Gray Man Theory
June 8, 2019 8:41 AM   Subscribe

(Don't) Be The Gray Man - Patrick Steedman : "It would’ve been much worse if my friend had bought the gun, learned how to use it, and told no one, blending in with his creative professional peers among whom gun ownership is uncommon. That would have made him a gray man, which is like normcore for preppers, except in the ways that it isn’t."
There’s an idea called “gray man”, in the security business, that I find interesting. They teach people to dress unobtrusively. Chinos instead of combat pants, and if you really need the extra pockets, a better design conceals them. They assume, actually, that the bad guys will shoot all the guys wearing combat pants first, just to be sure.
- William Gibson



Metafoundry 30: Confusion Matrices, Deb Chachra:
The roots of the ‘Grey Man’ lie in the Great Male Renunciation: the period around the end of the 17th century, in the middle of the Enlightenment, when society collectively decided that men’s clothing, previously as colourful and ornamented as women’s, was to be dark, sober and serious. What’s kind of astonishing is how we've never really gone back—a quick scroll through red-carpet photos makes that clear—and how we mostly just accept this sexual dimorphism as the norm
posted by the man of twists and turns (114 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
 
The choice of gray, rather than beige, is interesting and perfectly aligned with my poorly supported assumptions about correlations between politics and aesthetics.
posted by eotvos at 9:04 AM on June 8


"Beige man" just sounds lame. It's the soft g.

I'd guess that preppers think the term "gray man" is mysterious and cool, like some sort of brooding anti-hero with vague connotations of Le Carré or The Bourne Identity. It fits how these guys would like to perceive themselves.
posted by Spacelegoman at 9:13 AM on June 8 [37 favorites]


A Survivalist On Why You Shouldn't Bug Out, Cory Doctorow, intersects with some of the ideas in the OP of 'gray man' as an inherently anti-social way of thinking.
The "prepper" world has a funny intersection with the "resilience" world -- the world of people who are interested in finding cooperative solutions to disasters. Both camps assume that sometimes, regardless of our preparations, bad stuff will happen, whether that's storms and floods or critical failures in basic infrastructure. But the former assumes that individual survival is possible -- and desirable -- while the latter focuses on the idea that you will generally be better off if you cooperate with the people around you rather than try to go it on your own.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:18 AM on June 8 [38 favorites]


Isn't gorpcore just athleisure for guys, though? I think it's a stretch to think of it as part of the Grey Man phenomenon.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:25 AM on June 8 [6 favorites]


Even if he has nothing to say about the policy debates of the present, he can feel important and enlightened as he prepares for the politics of a future world.

This is the key. Which people are able to have nothing to say about the policy debates of the present? Those not directly affected by them. And rather than engage on behalf of people actually in the crosshairs of the policy debates of the present, the “gray men” play at being under attack in some alternate reality.
posted by sallybrown at 9:27 AM on June 8 [27 favorites]


Re: Prepper vs Resilience, gotta link back to Dee Xtrovert's comment...
posted by notsnot at 9:29 AM on June 8 [70 favorites]


Honestly, one of the most interesting things in the first article is the use of "virtue signaling" in a rather ambiguous way. Is the virtue being signaled that you shouldn't shoot the President, or is it that you should buy a gun to shoot him? The phrasing is unclear, and neither really fits in with the notional hypocrisy that is usually captures.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:34 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Also is gorpcore just colorful health goth?
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:37 AM on June 8 [9 favorites]


Isn't "The Grey Man" Smiley, from the LeCarré novels? I mean, Smiley is described as being the ideal 'grey man' who attracts no attention, makes no impression. Same meaning - longer linguistic history.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:40 AM on June 8 [22 favorites]


correlations between politics and aesthetics

When humans organize, they often wear uniforms of the prevailing fashion. Even anarchists/survivalists/grey-men need fashion to communicate to each other membership in the same club.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:52 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


Sure a lot of words about people who just don’t give a shit about Instagram.
posted by sideshow at 9:54 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Autocamofleurs.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:54 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I’m not finding the reference immediately when I google, but I thought “grey man” was WW II British Army training for avoiding interrogation in POW camps. People with sensitive information were trained to blend into the crowd by being as neutral and undistinctive as possible. Does that ring a bell for anyone else?
posted by LizardBreath at 10:09 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Ooh, tag yourself! I’m a “self-appointed have-not.”
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:12 AM on June 8 [11 favorites]


The first time I heard the term “Grey man” it was from someone who had been in the US Army and had had some training to resist torture if captured. How he described it was having a level of energy and attention that would absolutely not stand out to our captors in order to avoid drawing attention and therefore punishment or torture. Basically assuming a pre-emptively broken demeanor so they didn’t feel like they had to break you.
posted by gauche at 10:13 AM on June 8 [13 favorites]


Or on non-preview, basically what LizardBreath said.
posted by gauche at 10:14 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


one advantage of the reduction of variety in men’s clothing to colorless boring shit is that it is super easy to add even a little bit of difference and become like a poison frog to white bros, signaling both that i am not one of them (though they probably can’t guess how as i mostly pass for straight and neurotypical) and to stay the fuck away from me
posted by lazaruslong at 10:14 AM on June 8 [19 favorites]


Smiley is described as being the ideal 'grey man' who attracts no attention, makes no impression.

But Smiley isn't secretly violent - he's smarter and more strong-willed than people give him credit for; I think the distinction is important.
posted by each day we work at 10:14 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


From Steadman: "[A] society where many people have ‘gray’ identities and belief systems is quietly primed for chaos." Yes, this. Such strict anticipatory self-censorship and self-erasure cannot be without internal/externalized costs, SHTF or not.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:18 AM on June 8 [7 favorites]


Is this about that guy from Half Life 2 who keeps teleporting Gordon Freeman into dangerous situations?
posted by JDHarper at 10:21 AM on June 8 [11 favorites]


So, basically Baudrillard's idea of ironic hyperconformity, but with guns and stockpiled MREs.
posted by Chrischris at 10:27 AM on June 8 [10 favorites]


There's always a subculture, even within ironic hyperconformity!
posted by rhizome at 10:55 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


one advantage of the reduction of variety in men’s clothing to colorless boring shit is that it is super easy to add even a little bit of difference and become like a poison frog to white bros, signaling both that i am not one of them (though they probably can’t guess how as i mostly pass for straight and neurotypical) and to stay the fuck away from me.

Try painting your nails. No quicker way to get a bunch of side-eye and make a bunch of cishet white bros hella nervous and uncomfortable. Especially if you do a really good job at it in a bright color like metallic purple flake and give it a nice glossy clearcoat. Make it look as good as the custom paint job on a classic car.

Granted, I'm growin' boobs and I poke myself with a needle full of lady hormones, so YMMV.
posted by loquacious at 10:59 AM on June 8 [62 favorites]


"It would’ve been much worse if my friend had bought the gun, learned how to use it, and told no one, blending in with his creative professional peers among whom gun ownership is uncommon."

I like his optimism that his friend didn't do exactly this.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:00 AM on June 8 [7 favorites]


The article mentions "one of the “bug out bags” recommended in this recent NYT Style article," which... It just tickles me because I can't imagine anything less tacticool than the NYT Style section.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:07 AM on June 8 [8 favorites]


I've browsed several conservative and extremist social media threads to get a better understanding of how they operate. You see a lot of posts featuring grey men. I mean a lot. You'll see grey men more than you'll see almost any other kind of symbol woven into their memes.

I always thought it probably referred to "normies'" lack of character or something, but that didn't quite fit with the posts I saw. The belief that there are armies of people out there who secretly harbor the same deluded fantasies as your in group makes a lot more sense. It's also a lot more terrifying.

This is how you convince yourself your radical ideology is, in fact, secretly mainstream thinking, which in turn is a good reason for thinking your movement is a movement for the people.
posted by xammerboy at 11:09 AM on June 8 [19 favorites]


I've always try to be the "purple man"...

Look like a freak, no one worries about you much. As long as you aren't having a screaming argument with yourself...

BRB, just got an idea for a novel...
posted by Windopaene at 11:09 AM on June 8 [7 favorites]


The Relentless Picnic Podcast has a great episode on Preppers (people who prepare for the end of the world by building bunkers, storing food, etc.). A lot of the advice is to befriend people in the community and act normal so that when Doomsday comes you will be in a better position to reorganize your neighbors into a new society where, naturally, you will be the leader since you own all the guns and resources.

There's a gross incel fantasy aspect to the Doomsday scenario plotting as well. You know all those women that won't give you the time of day? Wow, how much are they going to beg to be a part of your harem once you have uncontaminated water and food and they don't. And at bottom there's always this weird circular logic of people are fools for buying into social organization. Won't they feel like fools once society falls apart and the Preppers ... organize a new society?
posted by xammerboy at 11:17 AM on June 8 [42 favorites]


Basically assuming a pre-emptively broken demeanor


posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:18 AM on June 8 [21 favorites]


>This piece, written in a Goofus and Gallant style, presents gray man as an identity. Example: “The Young Grey Man is dismissed as a wimp, the Older as a doddering old fool.”
>This quote begs the question: why be a survivalist if it’s such a social liability? Wouldn’t it be better to accept the idea that survival is socially determined?


Or... the quote offers comfort and plausible-deniability of their situation to people who were already not given much respect or who are struggling, who perhaps found survivalism seductive in the first place partly because it sings that siren song of a SHTF future in which you become someone of significant means and status.
posted by anonymisc at 11:29 AM on June 8 [10 favorites]


The belief that there are armies of people out there who secretly harbor the same deluded fantasies as your in group makes a lot more sense.

The lurkers support me in email!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:30 AM on June 8 [17 favorites]


the takeaway from this excellent podcast is similarly that in a societal collapse/civil war scenario, community building is really one's best and only hope. excellent examples from hurricane katrina. it's a great listen.
posted by wibari at 11:39 AM on June 8 [10 favorites]


who perhaps found survivalism seductive in the first place partly because it sings that siren song

This, but not just because it promises status in the post-SHTF hereafter—it's really a sort of millenialist, secular doomsday cult—but also because it's so damn easy to participate. You don't really have to do anything to be a "grey man", it's really more about not doing things. It's about not standing out, which, if you're a lazy, not-especially-talented, generic Mediocre White Guy, you're probably doing right now! (I know I sure am!)

It's all the Apocalyptic circlejerking of millenarian religion, without that pesky "church" business. A secular religion for lazy man's lifestyle.

Really this is sounding better and better. Off to buy myself some lowkey tactical pants.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:39 AM on June 8 [10 favorites]


I suspect that a lot more of these trends have their basis in marketing than philosophy.

When I was shooting regularly a few years ago I used to go a few miles out of my way to buy my ammunition from a store that was run by a hunter for hunters. There were plenty of camouflage clothes and big ugly knives to be had, but I'm pretty sure there was nothing labeled "tactical" in the whole place. Also they sold zero targets with human silhouettes.

The much more common type of store I was avoiding is packed top to bottom with products that are "tactical". It is the place you go when you wish to pretend(*) that your life is in danger every moment of every day and that your Tactical Spoon is going to save your life one day.

The problem for manufacturers of course is that you can only produce so many Tactical Girdles before the market is saturated. So I suspect that like every other industry they work with the magazines, etc. to try to generate a fashion trend that everyone has to buy into -- which incidentally explains how this gear ends up with reviews in the NYT Style section.

So, yeah, I'm not sure I would read too much philosophy or anything else into lots of people hopping on the latest fad, especially if that means they get to buy a brand new outfit.



(*) I've heard that the relatively tiny group of people who actually do deal with tactical shooting situations daily appreciate the pretenders in the same way that people with celiac disease appreciate people who have gluten allergies. What would otherwise would be a very small and specialized market has benefited greatly.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:42 AM on June 8 [17 favorites]


No no no bulletproof camo ghillie suits are so yesterday the future is Kevlar sweats
posted by benzenedream at 11:49 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


"virtue signaling"

When the shit goes down, as I experienced here in Zone One of the 9/11 attack, things go a certain way as I witnessed.

Zone One (and further out, up to Canal Street) was initially swept for non-essential personnel, who were corralled out of the area. That was easy to dodge, since most people were already out there on the street, fleeing. I didn't want to be evacuated, some kind of "then the terrorists win" sentiment. So, easy to dodge that first sweep, by simply staying inside.

After that, for at least 10 days, there was confusion on the streets down here. Lots of people running around doing this and that. Sometimes in a very confused and poorly coordinated manner.

The key "virtue signal" was a yellow hi-viz vest, a hard hat, and heavy-duty work gloves. That was a backstage pass down here for the first week or two.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:54 AM on June 8 [28 favorites]


About 30 years ago, a catalog came into my hands that offered camouflage roller skates. I am not making this up. Old-style green-leaf camo, not urban or digital.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:58 AM on June 8 [5 favorites]


> the use of "virtue signaling" in a rather ambiguous way. Is the virtue being signaled that you shouldn't shoot the President, or is it that you should buy a gun to shoot him? The phrasing is unclear

I don't totally understand the mindset, either, but I think the virtue being signaled is that "Hey, I totally get it that the world is going to go to hell in a handbasket here PDQ so I'm getting ready to defend myself when that time comes--cause it's going to be soon."

Or to put it another way: "The preppers were right all along--I'm joining them!"

He's not getting the gun to shoot anyone in particular, but rather to defend against the complete breakdown of society that is now even more inevitable now that Trump is president.

"Belonging and connection" means, "Of course everyone wants to be a prepper and since being a prepper is desirable, some people are even posting faux-prepper thoughts on social media to sort of pretend like they are in the cool people's group."
posted by flug at 12:07 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Who named it Gray Man instead of Everyday Carré
posted by Greg Nog at 12:15 PM on June 8 [149 favorites]


Manning claims that this man’s heavily rubberized business casual shoes leak the fact that he’s an undercover agent, prepared for violence.

Chelsea is likely right about this. It's relatively easy to spot undercover or plainclothes LEOs - in, say, a protest march - and it's not just the clean haircuts or choice of plain old blue jeans and unobtrusive casual button down shirts. It's often the shoes that are the first and last clue.

There are other clues. One is watch their hands and eyes and stance. Undercover/plainclothes LEOs or military tend to walk with and stand with a vigilant stance. Arms and hands may swing wide of the hips when walking because they're accustomed to a duty belt. And their eyes tend to be constantly scanning a crowd and their surroundings to keep situational awareness, like scanning roof lines or corners. Also eye contact with uniformed LEOs on the other side of the protest line can be a tell.

But the shoes are usually the clinching tell-tale. Legit LEO spec tactical or tacti-cool boots and shoes pretty rare even among the prepper/SHTF crowd. Sure, you can get milspec boots, including general issue new-old stock and so on. But some of those boots and shoes - particularly the kinds worn by LEO - can only be purchased through LEO suppliers with authentication and authorization, and it can be really difficult to find the real deal online or in surplus stores.

And for obvious reasons of practicality and usefulness, LEOs seem to generally avoid changing out of their nice boots and swapping them out for some dirty old Keens or something that might blend in better with the march demographics.

This actually makes sense for them because changing their shoes and boots can change their stance, how accurate or confident they feel about aiming and discharging a weapon, how they might engage hand to hand combat or even how comfortable they feel about walking a few miles in a march.

You have a normal pair of nicely worn in hiking boots - are you going to reach for the white New Balances or your Vasquez boots to wear to a protest march?

Most of this readily translates to spotting preppers/SHTF and CCW folk. Weapons are heavy and bulky. Carrying one even in a concealed holster inside the belt will change someone's stride and stance. They'll tend to guard and favor the area where the weapon is concealed. There's a whole science about this in concealed carry called "printing" and CCW will go to lengths in clothing choices and training or behavior modification to try to mitigate this printing and other behavioral cues and tells.
posted by loquacious at 12:20 PM on June 8 [53 favorites]


Ah, I knew the self-abnegating fantasy of shaping your being around an imaginary future disaster sounded familiar...

"You said you had had from your earliest time, as the deepest thing within you, the sense of being kept for something rare and strange, possibly prodigious and terrible, that was sooner or later to happen to you, that you had in your bones the foreboding and the conviction of, and that would perhaps overwhelm you...It’s to be something you’re merely to suffer?”

“Well, say to wait for—to have to meet, to face, to see suddenly break out in my life; possibly destroying all further consciousness, possibly annihilating me; possibly, on the other hand, only altering everything, striking at the root of all my world and leaving me to the consequences, however they shape themselves.”

--Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:23 PM on June 8 [11 favorites]


It's a Gray!
posted by ctmf at 12:24 PM on June 8


Try painting your nails. No quicker way to get a bunch of side-eye and make a bunch of cishet white bros hella nervous and uncomfortable.

As a dude who has a history of painting his nails and moving in lots of different parts of Los Angeles, I find the "white" qualifier here to be MetaFilter being entirely too MetaFilter. In my experience, masculine fragility about being within 100 feet of a man with painted nails doesn't somehow magically evaporate in primarily black and Latinx cishet-dominant spaces.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:37 PM on June 8 [45 favorites]


Also, I have questions about the overall arc, thrust and/or sanity/rationality of this ribbonfarm site. Sure seem to be a lot of weird dog whistles on that map. It is noticed that that convoluted map of ideologies is missing a lot of other current things, like fascism, the alt-right, theocracy and more.

If cryptofascism (and fascism itself) is virulent it is also noticed that here we are discussing survivalism, SHTF and this Gray Man Theory on MetaFilter.
posted by loquacious at 12:41 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


As a dude who has a history of painting his nails and moving in lots of different parts of Los Angeles, I find the "white" qualifier here to be MetaFilter being entirely too MetaFilter.

Noted, and retracted.
posted by loquacious at 12:41 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Also, if you're stockpiling weapons, storing food, building bunkers, etc. how long will you wait for the coming Apocalypse before you start actively wanting it and decide you can't wait any longer? These guys may be crazy, but they're also methodical, patient, and perhaps smart enough to construct a super-virus or two in a lab. This was the original plan of the coast guard person that was recently arrested.
posted by xammerboy at 12:50 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Also is gorpcore just colorful health goth?

Likely just as racist, though
posted by scruss at 1:02 PM on June 8


I wonder if I've been misidentified at protests before. I always wear boots and they're boots that are more often used in a military / police / fire capacity. It's a leftover of my punk days. Feel kinda naked without boots of some sort. Besides, you never know when having boots, rated for grip and resistance in certain hazardous enironments, will come in handy. Plus, it's kinda fun having a style of boot that's guaranteed to be unique, no matter how big the crowd.

For the record, milspec boots are easy to find, though they can be expensive. Sure, some stores might limit themselves to government purchase orders or people with police IDs. But these days you can usually buy straight from the manufacturer, who is more than happy to sell to anyone with a working credit card. Which shouldn't be surprising. Many of the firefighters, soldiers, marines, and cops are dissastisfied with whatever they were issued and pick out their own boots on their own time. And it's not as if the shoes are legally restricted from public use.

One of my "win the lottery" dreams is to buy tactical boots for anyone who considers themselves antifa, or related. Would be nice if an boot-wearing undercover, alone in the crowd, would have no idea who might be a fellow undercover and who is a genuine protester. Would throw them off balance for a while.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 1:10 PM on June 8 [22 favorites]


ribbonfarm was founded by Venkatesh Rao, who wrote The Gervais Principle, which is an analysis of modern office politics entirely by using the American version of The Office as a case study. It is a reductionist and misanthropic read, to say the least, but the sort of easy metaphor that attracts thought-followers.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:14 PM on June 8


Ah, I knew the self-abnegating fantasy of shaping your being around an imaginary future disaster sounded familiar...

"You said you had had from your earliest time, as the deepest thing within you, the sense of being kept for something rare and strange, possibly prodigious and terrible, that was sooner or later to happen to you, that you had in your bones the foreboding and the conviction of, and that would perhaps overwhelm you...It’s to be something you’re merely to suffer?"
. . .
--Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle


Well, The Beast in the Jungle was published in 1903, and 11 years later WW1 broke out.

I wonder how James, who died during the war, which Galbraith described as "the great ungluing", might have looked back on that story at the end of his life.
posted by jamjam at 1:16 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


"Beige man" just sounds lame. It's the soft g.

Oh, it's worse than that. (Hard 'g' sound: gun. Soft 'g' or 'j' sound: gentle, i.e. ʤ.) The sound in "beige" is like 'casual' or 'leisure' - that zh or ʤ sound, which just sounds too French to some American ears.
posted by Rash at 1:18 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


This is the bullshit that makes me hope and pray that I am one of the first people to die in any SHTF scenario.
posted by briank at 1:23 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Honestly, when the shit goes down, we're all going to just die. I've known a lot of former military people who all thought they would be Rick Grimes and/or Negan in the event of an apocalyptic event because they can kick ass. And Negan would do just fine if all he had to do was kick ass. When he needed his blood pressure pills, Negan would die. When he has a sudden onset of appendicitis, Negan dies then as well. Negan would die when he broke his leg and had a compound fracture that became infected. Negan would die when he cracked his tooth on a walnut and he got a dental abscess. Negan would die of cancer. Negan would die of untreated bipolar disorder that pushed him to suicide. Negan would die when a rabid squirrel bit him. Negan would die when a person shot him and the world class surgeon that Negan had the foresight to abduct could not operate because there's no electricity, or there is electricity but the surgeon just doesn't save him because, fuck Negan.

If the shit goes down, we're dead. Grow up.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:28 PM on June 8 [38 favorites]


A few months ago, I tried to buy a small bottle opener for my keychain. Almost everything that fits that description looks like some kind of grim tactical torture device.

I finally found a titanium opener shaped roughly like a key with a few other useless tools built in, but it had a rainbow finish.

I'll be curious to see what happens to it the next time I pass through airport security.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:39 PM on June 8


If the shit goes down, we're dead. Grow up.

It's funny you say that, because I was just about to comment that a lot of the pushback against preppers (who are admittedly deeply ridiculous) seems to stem from an unstated attitude of "How dare they have any hope for the future! They should resign themselves to dying in a climate apocalypse like the rest of us".
posted by Pyry at 1:47 PM on June 8 [13 favorites]


"Small Vices", one of Robert B. Parker's "Spenser" detective novels, revolves around a figure Spenser calls "the gray man" because of his unobtrusive and unthreatening appearance. The gray man in Parker's novel is a more or less completely amoral assassin.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:01 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


It's funny you say that, because I was just about to comment that a lot of the pushback against preppers (who are admittedly deeply ridiculous) seems to stem from an unstated attitude of "How dare they have any hope for the future! They should resign themselves to dying in a climate apocalypse like the rest of us".
Maybe there is an element of that among some people -- it's a big world and there's a wide range of opinion, you can find someone who believes just about anything -- but that's not at all my interpretation of the primary reason why many thoughtful people resent "preppers."

Nobody I know of is jealous of preppers' optimism. They're unhappy with them because rather than join together with the rest of us to try to solve problems before they become world-threatening they devote their time, resources, and mental energies to deciding how to capitalize on disaster to their own advantage.

Where are the preppers who are doing everything they can to halt global climate change or whatever other driver of societal breakdown they believe in? All the ones I know of are more concerned with making sure that they will have enough ammo to kill the neighbors who want to eat their stockpiled misery rations.
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:09 PM on June 8 [57 favorites]


I'm conflicted about this article, because I think there's some good stuff in there, but that there are other points that are confused and conflated. Two definitions of a gray man are presented, one abstract, and one concrete. At least according to the abstract definition, I would have to call myself a gray man.

"[A]n individual who possesses the skills, ability and intent to blend into any situation or surrounding without standing out, concealing his or her true skills, ability, and intent from others.”

I would suggest that this is a reasonable definition of pretty much any human being who can operate within normal social boundaries. You might quibble with the details of that statement. You might say, "Nobody can fit into any situation." But to that, I'd say you are missing my point. The definition of a gray man I've quoted above got me thinking, "What would it take to not be a gray man according to this definition?" The way I see it, you would have to:
  • Be conspicuous and/or disruptive in many situations
  • Be open about your intent and motives at all times
  • Make sure that everyone knows about the things you are good at
Does that describe any real person? Does it describe someone you'd want to hang out with?

I'll openly admit that my reaction to this article is personal. That's because the author gives a definition of "gray man" that matches me, and then goes on to argue that gray men (like me) are responsible for numerous social ills.

I live in San Francisco. I know how to operate a firearm, but I don't own one and never have. I have some water and food in the back of my closet. My neighbors don't know this. That's not because I'm hiding it from them, but because I don't know what's in their basements, and I don't see why they need to know what's in mine, beyond the implicit (and true) assurance that there's nothing dangerous or illegal. I've made these preparations not because I think the apocalypse is coming, and not because I fear hordes of thirsty Bay Area yuppies breaking down my door to murder me for my water. I do it because I want to survive if we have an earthquake, and I hope to avoid using precious public emergency resources at a time when many others will need them.

It would be reasonable to suggest, "tom_r, you are clearly not the kind kind of gray man the author is talking about. What's the problem, beyond anything hypothetical?" I tried to come up with a good answer to that question, and then I found it at the end of the article. (Emphasis is mine; I've included the second and third items because I feel that taking them out affects the implied meaning.)

"I’ve touched on three different ways to be the gray man.

The first is tactical use of gray man, useful for someone who wants to stalk Chelsea Manning, forage for food post-SHTF, or fit in at school.

The second way is grayness as conscious part of one’s identity, useful for survivalists who want to hoard without facing the social consequences of their hoarding.

The third way is grayness as an unconscious part of one’s identity, especially one’s political identity."

Lest there was any doubt, the author goes on:

"Each is problematic in its own way, and carries with it a cost in terms of belonging and connection."

Now, does the author intend to say that trying to fit in at school is a problematic behavior? Probably not. But that's kind of my point. Intentional or not, his dragnet of a definition has scooped up kids just trying to keep their heads down to avoid being bullied.

A crisp definition of the boundaries of the concrete definition of a gray man would be useful. Unfortunately this article does not provide that.
posted by tom_r at 2:12 PM on June 8 [14 favorites]


Basically assuming a pre-emptively broken demeanor so they didn’t feel like they had to break you.

This reads like enacting the female gender role feels to me. lolsob
posted by The Toad at 2:13 PM on June 8 [20 favorites]


(But at least we’re spared the chinos, which is something)
posted by The Toad at 2:23 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


If the shit goes down, we're dead. Grow up.

Eh, barring violence and illness it's entirely plausible to survive off the sea and land around here.

With a little half-assed community organization and honest garden farm work it would even be a sort of paradise, perhaps even at current local population levels, give or take. A whole lot of the produce consumed here is locally sourced already, and at the foodbank where I volunteer we're often buried in free extra produce gleaned from private gardens in attempts to get it to as many humans as possible before it ends up as either feed or compost.

There are actually enough natural resources within less than a 3 mile radius from me that I could plausibly go full on My Side of The Mountain, complete with a hollowed out tree as a house (if likely better) and making my own jams, trapping deer and more. There's plenty of clean water, both from rain catch and nearby glacial streams.

And unlike My Side of the Mountain, I'm ostensibly an adult with a fair amount of experience now at enjoying living and being outdoors. The scariest thing in the forest is me.

I already do a lot of foraging when it's tasty, and there's a bunch of stuff I know how to forage and eat that I don't just because it's really quite boring as a food or just a huge chore, and because I don't know enough about how to make long term foraging harm-reduced or sustainable.

But I could live for about a month just on the frickin' dandelions and cattail tubers and berries and stuff within a 10 minute walk, if not all summer, without resorting to eating grubs or slugs or weird survivalist bug-eating shit.

And to be honest, I have no idea how I'd survive a first winter. I'd probably have to start hunting, fishing and trapping and preserving stuff with smoke basically all summer. There's also a lot of kelp and seafood all winter long.

Would it be easy? Fuck no. Not at all. It'd be a really hard and low energy life, approaching a stone age existence augmented with the residual resources of the modern world.

I've done enough foraging to understand this. I am a modern human with modern needs. I like electricity. I like modern food and farming just fine. Avocados don't grow around here, for a start.

If SHTF am I just going to lay down and die? No, probably not.
posted by loquacious at 2:24 PM on June 8 [10 favorites]


"Try to think about what you do, say or wear that may cause a connection to some kind of desire. This is especially important for females. When SHTF, there will be very few gentlemen and those in power will take what they want, without regard to repercussions. Be cognizant of innuendo or movements such as arching your back or physical contact. They may put you in a situation that you may not be able to get out of.”

--From How to Be the Gray Man When SHTF


I would guess whoever wrote that thinks that women are responsible for being assaulted regardless of whether SHTF.
posted by pangolin party at 2:37 PM on June 8 [23 favorites]


With a little half-assed community organization and honest garden farm work it would even be a sort of paradise, perhaps even at current local population levels, give or take.

Not without antibiotics.

James, who died during the war, which Galbraith described as "the great ungluing", might have looked back on that story at the end of his life

James was so ashamed by the failure (at the time) of the U.S. to come to the aid of France and England he took English citizenship.
posted by praemunire at 2:37 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


Try painting your nails.

Totally. I wear paint from ~7pm Friday until ~9pm Sunday. I could probably get away with it at work, but it would not be worth the hassle right now. Which means I don't do the 2nd stage coat, but just the first of the Sally Hansen gel polish. Partly for poison frog markings, partly just to express myself. I look forward to a future state in which I can wear my nails whenever I want, and probably some eye makeup too. Basically Travis McElroy is my hero in this regard - reminded me that I feel pretty wearing that stuff and that it's okay to feel that way.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:52 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


As a dude who has a history of painting his nails and moving in lots of different parts of Los Angeles, I find the "white" qualifier here to be MetaFilter being entirely too MetaFilter. In my experience, masculine fragility about being within 100 feet of a man with painted nails doesn't somehow magically evaporate in primarily black and Latinx cishet-dominant spaces.

true that, and my apologies. growing up in south carolina it was the white kids who played smear the queer with me, and the black kids who i hung out with instead. but that itty bitty microcosm doesn't generalize, and i should do better.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:54 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


It's hard not to assume some weird shit about the author when, as they're describing people who are basically heavily armed but trying to blend in, the first example of someone so inclined he gives is "leftists" who yearn for revolution. Y'know, because that's who is stockpiling guns and ammo these days (or ever).
posted by tocts at 3:09 PM on June 8 [17 favorites]


I think that does lead to assumptions about the author, but the assumption I make is about their age; the 20th century had many more successful revolutions from the left than the right. So if you're conservative, in the sense of pro status quo, until very recently you'd naturally look to the left for possible disruption.

The weird pivot to what basically amounts to 'revolutionary conservatism' (that is to say, "conservatives" who aren't really conservative, or even revanchist, but are looking to implement a wholly new and ahistorical social system, in an alarmingly death-cult-y way) is fairly new, and a lot of people haven't really caught up to it. Hell, our whole political system largely hasn't.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:22 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


When I hear "gray men" I think of space aliens, but I guess they're just "grays."

Maybe it's because I spent my formative years in the last throes of the Cold War, when we were all sure that Reagan was going to bring on the nuclear apocalypse and we didn't believe for a moment that the civil defense drills we did in school were going to protect us, but I've always felt like dying in a global disaster or its immediate aftermath was preferable to spending the rest of my life slaving over survival preparations instead of enjoying my remaining days as best I could.

Growing up medically complicated was the clincher -surviving in the world as it is ain't exactly guaranteed, no matter how much effort you put into it. Throw a "Zombie Chow" t-shirt on me, prop me up outside the compound, and forget about it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:30 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


(I mean, I guess lining up against the basement wall was supposed to save us from convention weapons, too, but The Bomb was what everyone expected. The big black-and-yellow "FALLOUT SHELTER" signs were a big hint, if not )
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:45 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


(Oddly enough, the basement of the Baptist school was a designated fallout shelter, too. I guess they were expecting The Bomb to come before the Rapture?)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:47 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Not without antibiotics.

I think half my local area lives without antibiotics and cures most lower grade infections with their immune system augmented with diet.

I've only had to take antibiotics a couple of times in my life, and pretty much all of those times have been due to injuries caused by modern stuff like dirty kitchen metal, cars or major road rash from concrete.

A lot of the world still survives without antibiotics or modern medicine. Yeah, there's a lot of disease but humans still aren't going extinct or anything.
posted by loquacious at 3:56 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Plus, it's kinda fun having a style of boot that's guaranteed to be unique, no matter how big the crowd.

Oh man, total cop/SWAT boots. Yeah, those would probably raise some eyebrows if you ended up in some circle's safe space or town hall or something.
posted by loquacious at 4:00 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


>a lot of the pushback against preppers (who are admittedly deeply ridiculous) seems to stem from an unstated attitude of "How dare they have any hope for the future! They should resign themselves to dying in a climate apocalypse like the rest of us".

Speaking for myself, my pushback comes from an openly-stated attitude of "If we put as much enthusiasm and resources into averting catastrophe in the first place, we'll all be a million times better off". Everyone should be prepped for a few days/weeks following a disaster while broken links of society are being rebuilt, but going down the rabbit hole of pouring time and energy into building for a post-civilization world, rather than working to ensure a better future, only makes a better future less likely for everyone.

I think a lot of prepping is the siren call of having a new social order where you're a lot higher up the pecking order, and that this is driven partly by the failures of current (particularly American) society to give people a non-shitty situation.
posted by anonymisc at 4:00 PM on June 8 [29 favorites]


Like it's one thing to play fallout- it's another to gleefully plan for supermutants and head-shotting raiders.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:02 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


> If the shit goes down, we're dead. Grow up.

>Eh, barring violence and illness it's entirely plausible to survive off the sea and land around here.


I think these two statements highlight the wonderful fuzziness of SHTFism. What exactly qualifies as a SHTF event? Did the S even really HTF if you can live through the aftermath? Does another Great Depression qualify? An earthquake? Martial law?

It doesn't matter as long as you keep your shelter stocked with Dr. Prepper non-perishable(*) prep supplies.

(*) Make sure to replace your Dr. Prepper non-perishable goods once a year to ensure freshness
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:22 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]


The Civil Defense Drills during the Reagan Years...

Wouldn't have protected anyone.
posted by Windopaene at 5:10 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


In Jack Black’s autobiographical 1926;book You Can’t Win he talks about rushing out with the first real money he made as a criminal to buy fancy clothes and his mentor dressing him down for it, saying that as criminals they must be unobtrusive to the point of invisible. William Burroughs was very affected by this and so wore a suit and workaday hat his whole life, which actually became increasingly obtrusive as it went out of fashion. John Waters insists on driving cars that he says looks like a nun would drive. “What if the police are ever chasing me?” he asks.

This sort of normcore as a shield for criminality or to hide expertise has a long history, it it also has always turned into something of an affectation.
posted by maxsparber at 5:35 PM on June 8 [17 favorites]


There needs to be a big budget modern adaptation of Alas, Babylon, because there was a post-apocalypse that involved a sense of community and cooperation in survival. Maybe that could shift some pop cultural trends.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:36 PM on June 8 [11 favorites]


I am a grey man but only because it hides the cat hair.
posted by srboisvert at 6:05 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


A lot of the world still survives without antibiotics or modern medicine. Yeah, there's a lot of disease but humans still aren't going extinct or anything.

what
posted by mpbx at 6:54 PM on June 8 [16 favorites]


I've only had to take antibiotics a couple of times in my life, and pretty much all of those times have been due to injuries caused by modern stuff like dirty kitchen metal, cars or major road rash from concrete.

(a) What mpbx said above and

(b) That you think you wouldn't be exposed, and exposed infinitely more, to injuries that require antibiotic treatment to reliably avoid horrible consequences in a world where you had to do far more heavy physical labor demonstrates that your vision of such a world is extremely theoretical.
posted by praemunire at 7:00 PM on June 8 [20 favorites]


Yeah, anyone who’s ever had a bladder infection set in at 3 a.m. will tell you “immune system augmented with diet” rings pretty hollow under the circumstances. And they’re often caused by exposure to a penis, but “major road rash” is kind of a fun euphemism.
posted by armeowda at 7:10 PM on June 8 [20 favorites]


What I'm going to want sorted as soon as possible if SHTF is sanitation. Modern population density requires fairly sophisticated infrastructure for clean water to show up and waste to go away, and antibiotics don't treat everything.

I feel like a lot of people's ideas about building post-apocalyptic Utopia are grounded in ignorance about how much modern complexity keeps them alive, and how much of it is needed to keep other people alive.

In 1900 in some U.S. cities, up to 30% of infants died before reaching their first birthday (1). Efforts to reduce infant mortality focused on improving environmental and living conditions in urban areas (1). Urban environmental interventions (e.g., sewage and refuse disposal and safe drinking water) played key roles in reducing infant mortality.
posted by bagel at 7:27 PM on June 8 [27 favorites]


and on preview, holy shit armeowda, thank you for the music video.
posted by bagel at 7:33 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I think a lot of prepping is the siren call of having a new social order where you're a lot higher up the pecking order, and that this is driven partly by the failures of current (particularly American) society to give people a non-shitty situation.

In my limited personal experience of prepper-ish people, this really rings true.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:45 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


Wow, how much are they going to beg to be a part of your harem once you have uncontaminated water and food and they don't.

My wife has a ridiculous amount of "products" (among other things) and jokes when the SHTF people will risk their lives and travel miles to beg her for moisturizer. We will have a heavily guarded desert outpost trading in skin lotion, books, and puzzles.

Undercover/plainclothes LEOs or military tend to walk with and stand with a vigilant stance.

I had occasion to hang out with a serious security guy once, not someone's bodyguard, but a security guy, ex military. Even as we stood around joking and shooting the shit he never for a second stopped scanning the entire area intensely while appearing casual, like if you didn't know who he was you just might have thought he was slightly distracted, and this was a situation in which there was a 99.999% chance of nothing happening, it was just in reaction to something that already happened. It was intense and interesting.

This sort of normcore as a shield for criminality or to hide expertise has a long history, it it also has always turned into something of an affectation.

Decades ago, when I got my first tattoo, my biggest concern was that it would be an identifying feature and that's almost what stopped me from getting it.
posted by bongo_x at 8:20 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


Counterpoint: Please be a grey man. Keep your prepping a secret. Act completely normal. Don’t involve other people in your creepy apocalypse neighbour-murder fetishism, you pathetic basic motherfuckers.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:22 PM on June 8 [31 favorites]


I think a lot of prepping is the siren call of having a new social order where you're a lot higher up the pecking order

This is always the thing about libertarian and apocalyptic thinking.

Like, if you're a sad sack, downtrodden, cog in the wheel in a society where the government basically protects you from any real consequences and, especially if you are a white dude, the law allows you to exploit people off to your heart's content so long as you stay within a few parameters, how do you figure you'll be on top when all of those protections are taken away from you?

I mean, if you aren't one percent powerful in an actual functioning society, the odds that you will be anything other than a serf when warlords are the main form of strength is pretty damn slim.
posted by madajb at 9:02 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


🕴️👤🚶🗣️🕺💅👁️‍🗨️🍔🍔🍔⛺️☂️💡🙈🙉🙊➡️☣️⬅️🏂📲🔬💵💱📈⚒️🤔🏹🚬🔫🎩🔜
posted by clavdivs at 10:24 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


This all reminds me of the gray suits worn by both Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) in Heat and Vincent (Tom Cruise) in Collateral.
There’s the sound of a plane landing, and we see a man arriving in Los Angeles. He is gray: Gray suit, gray tie, gray hair, gray stubble that looks painted on. He wears sunglasses inside.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:05 PM on June 8


This is kind of a funny phenomenon considering that every 'prepper' I've ever met has gone out of the way to talk about their prepping. They are like the Bond James Bond of grey men I guess. Or Harvard attendance, because it will be mentioned in the first 5 minutes.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:39 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]


Possibly you've met preppers who didn't do that, so you didn't know they were ...


The things that caused me to go on serious courses of antibiotics:

* Impacted kidney stone that led to blood sepsis and would have killed me if left untreated.

* Cat bite. Deep-seated infection in my hand that took more than a month of antibiotics to root out, and left me with limited use of my hand.

Neither of those things were peculiar to modern life.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:29 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


I'm 46. Here's what would have killed me in a post-apocalyptic scenario:

Ages 5-up: Scarlet fever as a result of untreated strep throat.

Age 11: Appendicitis.

Age 37: Dental abscess from an infected root canal.

Age 43: Untreated stage 4 cancer (throat).

Now: High blood pressure, untreated. Low thyroid (this is presuming I somehow, despite the zombies or whatever the fuck is going on, got radiochemo therapy for cancer), untreated.

And that's without anything crazy like a car accident or getting shot by Lord Humongous. That's just normal, everyday life. Preppers are just jacking themselves off to some fantasy of hidden hyper-competence, but God help them if they ever had to prove it. They'd just be yelling at people and waving weapons around and generally making a bad situation worse. But ultimately it wouldn't really matter what they did -- they could make life harder for everyone, but no one could fix it. There isn't a happy ending if we destroy society -- that's why we built society! Fucking hell, man.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:04 AM on June 9 [11 favorites]


There isn't a happy ending if we destroy society -- that's why we built society!

So... it seems like a happy ending if we rebuild society?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:10 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


happy ending

$20, same as in Bullettown
posted by thelonius at 7:37 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


So... it seems like a happy ending if we rebuild society?

Except that "we got dibs on being the new police" is not a great ambition.
posted by rhizome at 9:03 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Not without antibiotics.

what

Yeah, of course mortality rates would drastically increase, especially without access to antibiotics and modern medicine.

Yeah, of course I'd probably eventually die of an untreated infection due to an injury from manual labor.

Humanity itself would not go extinct. Humanity as a species has already survived like 8,000 years of recorded history without antibiotics and however many tens of thousands of years of pre-history.

I am not claiming or pretending that a post SHTF society or culture would be better and that life spans would not brutish and short. I am absolutely not making the claim that it would be in any form a continuation of the modern world we know today.

To be clear it would be fucking horrible. "Survivable" does not mean status quo or a modern civilization. I just meant that human life, however shortened it would be, would go on in some way.

I said this: Would it be easy? Fuck no. Not at all. It'd be a really hard and low energy life, approaching a stone age existence augmented with the residual resources of the modern world.

Anyway, apparently I don't know anything about manual labor so I'm going to go spend another whole long sweaty day with the machete and brush cutters trying to keep the forest from eating our house. I also need to turn about a cubic yard of a compost pile, dig some more garden beds, see if I can save this tomato plant and then maybe pick some berries. Oh, and I should probably go hammer at the ruts and potholes in the driveway some more with a crowbar and mattock again. If there's any energy left I might finally get to cutting up a couple of 80 foot deadfall maples with a hand saw so I can split them into firewood with a stout little hatchet because I don't have a proper splitting axe yet. There probably won't be any energy left for that. Again.

This is basically my daily/weekly life and, frankly, I love it. I'm pretty sure I know a little something about how hard rural manual labor is at this point, and I'm just getting started. I have some honestly earned blisters on my hands right now.
posted by loquacious at 9:49 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


The key "virtue signal" was a yellow hi-viz vest, a hard hat, and heavy-duty work gloves. That was a backstage pass down here for the first week or two.

Heh, I wear an orange hi-viz best for biking safety, and I buy basically the same kind that you can see on highway workers and the like. It's basically a magic cloak at any sort of event with a significant traffic-management or construction component --- everyone assumes you're working there, no matter what else you're wearing besides the vest.
posted by jackbishop at 1:05 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


There is virtually no scenario where humanity actually goes extinct. Not climate change, not global thermonuclear war, not superflu, or the World Ebola Tour. Humans are good about adapting to their environments; we're the species with—when you exclude our symbiotes and parasites, e.g. rats, cats, cockroaches, etc.—the widest range and greatest adaptability. Although compared to more specialized species, we're basically the universe's generalists: truly mediocre, just barely good enough at life to cut it and reproduce faster than we die, mostly everywhere.

Species survival is a really low fucking bar. So low that I find it totally uninteresting.

Either we survive as a civilization, or fuck it, I say we find a way to polish off the survivors with some neurotoxin-laced MREs and hand the planet back to the big cats. They did a better job managing the ecosystem for longer than we did as the apex predators.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:32 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


> Species survival is a really low fucking bar. So low that I find it totally uninteresting.

Average lifespan of a species is four million years, I believe. Crocodiles and coelacanths are the exception rather than the rule.
posted by Leon at 6:59 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Be conspicuous and/or disruptive in many situations
Be open about your intent and motives at all times
Make sure that everyone knows about the things you are good at

Does that describe any real person? Does it describe someone you'd want to hang out with?


It describes a kind of conventionally valorized Father-knows-best 'masculinity' that is likely the default for men drawn to this sort of thing.

It feels sort of related to MGTOW. No one respecting your 1950s fantasy of your place in society? SJWs and loud queers getting you down?

Disengage, hole up and pat yourself on the back for your clear-eyed stolid commitment to what's right while you trade lurid SHTF-WROL-Zombie-Gilead-Kristallnacht II fantasies with likeminded people on the internet.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:59 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


When humans organize, they often wear uniforms of the prevailing fashion. Even anarchists/survivalists/grey-men need fashion to communicate to each other membership in the same club.
Fair point.

And, to be clear, I was arguing that "gray" is exactly what I would expect people on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me to choose when disguising themselves as me, since I think of people like me as people who wear gray and black. (When not wearing sequins and T-shirts featuring unicorns.) As someone very far to the left, my "pretend to be someone you're not" garb would instinctively include earth-tones and blues. But, maybe it's all more about James Bond than a realistic disguise. Or maybe my impressions are just incredibly local and the correlations artificial.
posted by eotvos at 10:11 AM on June 10


The Civil Defense Drills during the Reagan Years...
Wouldn't have protected anyone.


It was "security theater", it kept the issue in the "hearts and minds" of the general public, ensuring that they knew who would protect them from the big bad commies... (So, continue to vote "big military"!)

What the funny thing is, during that same time-frame, there were two really big media events that really hit home the reality that no amount of prepping, hiding under desks or within bunkers would ever enable people to truly survive a nuclear war; "Threads" and "The Day After".
posted by jkaczor at 11:09 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


What's up with the knee pads?
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:15 AM on June 10


What's up with the knee pads?

That phase II picture is... something. He talks about sacrificing 'a little bit of stealth' for going full-on urban PMC look. Never know when you have to kneel for a precision shot.

'Gray' here is used to mean unobtrusiovs, boring, forgettable. "He's gotta like you, and forget you."

A greige man.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:54 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


His jeans are baggy enough to be wearing knee pads invisibly underneath them... yet he isn't
posted by anonymisc at 6:37 PM on June 10


That phase II picture is... something.

No kidding. At the point where you are wearing a helmet, bulletproof vest, kneepads, and have a visible (albeit holstered) gun, there isn't much "gray" going on.

A robust fantasy life is generally a good thing, but some of these people might want to find healthier fixations.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:16 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Or Harvard attendance, because it will be mentioned in the first 5 minutes.

Incorrect. I've been on here 14 years and never once mentioned that. Until now.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:35 AM on June 11


"Chelsea is likely right about this. It's relatively easy to spot undercover or plainclothes LEOs - in, say, a protest march - and it's not just the clean haircuts or choice of plain old blue jeans and unobtrusive casual button down shirts. It's often the shoes that are the first and last clue."

… ehhhhhhhh

I used to wear those shoes when I worked standing jobs (grocery, restaurant, etc.). You could buy them at Payless. If you want the real deal, you can buy LEO "tactical" shoes all over. And LAPD, 'cuz I just checked, doesn't have general issue shoes, with plainclothes officers being expected to supply their own "business shoes." Otherwise, it's just flat black toe with laces down the center.

(In looking this up, I did find out that LAPD has a motocross unit, distinct from the regular motorcycle unit. They use regular O'Neal motocross gear.)

"What's up with the knee pads?"

Nothing unobtrusive as fellatio?
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on June 12


And when I see this stuff, I can only think of my parents' neighbor who's still eating his brown rice from 50-gallon barrels he buried for Y2K.
posted by klangklangston at 5:28 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


I always think of knee pads as something to be worn under a long skirt when you have to keep kneeling and getting back up in a show. Do they have amateur theatricals in the post-apocalypse?<
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:38 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


> Do they have amateur theatricals in the post-apocalypse

Yup.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:42 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


Oh, wow, TCitL, that looks like a cracking good read!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:05 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


> Do they have amateur theatricals in the post-apocalypse

There's also Mr Burns: A Post Electric Play
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:34 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


« Older Good regulation enables and protects   |   Michelle Gomez specializes in "hard-to-locate... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments