Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Elephants, Yeah!

[Edited to update the header to something more appropriate and give Joel Veitch another plug - and Robin loves his Viking Kittens mugs! Have you seen where they've gone all Northern England scruffy now? Although to be fair the Kittens have stayed true to their punk roots. Wonder when Joel's bringing out Café Press Chicken mugs...]

One of my favorite current expressions, thanks to Tom Tomorrow (link at left bar), is "the elephant in the living room." You know, something that's real obvious to some observers but which never seems to be talked about by any of the players involved. Any media analyst worth her salt knows one needs to pay attention not only to how something is reported but to what's not being said as well. One recent example is the sad news about a couple in Queens who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. This morning the local NBC station had a report on things one can do to prevent CO poisoning, but nowhere did it mention what I always learned as a kid, about not operating unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or where people are sleeping. Even the Consumer Product Safety Commission has it almost last on their list, after talking about getting a CO detector and using equipment properly. Maybe I see that particular elephant because I can't conceive of people not ventilating their homes by opening windows regularly, even in cold months. Although I do keep passing those open windows...

Another possible pachyderm goes by the name of either Harjit or Harjeet or even Harjee Singh - sources seem to disagree on the spelling of his first name (even by the same paper in different articles). He's this fellow from Bellingham, WA who apparently met accused sniper John Muhammed at a local YMCA , told the FBI that "Muhammed had talked about wanting to get a silencer for his rifle and use it to kill police officers" and was said to have provided additional information later on, but this article mentions that his story kept changing, which of course he denies. His most famous quote, which I caught a video of him saying, was "From the language they were using, it was clear they were anti-American." As far as I can tell, he's the only acquaintance to even say anything of this nature, which doubtless has provided fuel for anyone desperately hoping to manufacture a sniper-Al Qaeda connection. But Singh didn't elaborate on Muhammed's supposed anti-Americanism, at least not on camera. So I wonder what we aren't being told about the cred of this person who hung out at Muhammed's Y.

I like what I've seen so far of Dirk Deppey's new blog, and recommend it as indispensible reading particularly for people curious about internationally-based comic book creators and cartoonists (and he's already mentioned at least one female cartoonist I'd never heard of whose name will now go on my WDC list, and sweetie that he is he's even blogrolled me), but the pachy in his particular parlor, at least so far, seems to be mainstream, corporate-owned American comic books. Obviously none of us is obligated to blog about anything that doesn't hold our interest, but the publication hosting Dirk's blog, The Comics Journal, has also tended to ignore the output at Marvel and DC, and that bugs me personally not only because that's (with any luck) half my household income but because a lot of my friends are involved in making those comics, just like a lot of my friends are involved in making small press and alternative comics, and I find them all wonderfully creative. I happen to like good comics from all ends of the spectrum, and think that to talk about comics without covering what most people in our culture think of as comics perpetuates an implied "us versus them" viewpoint, and is counterproductive to a storytelling form and an industry that's become so marginalized in our culture to begin with.

So what I can't quite figure out yet is, where are the elephants in my living room?