To: N.C.A.L. Reports Committee
From: Sydney Millstone, Minister of Covert Operations
RE: Andrew Phillips/The National Park Service
Dear Mr. Chairman,
I am writing in response to your query regarding my aid in operation “Defoliate for Fun and Profit.” I have, as you know, for the past few years conducted an investigation, and am sorry to report that our worst fears have, in fact, been validated. To aid in your briefing to the National Coalition of Amalgamated Lumberjacks, I have included not only my findings, but also a short summary of the events that caused us to undertake this investigation.
We have long known of our enemy’s pertinacious devotion to certain strange and unusual texts. In hopes of finding some exploitable weakness, other than a biological need to wear earth-tone slacks, we sanctioned a group of highly qualified analysts to pick through their sacred works. During the search, the analysts came across something quite unexpected.
When certain passages (those works being excerpts from “The Complete Works of Dr. Seuss,” various Greenpeace commercials and Arthur Magnolia’s seminal work, “How Much Wood I Would Chuck If I were a Woodchuck Possessing Pointy and Well-Sharpened Teeth”) are combined, a distinct text is formed. This prophecy is referred to by those who believe as “The Great Floccinaucinhilification” or “The Coming of the Eternal Earth Day.”
This prophecy predicts the coming of one to be known as “That Guy with the Big, Brown, Frisbee-Shaped Hat.” This man shall diligently work to restore concern for the world’s natural resources by forcing major television networks to plan, on rotation, reruns of “The Yogi Bear Show.” He shall rule seven miles above the foliage, from a ranger station in the sky. From this tower he will oversee the dismantling of both our organization and our livelihood.
Of course, no right-minded person took any of this seriously; that is, until very recently. We are, as you know, a strong union and wield great power. When it comes to the deadly art of log rolling, we have no rivals. It was, however, reported that an individual who resembled the description of “That Guy with the Big, Brown, Frisbee-Shaped Hat” had been born, so naturally we investigated.
This child, from an early age, has possessed an undeniable affinity for lawn care. At the age of six, during a family trip to the Crystal Grottoes National Park, he astounded park rangers by correctly stating the number of ping pong balls necessary to fill the cave’s main cavern. Needless to say, this individual was seen as a threat to our organization and, accordingly, I was sent to infiltrate his massive protection and report my discoveries.
I have done as asked and have come to the following conclusion: Andrew Phillips is, in fact, the chosen one. I hope that, with this knowledge, the Lead Lumberjacks, in their infinite wisdom, may devise a course of action that will remedy this problem, thereby maintaining our ability to knock down and destroy the homes of numerous small, furry squirrels.
It’s tough being a prophet. Sure, you’re a savior to the masses, but you’ve got enemies, too. Once you’ve seen the wrong end of an industrial-strength mulcher a few times, you learn some things. It’s much safer to hide than to confront your enemies (especially when they chase you with electric saws). To this end, I made a decision in 2000 – I decided to hide somewhere where no lumberjack would suspect, somewhere deep in the bowels of depravity. Watching as janitors dumped Thurston waste into a can clearly marked “Recycling,” I knew I had found a home.
In hiding, I dedicated my time to an inner quest. I was grappling with my place in the world (most of this grappling took place over a trashcan, on the floor of my friend’s Mitchell single). Then one day I realized something profound – “I don’t remember anything that has happened in the last three months.”
This bit of reality sent me searching, searching for the past. I stumbled into the GW student newspaper, hoping that perhaps they could fill me in on at least a few things that had happened in the previous semester. They couldn’t, but they did tell me, to my surprise, that I had for some months been writing arts reviews for them. In a particularly dazed state, I listened as a man, who would later slap my ass with reckless abandon, offered me a job. I looked at him. I was still a little drunk, and I needed to pee. The man showed me to the bathroom. I took the job.
Five semesters have passed since that fateful day, and even now, thinking back, I’m glad he showed me where the bathroom was. It’s been a long, tough ride. In my time as an editor, I’ve received letters saying that I’m ignorant, misogynistic and profane and alleging that I am part of a conspiracy to turn The GW Hatchet into a pornographic weekly. If only, dear readers, if only.
It’s been two years since I’ve gotten to sleep off my Sunday morning hangover (I’ve been back to that Hatchet bathroom more than a few times). It’s been more than that since I could honestly say to one of my friends, “Sure, we’ll hang out on Wednesday night.” And it’s also been exactly two years since I’ve hooked up with anyone who didn’t have the word “production” or “editorial” printed in front of her name. It hasn’t been that long since I’ve hooked up in the editorial office.
All of my roommates have ended up with bylines in The Hatchet. I ghostwrote a few under Jon’s name in the early days. Ben ghostwrote through Jon to complain about the paper’s leadership. Pete wrote using Jon’s name and was summarily banned from The Hatchet office (I remember something about firebombing Foggy Bottom residents). I used to call Danny up and say, “Hey, how’d you like to write an article for me?” He’d reply, “On what?” and I’d say, “Do what you feel, Danny, do what you feel.” And Lenny – well, I think he wrote something about communists once. I’m not sure, though – I don’t really read the paper.
And so, it’s another Sunday afternoon (I’m still nursing my hangover), and I have no idea what to say as far as thanks and such. It’s partially because I didn’t leave enough room in this article, but mostly, I’d say, it’s because I actually quit in early 2001. Peter Joseph has been running my section via satellite since that time (This article is dedicated to the memory of William Loker, a man who left us before his time).
-Andrew Phillips has been an editor since spring 2001.