A Final Comment on Tacticool

A few years ago I was on a subway in New York (museuming!) and there was a guy there who was wearing hunting camouflage from head to toe. Unfortunately, I didn’t think he was being ironic; he wasn’t going against cultural norms, in fact he appeared to be trying to stereotype “game hunter” toxic masculinity. But, the image stuck in my mind. I can’t find the picture I shot with my phone, so you’ll have to imagine a gooner standing in a subway car full of New Yorkers, dressed like a mighty white hunter.

I don’t need to say that New Yorkers don’t even condescend to ignore someone like that. They just don’t notice it. Since I moved from New York in 1968, my powers of ignoring have weakened, so the guy stuck in my mind.

The question was: what is the extremity of useless camouflage? It’s the same question, really as “what kind of trouble are you preparing for?” Why does someone feel they need to walk around with a tactical pen, stealth sunglasses, and a flashlight that can blind a grizzly bear – when, normally, nobody ever needs to do those things?

“Stealth” – mjr, 2010. Model is Eric vS.

Those of you who are not Americans may not know what that is. Go ahead and google “ghillie suit.”

“Stealth” – mjr, 2010. Model is Eric vS.


“Stealth” – mjr, 2010. Model is Sarah V.

One of the things I love about the Stealth in the diner shot is that the model is a fairly well-known and recognizable sunglasses model; she’s extremely striking-looking, and attracts attention wherever she goes. There was something funny about obscuring her under camouflage.

I also enjoy the visual references to a Burqa.

“Stealth” – mjr, 2010. Model is Sarah V.

About a second after that was taken, one of the guys turned around and jumped about 2 feet in the air. Fortunately, he did not feel he was under attack and did not respond by attacking my model with a tactical spork. She did drop the hood and favor him with a radiant smile that melted him into a puddle.

“Stealth”, self-portrait, 2010

The lady who used to cut my hair was completely unflappable, when I explained the idea she said, “sit in the chair and we’ll take a bit off the top.”

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By the way, proper snipers are expected to make their own ghillie suits – that’s part of the expertise and mystique. It says something about sniper cool in the US that you can get pretty good ghillie suits on Ebay for $30.

I discontinued the series when a family of mice made a nest in the ghillie suit. After that it smelled – well – it smelled like a ghillie suit is supposed to, which means I bagged it and tossed it.

We had an idea for another shot, but we weren’t geared for it. The idea was to have someone in the ghillie suit rollerblading around the park, with reaction-shot from the joggers and cyclists. Since I didn’t have rollerblades, it would have required a volunteer. Briefly, we considered approaching one of the existing rollerbladers and asking them “Would you be willing to pose in this thing?” but reason prevailed: what if we got a face-full of well-deserved pepper spray? The shot was never done.



  1. kestrel says

    Awww… I will be sorry to see the end of the tacticool gear just because it’s so hilarious. You have managed to find some totally silly items I had not seen before, although this one? I’ve seen ghillie suits but never in person, just in catalogs.

    These are great shots, and capture the effectiveness of ghillie suits perfectly! I’ve always felt ghillie suits were just too much. Also, if you really believe in Bigfoot, you would never wear one, for fear of giving Bigfoot the idea he had competition. Maybe he would beat you up! Or try and woo you!

    It’s not like I’m against being prepared. It’s that I think this cultural thing is just way over the top and ridiculous. I do carry a pocket knife, but that’s because I live on a farm and have to cut open a bale of hay or a bag of feed pretty much every single day, not because I think it will save me from Bigfoot or ninjas or nuclear holocaust. I’m way more worried about cutting open a bale of hay than I am about ninjas.

  2. Sunday Afternoon says

    Headline at http://www.cnn.com

    Official says the shooter was dressed in tactical gear

    linking to the live coverage of the church shooting in Texas.

    America and guns is so f*#%ed up that I divert myself by thinking ridiculous things – viz:

    Is there such a thing a Formal Tactical Gear (such as would be suitable for wearing to church) which could be claimed to have provided the victims the opportunity to defend themselves? And why weren’t they wearing it if is exists!? It’s almost as if they were asking to die!

    Another tangent – Is “Formal Tactical Gear” really just “Strategic Gear” by another name?

    FFS USians! (we, and that includes me now) need to adopt Marcus’s accurate label of “toxic masculinity” and address the cultural problems that accepts that these types of shootings are “acceptable”, or “the price of freedom”. No it fucking isn’t! The rest of the world is aghast, and has been for years, at the acceptance of gun violence that is the symptom of the deeper rot in our culture.

  3. says

    Sunday Afternoon@#3:
    I posted on Facebook:
    “Hopes and Prayers”
    are another way of saying
    “I won’t do anything.”

    Needless to say, I immediately got people asking, “well, what do you recommend?” (And I send them a link to my piece on From My Cold Dead Hands [stderr]

    The problem is when most Americans say, “what do you think we should do?” they don’t mean it. What they mean to ask is “what do you think we should do that won’t change the status quo at all?”

  4. says

    Tabby Lavalamp:
    So there’s currently a truck commercial touting its “military-grade aluminum”. Now I’m curious what the difference is.

    There are military alloys of various metals, which are generally not used because of cost or whatever. For example, the “birmabright” aluminum alloy used to skin spitfires was apparently pretty fancy stuff in its day. The aluminum alloy used for 1966 Land Rovers would crumble if you flexed it without blowtorching it; do not ask how I learned this.

    Of course, alloys is alloys. There’s no such thing as a “military-grade” alloy.

    Perhaps we should substitute “expensive” for “tactical”

  5. says

    I will be sorry to see the end of the tacticool gear just because it’s so hilarious.

    As long as I get amazing tactical spam, I’m sure I’ll occasionally share it with you.

    It’s not like I’m against being prepared. It’s that I think this cultural thing is just way over the top and ridiculous

    I totally agree. I am into being prepared. In the back of each of my cars is:
    – nylon toolbag with hammer, jumper cables, slidelock pliers, various screwdrivers, stainless steel zipties, tow strap, road flares, non-tactical hammer, vice grips, gloves, Vietnam-era military field dressing, polurethane glue, electrical tape, several large garbage bags
    – first aid kit
    – big fuzzy blanket
    – polartec hood/face thingie
    – flashlight (new batteries still in packing)
    – $400 cash

    I actually do carry a weapon in my car. It’s called: my car. A 2007 Chevy Tahoe. I operate it skillfully and practice with it often.

  6. chigau (違う) says

    “what do you think we should do?”
    “…what are you going to do that I can take advantage of?”

  7. says

    “…what are you going to do that I can take advantage of?”

    I’m not sure it’s that. It’s more like: “what are you going to suggest that I can shoot down?”
    I think it’s bog-standard preservation of the status quo masquerading as skepticism. I bet you’ve never seen that before.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    “Those of you who are not Americans and have never played “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” may not know what that is. Go ahead and google “ghillie suit.”


    I saw a great photo on Facebook some time ago. It depicted a bloke on public transport in the UK. He was wearing DPM-95 camouflage trousers and a high-vis jacket. The caption was “Make your mind up mate”. Chuckled about that for the rest of the day.

    Shame you’ve not still got the suit. I’ve an idea for a shot, given the etymology of “ghillie” as meaning “servant” – yourself, done up to the nines in a velvet suit, moustache waxed, sitting cross-legged at a dainty table, being served tea in china by a butler dressed thusly. I’ll just picture it.

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