Sunday, June 18, 2017
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Friday, June 16, 2017
When I first started the Norinko Hanasaki investigation, I found subject matter in the origins of the United States railroad lines as well as the folklore of missing children to the arrival of the Chinese Triad in Asian communities. I heard stories of a haunted freeway tunnel and discovered that the homeless people living in the tunnel may in fact be the reason for the strange voices and screams coming from the freeway underpass.
Instead of finding answers to my questions, my research has only served to raise more questions. As the one year mark of Norinko's disappearance approached, I accepted an invitation to the Buddhist services for the missing middle-schooler where I could meet with the people who have been feeding me information and background on Norinko. I attended the services to show my respects, and, to my surprise, I found more answers than I had questions.
My mind filled with morbid thoughts. I thought that no one wants to discuss the fact that Norinko may be dead, that her body could be found any day soon. But the fact that one year has nearly gone by and there has been no bad news for them was the good news. The time for something bad to have happened has passed. All that remains is for Norinko to come home.
After service, food was provided. I met Bridget, her parents, the Segawas, Suzie and her parents, the Namuris, and I couldn’t help but notice that Torinko Hanasaki and his wife, Amico, waited till after I met with the others, including Priest Horaguchi, before they introduced themselves. And just as quickly as they introduced themselves, they excused themselves to direct me to the buffet table. There would be no discussions today. That I understood right off.
As I learned right off, I was there to listen, not to ask questions. I was not allowed to tape the interview, so I took notes. The Priest insisted I use the pen and paper he provided. My backpack with my laptop, notebooks, pens and pencils, clothes, food and coffee, was taken by another priest dressed in a blue outfit similar to Horaguchi's red outfit. I didn't ask about this hierarchy. As I said, questions were not allowed or answered when I did manage to sneak one in.
I nodded yes, but before I could say anything, he continued. (Torinko sat to Horaguchi's right, just behind him, also nodding affirmatively).
Each blind man touches a different part of the elephant, one claiming that the elephant is like a snake, for he had touched the tail, another swearing it was like a tree trunk, for he had felt the great leg of the elephant, and each in turn describing his part, but none the whole. That is your blog. The elephant is there. But in dissarray. Let me help. Please write and tell me if I am speaking too fast.
I nodded yes.
And with a deep breath, Priest Horaguchi raised his right hand and made a fist. And then he offered his left hand with its palm up, as if asking for change. He said, The open hand is life, and the fist, the closed hand, is death. When does it stop being a hand? It does not. It opens and closes, just as does life. You follow, Mr. Servante?
I nodded yes.
He resumed, life opens and closes, but it does not end. And no, it does not go to Heaven. Not is our beliefs. It goes to Diyu after death, where the Great Judge, Chang Gui, or Wuchang Gui, as he is often called, decides how this closed life will be reopened. Chang Gui decides if the life before him requires tempering, as does unforged steel for a sword, or if the life requires modification by ice, as does good meat before cooking. Forgive my comparisons. I know they are crude, but in Diyu, as you well know, the life must be re-conditioned for reincarnation by either fire or ice. Chang Gui decides on reincarnation after fire or ice, how long the treatment will last, and the degree of the treatment. If the person lived a life of "sin", he'd be a closed fist entering Diyu as a closed fist, thus requiring much treatment. If the person lived the life of good, he'd be an open hand entering Diyu as a sinless person requiring no treatment. He'd pretty much be on the waiting list for a body to be reincarnated into--a human body; we don't hold to being reincarnated into insect or animal. That's not our way.
But then there's the In-Between. Neither a closed or opened hand. It wasn't your time to go to Diyu. But there you are. I know you wrote of this. The comatosed patient is neither dead nor alive. Yet, in our belief, they are in Diyu, in a waiting room. No ice or fire. It is not true death. Even when accident victims are in the In-Between, they often speak of seeing a light that beacons them. It is the door to Diyu being opened for the new person requiring treatment for reincarnation.
Now imagine hundreds of such people dying. Chinese railroad workers carrying nitroglycerin into the caves to create an explosion strong enough to weaken rock and stone, to build a tunnel for the trains to pass. Now imagine the nitroglycerin blowing up because the person handling it trips. The ensuing explosion would kill him and everyone in the cave. Not "would"--"did" kill a lot of Chinese and Japanese workers. Blown to pieces beyond recognition. How do you bury the substance of the man when all you have are bits and pieces of many men splattered on the walls, soaking into the ground loosened by the blast? We believe that a dead person can enter Diyu for treatment only if he is buried properly.
If the corporeal substance of these men is not buried properly, their essence, what you call the "soul", wanders the place of death, half here, half in Diyu. This gives Chang Gui nothing to work with, nothing to treat for reincarnation. So, the Great One ignores the Wanderers. Yet the door to Diyu opens for these victims of the nitroglycerin but because they were never buried properly, the door remains open for much longer than it should. And the Angry One, Yuan Gui, seeks justice for the Wanderers. And Yuan Gui now has a revolving door to our world in such tunnels where injustice and betrayal made victims of our countrymen.
Let me tell you about our work with the homeless. Another subject you covered quite accurately in your blog. So I know I am not straying too far from what you've already researched for yourself. The tunnel is not haunted. For us, haunted means wandering souls awaiting proper burial in Diyu, Earth, or the Skies, what you call the Heavens. We have spirits of air, fire, water, and pure evil. Goodness is reincarnation. Evil is not being reincarnated--to simplify things. Yuan Gui is the demon of grievance for the wandering souls. It flies through the open door to and from Diyu to collect these wanderers, for there are many, especially in the tunnels, especially in the McClure Tunnel.
When we took food and medicine to the homeless people living in what they called the Hole in the Wall--a room once used by the railroad managers for business, we found many documents and articles of railway communications that indicated that the tunnel and offices would be abandoned and sold to the City of Los Angeles for the new Interstate 10 freeway. We also found that the Tongs were paid to look the other way.
When we first helped the Hole in the Wall people, there were close to twenty. The number varies because many of them moved on, transients always on the lookout for better, safer home, even if just a cardboard box or a shopping cart converted to a place to sleep. Often, these transients move on because they wake up beaten and bruised, with cut lips and bloody noses, and they don't remembered the brutality they suffered deep in dream. It is a common occurrence. Thus they move on to safer shanties. But there was also the north wall behind the old file cabinets. One day they found the cabinets had been pushed aside, and noticed that the number of their group had diminished by a few members. But, as I said, transients move on, so no one gave it much thought. Until their numbers decreased to a handful. Then they left the Hole in the Wall.
Something was taking them. Sure some were transients, as the police claimed when we told them of the disappearances. But I know and recognize the work of Yuan Gui. Are not transients also wanderers? What a trifle for the Angry One to take both into the doorway to Diyu. One would think, no?
The notebook. The notebook with the writings about an angry bird called Buzzkill. What do dogs do when they see themselves in a mirror for the first time? They bark at the other dog. In the notebook, Torinko informed me, was drawing of Buzzkill. Even he recognized the Angry One in that child's drawing. That is the one thing that was different that day from all the other days that Norinko was driven through the tunnel.
And the solution is simple, Mr. Servante. You must find the notebook of Norinko Hanasaki.
[Priest Horaguchi pressed on his knees and stood. He bowed to me and said he'd fetch tea. He motioned to Norinko's father as he left the room.]
At first my great grandfather passed the responsibility of caring for the Hanasaki family to my father and he to me. Little did I know that I would fall in love with Amico, Norinko's mother. Her husband divorced her to marry an American woman. How easily corrupted we are by the American Way. I, too, fell victim to this tradition of betrayal to our culture. I came to be known as Torrance when my true name is Torinko, named for my forefathers in the Triad. Today, the organization is mostly legitimate business, but there are a few criminal elements in the lower ranks. We try to deal with it by suffocating their business dealings. Beyond that, it's up to my superiors in Hong Kong to make such decisions. I am still only in charge of carrying out my orders, and of honoring our oaths. Yet, for me, I've been handed down the task of regaining the honor that Kenta Han dismissed by accepting bribes from the railroad barons. Is it no wonder that Diyu is at our doorstep?
Now our paths have joined. the Triad and the Victim have become one. Just as the Yuan gui and Wuchang gui have joined forces capture the living souls of those who have touched the notebook of Norinko. We have traced the missing people beyond the homeless in the tunnel; there is a bus driver, two deputies, a detective, and a reporter. They are missing too. What they have in common is the link to Norinko. The homeless have been taken through the open doorway that the Yuan Gui used to take Norinko, a descendatn of the first Hanasakis. You were right in your assessment of the Hanasaki name: It is a combination of Chinese and Japanese. Norinko's line begins with the Sakis, and mine with the Hans. Through our years of trying to honor our oaths and make up for the dishonor of my great great grandfather, the names Han and Saki have become one.
Beyond Norinko's disappearance, the others, too, were taken after they handled the journal of Norinko. Once you touch the journal, the Yuan Gui passes your essence to Wuchang Gui for judgment. Without your essence, you go mad; you are half in Diyu and half here on Earth. You have 14 days until your essence is completely in Diyu. It is in the journal where Yuan Gui hides. The Wuchang Gui is on the other side of the doorway in the Hole in the Wall inside the tunnel wall. There is only one way to break the cycle of injustice and judgment, arrest and trial, Earth and Diyu. We must read the journal and receive the messages from Diyu that Norinko has been sending.
Norinko can communicate through the journal, as can the others who are not dead but who are trapped in Diyu for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The birds in your blog. That’s Norinko trying to reach me. Only she’s reached you first through her friends, Beniko Segawa and Segui Namuri, or as you know them, Bridget and Suzie. So easy to become Americanized. It is now your responsibility. Priest Bobue Horaguchi and I can help, but it is up to you to find the journal. Juan Gui and Wuchang Gui are like birds in the earthly plane, demons in the Diyu plane. If we cannot break the cycle, the demon will enter the earthly realm and cause corporeal death to steal away more spirits to Diyu. It will no longer need to take the essence of the people without killing them. With a body of flesh and feather, it will be capable of spilling blood, of taking vengeance for the injustice of the victims of the tunnels, for the dishonor of the easily corruptible Tongs who have betrayed their oaths for American trinkets.
[Torinko grew silent as Priest Bobue, as he asked to be addressed, entered with the tea. As we drank our cups of Japanese tea with lemon and honey in silence, the sheer magnitude of what I just heard never occurred to me. I played along, promised to contact them as soon as I found a trail leading to the notebook, and then I left. They did not add anything more to what they had already told me. I was tasked with something beyond simple blogging. I left without any intention of looking back. The Norinko Investigation had just come to an end.]
The shrine of Norinko Hanasaki was dismantled when I arrived on the Ocean Avenue Overpass above the McClure Tunnel to the Interstate Ten. There was one lone girl there. I asked her if she knew Norinko. She shrugged and said she saw me at the service on Sunday. Then she asked, "Did you know her?" I shrugged back, and that made her smile. She went on, "The cops came and picked up all the glass candle jars. There were some people here, but they left when the cops started taking down the signs and photos. One of the cops was mad. Even when everyone was leaving he yelled at them that 'where were the photos and candles for Mitchell and Baker. And where's the flowers for Wu?!' Who are they anyway!" She wiped away a tear, but smiled again.
She then told me, "But they didn't take this. Here. You can have it. I don't know who you are or why you're even here, but everyone at the service was calling you an angel. Don't get all happy. In my culture, it's not a good word, not always. It means like demon. There are good and bad. Demons. They're not sure which you are, but it doesn't matter. It takes a demon to beat a demon. You'll just have to do. I took this before the cops took everything. I know you know what it is. I hope you know what to do with it." And with that she handed me a drawing of a Plumage Pvnk and walked away.
I considered calling the Sheriff's office to ask them why they took down the shrine but thought better of it. Jake, it's
Sunday, June 11, 2017
The challenge is for artists to create a painting, based on and/or reflecting the above poem, "The Moonrise Trail" by Michael H. Hanson. Please access the FILES section at the Upper Left of this page to View the Poem and to Read the Official RULES of this 2017 Contest and to access the Official Entry Form which you must fill out and submit "Before" you submit a work of art. There are NO entry fees, and original works of art will NOT have to be shipped anywhere (high-resolution digital photos will suffice). Please be aware that there is NO monetary prize. Do NOT post works of art directly on this page!!! If you attempt to do so, they will be summarily Deleted!!
This is an official Art Contest page and NOT a random art appreciation website. Submit your artwork (high resolution photograph) via e-mail or FB Messaging, after filling out the application, and then your artwork will be publicly displayed in a Facebook photo album accessible on this website.
The Submission Deadline is November 17, 2017. The Winners (First Place, Second Place, Third Place, and 3 Honorable Mentions) will be announced the night of Saturday, December 2, 2017, beginning at 8:00 pm EST USA on the World Wide Web, right here, on this public Facebook Event Page. All are welcome to take part in the festivities.
Paint-The-Poem is an art contest that was created in 2015 by poet Michael H. Hanson in his ongoing endeavors to promote the arts. [DO NOT post your artwork on this page. This is an Art Contest, NOT an art appreciation page]. Michael is a Poet that utilizes multimedia to convey his words, often finding inspiration in his admiration of painted art; he creates poetry that echoes this inspiration. This dual use of word and picture combines to create a third form, the Written Painting.
Michael wished to reverse the inspiration process by seeking artists who would draw inspiration from “his” poetic vision, and thus was born Paint-The-Poem.
The purpose of this Non-Profit Art Contest is purely to Support The Arts, and showcase the work of an eclectic cross-section of artists from around the World.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
On Sunday, I will attend the service for Norinko Hanasaki at the
And I must have a plan because I have not been getting much sleep, arguing with my editors, weaving stray thoughts into each new part of the investigation on my blog. Sometimes a thought will strike me on the train, and sometimes it will wake me from a strange dream. The more wrapped up I get in this investigation, the more alone I feel, as if my world is separating from the rest of the world that everyone else takes for granted.
That poem that I wrote the other day.
I live with myself in my head
You or you don't enter the equation
Me, myself, and I alive or dead
Outside my skin you don't exist
Except as sky, earth, and zed
I get into arguments more easily over which story is more credible, or, if in fact, there is a story at stake.
I watch the hockey games and wonder what the story is behind each player. I find that that team was meant to win because they were due a happy ending. Then it becomes dangerous to think of the losing team. Are they the tragic hero or the lowly villain? And what does that say about me? About my story?
The answers are either all in my head, as it says in my poem, or there are answers to be found in
Sunday, June 4, 2017
In Part 11, the W. Chris Dubois (aka Tom Thumb) notes, I found another connection to Norinko. Dubois had not only been researching the railroad's connection to the McClure Tunnel and Norinko, he was also following a link between the Hanasaki family to Little Tokyo and Chinatown in
Triads, Tongs, and Hatchet Men
On September 2, 1885, the Rock Springs Massacre in Wyoming involved dozens of angry White workers who attacked Chinese workers and killed 28, injuring many more. The practice of the railroad barons of paying the Chinese less money led to the hiring of more Asians over the more highly paid White laborers, who retaliated by setting the attacks in motion that September day in mining camps and railroad camps alike. The Chinese towns around the camps were burnt down.
Word reached Hong Kong of the killings and the Triads, the crime organization who in the 1880s acted as both police and businessmen, responded by sending a branch of the organization, called a Tong, to protect the Chinese workers along the railway as it grew from Wyoming to California. The Tongs employed paid assassins who carried hatchets and revolvers to guard the Chinese camps and helped to rebuild the towns now under Triad protection and rule. In addition to tailor shops, laundries, restaurants, grocery stores, and medicinal shops, the Tongs also brought opium dens, brothels, and saloons.
Because of the fierce loyalty of the Triads (the Masters) to their clients and rank-and-file members, no matter if they were Tong emissaries or Hatchet Men or Saloon Keepers, the Chinese communities burgeoning around the expanding string of towns along the railway felt pride and safety under the leadership of this honorable organization.
Part of this honor system stems from the "Oaths" each member takes before joining a Triad. These are but a few of the 36 Oaths that all leaders, followers, and entrepreneurs must memorize:
- I must treat the parents and relatives of my sworn brothers as my own kin. I shall suffer death by five thunderbolts if I do not keep this oath.
- I shall assist my sworn brothers to bury their parents and brothers by offering financial or physical assistance. I shall be killed by five thunderbolts if I pretend to have no knowledge of their troubles.
- I will take good care of the wives or children of sworn brothers entrusted to my keeping. If I do not I will be killed by five thunderbolts.
- If any of my sworn brothers are killed, or arrested, or have departed to some other place, I will assist their wives and children who may be in need. If I pretend to have no knowledge of their difficulties I will be killed by five thunderbolts.
- I must never reveal Hung secrets or signs when speaking to outsiders. If I do so I will be killed by myriads of swords.
Question: Were the Hanasakis one of these families forever under the care of the Triads and their Oaths? Something to consider when I meet with Mr. Hanasaki on June 12th at the temple. Maybe this is the path he put me on with his email. ??
A Footnote regarding the Chinese and Japanese feud in early Los Angeles:
Chinatown and Little Tokyo, the Los Angeles Connection
When the railroad reached the Pacific Coast, the rail work continued northward to San Francisco. However, many of the Chinese elected to stay in Los Angeles and built the Chinese Quarter, a town not unlike the communities springing up with the help of the Triads. By the 1910s, the citizens of Los Angeles did not like the presence of the opium dens and brothels and undertook legislation to forbid such activities. With the help from lawyers hired by the Tongs, the Chinese fought back in the courts, citing the Chinese Opera House, Temples, and legitimate businesses in the hundreds along Alameda Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. The Central Pacific Railroad, however, rendered the legal proceedings moot as they purchased all the land that the Chinese Quarter sat on and razed the town to build the Union Station rail terminal connecting the ending of the westerly path of the rails to the new northerly direction.
When the Chinese moved their legal businesses to the north end of Alameda, Broadway, and Hill Street, they abandoned the illegal businesses of the Tongs, who were drawing too much attention from the Los Angeles Police Department. The Japanese rail workers who settled the land north on Alameda were forced out by the Tongs and, ironically, it was the Japanese who took in the Triad members into their new location on First Street after their ouster by their Chinese "brothers". In the 1940s, when the Japanese were incarcerated during World War II, Little Tokyo was virtually emptied and the Tongs returned to Hong Kong to defend the Mother Land from the Japanese imperialists of the Axis Powers.
The Tongs passed into legend as Hollywood villains during the Thirties, Forties, Fifties, and early Sixties when Hatchet Men became synonymous with Chinese Gangsters. But the Triads still exist to this day, mostly in legitimate business. And it is said that they still keep their Oaths to the victims of the railroad by caring for their families, whether Chinese or Japanese, from generation to generation, long after the graves of the original Tong members were filled and new members now fulfill the promises of the old Oaths.
Thursday, June 1, 2017
The Tom Thumb Notes?
I have the notebook of Norinko Hanasaki. I met with detective Jian Wu. I pinched it from his files while he was talking to the principal. I hid it in the custodian's closet, behind a locker. It won't be long before Wu figures out I have it. I have to meet with Miriam Hernandez, the school bus driver, and make my way back to the notebook before Wu notices it's missing. Lots of plates in the air, Marie. I'm saving all my notes for you on the flash drive you gave me. If for any reason Wu finds out it was me who took the notebook, I want to have a backup of all my files. Just between you and me, Marie, that notebook gives me the creeps. I want to take pictures of it on my phone and email them to you so you can add them to the drive. This whole assignment is taking a lot of left turns. It doesn't feel right. I hope it's all worth it when I snag me a job with the Times. I'll make sure they include you in the package. You're going to make a good journalist one of these days. Use my notes if you need them. I mean, in the event something happens to me. Walking off with evidence. Shit. What the hell was I thinking?! Take care. Bail me out if I'm caught.
Drawings found on the Tom Thumb flashdrive.
The Lost Article
Frantic Search Brings Community Together
Norinko was on the bus with several other female students from the all-girls' First Catholic School bus when the bus entered the McClure Tunnel, which connects the Interstate 10 to the Pacific Coast Highway. When the bus emerged from the tunnel, Norinko appeared not to be on the bus.
"It is good to see so many people working together to help find her. We should also be checking the hamburger places and the coffee cafes."
Numerous phone calls to Norinko's cell phone went straight to voice mail.
Neighbors and family friends, the Segawas, said that it's too early to be concerned. A lot of good church people are involved in the search, but we should also be praying for Norinko's safe return. In early morning the 14th of June, the search continues.
According to my computer friend, Marie tried to pass this article off as her own. It was written by W. Chris Dubois, the editor determined based on a call that he had received from a fellow editor at the Los Angeles Times, who told him that Dubois tried to shop the article there in exchange for part-time work.