The League of Men with Fancy Gloves

From Plastic Tub

Oppositional Groupings and Secret Orders

Easily the most understood of groups secreting themselves away from direct observation, the League fashions itself after Minoan Craft Ritual, Fornication Timetables and late-style arithmetical pant-fashions -- at least in so much as the latter represents a conquering fashion, a being made of spaces between fingers five -- and in that failure is a layer of experience, as the Hand too removes sensation.

As such, the League has been seen as a Gnostic group, rejecting perception as tainted, untrue, a source of suffering. Fashionable group of Poets and wayward mystics seemingly gathered to harrass the establishment, the revolution, the avant-garde and especially The League of Gnomes. Famous for their Massive Dinner Send-Back of 1955 at Ryan O'Donnely's Ribhouse and Honkytonk.

Extrapolation


Although the exact details of their origins are gloved in mystery, it is clear that the League of Men with Fancy Gloves gained legal status as a Scottish Friendly Society with the repealing of the Combinations Act of 1793. Like many of the Friendly Societies, they paraded as a gentleman’s drinking club while serving as a fund raising and recruiting front for a shadow organization. In the case of the League, the shadow organization was the “Anahinthan”,1  an ancient and secretive order of proto-gnostics associated with alchemy, ritualized murder, and autoamputation.

Though the League began as a hand puppet organization

Hands

--concealing and publicly acting for the Anahinthan--the League eventually seems to have pulled a Pinocchio and, like an unbidden homunculi, taken on a life of its own.2 

The League quickly entrenched itself in various shipping and naval organizations and became a prominent player in the piracy-laden seas of the days. The League rose in historical prominence with their involvement in the relocation of the Portuguese royal family from Brazil in 1821 and the Cuban struggle for independence (1886 to 1898). Though largely absent in Cuba today, they remain firmly entrenched in Brazilian society. (Many of the more esoteric Carnaval ceremonies are, for example, modeled after various League rites.) By the late 1800s, the League had reached their prime, enjoying a lofty membership with considerable influence over world affairs.

The League nearly collapsed in 1896 when Chief Constable Sir Melville Macshten, a Twenty-Seventh-Degree Crack Stepper, was publicly accused of squashing evidence regarding the death Mary Jane Keller in 1888.3 

It was eventually revealed that both the League and Sir Macshten were victims of a devious counterfeiting scheme. Although the Chief Constable was eventually exonerated and the press eventually offered public apologies for their shoddy smearing of his character and the character of the League, the damage was already done. Like Sir Macshten’s marriage, health and fortune, the League floundered. A few far flung Fingers seemed to have escaped the scandal, but the hay day of Fancy Gloves had passed. Publicly, they re-established themselves as a group of esoteric anti-everything poets and far-flung sailors. Despite this public turnabout and their steadily declining membership over the last century, the League does still secretly operate with an insidious cruelty and a poetic bite that continues to instill fear in the hearts of those who know.

Organizational Darwinism

The League has maintained various interesting intra-organizational tensions that helped the organization to adapt to changing times.

  • Exclusivity vs. Growth: The air of exclusivity surrounding the League has waned and ebbed. When more popular, they enjoyed the luxury of selecting members of distinction; when less popular, they took what they could get. Some local Fingers have recently opened their ranks to such traditionally excluded groups as atheists and albinos.
  • Secrecy vs. Image Control: The lure of secrecy and whispered rumors of occultist esoteria continue to seduce the curious: a big draw for potential new members. The League has capitalized on this by carefully crafting an almost mythological lore through the dissemination of “insider information” and “secrets.” During times of duress, the glove is drawn tighter. Present day Fingers in communist regimes, for example, operate under extreme secrecy. Bulgaria, for example, is suspected to hold burgeoning membership that risks death daily. Some suspect that a small unbroken line continues to operate in Cuba as well. Put simply, illegality is dangerous, and danger breeds secrecy. In this facet, they are hardly unique. The Mafia, the Underground Railroad and La Ligue d'Agenda de la Pinque, for example, have all been tightly guarded. This is quite different from more open organizations like the Freemason and the Lions Club, whose “secret elements” are fairly well known.
  • Thinking vs. Doing: The League has long guarded their privacy via public claims that they exist simply as a group of free thinkers who wax philosophically but sport a clean glove. Despite this, they have maintained a conspiratorial air, bolstered by such brazenly open moves as swelling their ranks with gloved public officers (including a large number of the Brazilian and Cuban Founding Fathers); pirating “taxes” from shipments in and out of Brazil during the mid-1800s; and smuggling rum, stinking weed and guns through Cuba from the 1850s clear through to the Cuban Revolution. Many political and religious organizations have long maintained that the League has played an active role in shaping numerous world events. The Catholic Church, for example, has long been critical of the League, arguing that one can only serve one master (e.g., someone may wear gloves or the Catholic cross -- but not both). The Church's critical apex zenithed with the Cuban Revolution, which the Church has formally accused of being largely shaped and instigated by the League.4 
  • Internal Reach vs. Local Control: The League is organized into local Fingers (sometimes referred to as Orphanages) that are attached to various independent Hands. Each Hand is essentially free to establish its own procedures and policies. In some cases, certain Hands have changed their procedures and policies to such a degree that it is difficult to even classify them as the League. This has resulted in a complex web of Hands that are related through formal recognitions and non-recognitions. This system of local control both strengthens and weakens the League as a whole. It offers strength the form of flexibility, wherein local Hands can respond to local needs, helping to ensure continued growth for the organization. On the other hand, this system limits the international scope of the organization because it can make international Gloved accords difficult to achieve. While it is true that various groups have joined Hands in times past, many researchers suspect that the group as a whole has become embroiled in various intra-gloved conflicts since 1896, splitting into smaller and smaller factions. This should be kept in mind when hearing recent conspiracies that involve an international scope.5 

Organizational Structure


The League is composed of three grades: Greenhorn, Crack Stepper and Holy Man/Woman. Each grade involves a ritual progressively entitled "Running the Gauntlet," "Taking the Gloves Off," and "Throwing Down the Gloves."

Publications


Notes


Note 1:  “Anahinthan” translates from the Goth to “unhand”, which has been variously interpreted as “released” or “without hands”. The Anahinthan have been more commonly referred to as the Gloved Ones and, occasionally, the Unseen Hand.

Note 2:  In recent times, the terms “League of Men of Fancy Gloves” and “Gloved Ones” have become interchange in the minds of most people -- so much so that the terms are, for all practical purposes, synonymous today. Historical sticklers cringe at the confusion, pointing out that, technically, the two groups continue to function separately to this day.

Note 3:  Ms. Keller was, officially, Jack the Ripper’s fifth victim. According to the Sir Macshten’s unnamed accuser, a bloody glove found by Mary Jane Keller body was “disappeared” by the Chief Constable. At the time, the press began to speculate that Jack the Ripper’s nickname of the “Leather Apron” was a metaphorical reference to a glove, and overeager “journalists” implicated the Chief Constable as Fancy Glove seeking to protect a fellow Thumb.

Note 4:  Contemporary researchers vigorously disagree with the Church's assessment of the League's role in the Cuban Revolution, pointing out that the League was in steep decline at the time. Furthermore, though the League clearly had much to gain from stirring up popular unrest in Cuba from time to time, they had little to gain from outright revolt.

Note 5:  It is, for example, difficult to image how the League could have been involved in the fall of the Iron Curtain. On the other end of an unlikely timescale, contemporary scholars doubt that the League’s roots are deep enough for the organization to have bankrolled Columbus’ first New World Voyage, though some researchers still insist that Rodrigo de Jerez, a sailor on the Santa Maria, may have worn gloves.

The totemic indicator of the Crack Stepper grade, on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
Enlarge
The totemic indicator of the Crack Stepper grade, on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.

Desiderata


Aside from the Massive Dinner Send-Back and the Putti-Core Scandal, the League has been linked with numerous sinister schemes and maleficient shenanigans.

Michael Jackson is a member, but only honorary.

They have long been involved in the traffic of Absinthe in Europe.

The League runs an Ale House in Prague called "Ye Fingered Friend."

The Jack the Ripper scandal bears a curious resemblance to the O.J. Simpson trials.

Researchers scoff when arm chair conspiracists insist that the gloved players of the Anaheim Angels are somehow linked to the Anahinthan.

Holy Men and Women are believed to make the leap from League to Anahinthan. The entrance rituals for this third grade of the League are said to involve the removal of the hands.

The League of Men with Fancy Gloves and the League of Gnomes appear to be hell-bent on mutual destruction. No one is really sure why.