I'm about to sound like a member of my parents' generation, but here it goes: I'm constantly amazed by the blogosphere. I work at a blog (the one you're currently reading), so I really shouldn't feel this way. After all, I see the inner-workings, the behind-the-scenes maneuvering and the unpolished beginnings -- the process, so to speak, that should remove any and all sheen from the finished product. And I'll admit, oftentimes I do miss the larger picture and I do forget just how stupefying a "thing" all this really is. But then something clicks, some event unfolds or some action takes place that reminds me that blogs, and bloggers, are... well, simply incredible.
Unfortunately, what reminded me this time around was not some genius piece of writing or some clever mashup of videos. No, sadly this is one of those moments that could only come to be out of profound loss. The type of moment that can only be marked by death.
Bob Guskind, a journalist and the man behind the popular Brooklyn blog Gowanus Lounge, was found dead in his apartment on Wednesday. Now, I know for the vast majority of people reading this, that means nothing. Just another death on another day. And I know for those who knew him well, who, I'm sure, are too busy mourning his death to read this, it means everything. But then there are the people like me, who lost a man we never fully realized we had.
We were his faithful readers, his web compatriots, his audience, his collaborators, and his neighbors, in our real and virtual lives. 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.
Indeed, I read Bob's work nearly every day, and I barely even knew his name.
When I moved to Brooklyn, I stumbled upon his site, then living at a Blogspot address. It wasn't the prettiest website, but it helped me immeasurably. What the hell is that building going up across the street? Gowanus Lounge is on it. Is it just me or is my mail being stolen? Gowanus Lounge is on the case. Lost dog? Apartment hunting? Want to debate the Atlantic Yards? Talk local politics? Or even simply, what time does the park close? Gowanus Lounge could help you with all this, and more.
The site, like so many local blogs, somehow used the very medium that is in many ways driving us apart, to bring us closer. People complain about the lack of community these days, but look, here it is! Here's our sounding board, here's our meeting place, here's our common ground.
According to some, Bob had his troubles, and we saw hints of them on his site in recent months. But as the news spreads, I expect more and more people will realize what a large effect Bob and his blog had on their lives. He covered the big issues, the small issues, and the non-issues (photos of discarded sofas, anyone?). His blog, like a good blog should, expressed experience. In it, there was wonder, humor, sadness, history, anger, joy, curiousity, fear, love, beauty, denial -- there was, simply, life.
On the surface, he was just a blogger, and his site just a blog, but when you're privy to someone's thoughts day in and day out, and when the site is about all the things that make up your life, just seen through a different lens, your perspective changes. And while of course life goes on and all those other clichés, his accent on our worldviews will surely be missed.
This, about a man I never met, and sadly, never will.