THE ELBERT FILES: Missing Jim Pollock
Friday, December 28, 2012 7:00 AM
As 2012 comes to an end, all of us at the Business Record along with our readers are missing our friend and colleague Jim Pollock, who died April 19 at the too-young age of 59.
Jim filled this space for eight years in a truly delightful fashion. He was at his Thurberesque best when writing about his “hobby farm” northeast of Des Moines, where he lived with his wife, Nola, and their three children.
In one of his early columns, Jim explained that he was lavishing a great amount of time and money on “dinky saplings” he had recently planted, because “I want those trees to be nice and healthy when the deer gnaw them down to the ground.”
Later, while musing about colleges, he decided that it was his responsibility “to ladle out advice about life after college.”
“Here it is: If you should ever start a family and buy a house, pick a location near an elementary school and a home improvement center.”
“I think that about covers it,” he concluded.
Jim’s uncanny ability to demystify complex issues was apparent when he wrote off the re-election of Gov. Chet Culver a full month before the election. He said Iowa’s beefy one-term governor was “down to one option: get the Iowa Constitution changed so the governor’s race is decided by arm wrestling.”
Culver’s problem, Jim said, was that he had “acquired the air of a guy who was named CEO even though he originally applied to be a clerk.”
Recalling the tornadoes and floods that buffeted Iowa in 2008, Jim decided that a good rule of thumb for politicians is “too much low barometric pressure and you’re looking for work.”
Jim’s musings often read like scripts from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report.”
Writing about the home mortgage mess, he said: “With the benefit of hindsight, lenders say they probably should have looked up ‘mortgage’ in a thicker dictionary and asked new employees if they knew how to use a calculator.”
Commenting on the robo-signing scandal, he wryly noted: “A flood of foreclosures in Florida apparently can be traced to ‘Take Your Child to Work Day.’”
Jim defended traffic cameras last year. He admitted that the devices are “an easy way for cities to take in money without actually, you know, doing anything.”
“Tell you what,” he proposed, “let’s keep giving the cameras a try, and if people continue to crash at the monitored spots, why then we’ll double the fines and give it another try. Eventually, if people keep crashing just to display their love of freedom and disdain for big government, we’ll drop the whole program.”
Jim’s idle musings could seem, at times, profound.
In a column about the future of the 25-year-old Polk County Convention Complex, he wrote: “One would think that a building should last longer than the circular saws used to assemble it.”
Writing about the hosts of a local sports talk radio show, Jim said: “Every week they took five minutes worth of material and stretched it like an expense account.”
“It’s snowing again,” he wrote in February 2010. “No one mentions it because we have covered the family room windows with posters of Aruba and imposed a rule forbidding anyone to say: ‘It’s snowing again.’ I walk outside thinking about how much fun it would be to take up cross-country skiing. Then I slip on the ice and ricochet off a skinny deer that’s gnawing the last vestiges of shrubbery. I start thinking about how much fun it would be to watch television.”
We miss you, Jim.
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