Gowanus Lounge: Serving Brooklyn

In Memoriam, Robert Guskind

March 11th, 2009 · 58 Comments

In Memoriam, Robert Guskind

Bob

Photo credit: Hugh Crawford

Gowanus Lounge and its large community of readers, admirers and friends mourn the loss of founder and editor Robert “Bob” Guskind. Dubbed by some “Brooklyn’s Blogfather,” Bob was a talented journalist, author, photographer and editor whose deep interest in urban issues took root, right out of college, at National Journal. Bob’s abundant journalistic gifts flourished throughout the 1980s and 90s at National Journal, the Washington Post and other periodicals, and were reincarnated, in this decade, through the “revolutionary” (his word) form of blogging — where his own “personal newspaper,” which he started almost exactly three years ago, quickly stood out for the quality and seeming ubiquitousness of its coverage.

(Memorial gathering is April 4.)

Bob was found dead in his apartment in Park Slope by his wife, Olivia Kissin, on Wednesday, March 4. (An autopsy report is awaited; he had previously survived several severe health problems, and well over a decade ago had struggled with addiction.) He was 50. Bob had experienced a rough several months, and was struggling on several fronts in both his personal and professional life. In addition to working through some painful emotional challenges, he had recently been laid off, for economic reasons, from his full-time job as Brooklyn editor at Curbed, as well as from a side job he had considered secure.

Although both his demeanor and posts had grown somewhat darker and more erratic in the past few months, just before his death Bob had taken several positive steps toward navigating through these difficult straits and positioning himself for a long-term recovery. He had just signed a lease on a new apartment in Sunset Park so as to downsize his expenses, was considering offers for freelance work (including from Curbed), was seeking a business partner to help generate some income from his sizable readership at Gowanus Lounge, and had also completed his application for unemployment insurance — income that would have carried him through several months in which, among other things, he hoped to resume work on a memoir.

Bob left no farewell note, and, on March 2, the last day he maintained contact with friends, he kept an evening therapy appointment. Coincidentally, his Gowanus Lounge site went offline at the same time, as a result of technical problems, as it often had in the past — he did not intend for it to go dark.

Praise from the blogosphere

An outpouring of praise and memorials erupted in the Brooklyn blogosphere soon after word of Bob’s death emerged, first via a video tribute posted by Miss Heather in which Bob, upon inspecting an abandoned house on the Northside of Williamsburg on the afternoon of Sunday, March 1, encountered the former occupants, and eagerly took down their story.

“In person, he was pure Brooklyn, gruff, funny and kind,” wrote blogger Brenda Becker in this tribute. “Bob was a generous mentor to others in the fractious Brooklyn blogosphere, and used his own forum to advocate passionately and tirelessly for Brooklyn: his eponymous Gowanus, of course, but also all of brownstone Brooklyn and most especially, his beloved Coney Island. His blog was a quirky mix of personal passions as well; on any given day, it might feature a rare punk-rock video, a photographer’s strange glimpse of urban street life, or the hilariously existential ‘Street Couch of the Day.’” (Street Couch links here and here.)

“He was a genuinely engaging soul, a keen observer and an expert listener,” reflected Dave Kenny. “He had strong opinions on many subjects, but I always got the sense that he was willing to view things from many angles and even had empathy with people he disagreed with. Empathy. I think that’s the trait I will most remember him for.”

“Bob offered inspiration to and support for many bloggers, photographers and creative types. He brought so many people together, and supported so many good projects, important issues, and talented individuals,” commented photographer Nathan Kensinger, who specializes in exploring abandoned industrial sites. “To me, he was a friend, a collaborator, and the single greatest supporter of my photography in New York. He helped me start my own photo website, wrote a generous story on Curbed or The Gowanus Lounge about almost every photo essay I shot over the last 3 years, reviewed my film screenings, and happily sponsored the Red Hook Film Festival this past summer.”

“Coney Island is in desperate straits. No one cares as much or could give it as much in depth coverage as Bob did,” commented Tricia Vita of the Coney Island History Project. “I’m sad and afraid that many of the large and small stories that Bob would have covered will go unreported this season.”

“We were his faithful readers, his web compatriots, his audience, his collaborators, and his neighbors, in our real and virtual lives,” wrote David Weiner in the Huffington Post. “We were touched by him, learned from him, and grew with him. Yet most of us would never have recognized him if he were sitting across from us on the train or behind us at the movies…. The site, like so many local blogs, somehow used the very medium that is in many ways driving us apart, to bring us closer.”

Blogger Flatbush Gardener (Chris Kreussling) has compiled a comprehensive list of responses in the blogosphere.

Personal and professional background

Bob Guskind was born on October 19, 1958, and grew up in Clifton, New Jersey. Along with his sister Sharon, he was raised by his single mother and beloved grandparents after their father, a truck driver, left the family when Bob was 5. In 1976 Bob was accepted at Georgetown University’s College of Arts and Sciences, and graduated in 1980, close to the top of his class (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa).

He immediately was hired by Neal Peirce, one of the founders and then a senior editor of National Journal, in Washington, D.C., and continued writing for the magazine and working with Peirce on his syndicated columns for the Washington Post Writers Group over several years. Bob’s articles for Journal covered such topics as politics and regionalism, the policies of America’s mayors, public housing, prisons, and the role of casinos and stadiums in economic development. He covered several Democratic and Republican conventions and even undertook several foreign assignments. With co-writer Jerry Hagstrom, Bob initiated a multi-year series, unique in the nation, tracking the consultants hired by candidates for major offices and the television advertising they placed.

The initial story on political consultants in the run-up to the 1984 election was cited in the New York Times as the first study that demonstrated conclusively that every serious Senate and gubernatorial candidate in the nation had hired a pollster and media consultant. At a time before C-SPAN and DVDs, when officials in Washington had no way of seeing political TV commercials being shown in races around the country unless they traveled or were invited to the filmmakers’ studios, Hagstrom and Guskind began analyzing the content of commercials for National Journal readers and in each election cycle analyzing the performance of the pollsters and filmmakers. Hagstrom continues analyzing the performance of the consultants in each election cycle to this day.

During these years, Bob also worked with Peirce on many articles on the nation’s neighborhood movement and developed the appreciation for neighborhoods that influenced much of his later work. With Peirce, and on commission from the Bruner Foundation, Bob coauthored Breakthroughs: Re-creating the American City (Rutgers, 1993). The book tracked a range of urban success stories ranging from resuscitation campaigns in ravaged New York City and Lincoln, Neb., neighborhoods to the major transit reconstruction of Boston’s Southwest Corridor. He also wrote occasional articles for the Washington Post.

Descent and reemergence

After struggling and finally succumbing for several peripatetic years in the 1990s to addiction, during which he nonetheless continued writing prolifically (he had produced several pieces of a memoir “based on his travels and experiences as a reporter and formerly disreputable dope fiend,” according to his bio on the website Underground Voices, which has collected 29 of his harrowing, acidly funny, creative non-fiction stories), Bob reemerged at the new millennium, and worked as the writer, photographer and editor for the weekly newsletter of the New Community Corporation in Newark, NJ, the largest and most comprehensive community development organization in the United States. This job, with its boots-on-the-ground coverage, and all-purpose, DIY skill requirements, was the before-last piece in the puzzle that would eventually coalesce into Gowanus Lounge.

The last piece in that puzzle came through a chance post-9/11 chat room meeting with a young WNYC staffer named Olivia Kissin. Olivia had just bought a small Park Slope apartment, and as their relationship grew, Bob eventually moved in, and began discovering Brooklyn through and with her. His longtime friends saw this new love as fundamental to both his recovery and to his personal and professional rebirth. Olivia often accompanied Bob on his long walks and drives through the Brooklyn streets, parks and boardwalk that would become the muse and lifeblood of Gowanus Lounge. In August 2007 the two were married at the Queens Museum.

“The world saw a journalist, but he and I — we played like children together,” Kissin reminisced. “Funny voices, silly stories. His creativity poured out of him when we played. It was the play, the fun between us, that he loved, that I loved, that held us together. He was very comfortable sharing his serious side with the world, but with me he was a cuddly man, who gave the best hugs in the world, who made me laugh.”

The quintessential community blogger

Gowanus Lounge was named not after a neighborhood Bob liked to prowl, but — in a sign of Bob’s strong sense of Brooklyn’s past — after a now-departed bar on Union Street and Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. With Gowanus Lounge, which he founded in April 2006, Bob aimed “to cover, through words and pictures, whatever moves me, with a particular focus on New York City as it is today and is becoming. The focus will be Brooklyn — and particularly Gowanus, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Williamsburg and Dumbo…”.

What moved him was clear: “I am not a fan of what is happening in our communities, and particularly of the looming Manhattanization of Brooklyn and of the ongoing Theme Parkization of Manhattan.”

Bob regularly broke neighborhood stories that wound up in daily newspapers like the New York Post, leading him to sometimes grouse publicly (and not without reason) that he did not receive attribution. He was a stalwart, however, on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show and Brooklyn community television, and was regularly cited by the New York Times’s City Room blog and New York Magazine’s Daily Intel.

He spoke prominently at the annual Brooklyn Blogfest, offering sage counsel to other bloggers and encouraging newcomers, and was a spokesperson for the Brooklyn blogging wave, suggesting in the New York Times that a critical mass of issues had led to an increase in the number of neighborhood blogs.

Most of all, as Brenda Becker described it, Bob used his platform fiercely as “a Fool-Killer and Weasel-Slayer, the two occupations I have come to respect most in this age of untrammeled greed and comatose consciences.”

“Bob was one of those people who could be wry and warm at the same time,” wrote Dave Kenny of Dope on the Slope. “His engaging approach to neighborhood oriented blogging was enormously influential to a number of Brooklyn-based bloggers. A discussion I had with him after one of the blogfests about creating an actual social network of bloggers that met face to face led to the creation of the Brooklyn Blogade.”

He worked extremely hard, posting perhaps a dozen blog items a day for Curbed, his paid job, and easily another dozen — often many more — on Gowanus Lounge, his labor of love. He even kept posting on GL during his honeymoon in Hawaii.

During one appearance on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, Bob responded to veteran journalist and author Pete Hamill’s disparaging comments about blogging. Bob comes on at about 32:00 in the WNYC audio. (Link to the entire program available here)

“Bloggers post stories precisely because blogs lack newsroom hierarchies and editorial priorities that may have nothing to do with the news. We constantly hear from both reporters and from community activists about good, solid stories in Brooklyn that are killed by editors or that are discouraged in the first place….

“The fact is that there are countless stories in Brooklyn, from environmental issues in Williamsburg and the demolition of historic structures to neighborhood development fights and illegal construction, that wouldn’t get any coverage without blogs.”

Skewering the real estate boom

Bob took particular delight in chronicling the efforts of overambitious real estate developers and architects as they transformed neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint. “Greenpoint to Get Another Hot Karl,” he wrote once in describing the work of architect Karl Fischer. Bob played a key part in VBS.TV’s “Toxic – Brooklyn”. At 2:28 of Part 2 in the series he discusses development in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Bob first appears on camera, describing the numerous environmental issues in north Brooklyn: “I’d wonder about any property in this neighborhood.” Later in the segment he describes how he dubbed the site of Karl Fischer’s Warehouse 11 condominium complex “The Roebling Oil Field.”

On a recent trip to Coney Island, Bob encountered a butcher named Jimmy Prince, and interviewed him on camera, in a very moving segment, about Prince’s imminent retirement after 50 years in the neighborhood, and his lament about the impact of development on “the people’s paradise.” Bob’s coverage eventually made it into the major media.

He wrote with particular passion about the fate of Coney Island, posting in January:

“We stood on Stillwell Avenue, freezing, with Mr. Sitt’s big empty lot on our left and the vacant Beer Island on our right and wiped tears from our eyes, not because of the cold but because of fond memories and a sense of hopelessness and despair that those in charge of this process aren’t up to the challenge of keeping it on life support while the economy works itself out.

“What a sad, sad thing for a place that has suffered so much. We urge the city to negotiate hard with Mr. Sitt. We hope all parties sit down and come up with a realistic five-year plan to keep Coney going. We hope that Mr. Sitt shows that he has a shred of human decency in his body and that ‘Joey Coney Island’ helps save it instead of being the guy that pulls the trigger and inflicts the final fatal wound.”

At Curbed, Bob channeled his energy and curiosity into a somewhat different framework. Curbed founder Lockhart Steele reflected, “Looking through the email archives, the subject headers of his emails capture his fascinations perfectly: ‘Greenpoint getting Fingered too?’; ‘Ugliest building in Brooklyn?’; ‘Scarano’s latest!’ In response to a reader email titled ‘Williamsburg Toilet,’ he dashed off the note, ‘Pulling this together as we speak.’ And of course, he was.”

Though Atlantic Yards was not his focus, Bob wrote forcefully about Brooklyn’s most controversial development. In a GL Analysis published last December, on the day of the project’s five-year anniversary, he observed, “A quarter century from now, when the planners analyze what went wrong in Brooklyn in the early 2000s, they will have a lot to say (and none of it good) about the chain of events that started on December 10, 2003, when developer Bruce Ratner, flanked by a beaming Marty Markowitz and other public officials announced a magnificent plan called Atlantic Yards.”

At the end of the month, he presciently predicted that “Developer Bruce Ratner will have difficulty obtaining financing for a nearly $1 billion Gehry arena and the arena will either be scrapped or a new version from an off-the-rack firm for $500 million will be built.”

Less than ten days later, word emerged that the developer was trying to drastically scale back the arena’s cost.

A volcanic mind, a volcanic heart

As will be universally attested by those who knew, wrote to or read him, Bob was generous, huge-hearted, compassionate, loving, kind, loyal to his friends, and perhaps most of all, unsparingly honest. As many others have already testified, he was also a first-class reporter — and one of the few who could not only successfully make the transition from print to blog, but also manage, in so doing, to honor and elevate the fundamentally civic act of journalism.

Most of all, Bob was a brilliant and versatile writer, gifted with a volcanic mind that matched (but could never tame) a volcanic heart. It is possible that this mountain range was a bit too vertiginous for safe travel. At the end of his very first post on Gowanus Lounge, he wrote, “If I were to spend time with a writing psychiatrist, he or she would likely tell me that I have several personalities and that they are not well integrated,” adding, “I don’t take myself as seriously as all this might make it sound.”

When circumstances in his personal life, last September, made it all but impossible for him to function to his high standards, Bob closed down Gowanus Lounge for a few weeks to work through the challenges that were tormenting him. The degree of reaction from his readership did cheer him, and with support from his friends, he was eventually able to relaunch the site, bringing in several new contributors to share the load.

“We quickly became friends and shared our life stories, our troubles and our mutual love of music and Brooklyn,” reflected E. C. Stephens, who enthusiastically signed on. “Soon he spoke of needing a coeditor and we began running the site in the past few months together. His friendship will be missed, but I think the biggest loss goes to the Brooklyn community he loved.”

Unbeknownst to all but a few, Bob had survived cancer, a heart attack, and several other harrowing experiences earlier in life, and had battled tooth and nail with the personal demons that throughout his life threatened to pull him down. Only his most intimate friends could appreciate the extent of his courage, and his love, in continuing to grow, to work, to exist, despite it all. He was cherished more deeply than he could perhaps feel.

Besides his wife Olivia, Bob is survived by his mother Sally Guskind, of Clifton, New Jersey, his sister Sharon Vitale, brother-in-law Chris Vitale, niece Shawna and nephews Eric and Travis Vitale, all of Butler, New Jersey, as well as his mother-in-law, Suzanne Kissin, and his aunt Hanna by marriage, both of Queens, all of whom loved him deeply and miss him beyond measure.

It is our hope — and, we believe, would have been his as well — that this site should stay open, as a testament to a man who had a far more profound effect upon others than he ever realized, and to the issues (and the city, borough and communities) that he loved so much, and so well.

We invite you to post your tributes, thoughts and comments below; we would like to keep a record of them. Meanwhile, please stay tuned for announcements regarding the memorial being planned for Bob.

Bob pic #2 (bottom)

Photo credit: Miss Heather

(Written by Marc Farre, with the assistance of Norman Oder, Heather Letzkus and Neal Peirce, and the approval of Bob’s family.)

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58 responses so far ↓

  • 1 newyorkshitty.com » Blog Archive » Gowanus Lounge Obituary // Mar 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    [...] enough about us. Without further ado here is the obit for Bob Guskind as posted on the Gowanus Lounge. It is my sincerest wish that you (and if you’re listening Bob enjoy reading this heartfelt [...]

  • 2 Gari N. Corp // Mar 11, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Rest in peace, Bob, and my condolences to Bob’s family.

    Living in the shadow of the Carroll & 4th monstrosities will be much less amusing without your commentaries.

  • 3 Best View in Brooklyn // Mar 11, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    A heartfelt response to a man whose work and absence is felt deeply. Thank you for being so complete in the information about RG’s life and work. I, too, hope the site will stay up as a constant memorial to his prolific work and passion for Brooklyn.

  • 4 Katia Kelly // Mar 11, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    A lovely, lovely tribute.
    Thank you for finding the words to honor Bob.
    I think he would like this very much.

  • 5 Dan Myers // Mar 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Really, really well done, guys. A perfectly fitting tribute to a man who accomplished so much and meant so much to so many. Not only should this site stay open, Fourth Avenue should be renamed Guskind Boulevard in his honor.

  • 6 Dave Kenny // Mar 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    A substantial and heartfelt remembrance.

    Thanks.

  • 7 david // Mar 11, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    This is such a tremendous loss for so many people. I knew nothing of RG’s personal life, but bonded immediately with his GL, a voice speaking (humorous and trenchant) truth to power, a voice in the wilderness willing to stand up for human values. I can only hope that his example will inspire others to do the same, in the same spirit of constructive criticism (as opposed to unalloyed vitriol, which is much more common) engagement. My condolences to all who knew and loved him. There’s a hole in my heart, and in Brooklyn, which won’t soon be filled.

    Please keep us updated on any memorial services, as I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like to pay my proper respects.

  • 8 PZ // Mar 11, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    As a reader who (like many) never knew Bob, this feels a bit like closure.

    As a casual reader, Bob was sort of a mystery, creating something I loved to read with a voice that eventually felt somewhat familiar. But the voice was behind a curtain.

    Now that he’s gone, the curtain is lifted a bit. I have a real sense of the life behind the site.

    Best wishes to his family.

  • 9 Chris Curen // Mar 11, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Thank you.

  • 10 Steve McFarland // Mar 11, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    My sincere condolences to Bob’s family. He was a great guy and wonderful journalist. A rising tide lifts all ships, and the professionalism that Bob brought to gowanuslounge raised the quality of all Brooklyn blogs. I feel lucky to have known him.

  • 11 Kristen Stocks // Mar 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    So tragic for Brooklyn to lose one of its best heroes. As someone who got to know Brooklyn though Gowanus Lounge, I’m forever grateful that it has existed and been a beacon of information about and for the community.

  • 12 Louise Crawford // Mar 11, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    beautiful tribute. Thanks.

  • 13 Thomas // Mar 11, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I wouldn’t use the phrase “he was a stalwart, however” twice. Sounds awkward, like you are copying and pasting.

  • 14 Mitch Golden // Mar 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I miss GL already. I don’t know where I am going to find out what is really going on in Brooklyn.

    Thank you for giving us a window on the blogger I took for granted.

  • 15 Aaron at ccgh // Mar 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    As per my post on the ccgh newsgroup. i wanted to share it again here. Thank you for this great tribute:

    As Mic and I sent along last week’s second batch of sad news (the first being the passing of our friend and fellow advocate John Rice), there was also the death of blogger Robert Guskind of gowanuslounge.com

    At first there was scare information, lots of speculation and then finally reporting on his death by the Brooklyn Paper, The NY Post and the City Room blog on nytimes.com Brownstoner, otbkb, newyorkshitty, flatbushgardner and others had timely and touching tributes to Bob.

    There were many-many tributes to Bob by his friends and family in the Brooklyn blogosphere as well as his loyal readers…and even critics.

    While I only spoke to Bob a few times, we corresponded many times and he was extremely sportive of the work the CCGH, CB7 and activism on behalf of Mic and myself on his posts on GL. He also was a very generous patron to my photography of Green-Wood Cemetery and Brooklyn in general via flickr and the GL pool on the site.

    I will miss his posts that ranged from the daily to the obscure facts of Brooklyn. I hope folks will take time to read the great tribute now up on GL and also review others on so many of the local blogs many of us love to read.

    Be well Bob, where ever you are.

    Aaron

  • 16 ICCWS // Mar 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Well done. This was/is a great blog and I hope it continues. RIP.

  • 17 Xris (Flatbush Gardener) // Mar 11, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Epic. Bob and I shared more than I even knew. I wish we’d had the time to get to know each other better.

    I’ve missed him every day this week. I’m still trying to find the words. This gives me more to think about.

  • 18 Xris (Flatbush Gardener) // Mar 11, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    PS: Tiny URL for this post:

    http://tinyurl.com/guskind

  • 19 brooklyn11211 // Mar 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Very nice piece – thank you for posting that. Bob was an acquaintance, not a close friend, but we corresponded irregularly about the state of Brooklyn, particularly my part up north here. I would pass on stories or pix to Bob when I didn’t have the time or temperament to post them, and it was his Roebling Oil field posts that inspired me to relaunch brooklyn11211 back in March 2007.

    His skill, passion and energy were incredible. Invariably, I would pass by a building and see something post worthy, only to find that Bob had already been there five minutes before me (we didn’t always agree on things, though the last time this happened, looking at 268 Wythe in early February, we came to the same positive conclusion). I am still stunned to think that that passion and energy are gone and he with them.

    Ward

  • 20 F Jasmin Adams // Mar 11, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    I think Bob would cringe at the naming idea. :) Perhaps Hot Karl could name a glass box after him.
    Thanks to all who compiled this intricate backstory for Bob’s devoted readers. I will miss it all. Thanks, Bob. My thoughts are with your family and close friends at this time.

  • 21 twc // Mar 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    It probably goes without saying that Bob touched more people than he will ever know. I have been frequenting this site for about a year now and it played a significant role in my family’s decision to move to Carroll Gardens, close to the Gowanus, as the information and news shared here allowed us to know what we may be getting into and also what I could do as a resident to keep government and development in check. This site enables readers to be more aware and well versed in local happenings than any major media outlet could.
    Oddly, I found this site because it posted a video of my pig that I had put on YouTube. Since then, I am better Brooklynite because of what I have read here and I have Bob to thank for that.

  • 22 Triada Samaras // Mar 11, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    This is a a beautiful tribute to Bob. So well done!
    Thank you all very much.
    I agree that something should be named after Bob and I, too, thought of a street, although I am sure there are other ideas out there…
    Guskind Boulevard instead of Fourth Ave? LOL
    Yes, quite fitting.

  • 23 lumi // Mar 11, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Guskind would have been content to have his obit run in the blogosphere.

    Thanks Bob for destructoporn, street couches, adoptable cuties, brooklinks, fun vids and for watching Brooklyn’s back.

  • 24 Adam L. // Mar 11, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I’ve been reading GL for several years. I left Gowanus, and moved back home to Texas almost two years ago but still regularly check this blog, mainly due to Bob’s dedication to constantly updating the site with interesting, important material.

    I’ll really miss it, but am sure that Bob’s influence will live on through all the readers, activists, writers, and neighbors near and far who’ve been hanging around the lounge all these years.

    Thanks for this great tribute to Bob, and may he rest in peace.

  • 25 mag // Mar 11, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    thank you for the beautiful tribute. bob’s love and passion for brooklyn covered all of us like a warm blanket, making all of us feeling loved and secure. he will be missed.

  • 26 F Jasmin Adams // Mar 12, 2009 at 9:04 am

    So, then how can we get him a street? And where?

  • 27 brooklyngirl // Mar 12, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Wow what a great and loving tribute!! My deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.

    Although I never knew him I read much of what he wrote, he was indeed a talented journalist. I’m glad that his memory and his passion will continue on here at Gowanus Lounge.

  • 28 Vaduzuvunt // Mar 12, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Fine piece of writing. If Bob were to read this, he would be blushing on the outside, but be filled with great pride and appreciation on the inside.
    I hope in life he knew how much he was loved, respected and appreciated as we see here.

  • 29 Karen // Mar 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

    What a beautiful tribute — thank you. Every morning (and many afternoons), I feel the absence of Gowanus Lounge; it means so much to finally learn something about the person who made it what it was.

  • 30 Marlene // Mar 12, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Bob’s voice, in support of all that is good in our Brooklyn communities, will be misses especially in Gowanus. His December prediction that the Toll Brothers project would be approved but never built, became partially true this week. Let’s hope that the spirit Bob build here in his blog community will continue on in support of maintaining and rebuilding healthy human communities.

  • 31 A Gowanus Lounge Goodbye for Robert Guskind - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com // Mar 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    [...] one final post on the blog he created, friends offer a tender and thorough eulogy to Robert Guskind. [Gowanus [...]

  • 32 insky // Mar 12, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    wow. what a shame. what a great piece you managed to get up here though. i met bob exactly once, when he “interviewed” me on the way out of the still-smoking greenpoint warehouse. we have kept in touch sporadically after that, & was looking forward to shooting with him this summer.

  • 33 alex borsody // Mar 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    this guy was a true hero, there are so many translplant hipsters now in brooklyn, there is nothing unique to the area more and i mourn that as well as i mourn the passing of an orignal, brooklynite.

  • 34 Ray // Mar 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you for the great tribute. Robert Guskind cared a so much about the blogging community and encouraged us here in Sheepshead Bay.

    Will you be able to keep the site going?

  • 35 deborah matlack // Mar 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I’m wondering if/where/when a memorial service will take place. My deepest condolences to his family and his Brooklyn fans, he was a great inspiration to me.

  • 36 GL // Mar 12, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    A memorial service will be held in Brooklyn, but no date has been set. Please check back at the site for an announcement.

  • 37 Aileen Gallagher // Mar 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    The rise of Brooklyn blogs coincided with the launch of Daily Intel in 2006, and Gowanus Lounge was a vital resource for our “Neighborhood Watch” feature from the beginning. As a journalist, I was thrilled with the thorough reporting Bob was doing. As a recent transplant to Brooklyn (from Queens), Bob taught me so much about my new, beloved home. The city has lost part of its voice.

  • 38 Diana // Mar 12, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Lovely tribute to Bob. I only met him once but he seemed like a kind, caring person just as I figured he would be from the way he wrote about Brooklyn. A great loss to the community, indeed. To those responsible, thank you for keeping his spirit alive here.

  • 39 Matthew // Mar 12, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    What a lovely and fitting tribute. I never had the pleasure of meeting Bob, but I had been following his blog for the last year and occasionally corresponded with him as I contributed photos to his Gowanus Lounge Flickr stream. Even as recently as two weeks ago, he grabbed one to rip on a Robert Scarano building in Williamsburg that had been spray-painted HIPSTERS SUCK. I doubt he’ll ever know how encouraging it was for me as an amateur photographer to have their work seen and shared by hundreds of fellow Brooklynites. Indeed I felt we were on the same page without ever getting a chance to talk in person to confirm it, and he will certainly be missed by me. Rest in piece.

  • 40 Jack // Mar 12, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    This is a detailed and heartfelt tribute to a man who influenced many and who cared deeply about his community

    But has an official cause of death been given anywhere?

    If it wasn’t drug abuse, then someone please clear that up once and for all.

    If it was, I honestly don’t think he was shy about sharing his battles. And his life—and sadly, his death—can be a strong message to those who battle those personal demons to get help before things spiral out of control.

  • 41 GL // Mar 12, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    As stated, “An autopsy report is awaited.”

    This will be updated when that report emerges.

  • 42 Gia Rose Guskind // Mar 13, 2009 at 12:43 am

    My dearest brother, I hope you are looking down and at peace with all wonderful things you did for others, You are now one of Gods Angels.May you find eternal happiness. I will sadly miss you, Ms. Gia Rose Guskind

  • 43 IMBY // Mar 13, 2009 at 11:02 am

    Thank you, Robert.

  • 44 gowanus neighbor // Mar 13, 2009 at 11:50 am

    How nicely done, thank you. I am just a stranger who visited GL nearly daily; it will be hard to live without it. My most heart-felt condolences to his family.

  • 45 Charley Andrisano // Mar 13, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I am so very saddened by the death of Bob Guskind. He was so very kind, and accommodating when I submitted my photographic work for his web site. My condolences to his family. I for one, will miss his generosity, and compassion.

  • 46 Neath // Mar 13, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Gee, this was one of the first blogs I linked to. Although I watched from another city, there was always great stuff in the blog. It made you wish you lived in Brooklyn, despite all the difficulties going on, like this was a great place, one worth fighting for! I am sure the spirit will live on.

  • 47 Gia Guskind // Mar 14, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Rest in peace my brother. May you find eternal happiness. You are one of “Gods Angels” now. I will miss you.

  • 48 Lee // Mar 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    GL, let us know if you need any volunteer support to keep this blog going strong! Bob is very much missed.

  • 49 Brenda from Flatbush // Mar 16, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Wonderful tribute to Bob, thanks. Damn, I miss GL. For a guy I met only once or twice, Bob’s voice is inside my head a lot–like when I see some architectural outrage, or a wacky street couch, or an Adoptable Cutie. I got into the habit of mentally flagging things to shoot over to him via e-mail. Funny, a blog-averse friend of mine once referred to this activity as “talking to strangers.” I defy anyone to have read GL more than once and thought of Bob as a stranger. Again, condolences to those who were, in fact, his friends, and they were obviously many.

  • 50 Cody S. // Mar 19, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I once emailed Bob Guskind–after becoming a tremendous fan of his non-fiction work on Cherry Bleeds–to tell him how amazing I thought he was, and to ask if he was ever going to publish a book of short stories. I didn’t really expect a response given how much in awe of the man I was, thinking someone with such gifts would surely be in high demand and have little time to spare. How surprised then I was when he emailed me back almost immediately, with a funny, kind, detailed response to my queries. I had been going through a rough patch in my life involving school at the time, and I remember Bob told me that the shitstorms in life are too frequent and fierce for one of those 5 dollar umbrellas you get in Chinatown to endure, but to persevere nonetheless; as life as had value, and after having for many years disregarded the value of his own life, knowingly shortening it with his drug addiction; he had regrets, for he didn’t think he would now have the time left to enjoy all that was out there, all that he now believed worth living for.
    Amazingly, Bob even offered to help me, sending a letter on my behalf to a school administrator, despite him barely knowing who I was. This graciousness and benevolence on Bob’s part just illustrates the kind of man he really was. I am greatly saddened at the world’s loss of this great writer, kind friend, and good person. I am thoroughly indebted to Bob Guskind for his kindly offering of wisdom and advice; and for the indelible mark he left upon my psyche, through his work; with its constant ability to elicit such great laughter, admiration, and wondrous-awe. He will be missed. Severely.

  • 51 Kristen Haas // Mar 20, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    It is with great sadness that I learned of Bob’s death today. I am shocked. Bob helped my small blog grow quite a bit last summer by letting me contribute to his website and his stories. Bob was always so encouraging in his emails and always open to my story ideas and photography. I feel lucky that I was a small part of this wonderful website that he created. I moved to Jersey City last August and miss Brooklyn terribly. I remember he left the door open by saying he would always love any ideas I had or stories/photos and asked me to keep in touch. I got an email from him recently asking how I was doing, how my move was, and if I had been to Brooklyn lately, etc. I didn’t expect that would be our last communication. Bob was a gift to the blogosphere and Brooklyn. RIP.

  • 52 skirtfairy // Mar 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I had a crush on him, the way I had a crush on Abraham Lincoln and Bugs Bunny.
    You will be missed.
    xoxo

  • 53 Memorial Day Weekend Mania: What Rides Are Open in Coney Island? « Amusing the Zillion // May 24, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    [...] title of my post “Memorial Day Weekend Mania” is a heartfelt homage to Bob Guskind of Gowanus Lounge whose coverage of all things Coney inspired me to launch ATZ. If Bob were still [...]

  • 54 Diana K. // Jul 5, 2009 at 4:46 am

    I just did a google search seeking to learn what Bob Guskind was up to and now I am stunned sitting here reading your postings about Bob.

    Bob was a dear old friend going way back to our happy, younger days living in Washington DC in the 80′s. Though I sit here with tears running down my face regretting that we fell out of touch, I am so happy to read that Bob touched so many people and left behind so many friends. What a lovely legacy! I’m also happy to hear that Bob acted on his convictions and used his writing talents to fight for truth, regular people and social justice. I hope that Bob, wherever he is now, is pleased that I, too, have channeled my energies into activism and writing. Thank you all so much for filling me on the story of how Bob moved through his too short life, and for the video and photos to help me remember my old friend. I will surely miss him. My deepest sympathies go out to Bob’s family and close friends. Peace, Bob.

  • 55 alex borsody // Aug 25, 2009 at 10:33 am

    this guy was a legend

  • 56 Imagine Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan,’ but in Brooklyn - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com // Sep 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    [...] results indicate that Robert Guskind, the prolific blogger behind Gowanus Lounge, died of an accidental overdose of prescription [...]

  • 57 Linkfest: Final Word, Crime Alert and More - The Local - Fort-Greene Blog - NYTimes.com // Sep 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    [...] The Brooklyn Paper reports that popular blogger Robert Guskind, who founded the Gowanus Lounge , died of an accidental overdose of prescription medication. Mr. Guskind died in March at age 50, [...]

  • 58 Linkfest: Final Word, Crime Alert and More - The Local - Fort-Greene Blog - NYTimes.com // Sep 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    [...] The Brooklyn Paper reports that popular blogger Robert Guskind, who founded the Gowanus Lounge , died of an accidental overdose of prescription medication. Mr. Guskind died in March at age 50, [...]