Roll, Truck, Roll October 29, 2021 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Mefite roll truck roll, a.k.a. Elliot Harmon, has died, age 40.

He was Elliot Harmon, from Pierre (pronounced "pier"), South Dakota and he was one of my most formative friends. This is space for stuff about Elliot.

Elliot was a writer and a poet and an activist. He worked for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and helped save dot-org as a thing, among a zillion other useful endeavors. Jillian C. York and Rainey Reitman of the EFF wrote about him here. They did him right.

You can find him also at elliotharmon.org. I can verify that is the neatest version of his handwriting.
posted by lauranesson to MetaFilter-Related at 9:39 AM (145 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

I was so surprised and sad to see this news. I didn't know him personally but it always made me glad to see him around here and around EFF projects; thank you for putting up the obit, lauranesson.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:42 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:58 AM on October 29


I know the username, but I never put it together with his IRL persona of activist. Dang, that was good work he was doing!

. too damn soon
posted by wenestvedt at 10:04 AM on October 29 [3 favorites]


.
posted by zamboni at 10:08 AM on October 29


.
posted by Mitheral at 10:10 AM on October 29


.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:14 AM on October 29


.
posted by team lowkey at 10:21 AM on October 29


.
posted by gudrun at 10:26 AM on October 29


Oh no, how sad! I was his Secret Quonsar back in 2009 and was very proud that I was able to divine from his posting history that he might like a Charles Amirkhanian CD. He was like, HOW DID YOU FIND MY AMAZON WISHLIST.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:31 AM on October 29 [22 favorites]


.
posted by St. Sorryass at 10:35 AM on October 29


.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:42 AM on October 29


.
posted by Alensin at 10:47 AM on October 29


So sorry to hear this!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:47 AM on October 29


.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:48 AM on October 29


oh no. so young.

.
posted by supermedusa at 10:55 AM on October 29


He was always a regular in the annual Yo La Tango pledge drive threads. RIP
posted by wheelieman at 11:11 AM on October 29 [4 favorites]


.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:11 AM on October 29


RTR!

40? Argh!

.
posted by AugustWest at 11:16 AM on October 29


I know the username, but I never put it together with his IRL persona of activist.

Me either. I'm sorry to see this news.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:26 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:30 AM on October 29


When you said "save dot-org" I didn't realize you meant it literally until I read that great write up. What a hero. I, too, recognize the username, and I will certainly miss him.

.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:30 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


I'm very sorry to hear this! I always appreciated his posts, and I know that people have made "midwest nice" into the butt of jokes but as a fellow midwesterner with relatives in South Dakota he always struck me as a midwest nice kind of guy in the best possible meaning of the term.
posted by drlith at 11:30 AM on October 29 [7 favorites]


.
posted by veggieboy at 11:39 AM on October 29


.
posted by misteraitch at 12:48 PM on October 29


.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:57 PM on October 29


.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:02 PM on October 29


.
posted by rhizome at 1:02 PM on October 29


.
posted by needlegrrl at 1:23 PM on October 29


.
posted by valkane at 1:25 PM on October 29


.
posted by cocoagirl at 1:26 PM on October 29


.
posted by bryon at 1:27 PM on October 29


.
posted by jjray at 1:29 PM on October 29


.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:42 PM on October 29


.
posted by mcbeth at 1:49 PM on October 29


.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:54 PM on October 29


.
posted by Lynsey at 2:03 PM on October 29


.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 2:15 PM on October 29


I know him from here as well. My heart goes out to his family and friends.
posted by Orlop at 2:21 PM on October 29


This hits home. I was very tangentially involved with some EFF-adjacent folks when I lived in London and I recognised the username from his thoughtful contributions here.. I didn’t know Elliot, but I’m the exact same age and I’m willing to bet we’d have got on. He went far too soon.

.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:28 PM on October 29


.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:29 PM on October 29


Well, damn. Glad to have known him, even this tiny bit from this one place. Love to his friends and family.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:29 PM on October 29


.
posted by hydropsyche at 2:34 PM on October 29


.
posted by JHarris at 2:35 PM on October 29


.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:41 PM on October 29


.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:42 PM on October 29


"Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

They kept the noiseless tenor of their way."

-Thomas Gray.

.
posted by clavdivs at 2:48 PM on October 29 [4 favorites]


.
posted by FishBike at 3:10 PM on October 29


.

This really saddens me. I was lucky to get to know him a bit through long ago meet-ups and enjoyed his company. I’ve just learned so much more about him from the links above, I had no idea, what an amazing person.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:12 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


.
posted by porn in the woods at 3:16 PM on October 29 [1 favorite]


.
posted by riruro at 4:05 PM on October 29


.
posted by Rash at 4:43 PM on October 29


.

Kind thoughts to all that knew him best.
posted by deezil at 5:30 PM on October 29


.
posted by clew at 5:37 PM on October 29


.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 5:41 PM on October 29


.
posted by schmod at 6:03 PM on October 29


.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:09 PM on October 29


I am sorry for your loss, lauranesson. I definitely know that username and enjoyed Elliot’s participation on MeFi. Thanks for posting the link from EFF—what a lot of activism he packed into 40 years.

.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:16 PM on October 29


.
posted by purpleclover at 6:28 PM on October 29


.
posted by briank at 6:30 PM on October 29


.
posted by lalochezia at 6:46 PM on October 29


What a lovely tribute, lauranesson.

.
posted by mochapickle at 6:52 PM on October 29


.
posted by vrakatar at 7:08 PM on October 29


Damnit, he was just the nicest guy who got a brutal health diagnosis at way too young an age and dealt with it (as far as I could tell as someone who was mostly an internet acquaintance) with much more good humor than I would have been able to manage. We talked libraries from time to time, trying to figure out how to make privacy and security genuine options for libraries. I always admired the work he did both for Creative Commons and EFF. We've got a short string of DMs going back to 2009 and the last thing he sent me was a smiley face (not an emoji, the real deal :)). Crap lauranesson, he was a treasure and I am so sorry.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:15 PM on October 29 [14 favorites]


.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 7:22 PM on October 29


.
posted by jedicus at 7:33 PM on October 29


.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:37 PM on October 29


.
posted by theora55 at 7:40 PM on October 29


.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:58 PM on October 29


.
posted by slater at 9:26 PM on October 29


.
posted by equalpants at 9:39 PM on October 29


.
posted by desuetude at 9:40 PM on October 29


I have nearly infinite thoughts about this guy, who was in real life the exact Midwestern nice you're picturing, drlith. He was thoughtful and tall and loud and so weird, all the time. We met on day one of university, on the fourth floor of a big old dorm at the University of South Dakota.

I had already heard of his existence, because he was so tall and weird and red-haired and such a real character, and because South Dakota isn't a big place. I met his older brother the summer before because I recognized him, another tall red-headed person, from the time I saw him open in a band called The Skamunists, playing you-know-what. (Ska. A baritone, I think.) The brother was so cool and so gracious when I met him that I was already inclined to like the rest of anyone like him. (This brother and I were groomsmen in the same wedding a zillion years later, so it was a good call to assume the Harmon brothers were good people.)

Anyway, I'd heard of Elliot mainly because he had been elected Lieutenant Governor at Boys' State the year before, I think mostly because he was already himself, nearly fully formed, and was so strange that in a week of fake politics, he got propelled to the top. He was so loud and so interesting and so curious about any everything!

Day one of college, I met him. We lived on the same dorm floor. Probably week two of college we were already friends and he asked if I wanted to do a radio show with him. Or I asked him? I don't know. The radio station was looking for people to do two-hour slots. We had a show called "Audacity," with two-hour slots from midnight to two on some weeknight. We were terrible at it. I remember I played a lot of klezmer music sometimes because I really like a good clarinet. We started reading the stuff we were reading aloud on the air.

This developed into a nicer time-slot and became the official Vermillion Literary Project radio show years later. We read aloud whatever we wanted to, and the me or Elliot that wasn't reading responded to it. You could hear it if you have a time machine, but we did some good work from 12-2 on a Saturday night. I have a shit memory, but I do think he made it through quite a lot of The Wasteland, and I read a lot of delicate emotional essays from down-to-earth humans. Then, I expect, we played a lot of Radiohead and Flaming Lips.

I guess this has been part one of Nesson's memories of Elliot. Is this a cool place to leave these? I will tell you that when I found out he was in a hospice condition it was from a very organized email. I had just come back from playing music with people, a thing he was good at encouraging. Elliot had set up a listserv thing for health updates, and this was the first one from his wife, Kat (who is also just the best). I started writing once I learned from her email to this list that El's death was near, and I cried and wrote small notes of stuff to say about him.

This lil notepad file was meant to be just to make sure I got the most relevant good bits out, all the small things I remember about him and about what it felt like to make stuff with him. It was gonna be a twenty-minute thing just so I could go to sleep and write better in the morning. I wrote for hours and hours, all the inside jokes and all the ways he was generous to everyone he could find, and all the uselessness with which he greeted the world of cooking and the paperwork side of paying bills. I think he got better at both of those, but he was not bothered when I was the bill-payer for the house and forgot to do it enough that our power got shut off. Twice.

Anyway, that night I cried and cried and wrote and wrote, and crashed myself to sleep. Woke up to the news that he had died, and the timestamps indicate that he died when at least one friend was writing and writing the story she knew about him. It's not remotely done, his story, as long as I'm around. We learned so much together and checked out so many obscure books and made so much beautiful commonplace theatre.

If you don't mind, I'll probably keep posting Elliot thoughts. If anyone knows of a place that's doing something like the memorial to Amanda Davis, please holler. El was so generous and sometimes confused and so honest with everything that I'm quite sure nearly everyone else he met got ideas from him about how to be a good human. He and I talked a few times about the memorial to Davis. The things her friends said about how to be a good friend have earnestly steered my life, and I would like for Elliot to get the same treatment of all the writerly wagons circling. If I have to do it myself, I will, with the blessing of his wife and brother and parents.

Next session, maybe I will talk about the theatre stuff we made. It's a real fucking loss to the world to not have access to the chance to see it all through Elliot's eyes. Death, huh?
posted by lauranesson at 10:14 PM on October 29 [79 favorites]


Jessamyn, we definitely talked about the fact that he had talked to you and was starstruck with the whole endeavor. He thought you were the best.
posted by lauranesson at 10:17 PM on October 29 [9 favorites]


lauranesson please keep posting Elliot thoughts. I'd like to know more about him and what it was like to be his friend. And give my gigantic hugs to his wife and brother and parents.
posted by vrakatar at 10:25 PM on October 29 [5 favorites]


The radio show, when we got fancier (read: still not fancy) always started with this song, Fight Test. I still think it holds up. More to follow, and thanks for letting me mourn here, hopefully. He was such a good human! Later we'll talk about the dictionary game!
posted by lauranesson at 10:37 PM on October 29 [4 favorites]


Thanks for sharing lauranesson, I’m sorry for your loss, he seemed like a great guy.

.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:32 PM on October 29


.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:41 AM on October 30


. What a loss. He sounds like a modern version of a knight in shining armor.
posted by Cranberry at 12:52 AM on October 30


.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:25 AM on October 30


.
posted by Shepherd at 3:26 AM on October 30


.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:43 AM on October 30


What do you mean?
posted by chavenet at 5:25 AM on October 30 [4 favorites]


.
posted by ourobouros at 5:31 AM on October 30


.
posted by pearlybob at 6:50 AM on October 30


.
posted by sammyo at 8:04 AM on October 30


.
posted by Alterscape at 9:38 AM on October 30


.
posted by eclectist at 9:52 AM on October 30


.
posted by MrBadExample at 10:23 AM on October 30


.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:38 AM on October 30


.
posted by wellred at 10:53 AM on October 30


.
posted by 41swans at 1:10 PM on October 30


To everyone who knew him, I'm so sorry.

.
posted by praemunire at 2:09 PM on October 30


.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 2:22 PM on October 30


No! Didn't really know him but he seemed like one of the good ones. ❤️ to all

.
posted by grobstein at 4:07 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


.
posted by ambrosen at 5:08 PM on October 30


.
posted by readery at 5:34 PM on October 30


.
posted by bunderful at 6:08 PM on October 30


A name I remember seeing and always happy to see on this site.

.
posted by skynxnex at 6:17 PM on October 30


Well, damn. He was at the very first meetup that rtha and I went to, and part of my first core understanding of how awesome mefites are. I remember running into him on a bus years ago and having some kind of fascinating conversation until we had to get off. Very sorry for your loss.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:19 PM on October 30 [11 favorites]


And fuck cancer. For real.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:21 PM on October 30 [6 favorites]


lauranesson, I am immensely grateful for the memories you've shared, and I hope you'll continue sharing them here. Thank you.

I am so sorry for your loss, and so glad you have all those good memories.
posted by kristi at 7:51 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I've updated the wiki's "Deceased" page.

Oh! I met him aaages ago, when meetups were still on Metatalk, and before I had a mustache.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:10 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


Well, damn.
posted by mollweide at 8:21 PM on October 30


.
posted by Songdog at 8:43 PM on October 30


.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:45 PM on October 30


.
posted by brujita at 9:33 PM on October 30


.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:32 AM on October 31


.
posted by leslies at 7:56 AM on October 31


.
posted by scruss at 9:49 AM on October 31


.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:01 AM on October 31


lauranesson, my heart goes out to you and all those that knew and loved him.

.
posted by vers at 11:10 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Kattullus at 1:25 PM on October 31


.
posted by box at 2:19 PM on October 31


.

Too young. And Fuck Cancer.
posted by k3ninho at 3:28 PM on October 31


So sorry to hear this. Many thanks for sharing bits of your friendship with us, lauranesson.
posted by heyho at 3:29 PM on October 31 [1 favorite]


.
posted by twelve cent archie at 5:03 PM on October 31


With love and sorrow .
posted by minervous at 6:18 PM on October 31


.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 7:06 AM on November 1


.
posted by jquinby at 7:18 AM on November 1


.
posted by Artw at 8:26 AM on November 1


.

I did not know him, but now I’ve read his memorial at EFF and his poems and lauranesson’s memories of him. I’m blown away. What a great guy. What a sad loss. I love the communally written vaccine ghazal in the poems section of his blog. It made me cry. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’d love to read more.
posted by Concordia at 8:43 AM on November 1 [1 favorite]


.
posted by snsranch at 9:29 AM on November 1


.
posted by introp at 11:12 AM on November 1


.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:12 PM on November 1


.
posted by RhysPenbras at 4:17 PM on November 1


.
posted by TedW at 4:23 PM on November 1


.
posted by carmicha at 7:43 PM on November 1


.
posted by erattacorrige at 7:58 PM on November 1


.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:12 AM on November 2


If it's okay with you folks, any time you used my name regarding how you were sad for those who loved him, I hereby proclaim that it shall directly apply to his friends and family who are reading. Multipliers apply to anyone covered by the kindness shown to "lauranesson" specifically, because yeah, he deeply steered my life and its direction, but he had So. Many. People who knew him in a zillion different ways. This all only said because I don't deserve Main Mourner credit when I'm definitely just his main IRL Metafilter friend who wasn't deeply ensconced in all the plannings and paperworks that stuff requires. So in this use case, "lauranesson" is everyone who knew him or would have liked to have. This has been emotional legalese.

I finished a big crazy project this week in my bizarre career that I wouldn't know existed if not for Elliot tricking me back into theatre. It was so much collaboration and mental rehearsal (just because we only had a short time to work in a fancy place) and all the things that really fired him up. I'm brain-tired and muscle-tired and I did a good job, and this is traditionally the mode in our college house when we would all pour a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles and augment with our various milks and sit around making jokes and exhaling.

News to follow re: a place to put words you might write about Elliot Harmon. If you're so inclined, please get those words down and I'll let you know when we sort out an internet home for them.
posted by lauranesson at 10:39 AM on November 2 [7 favorites]


.
posted by LaBellaStella at 12:50 PM on November 2


.
posted by niicholas at 1:52 PM on November 2


.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 2:07 PM on November 2


lauranesson, Elliot was clearly a good friend and a good person and you are clearly a good friend and a good person. I'm so sad to discover the existence of this totally amazing person after he is gone; I can't imagine how painful it must be for you and his other friends and his family. I am so sorry for your collective loss and also grateful for your generosity in sharing your memories of Elliot. Thank you.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:32 PM on November 2 [5 favorites]


.
posted by TwoWordReview at 4:08 PM on November 2


.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:53 PM on November 2


.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:25 PM on November 2


Fuck cancer. May all who love him have comfort and his good works live on.

.
posted by batmonkey at 10:57 PM on November 2


.
posted by nickmark at 1:25 PM on November 3


.
posted by NailsTheCat at 2:12 PM on November 3


That stupid ghazal! Leave it to Elliot to gather people for a distanced poetry reading and then make us learn about a form many of us had never heard of before and then make us write one on a time limit and then use such a specific word that doesn't homophone or change meaning much at all. Mine was the "Slovak zines" one.

He was brilliant at games of all sorts, especially the Euro-style ones with rules that change every round. I think in this sense, I mean brilliance in that he was patient with people like me who were full of eye-rolls about the Cones-of-Dunshireness of these games. He was also just good at them, I think? I never had the patience to play any of them more than a couple of times. He also loved simpler games, especially if they were loud, and the dorm common room was a horrible cacophony anytime he got out the Pit cards.

But the games we made up at our house were just persistence-based versions of normal parlor games. We would play pictionary on a huge whiteboard, with players inventing the words to be drawn and then zero time limits. The crowd playing was a pile of students who were all curious and interesting and generous. One time, someone managed to draw "occidentalism," somehow. (One of our favorite professors was a huge fan of Edward Said.) There was just so much screwing up and taking false paths and exasperation and wide open laughter.

He was brilliant at putting together the most casual social events. He could read a room and meet people where they were and then just sort of heighten everything somehow, make everything a little gentler and a little more real and a lot more fun. He cared about everybody.
posted by lauranesson at 11:42 AM on November 4 [8 favorites]


I worked with him for a little over a year between 2008 and 2010. He was a vibrant, life-affirming person who fought for lost causes and underdogs. We lost touch unfortunately but I will miss him dearly.
posted by cpetersc at 7:26 PM on November 4 [5 favorites]


.
posted by suetanvil at 9:52 AM on November 10


.
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:55 AM on November 11


.
posted by dg at 4:48 PM on November 21


« Older MST Club Halloween Show 2021   |   MetaFilter Gift Swap 2021 Signups Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments