’ve seen them.”

With this the young Prince left the presence of his King father to begin his royal journey.

In those days, there was no such thing as a sun for the sun had not been invented.  But men having intelligence, decided to use the moon and the stars as their compass.

And since the moon travels the sky in one direction the royal caravan would follow its path. This was the safest measure for it moved from east to west and the Iazd was in the east.

After traveling 72 turns of the hour-glass, Prince Pidera wanted to stop and rest. But his guides, being experienced and well-knowledged in travel, recommended they continue onward.

The Prince, knowing nothing of travel, agreed.

However, somewhere in the darkness, evil was afoot. A Wedkiman named Snachi, who hated the good-heart of King Wezi, father of Prince Pidera, hexed the moon pocking its face with craters.

The moon, in its shame hid its face from the world by turning its back on all the people, leaving everything complete darkness.  And as all know, the far-side of the moon never shines.

Soon everyone became lost in the great darkness. The royal caravan was no exception and they were forced to halt.

With a short time, everyone was becoming restless in the great darkness. The guides, wanting to keep them calm, suggested the caravan move on and the price agreed.

After another 72 turns of the hour-glass, the caravan was confused in its direction and the guides, who were experienced and well-knowledged in travel, started to bicker and argue between one another. They could not agree on how far they had come or even where they were.

One of guides said to the other, “You know so much – I shall leave.”

Not wanting to be out done, the second guide exclaimed, “No! I shall leave!”

Both being stubborn men, they would not give into one another. Instead they both left, neither realizing that they had abandoned the young Prince Pidera to fend for his self.

The prince, being of noble blood, did not complain, although he wished to very much. And after a while of indecision, he decided to push onward in to unfamiliar land, the Iazd of which his father had warned him not to travel.

Being of noble blood, he showed no fear, although deep inside Pidera trembled and shook. But he traveled on and in a short while he came to a forest of monstrous trees, with many arms and cold fingers.

The fingers tore at his royal clothing as they had no regard that he was Prince. Through the forest Pidera raced, not stopping for anything.

He stumbled time and again in a desperate attempt to escape the trees. Only when he came to a large clearing did he pause.

He knew he had to keep moving though or risk having the monstrous forest grow up around him. So he walked to the edge of the clearing and found he was looking down a hill.

In the valley below was scene of pure beauty; a waterfall with clear running water, lush grasses and beautiful roses. It looked to be paradise to the young Prince Pidera.

Down into the valley, the young prince dashed. At first he thought he had discovered heaven, but it quickly changed.

He laid down by the brook and drank from the clear, cool water. However it quickly turned to mud and burned deep in his throat.

Pidera jumped back from the water’s edge, only to have the grass under his feet burn like it were ablaze. And as he was tormented by the heat, the roses began to lose their loveliness and shed their petals.

Then the roses turned again the prince, wrapping themselves about his legs. Their thorniness dug deep into his flesh.

The pain was unbearable. He pulled and tugged at the vines until they gave from the ground.

Once he was loose, he ran as fast as he could, back up the hill. At the top he turned to look back into the valley and it appeared lush and appealing.

It was trap!

With nowhere to turn he dropped to his knees as started praying to Nadori for help. He had only heard of Nadori once as Nadori had stopped the great flooding of the world long ago.

“Please help me,” he cried out, “save me from this evil place.”

At the ending of his simple prayer, a bright light came from out of the darkness and lifted the young prince off his knees. He levitated high above the monstrous forest, and then floated away in what direction he could not tell.

Within a few heart beats he was floating above his King-father’s palace. The light gently placed him on the ground within the keeps walls.

“How can I repay you?” Prince Pidera asked before the light faded out.

Without a word, the light handed him a beam of itself. He was suddenly overcome with knowledge and he knew he had to go build a great shine on the highest mountain in the land.

Somehow he knew too that he had to create a reflective glass – the light called a mirror. He was also instructed to aim the mirror at the Heavens and stars.

With that the light evaporated into the darkness.

The young prince was glad to be home and the wise king was just as happy to have him home. Immediately King Wezi wished to know all his son had beheld.

“Tell me the story of your royal journey,” he demanded.

And Prince Pidera did as he was instructed.

“There is more Father,” Pidera, “I met Nadori!”

The wise king frowned, saying “My son, you have journeyed too long and too hard and need rest.”

“But Father, you must believe me,” Pidera pleaded adding, “I met Nadori in the light.”

Then to prove what he was telling was the truth, Pidera removed the beam from his belt and held it up so his father could examine it. The king took it in his hands, believing what the young prince was saying.

King Wezi then ordered his royal architects to design and build a great shrine with a great mirror aimed at heaven and the stars. Once complete, the beam was taken into the shrine.

The beams brightness caught the mirror’s reflective quality and shown itself directly upwards into Heaven and the stars. Its brightness was so great it appeared to burn a hole into the darkness.

The brightness was so great that it continues to show to this day. Prince Pidera called it the sun as Nadori had told him.

The moon was still hiding its face but had to see the sun as well. And once it looked at the new orb, it felt better for the sun had no face at all.

To this day the pair shares the skies with each other, though at times the moon still hides his face from the people. And at other times the two visit one another in order to celebrate their friendship.

My Little Brother

Before I could enroll as a full-time student at Humboldt State University, I had to take several Veteran’s Upward Bound courses. One of these classes was English, taught by a woman named Mrs. Sue Green.

She had the class write several papers throughout the semester.  While I don’t recall exactly what the assignment was about, I did save the story I wrote about my brother Adam and our relationship.

It has been exactly a year since he committed suicide. I remain lost — in limbo — still feeling much sorrow over his death. I had no idea at the time how important a role this writing assignment would end up being to me as I progress along the path to healing my heart.

I really miss Adam.

The  first time I saw him, he was so small. I thought he was a doll, Mom and Dad had brought home, but he moved and I knew dolls didn’t move.

In time I grew to accept the fact I wasn’t Mom and Dad’s only boy. Now I had a brother, Adam.

Also with time, I became more and more brave.

Soon I was able to gather enough courage to touch him. I found, much too my amazement, he was soft and that he made noises, loud ones.

One day Mom wanted to have a picture of me holding Adam. She placed him in my arms where I swelled with fear. This baby, my brother, intimidated me. I wasn’t sure why I was frightened and intimidated, I jus’ knew I was.

As we sat there waiting for Dad to take our picture, Adam reached up and grabbed a patch of my hair. He yanked it hard. The more I screamed, the harder he pulled. The harder he pulled, the more I screamed.

And my screams only made him laugh with delight.

I wanted to slap him. But Mom told me babies shouldn’t be hit. So I screamed some more instead. Finally Mom came to my rescue.

As the months grew into years, Adam learned to walk. He also decided to talk. His talking didn’t bother me as much as his mimicking. Anything I said, he said. Mom told me to be happy because he wanted to be like me. This calmed me for a while.

But calm is usually before the storm.

One day I came home from school with a new word, “Damn.” I said it once while playing outside. And of course, Adam repeated it. It didn’t end there either. He walked into the house and said “Damn,” in front of Mom, Dad and their guests.  Needless to say my new vocabulary word earned me a good spanking. I believed at the time Adam did it on purpose.

More years passed. I was getting taller and Adam was no longer a baby. Mom and Dad had added two more children to their Christmas list.

I was at the age where I could have friends over and to spend the night. My best friend at the time was Rob.

We had a lot in common, like fishing and hiking. We talked about girls, too. Adam always wanted to come along, but since he was younger we didn’t want him tagging along. Besides he didn’t talk about the same things we talked about.

Mom told me it wasn’t fair to Adam because he didn’t have anyone his own age to play with. I always refuted this point, saying, “Ah, Mom, do we have to?”

The answer was always an emphatic, “Yes!”

During my first year of high school Adam grew. He was no longer a little kid by the time I was Junior. He had started boxing in a local club, and on more than one occasion I found he had a pretty good right cross.

There is one thing about my brother I must point out: his tongue. He could talk up a storm. I knew this ever since he was about two-years old.

But now it was more than talk. His tongue was like a razor. He’d cut you up as fast as he could, if you left him an opening. Most of the time they were funny cuts, but when he wanted to hurt you his joking stopped. He could unleash some of the most devastating insults imaginable.

My senior year, Adam entered high school. He suffered and immediate identity crisis, as id the case with most younger siblings. He was referred to as, “Tom’s little brother.”

Everything Adam did something, I was certain to hear about it. Many times I had to defend him in a toe-to-toe scrap. Most of the time, the tanks I got were cut knuckles, bloodied opponents and a trip to the office. He knew I’d defend him if he needed it. Every time, I was there to help. After all, he was my little brother.

Soon I graduated from high school and joined the Air Force. The days of my tag-along brother seemed to be at a close. This however wasn’t so.

Weekly I received mail from friends back home telling me about Adam doing this or Adam doing that. What a plague. He was constantly bragging on me and adding he was going to do things better than me. I tolerated his bragging, hoping it would stop, but it didn’t.

My enlistment ended and I came home to find Adam had changed. He wasn’t physically different, but he spoke to me about things like girls, cars, and money. He drove me crazy within days.

My little brother isn’t little anymore as he stands taller than me and is much wider in the shoulders than I’ll ever be. Adam left to discover the world and its meaning. He has joined the Army which has taken him far away from me.

No longer do I have anyone to confer with over girls, cars or money like only brothers can. We no longer can take hikes. We cannot even fight.

Somehow, through all of his obnoxious ways, I have grown to love him and perhaps even accepts some of his ways. It is now that I sit back and reflect to discover there is much truth in the old adage: “You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

The Tougher Lesson

It’s one of the tougher lessons of life anyone can bear witness too — the sudden and unexpected death of a friend. Such is the case for my son, Kyle, who attended school with Maison Ortiz.

Maison is the Galena High School sophomore who died while walking down the mountainside at Mt. Rose Ski Resort. The accident occurred when Maison and a friend removed their helmets and Maison lost his footing and crashed into a tree head first.

He was flown to Renown Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. Funeral services for Maison are to be held January 25th, 2011 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno.

Some things are far beyond our understanding oe explaining.