Mel Pollner Eulogies
Mel Pollner

November 15, 2007
Eric Rivera

Although I did not work with Mel on my PhD I was fortunate to have taken a couple of courses with him during my career at UCLA. In fact it was Mel who turned me on to ethnomethodological, phenomenological observational sociology after taking his EPOS 222 course way back when. I remember on the first day of class he stated that Los Angeles was one big sociological laboratory and that there was so much to get from it. I also remember that sometime during that quarter, he told all of us that some of the best lectures he ever gave were about topics he knew nothing about. And that some of the worst lectures he ever gave were about topics he knew too much about. I always remember that comment when I am about to lecture on a topic I know too little or too much about!!

I was also fortunate enough to take his course on ethnomethodology later in my career at UCLA. It was a wonderful class, although very intimidating as most everybody who was studying in the EPOS field at that time was in the class moreover the materials were extremely challenging and just plain difficult for me to digest. I remember being in charge of discussing the readings one class session and I got a bit stuck on a particular topic but Mel helped me and I was able to save face and finish my discussion. Mel always had a way of clarifying these materials to us after most of us bungled are way through them and he did it without us, at least me, feeling dumb.

I really enjoyed the way Mel lectured and I remember that he often tilted his head down and to the right where sometimes a little bit of spit would gather in the corner of his mouth especially he got excited and into the readings.

Overall Mel was just a nice cat who I seemed to run into often, whether in the hallways of Haines hall, the swimming pool on campus, or even in Westwood at the old Westwood Ho supermarket, and he always always always greeted me with a big smile, a hearty hello and a few nice words. I am very saddened to hear of Melís passing. I will be forever grateful for what he taught me but also for just having met a really nice man.