Greg Brick's "Subterranean Twin Cities"


Greg Brick - 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.

(Some background - when Action Squad first met up with other explorers online [around 2000, four years after we got rolling], Greg Brick was around, and a member of the "under MN" mailing list we all used to share locations and exploits. However, it quickly became clear that he was not one of us - and when I shared that I'd found a way into Heinrich Brewery Cave on the list for others to enjoy, Greg decided to lock the cave up with a bike lock, so only he had access [in theory - we could actually squeeze through the gate]. When word of this conduct broke, the group voted to ban him from the listserv, for conduct unbecoming of an explorer and betrayal of our trust.

In the years that followed, the Action Squad website became extremely popular locally, and I became sought out for interviews and other media crap. This clearly infuriated Brick - who had long considered himself the only fish in the niche of underground exploration, and who had basked in any media attention he could get.

Because of this history, I knew what to expect from his book - he would regard it as a chance to rewrite history to suit his ego's needs, and put us "kids" in our places. Interviews he did confirmed that he was indeed still quite bitter about us, and excited by this chance to explain how much better than us he was.)


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.


In the tunnels Greg Brick calls
Action Squad in the "impossible to access" U of MN Steam Tunnels
Summer 2006

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:

"Up until some careless urban explorers broadcast the location of the entrance on the Web (untrue btw), thus wrecking it for everyone including themselves, it was possible to explore them at leisure. The usual entry point was an old door in the bluffs behind the steam plant. There was a lengthy hike to get to it, along a trail that ran through the woods in Hidden Falls park ...

... on one occasion we did have a close call. After spending hours exploring the mines, we exited to find a Ford security vehicle parked smack across from us. But the driver was asleep, so we were able to make good our escape."

(page 125)

It took a few moments for the import of this to sink in.

Greg Brick had stolen this story from Action Squad (link).

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!




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.


   Max Action

Greg Brick's access to the system was a guided tour, sanctioned by Ford. Pbbbth.
Action Squad in the "inaccessible" Ford Mines
Fall 2008


UPDATE: 6/6/09

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.

Here's a collection of other explorers' thoughts on the matter, copied from an exploration forum: (link)

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:

CDPA1988 said:

"In case there is anyone left here undecided upon the Ford story, I asked my wife what her remembrance was of that trip ... she recalled that we left via the bluff door and were starting back towards the coal plant and there was some sort of freakout/security scare in that region, close to the official bluff double doors.   Something about Greg splitting off or being ahead of us can coming back saying there was some sort of security vehicle being there. And that we split up with us two taking one route through the woods and Greg taking another route, eventually meeting back without incident at the park.

So I suppose with that in mind, Greg's quote about the guard being asleep 'right in front of the entrance' is not accurate, since this occurred several hundred feet past that point."


So to sum up for posterity and those still on the fence, Greg wrote in his book that:

"After spending hours exploring the mines, we exited to find a Ford security vehicle parked smack across from us. But the driver was asleep, so we were able to make good our escape."

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:

- no 'security vehicle'
(the pickup that's always parked down by the hydroplant is not security)

- not parked "smack across" from the mine exit
(the hydro plant is several hundred feet away)

- no guard that fell asleep
(they saw no human being at all, and had no reason to think there was anyone in the truck, sleeping or otherwise)

- - - - - -

Now let's compare that passage from Greg's book with the Action Squad Ford page. In it, I wrote:

"When we got back to the tunnel entrance, I was right behind Mouser, and heard him when he gasped; "Oh shit!"

"Look over there," he whispered.

To our right, lurking behind some trees at the edge of the road with its lights off, was a Ford Security SUV. It was right next to us, and the engine was idling. There was nothing nearby except for the tunnel entrance, so we knew it was no coincidence. We were fucked."

Then I mused about how we'd somehow managed to escape:

"Maybe there had been a guy in the truck waiting for us to pop out, and he'd fallen asleep or something while we were in there for hours?"

Months later I published an email I received from a Ford employee, who wrote to say:

"just noticed your web site, you guys don't know just how close you came to resembling a june bug on a bug zapper. even we don't go into the cable tunnel without taking extra precautions. 13,800 volts will show you no mercy------------and you're right, i fell asleep waiting for you."

So, on the Action Squad site, we have all three of the elements that were found in Greg's book:

- security truck
- parked "smack across" from the mine exit
- guard that fell asleep

- - - - - -

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.


   Max Action

UPDATE: 1/8/2014

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:

  1. Post the Ford Mines chapter on his website for 5 years with all references to our group, website, or our sleeping guard story removed, and
  2. Remove the stolen story of the sleeping guard from any future editions of his book, as well as "any references to urban exploration websites/groups."

(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.

flee the Greg Brick page