Greg Brick's "Subterranean Twin Cities"
For the last couple of weeks, well-meaning family and friends have been letting me know about the new book they heard about - Greg Brick's "Subterranean Twin Cities."
Given the content and my interests, they assume I might be excited to read it.
But they are wrong.
I've ignored the mediafest, and had no intention of even cracking the cover of the book - because I knew what I'd find there.
Yes, Brick's famously-plodding prose was a turn-off -but his lack of style was not the problem.
Rather, I knew that he would be using his book to simultaneously smear Action Squad and prop himself up on a pedestal - and I didn't want to waste my time being annoyed by it.
Fine. Whatever. Let the bitter ol' guy have his say, I figured. But I wasn't going to bother reading it.
Well, the universe had other ideas, and let me know in the usual manner - through coincidence.
Last night at 8:35 I got a weird text from Paul, a younger explorer guy I know saying "Greg Brick wants you at his shindig - says you should 'come pay your respects.'"
Huh. Was that supposed to be a joke?
Then twenty minutes later, my friend Nick, who I hadn't really spoken to in months, called.
He had just gone to a bookstore and realized he had stumbled into a Greg Brick book signing event. He spoke with Brick, and mentioned Greg's historical 'anti-Action Squad' attitude - which Greg denied harboring. So he'd given Nick a copy of the book signed to me with 'best regards' - which Nick wanted to come over and drop off.
When he arrived, I was chilling with a few friends talking about the history of local underground exploration.
My friend Asylunt was doubting that my perception of Brick's attitude toward me and Action Squad was valid. So it was pretty funny when Nick handed me the book, and literally within 20 seconds of opening it up I found a sour passage about how "certain Web sites" had "permanently ruined" it for other explorers - making it "impossible" to explore the U of MN Steam Tunnels.
Soon it became a game - we passed the book around and saw how quickly we could randomly find yet another jab at Action Squad - I haven't counted them yet, but it sure seemed that almost every single chapter has one such passage, because we found plenty.
Laughing, Nick told us how Brick had complained to him that "he (Brick) had made a website too, but then Action Squad's site came along and eclipsed it." When I called to Paul later than night, he told us that although he'd only caught about 10 minutes of Brick speaking at the book signing, a good chunk of the time had been devoted to how irresponsible websites had more or less 'destroyed exploring' for everyone.
Needless to say, his arguments about the evils of the Action Squad fall flat - even if you disregard the irony of a media-mongering attention junkie flaming others for 'sharing the stoke' online.
Did we make it hard for Greg to casually get into places? Did we make it so more people enjoyed such exploring, when Greg wanted to be the only one? Did we steal some of Greg's limelight with our tales of adventure?
Yeah, we did.
Still - I wasn't going to respond to any of it ... until Nick, who was taking his turn paging through the book, suddenly sat up straight and read the following passage aloud, from the chapter about the Ford Motors Sand Mines:
It took a few moments for the import of this to sink in.
We were floored by the unbelieveable gall, and all had to read it ourelves to verify that it said what it said.
The guy shittalks us and our website all throughout his book - then when he needs to spice up his boring expositions, he steals a story from our website and presents it as his own experience!
UN. FUCKING. REAL.
Sometimes you just have to laugh. I have no idea what the hell he could have been thinking, or why he did it - but I'm glad he did, and showed his true colors.
Hey Greg Brick - I think you owe Action Squad an apology.
I hope you agree.
As you can imagine, there's been a lot of discussion about this on the local urban exploration boards - and of course, it was debated whether or not Greg Brick had stolen the story from Action Squad, or if perhaps the same thing had somehow happened to him.
No, it's not my doing that almost everyone agrees that Greg stole the story - this was the consensus arrived at by almost everyone in the community.
Yes, there was one fellow - Greg's long-time best friend - who tried his best to defend Greg ... but in doing so, wound up doing more damage to his case than any diatribe of mine could have done:
So to sum up for posterity and those still on the fence, Greg wrote in his book that:
There are three basic elements to the story - a security truck, right outside the exit, containing a sleeping security guard.
There are none of those elements in Greg's best friend's 1st-hand account of their trip:
- - - - - -
Now let's compare that passage from Greg's book with the Action Squad Ford page. In it, I wrote:
Then I mused about how we'd somehow managed to escape:
Months later I published an email I received from a Ford employee, who wrote to say:
So, on the Action Squad site, we have all three of the elements that were found in Greg's book:
- - - - - -
I think, hope, that is is clear why I am so pissed off about this, and why the local explorer community agrees that Greg is an insecure, thieving wiener.
Because he did, in fact, take that story from the Action Squad website and present it as in own - in the middle of a book full of veiled slander toward that same website.
Hey Greg Brick - I'm still waiting on that apology. We all are.
Postscript: after years of threats and nonsense, Greg Brick got a lawyer and sued me for tens of thousands of dollars for "defamation & intentional infliction of emotional distress." Although he didn't have a legal leg to stand on, he was willing to drag me into court and cost me months of time and tens of thousands of dollars in court & lawyer fees.
Even though I did my homework & knew I'd win, ultimately I realized this was worth neither my time nor my trouble - and over a period of months, worked out a settlement agreement.
The strange final settlement we agreed to allows me to leave this page up (Greg wanted me to remove this page entirely, of course, but I refused), but blocked from search engines - so that if Greg's prospective employers Google his name, they will only see the fake pages that Greg's hired "reputation management" company have seeded all over the internet, and the book reviews he's been having scrubbed of negative perspectives. I also changed the all variations of the word pl*g**r*st to "wiener," "stole," etc, as appropriate as he insisted.
In exchange for meeting these demands, Greg agreed to:
(The latter part I don't care about, and I reckon it would make his book a better read, so hey, maybe that change will be a win for him...)
It's a goofy deal for sure, but I'm glad to be avoid court & be done with it - the whole saga was stupid, bad energy, wasted on an insecure wienerish excuse for a man, but I guess it was meant to happen - if nothing else, it certainly served to reveal Greg's nature to the exploring community at large, and helped me realize just how much I need to move on past such baloney.