ABOUT ROBERT GUSKIND (1958-2009)
Brooklyn Blogfest 2009 was dedicated to Robert Guskind (1958-2009), the influential blogger who started Gowanus Lounge.
We've decided to keep this page up as a tribute to Bob. A year after his death he is deeply missed and greatly admired.
The following was written by Louise Crawford for her blog: Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.
I'll never forget the day when a perfect stranger by the name of Bob Guskind emailed to say that he was starting a blog. He told me that he was a seasoned journalist and a reader of OTBKB—and that he planned to focus on real estate and development issues in Brooklyn.
He was calling his blog, Gowanus Lounge, named after a shuttered bar on Union Street and Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
I met Bob a few weeks later at the First Annual Brooklyn Blogfest at the Old Stone House. That was June of 2006 and I was very impressed with him. Serious and funny, he had a hearty laugh and a radio announcer's voice. He told me that he'd worked at the National Journal in Washington for years. It was obvious that he was really excited about this blogging thing. Clearly, he was smitten by the promise of the Blogosphere because it offered him the chance to pursue a lifelong dream: to be the publisher, editor, and star reporter of his very own Internet newspaper.
In the months that followed I was amazed at the scope of Bob's reporting. At the time he had a day job at a community newspaper in New Jersey and a freelance job with Curbed, a real estate blog in Manhattan. But somehow he managed to put out numerous blog posts every day. How, I wondered, did he have the time for all the top-notch reporting he was doing in and around Brooklyn?
And, boy, did he get around: Gowanus, Park Slope, Williamsburg, Coney Island. Bob was an old style newspaper reporter. He walked the walk, made the phone calls, drove the car and did the real face-to-face reporting that few bloggers are willing or able to do.
Later he worked full-time for Curbed.com and he still managed to create a wonderfully dynamic blog that had its own distinct editorial voice and hard-hitting reporting.
I especially enjoyed Bob's frequent Street Couch series, photographs taken by Bob of derelict couches that were abandoned on the streets of Brooklyn. Those posts exhibited a whimsical and creative side of Bob that I found compelling.
Last summer we were both interviewed on Brian Lehrer's television show. It was a nice experience and Bob and I spoke afterward about the myriad ways that blogging had changed our lives. That's when he told me that Gowanus Lounge was the best thing he'd ever done professionally because it was a dream come true to invent his own "newspaper."
Many of us knew that Bob worked too hard. That, like many journalists, he had "workaholic" tendencies. He worked until he dropped. He would often regale me with tales of work days that began well before dawn and took him till the wee hours of the morning. It seemed that long hours were the rule not the exception for Bob, who obviously loved what he was doing.
In the summer of 2007 Bob married his longtime girlfriend. I was very happy for him when he told me that they were honeymooning in Hawaii.
In the fall of 2008, he alarmed the Brooklyn Blogosphere by taking a sudden hiatus without any warning. He left a cryptic note on his blog that few understood. Readers and fellow bloggers were concerned. He did, however, return a few weeks later seemingly rejeuvantated and ready to blog on. He added a roster of contributors as well, which seemed like a good sign.
It is too soon and sudden to write about the significance of Gowanus Lounge and the lasting influence he has already had on other bloggers, blog readers, activists, and those who are passionate about historical preservation, contextual architecture and affordable housing. Bob's contribution to reporting on the Atlantic Yards, the building boom in Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Greenpoint, Fourth Avenue and the destruction of Coney Island is vast.
Much will be written about the pioneering influence of Bob Guskind and Gowanus Lounge.
So let me simply say: This is a sad day for all who love Brooklyn and cherish its neighborhoods and the spunky, historic charm and faded beauty of places, like Coney Island, that loom large in the American imagination.
As a journalist, Bob was looking out for this borough and trying to protect it from the forces of money and development that have swept through these parts in the last few years like a reckless tornado.
Bob, you had Brooklyn's back. And for that we will always remember you. Thank you for you hard work and your belief that change is possible in the form of good reporting, a well-crafted blog post, and photographs that speak volumes.