I returned from the memorial for Gowanus Lounge creator and "Brooklyn Blogfather" Bob Guskind a few hours ago. It was held at the Brooklyn Lyceum on Fourth Avenue and I'm happy to state that there was a strong showing, with nearly every space filled in the rows of pews that were set up.
In my role of journalist, I have been sent by editors to cover a good number of memorials. Some have been more inspiring than others. Many have been rather perfunctory. I can honestly say, however, that I have never experienced a more genuine outpouring of sincere feeling that what was expressed for three straight hours today—some of the sentiments expressed by people who had—amazingly, considering their words—never met Bob in person.
I am hesitant to give a full accounting of what was said, or render my impression of the event, primarily because of the words that were imparted (with passion, with fervor, with compassion) by a man who was probably the oldest friend of Bob present at the memorial. This man, who met Guskind in college, communicated some well-intended indignation about some of what had been written on the blogosphere about Bob and his death, and reminded the collected crowd that few in attendance knew Guskind well, or, at least, beyond his function as the editor of GL. He was right, of course. When a man dies—particularly when he dies under ambiguous, seemingly sad circumstances, such as Bob did—they are inclined to speculate and to begin to seen the man's life through the prism of his death, ignoring the long life that preceded it. That sort of accounting rarely does a man justice.
A good representation of the Brooklyn, and greater, blog world was there. Among the speakers were the creators of Gothamist (Jake Dobkin), Curbed (Lockhart Steele), Flatbush Gardener (Chris Kreussling), Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn (Louise Crawford), Pardon Me for Asking (Katia Kelly), Best View in Brooklyn, Brooklyn 11211, the Atlantic Yards Report (Norman Oder), as well as Gowanus Lounge contributors Miss Heather, E.C. Stephens, Nate Kensinger and Deborah Matlack. Also on hand was Sheryl Imperati of The World According to Bitchcakes and Carolina Salguero of Portside New York.
Listening to everyone's descriptions of the gregarious, soulful, Falstaffian figure that Guskind seemed to have been, I was newly saddened that I had never met him in person. I was also struck that everyone felt, as I did, that there was now a great vacancy in the center of the Brookyn blogosphere and, indeed, the Brooklyn community—one that wouldn't easily be filled. Everyone spoke eloquently and from the heart. These are not the sort of journalists who write well but crumple when asked to speak in public. They are passionate and articulate in print and in person. Like Guskind.