By Andrew Paul Grell
Copyright 2018 Andrew Paul Grell
Entry: February 18, 2017. The first entry of The Journal to Save the World, T. Lapyx Galanos. In my ancestors’ days in Crete, the Labyrinth was meant to keep things in which wanted to get out. Today’s Labyrinth, the circular streets and sudden dead ends of the District of Columbia, is packed with people desperately trying to stay in. Today a new Minotaur has been spat out of the domed center of the maze, set on eating the unready and unprepared. A cretin desecrating the knowledge, wisdom, and artifice of Hellenic Crete. Edward Valiant, the new half man, half bull, describes himself: “Every day I get up, go to work, and sue governments to make sure people continue to die for the enrichment of my patrons.” A paraphrase, of course, but closer to the truth than the original. The new Minotaur has been charged with the labor of keeping the air breathable and the water potable—the one half of him—while the other half seeks to ensure sufficient amounts of mercury and lead to course through the heavens and the deep. Family lore has it that we are descendants of Daedalus through his second (and smarter) son, Lapyx. This makes us related to Hephaestus, and through him, Zeuss. Consequently, Columbia, this new Goddess, is my cousin, and I therefore make it my task to rid the maze of the monster.
Entry: March 18, 2017. In the days of my Hellene ancestors, Athenian, Trojan, Spartan, Cretan, people lived or died by their honor. Just weeks into his residency in the maze, the Minotaur has perjured himself before the representatives of this new world’s so-called Democracy. And so many people seek to inhabit the Labyrinth that even Procrustes would be shocked at the price of a bed for the night. It turns out that the people in charge of profiting by keeping the air and water from becoming worse than the Augean stables have beds ready for their minions. Fifty drachma a day, compared to the 300 or more charged to lesser people.
Entry: April 18, 2017. Apparently, I am not the only one invested in slaying the monster. I am behind so many people in line for this that Ed has liberated the funds dedicated to the protection of the environment for the noble purpose of surrounding himself with modern hoplites to defend him from attackers.
Entry: May 18, 2017. The team assembles. Lobbyists begin to show up as political appointees and new hires; one appointee lobbying the EPA just weeks before Ed’s elevation to Administrator.
Entry: June 18, 2017. I met my cousin Ariadne at a small drinkery near the temple of Iwo Jima. She is actually several places ahead of me in the kill line but decided it would be more efficient to combine forces. Her information was disturbing. Wannsee. It can happen here. A secret meeting of the Final Solution in the Tyrant’s hotel. Tyrant in the original sense of my ancestors, a non-royal sovereign, not the current pejorative usage. The plan is to capture the so-called Democracy by pandering to devotees of one part of this new world’s Pantheon, motivating them to vote for purported adherents of that Pantheon component, getting the victors to release the ichor—in Clement’s sense of foulness, not my ancestor’s understanding of pure and divine blood—and let the deluded hoi-poloi choke. [Personal note: For two languages so closely related via Indo-European, with the later language borrowing so much from the earlier, it is always shocking to see when the older word now means its opposite in the newer language.]
Entry: July 18, 2017. Time for me to scat or pull my toga back down, as my ancestors would say. Alonzo Rivera, nine years old, Bakersfield, CA., asthmatic. Parents thought there was enough left in the inhaler for two days when Dad would get paid and they could buy a fresh one. Ozone was 175 on the Air Quality Index, Particulates were 142. Ambulance was stuck in traffic. This obituary and 19 more like it are to be published as ads in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Manchester Union Leader. And my name will soon be out there as having entered the lists, mounted, armored, and with lance bearing a strange device.
Entry: August 28, 2017. Good news, for once! Off with his head! Kelly Green, Owner of the Ghost Bank in one of the shit-kicker, cousins-marrying-cousins fly-over states, was found to have loaned large sums of money to Ed and other guardians of the environment, presumably in exchange for a high-profile job cleaning up toxins dumped decades ago. Kelly had previously “misplaced” the $30 million Ghost Bank received from a federal bailout. I may be able to go back to being just a speckled goat member of my shipping empire family. Serious people are now calling for the Minotaur’s head. And maybe the Fed will learn not to lend money to ghosts.
Entry: September 6, 2017. Sadly, calls for Ed’s head were met with “Tough shit, Whaddaya gonna do about it, and that bitch belongs in jail.” It’s time to think about, in the words of Iron Felix, “physical liquidation.” The Carl Draga method—walking in and shooting a judge and whoever else was nearby, neither solved his problems nor pushed him over the line to martyrhood. The Unibomber concept was elegant, each mail-bomb was a work of art. Ted got his manifesto released, but it was ignored because as smart as he was, he was still batshit crazy. The Andrew Stack method was much better, fly your Piper Cherokee into the government office that’s messing you up. At least that got his issue talked about and it may eventually be addressed. As a descendant of Daedalus, I naturally took to model airplanes as a young boy. My mom was so proud when I built a working model ornithopter from plans in a magazine. My cousin Stamatis agreed to look into ways of minimizing metal content in what I told him was a publicity stunt, flying a 200-bird “V” of robot geese. He’s going to use his contacts at MIT (he’s been there for so long, taken so many courses, and submitted so many papers that if he gets three more credits he’ll be granted his PhD and get tossed out of the nest. And lose his student visa; we’ll have to work quickly) to get their prototype ceramic-electrolyte petroleum-based fuel cell. Radar won’t indicate anything other than biologicals. Stamatis’ concept is a little creepy; the fuel cells will be zapping cerebrated frogs to power the wings.
Entry: September 28, 2017. I’m not expecting good news from this, just hoping for it. Ed took pollution-fighting money and used it to build a “Get Smart” style cone of silence Not kidding. I’m giving it 17:1 against the nice young men in their clean white coats coming to take Ed away. I’ve bet on horses with longer odds than that and won. If he gets a shoe phone, odds go down to 9:5.
Entry: October 5, 2017. Speckled goat reputation aside, I’ve been pressed into service to be third mate on my family’s flagship, Amphitrite, Queen of the Seas. Basically, I’m the Officer of the Deck between midnight and eight bells. 8:00 AM to you landlubbers. My job is to make sure icebergs are spotted, that the on-deck cargo doesn’t slide off into the North Atlantic, and that no one on duty is fucking around. Oh, and since we have five thousand cases of Retsina—essentially turpentine which for some reason has gained a following outside of Greece—that nobody gets into it. My access to telephone and email will be limited. The ship’s engineer is another cousin, Stephanos, who now goes by the nickname Heff. Not Hugh Heffner; cousin Steve has been taking descent from Hephaestus a little more seriously than most of the family. He approached me about my aborted media campaign and wants to sign on to Project Minotaur. I filled him in on the radio-controlled geese; when I eventually came to my senses, we both agreed that (1) honor demanded that there be no collateral deaths or injuries, and (2) the Minotaur must be slain with a sword. Heff said he had some ideas about that.
Entry: October 25, 2017. The mystery of the Pebble Mine, Bristol Bay, Alyeska. Molybdos. Fool’s lead. And copper. Ed is apparently a fan of the Bronze Age. The CEO of a foreign mining entity walked into Ed’ s office and walked out with permission to claw through an environmentally sensitive are of Alaska for copper and molybdenum. Supposedly there’s some gold as well; if they could recover more than five grams per ton, I’ll eat the tailings. No one knows how or why this deal went down except Ed and the CEO. Thank the Gods for satellite TV. Cousin Heff said three words to me tonight: “Sword of Ockham.” I see where he’s going with this.
Entry: November 18, 2017. We make port in the beautiful Garden State, New Jersey, Port of Elizabeth. The Kill van Kull is certainly no Dardanelles, and I’ve been trying to figure out just how much a harbor pilot has to drink after driving a super-freighter through that narrow passage. Heff and I catch a cab to the city and show up for a meeting with Ariadne at, of course, Troy in Chelsea. Troy is actually cousin George 1’s second bar. He had won title to a closed bar in New Rochelle in a poker game drawing to an inside straight. He had the brilliant idea to turn it into a titty bar and call it Ilium. Apparently, the Venn diagram of people who go to titty bars and people who have read Homer and know about the Topless Towers of Ilium has a very small overlap, or union, in the jargon of Venn diagrams. He sold the place to a woman who renamed it “Shock and Awe” and was raking in money. George 1 took his stake and partnered up with his brother George 2. If anyone is reading this journal, a Greek man’s first son is named after himself, and the second son is named after his wife’s father. So, two brothers, both named George. Everyone keeps their clothes on in Troy and they drink and play Jenga, Trivial Pursuit, and quoits. I will attempt to recreate the conversation from memory:
“Cousin Theseus. Cousin Steve. It’s Heff now, isn’t it?” Ariadne kissed us both warmly and invited us to her table, already loaded down with appetizers and even a loaf of Horiatiko Psomi, what the Gods eat when they tire of ambrosia. “I don’t know what the plan is, other than too take down the Minotaur, but I took the liberty of weaving your exit from the Labyrinth.” She handed me a micro SD drive. “This will get you from the Minotaur’s lair in the James Buchanan building and into Maryland with no possibility of being caught. In case your plan is to be apprehended, there’s a list of attorneys and a code to get a bail bond. Cousin, I know you are honor bound, but I love you dearly and your safety is far more important than eliminating a buffoon.” Then she added in Greek, “An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle.”
It was time for me to reveal my dirty little secret. George 2 brought around the Ouzo, but I asked for the true nectar of the Gods, Jameson’s and soda. Heff and Ariadne looked askance—although I’m not entirely sure; I never saw someone look askance before—But George told my cousins, “Theseus is the Hero in this story, he’ll drink what he wants.
Then Heff picked up a scabbard from under his chair and pulled out what it contained: a rolled-up flow chart.
“Cousin Theseus, your original press campaign was the way to go. I’m speaking as an engineer now. What is the most likely explanation for anything? The explanation that uses the fewest assumptions. This is Ockham’s razor, we all learned this in high school. What is it we need explained now? Why does Ed Valiant want to reverse 50 years of keeping people from dying of poisons in the air and water? Cousin, I snuck a look at your journal after you left it in the head. You know the answer. No offence to our relation Narcissus, but Ed Valiant is a narcissist addicted to approval from anyone he can get to approve of him. The way to slay this Minotaur is for the people to know exactly what he steals from them.” Heff flattened out the chart on the table and began pointing at things. “Billboard and newspaper campaigns in Bakersfield, Fresno, Anaheim, Tulsa, Phoenix, and Gary. Keep the death toll current. Explain how and why people are being killed and sickened needlessly. Links on all the billboards and news ads explaining what individuals can do individually and in organizations. Call out the merchant of death politicians by name. This, cousin, is the Sword of Ockham. Wield it well.”
Heff picked up the next third mate and headed back to Amphitrite. The Georges went back to serving drinks. Ariadne decided it was time for a visit to the labyrinth and followed me back to D.C. I have my work cut out for me.
Entry: December 16, 2017. The Hanukkah Surprises. Valiant took $40,000 of pollution-fighting money to get the King of Morocco to buy United States natural gas. Funny, the EPA has jack diddly shit to do with buying, selling, or trading fuel. But Eddie boy does have patrons who own all sorts of hydrocarbon companies. The trip “raised eyebrows.” And then there was the almost-Purge. $120,000 in pollution-fighting money to root out career EPA employees who weren’t “on board with the program” and were suspected of leaking negative Ed information. How much more negative could it get? Of course, the Purge got leaked and Ed had to shut it down. Heff is right, the monster needs approval to live.
Entry: January 18, 2018. The mystery of the Pebble Mine may never be solved. Without explanation, EPA waivers and clearances for the project to go ahead were withdrawn without explanation.
Entry: The Fourth of July, 2018. I have been too busy to journal and the peccadilloes continue coming like flies to the remains of a sacrificed bull. The Sword of Ockham was in place three weeks ago. My dear cousin Ariadne and I sat and looked down from my hi-rise balcony at the National Mall, holding hands in anticipation. The lawn was packed with people who lost loved ones, had loved ones sicken, were afraid for their own and their loved ones continued ability to breathe. The pitchforks, of course, were rubber—they had to get through security—and the torches were Tiki. The people marched on the Buchanan Building burning effigies of Ed as they went. He wasn’t there, of course; he was being hosted at an oil drilling company’s Texas-sized picnic. Ariadne’s magic weaving tipped us off to that. The Georges arranged to have a sky typing outfit spell out Deus Pascit Corvos, the motto on Ed’s family crest and a dark message of judgement, over the event. And the televised images of thousands of copies of himself being roasted must have had an effect. I should have taken that 17:1 bet; I would have cashed in big time. Just to be safe, Ariadne and I used the underground route into Silver Springs. We caught a public bus to Baltimore, and met with a family ship at Patapsco, which was headed to blue territory, Cape Cod, with a cargo of wave-power generators. Our family will ship anything, but some stuff gets shipped first. A brief respite before turning to the next battle: The Tyrant’s new pick.