Remembering Bob

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

Thursday night I attended the Flatbush Development Corporation’s (FDC) 34th Anniversary Benefit Dinner. In my remarks, as one of the honorees, I spoke of the connections and communities that had brought me there that night: my partner, my neighborhood, Flatbush at large, and the Brooklyn blogosphere. I also told the 200+ people assembled there that Brooklyn bloggers had lost one of our own last week: Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, a friend and supporter of this blog and of Flatbush preservation efforts.

I only met Bob in person a few times. We launched our blogs within one month of each other in 2006: Gowanus Lounge in April, Flatbush Gardener in May. Gowanus Lounge quickly became Bob’s bully pulpit from which he could speak, as friend and neighbor Brenda Becker phrased so well, as “Fool-Killer and Weasel-Slayer.” I don’t remember when I first discovered Gowanus Lounge, but the first links from there to this blog appeared in November of that year.

Bob liked – or at least thought least unflattering! – this picture I took of him at the 2nd Annual Brooklyn Blogfest in 2007.
Robert Guskind, Gowanus Lounge

When the Second Brooklyn Blogfest came around in May 2007, we knew each other well from our online endeavors. We didn’t get to meet at that time; it was too crowded, and too hectic. Bob, a speaker at the event, was an A-List blogger of the Brooklyn blogosphere, swarmed with fans, colleagues, and reporters.

Dave Kenny, another friend and blogging colleague, and I co-founded the Brooklyn Blogade as a way to continue the energy and relationship-building from the Blogfest, and expand into neighborhoods that were “underserved” by the Brooklyn blogosphere. Dave credits a discussion with Bob after the 2007 Blogfest as inspiring him to start the Blogades. With Anne Pope of Sustainable Flatbush, I co-hosted the first Blogade here in Flatbush in June 2007, and that’s where Bob and I finally got to meet in person. The New York Times covered that first Blogade; a photograph from the event opens their article in this weekend’s The City section on the future of Gowanus Lounge, the first time any of those photos have appeared.

I met Bob again on only two occasions after that. Most of our communication was online, through email, tips, and mutual links. I don’t know how many scores of times Bob linked to this blog. I was especially touched by his last link at the end of January, in which he referred to me as “a friend and fellow blogger.” As I write this, I still can’t believe he’s gone. We were the same age, and I wish there had been more opportunities and time for us to strengthen that friendship.

As many others have reported in their remembrances of him, Bob was generous in linking. He brought attention to many neighborhood issues that, I believe, without his support would have been overlooked not only by the general press, but other bloggers as well. He nurtured community in the Brooklyn blogosphere. When I reached out to him by email during lasts fall’s hiatus on Gowanus Lounge, he said that he had received “hundreds of emails and comments.” In response to his death, nearly 80 people have written their own condolences and memorial posts to Bob. There are many hundreds more comments across all those posts. That stands as a testament to the impact he has had, and will continue to have after his death.

He was generous and passionate, sensitive and courageous, humorous and outspoken, gregarious and private. I have learned only since his death that we shared a journey in recovery, different in the details, similar in struggle and spirit. I did not know Bob well enough or long enough to know the circumstances of his life or death. Whatever the circumstances, I have nothing but empathy for the man; they cannot diminish my opinion of him. Real people are complex, their circumstances, usually complicated. It’s cost me a lot to learn that.

This was Bob’s favorite of my photos. I know this, not only because the subject shows Coney Island – among Bob’s greatest passions – in its glory, but because he chose this from the Flickr-Moo mini-cards I handed out at 2007’s Blogfest and the first Brooklyn Blogade. If there is a heaven, may this be part of Bob’s.
Sunset Over Coney Island, April 2006

Robert Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, 1958-2009

Update 2010.01.03: Corrected all links to the old Gowanus Lounge domain to the new memorial domain.

Update 2009.03.20: A memorial is planned for April 4.
Update 2009.03.14: Finally wrote my memorial post.
Update 2009.03.11: The official, authorized, and epic obituary for Bob, written lovingly by his family and friends, was published online today. Please read In Memoriam, Robert Guskind on Gowanus Lounge.
Updates 2009.03.06:

  • It’s been all I can do just to keep up with the flood of online remembrances and other reports in response to Bob’s death. As of mid-day, there are over 60. Reading everyone’s posts brings back my own memories of Bob, which I hope to post over the weekend.
  • Changed the link for the Brooklyn Paper.

I just learned, from Windsor Terrace Alliance and Brownstoner, that Robert “Bob” Guskind, founder of Gowanus Lounge, was found dead in his home yesterday, March 4, 2009.

He was a colleague, and a friend. I’m stunned, and can’t write anything else right now. See Links below for others’ coverage of this terrible loss.

Robert Guskind, speaking at the second Brooklyn Blogfest in May 2007.
Robert Guskind, Gowanus Lounge

Robert Guskind speaking at the first Brooklyn Blogade, at Vox Pop in Flatbush, in June 2007.

Robert Guskind, Gowanus Lounge

Related content

My Flickr photos of Bob


His work and words

His last video, 2009-03-01
Bob’s videos on YouTube
Bob’s Flickr photos
A Walk Around the Blog episode featuring Bob talking about development in Carroll Gardens
Bob on the Brian Lehrer show, WNYC, 2007-09-20
Reporter Roundtable and Brooklyn Review archival footage from Brooklyn Independent Television
Bob wrote 29 stories for Underground Voices Magazine

News reports

Brooklyn Paper, 2009-03-05 (The text of this article has been edited from its original content.)
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 2009-03-05
New York Magazine (Warning: Intrusive advertising)
New York Post

Personal remembrances

One post per site. I’ve done my best to keep this list up-to-date. If I’ve overlooked your post, please let me know.

Bob and Miss Heather were good friends.
New York Sh*tty

In alphabetical order

  1. 1 Stop Over in Brooklyn
  2. 66 Square Feet
  3. The Albany Project
  4. Art in Brooklyn
  5. Atlantic Yards Report
  6. Bad Advice
  7. Bay Ridge Journal
  8. Bed-Stuy Banana
  9. Bed-Stuy Blog
  10. Best View in Brooklyn
  11. The Bowery Boys: New York City History
  12. BRIC Community Media
  13. Brooklyn 11211
  14. Brooklyn Born
  15. Brooklyn Heights Blog
  16. Brooklyn Junction
  17. Brooklyn Optimist
  18. Brooklyn Paper
  19. Brooklyn Ron
  20. Brooklyn Streets, Carroll Gardens
  21. Brooklynometry
  22. Brownstoner
  23. Bumpershine
  24. California Greening
  25. Carroll Gardens petition (scroll down past the petition itself)
  26. Clinton Hill Blog
  27. Cobble Hill Blog
  28. Crazy Stable
  29. Curbed (Bob worked at Curbed until this past January)
  30. Dalton Rooney (last paragraph)
  31. Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn
  32. Deluxa
  33. Destination Red Hook
  34. Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn
  35. Dope on the Slope
  36. Dumbo NYC
  37. Eat It (opening paragraph to a restaurant review)
  38. Englishman in New York
  39. Flatbush Gardener
  40. Flatbush Vegan
  41. Free Williamsburg
  42. Fort Greene-Clinton Hill, The Local, New York Times
  43. Glamorous Life of the Theatre
  44. Gothamist
  45. Green Brooklyn
  46. Gorilla Face
  47. Huffington Post
  48. I Love Franklin Ave.
  49. I’m not saying, I’m just sayin
  50. IMBY
  51. Keep Left NYC
  52. Kinetic Carnival
  53. Liberty on 10th Street
  54. Living the American Green
  55. lornagrl
  56. Lost City
  57. Lost in the Ozone
  58. McBrooklyn
  59. Make No Assumptions …
  60. mrjabba
  61. Nathan Kensinger Photography
  62. Neighborhood Threat
  63. Neighbors Allied for Good Growth (NAG)
  64. No Land Grab
  65. Not Another F*cking Blog
  66. The “Not-So-Rough” Guide
  67. Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn
  68. Pardon Me For Asking
  69. Pistols and Popcorn
  70. Plasticblog
  71. Pretty in the City
  72. Queens Cr*p
  73. Reclaimed Home
  74. Self-Absorbed Boomer
  75. Space at my moving pace
  76. Street Level
  78. Triada Samaras Art
  79. Vanishing New York
  80. Washington Square Park


Gerard Kreussling, 1931-2008

Update 2008-12-04 11:26PM:It’s the end of a long day of a long week. We fly back home tomorrow. I am both anxious to be home, and dreading leaving, as it will be one more reminder of the finality of death.

The memorial service was today. I published my reading of my father’s writing, How Old Will I Be?, and my eulogy, as their own posts.

Update 2008-12-03 10:50AM: His obituary appears in today’s Asheville Citizen-Times and Hendersonvile Times-News, the text of which I’ve added below. The memorial service will be held tomorrow at 1pm at Thomas Shepherd and Sons; they’re hosting an online register on their Web site.

Holding the hand of my father on his deathbed at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina on Saturday, November 29, 2008. He was on palliative care, only oxygen and pain medication to keep him comfortable. Except for a brief moment of recognition later that Saturday, he was already gone. His heart stopped at 5:15am this morning, December 1, 2008, after prolonged illness.
This image was used to illustrate the online article, From Pain to Palliative Care in the WBUR radio documentary “Quality of Death, End of Life Care in America”.

He went into the hospital for the last time on Friday. He was never alone. My sister and I flew down first thing Saturday morning. Blog Widow John joined us last night.

I’ll be staying in North Carolina through the week. We’ll be making arrangements this afternoon for a local memorial service later this week.

Here’s my Mom and Dad on the porch at Woodfield Inn in October 2006. We celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary there in the Winter of 2007. This is how I prefer to remember him, one of the last few times he was relatively free of pain and discomfort.
Parents, Front Porch, Woodfield Inn

No more pain, Dad. No more pain.
No More Pain

Update: 10:51pm, December 1, 2008

Some closing thoughts at the end of a long day. My eyes ache.

In his will, my father directed us that his body should be “cremated without ceremony and dispersed into any river in the United States at some date agreeable to living relatives. A memorial ceremony of a non-religious nature may be held at any time.” We arranged the details of that memorial this afternoon when we met with the funeral home.

Earlier this afternoon, I helped my mother compose this email, which she sent out to “all our friends and family” for whom we had email addresses at the ready.

Needed to communicate this way because of all we knew and loved. Sad news. Jerry passed away this morning at 5:15AM at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina; our children are here and helping me with everything.

He had many illnesses this year but the most important one was that his kidneys were failing and he couldn’t take dialysis because of his low blood pressure. He was in Mission from Friday til this AM with palliative care giving him pain medication; his legs were very bad and his pain was intolerable. [He was never alone. One of us was always with him. My mother stayed with him Friday night. I stayed with him Saturday night. My sister stayed with him last night.] Karen [my sister] was with him at the last minute and we had gone to a “McDonald” type house to rest nearby. [The Lewis Rathbun Center, a wonderful place. Our stay there was thankfully short.] She called and we got there about 2 minutes too late. He had a lucid moment on Saturday and recognized both Karen and Chris and even called them by name. [The “brief moment of recognition” I mentioned at the top of this post. He did look at me directly and call out my name. My mother and sister had stepped out; we called them back. It seemed to me that he also recognized my sister, but quickly fell away from us again.] He is at rest now and no more aches and pains.

We will have a memorial service this Thursday, December 4 at 1:00 pm at the Thomas Shepherd Funeral Home, 125 South Church Street, between 1st Avenue and Allen Street in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Per Jerry’s wishes, there will be no viewing; he will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered at a future date. There will be a notice and obituary in the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville Times-News tomorrow and Wednesday.

In lieu of flowers, you may make a donation to the Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County, 400 North Main Street, Hendersonville, NC 28792. Their phone number is 828-698-1977. [My father was a founding member of the museum. Some of his contributions are in their display cases. He remained active to the end, as his health permitted.]

Update 2008-12-03: Obituary

Hendersonville – Gerard “Jerry” Kreussling, 77, of Hendersonville, died Monday, December 1, 2008 at Mission Hospitals after a prolonged illness.

A native of Brooklyn, NY, he was a prior resident of Florida and New York where he was very active in community theaters before moving to Hendersonville 16 years ago; the place he chose to live. He is preceded in death by his sister, Patricia Rubak and his loving uncle, Emil Kreusling.

He served in the US Army from 1952 to 1954 and was employed with Grumman Aerospace for 37 years.

He was a founding member and volunteer for the Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County. He also was a member of the Henderson County Gem and Mineral Society, local photography clubs, and volunteered with the Henderson County Sherriff’s Department.

He was a loving, generous, humorous, and gregarious person and will be dearly missed.

He is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Mary Kreussling; a son, Chris Kreussling and his partner, John Magisano of Brooklyn, NY; a daughter, Karen Provinzano and her husband, Mike of Brick, NJ; two granddaughters, Michaela and Cassandra Provinzano along with several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Shepherd’s Church Street Chapel with the Rev. John Magisano officiating.The family will receive friends immediately following the service at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to:

The Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County, 400 N. Main St., Hendersonville, NC 28792.

Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors and Cremation Memorial Center is in charge of arrangement. An online register book is available at

Related Content

My father wrote two, and so far the only, guest posts for this blog. The third, “How Old Will I Be?”, was published posthumously the day of his memorial service.
How Old Will I Be?, December 4, 2008
Guest Post: The Man From B.R.O.O.K.L.Y.N., May 17, 2007
Guest Blogger, Parental Unit Y: Blogs and Bloggers, Golden Age, and Generational Differences, October 21, 2006

Eulogy, December 4, 2008
Give Thanks, Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2007
Woodfield Inn, Flat Rock, North Carolina, January 22, 2007

Some of my photos of my father [Flickr set]


Mineral and Lapidary Museum of Henderson County
Lewis Rathbun Center
Obituary and online Guest Book, Thomas Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors
Obituary, Asheville Citizen-Times, 2008-12-03
Obituary, Hendersonville Times-News, 2008-12-03

‘Fantasticks’: Charm Major Asset, Theatre Review, p. 7, SUNY Stony Brook Statesman, V.17 n. 88, July 11, 1974 [PDF], a review of the Theatre North performance at the Setauket Holiday Inn. My father played one of the fathers in the play.

Steven Earl Clemants, 1954-2008

Steven Earl Clemants. Credit: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The botanical world – especially New York State, New York City, and Brooklyn – suffered a great loss recently. Steven Earl Clemants, Ph.D., Vice President of the Science Department of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday, November 2, 2008. Funeral services were held last Friday, November 7. He was 54 years old.

I never met Steven, but I’ve known of his work. I’ve written about some of it on my blog. His contributions in several fields, including native plant conservation, invasive plants, and urban botany, are substantial. I can only summarize.

Dr. Clemants was Chair of the Board of the Invasive Plant Council of New York State. He was the Historian and past President for the Torrey Botanical Society, and Chair of the Local Flora Committee of the Long Island Botanical Society. He was a founder, coordinator and contributor for the New York Metropolitan Flora Project (NYMF), which is documenting all the flora within a 50-mile radius of New York City. He was Codirector of the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE), a collaboration between BBG and Rutgers University. He served on the Advisory Board and Atlas Committee of the New York Flora Association. He was a graduate faculty member of both Rutgers University and the City University of New York. He was also involved with the New York State Invasive Species Task Force, the Prospect Park Woodlands Advisory Board, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, among many other efforts.

He was Editor-in-Chief of Urban Habitats, an open-science online journal dedicated to worldwide urban ecological studies. In addition to authoring and co-authoring numerous technical journals and articles, he was co-author, with Carol Gracie, of “Wildflowers in the Field and Forest: A Field Guide to the Northeastern United States.”

The Dr. Steven Clemants Wildflower Fund

The Dr. Steven Clemants Wildflower Fund has been established to honor him. Steve’s widow, Grace Markman, is working with the Greenbelt Native Plant Center to plan a living memorial that will foster the planting of native wildflower species in New York City parks.

If you would like to donate to the Fund, there’s a PDF form to fill out and mail with your check. Email me at xrisfg at gmail dot com and I’ll send you the form. Make out your check to “City Parks Foundation” and mail it with the form to:

City Parks Foundation
c/o Greenbelt Native Plant Center
3808 Victory Blvd.
Staten Island, NY 10314

As an alternative, here’s an Amazon Associates link for the paperback edition of the Field Guide which Dr. Clemants co-authored. I will donate any proceeds I receive through this link to the Dr. Steven Clemants Wildflower Fund. The Field Guide is also available in both hardcover and paperback editions from BBG’s online store.

Related Posts

Web Resource: New York Metropolitan Flora Project (NYMF), 2006-06-02


Steven Earl Clemants:

Center for Urban Restoration Ecology (CURE)
Invasive Plant Council of New York State
Long Island Botanical Society
New York Flora Association
New York Metropolitan Flora Project (NYMF)
Science Department, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Torrey Botanical Society
Urban Habitats


Update 2008.03.15: Added follow-up post: Coda, Spot.
Update 2008.02.25: Added a rare photo of me and Spot together.

My partner, John, with our cat, Spot, taken two nights ago in an examination room at the vet’s. She died in my arms earlier this evening around 6:30pm.
John & Spot (Black and White)

Spot found me in the garden, in the backyard of my apartment on 5th Street in Park Slope:

A beautiful young black cat found me at the end of my day in the garden. He started going for the container I’d just planted. He was friendly, but when I realized he was licking up some organic fertilizer I’d spilled I realized he/she was starving. (It does smell good, like the original MilkBones [dog biscuits]). So I gave him a bowl of milk. He/She was purring so hard his tail was shaking. Only a white spot on his chest, otherwise black. I named him “Spot”. I’ll look for him tomorrow. If he’s around again, maybe I have a cat.
– Diary entry, November 11, 1993, Veteran’s Day, F Train en route to dinner

I didn’t realize it at the time, but she represented, or embodied, a peak of synchronicity in my life. I was three and a half years into my recovery, and less than eight months sober. In therapy the previous night, I had mentioned that I was thinking about getting a cat, or two. After this first encounter with Spot, I was off to see a dance performance that evening which explored the connections between veterans of war and survivors of sexual violence. The following Monday, I was starting my first session of a gay men’s therapy group.

Spot moved in with me on Saturday. I spoke to Jonathan [my landlord] Friday at work to ask him if it would be okay if I got a cat. Saw Julia [landlady] working in the garden Saturday morning. While we were inspecting and talking, I saw a black form moving behind the fence.

I called out: psss-psss-psss … Spot leapt to the top of the fence (or climbed) and walked along the top directly to me. I took her into my arms and she (female, confirmed) started purring. I left her with Julia while I went inside and prepared the can of food Renah [a work colleague at the time] gave me Friday at work.

Bought everything for her on Saturday. Saturday night discovered she had fleas, so wouldn’t let her sleep with me. Gave her a flea bath, changed bed-sheets and clothes, dusted the rug. She was not happy about the bath, but remarkably cooperative. I came away with no scratches or bites.

Remaining health concern: diarrhea, foul-smelling, and may be caused by her fondness for milk.

Long day today: first session of the group (first for me) is tonight. I won’t get home until after 9pm probably. Spot will freak?!

Need to make up “FOUND” posters for the area, just in case someone’s looking for her.
– Diary entry, November 15, 1993, Monday, Subway, en route to work

Later that evening, around 8:30pm, riding home on the F train:

Home to Spot. Incredible what an emotional anchor she is for me right now. Anchor is not the right word. Alternatives: focus, tether, center … ballast …

I’m not going to put up “Found Cat” signs tonight. I don’t want anyone to answer. I don’t want to give Spot up. She’s just a cat I’ve known for only four or five days. I just want to go home to her …

When John and I began exploring relationship together, Spot adopted him as well. She was a great comfort to him as he dealt with his mother’s terminal illness, and especially after her death. John called her a medicine cat, an apt description.

She found me in the garden, and Spot always wanted to go outside. She often accompanied me when I was out in the garden. Here she is in the backyard of my apartment on 5th Street in Park Slope. This was in May 2002, the last set of photos I took of the garden I was leaving to move with John to our new apartment.
Spot in the garden on 5th Street in Park Slope

Here she is on the deck of our apartment on 6th Street in Park Slope, where John and I first lived together.
Spot the Cat

Here she is in the backyard of our new home two years ago, acting like she owned the place, which, of course, she did. She was skeptical at first, but eventually allowed that she was pleased that we bought her a big, old cat house.
The Backyard

Outside yet again, on the front steps here. I have several shots in this series, trying to get her to look at me. This is the closest I got. Note the tail curl. She wasn’t having it.
Spot on the front steps

This is the earliest photo I have of Spot. This is from 2001, in the 5th Street apartment.
John and Spot

This is a typical posture for her. She spent a lot of time lying on John’s chest, close to his heart, while he was himself prone on the couch or bed.
Spot and JohnSpot and John

Here’s a rare photo of me and Spot together. (Only at John’s insistence.) Rare not only because I’m usually the one behind the camera, but because she wouldn’t often settle down on me. In this photo, she’s wedged into the the nook between me and the sofa cushion. We’re also playing one of our games here. If one of us stopped petting her before she was done, she would reach out with her paw, cup it around the edge of our hand, and pull it back toward her face. I would often respond by “squooshing” her paw, as I’m doing here, and telling her how evil she was. You can see from her face how that upset her.
Spot & Xris

I’ll close with this photo of her. She’s sitting on the floor of my tree house, the second floor back porch on the back of our house. Her tail was the most expressive part of her, and I recognize the little curl at the end of it visible in this photo.
Spot the Cat

You can see more photos of her in my Flickr set of Spot.

She followed me across 15 years of recovery, healing, and growth. She was so much a part of my life, and John’s, and of our life together. We will have other familiars, but none like her. The house is empty without her. I miss her terribly.

I’m open to comments. I especially invite anyone reading this who met or knew her to leave a comment with a memory or reminiscence about her. John and I both will welcome that as a way of memorializing her.