Robert Kasner, 1951-2005
No one here at City Pages is actually sure whether Bob Kasner, a longtime employee first in our offices and more recently in those of our parent company, Village Voice Media, was Irish. But those CP staffers and alums who gathered at one of Bob's favorite dives this week for an Irish wake held to mark his sudden death last Saturday didn't really care. Bob was a kind, gentle, generous, funny, cultured guy whose profanity would make George Carlin blush, and glasses needed to be raised in his honor. He died of complications stemming from cancer.
Bob came to work for City Pages in 1986, first as an account executive but later as circulation manager. He understood everything about the paper, even what made an individual story sing or thunk. (He was a history buff and loved Graham Greene and William Faulkner.) Not long after the paper's founders sold it to the company that owned the Voice, Bob's remarkable acumen for steering impressive numbers of newspapers into receptive hands--he once boosted City Pages' circulation by 25 percent in six short months--came to the attention of our corporate minders. And faster than you can say "Bob's a distribution wizard," he found himself in New York, contemplating spending "more money than I thought I'd make in my lifetime" on the purchase of a house that he described as 11 feet wide.
With Bob, you were never sure how much of any given yarn was hyperbole, and some of us had doubted his digs were as tiny as he made them sound on his (fortunately frequent) visits back here. But this particular claim was confirmed last Tuesday at Cuzzy's by CP founder Tom Bartel, now publisher of The Rake (yes, we loved Bob enough to set aside our pettier competitive urges for a night of remembrance). Tom and Kris Henning, his wife and CP co-founder, visited the house recently, and tried to take Bob out to dinner. The New York Times had just given Bob's neighborhood restaurant a rave review and the place was so swamped there was no seating for the party. Bob is said to have sworn nonstop as the group walked around Brooklyn looking for another place to eat.
The best of the lies swapped over whiskey and beer at the impromptu wake involved Bob's tendency to, how shall we say? lose his shit on the fairway at Theodore Wirth, whip his six-iron in a circle around his head, and let it fly off into the woods, all the while uttering a string of profanities he wouldn't interrupt even to breathe. Half a dozen people around here seem to remember spending 20 minutes thrashing around in some tall weeds trying to help Bob find his club. Although truth be told, by the end of the wake it wasn't clear whether Bob had pulled this number repeatedly, or whether his legends simply lived as large as he did.
Bob was 53. He went too soon, and is missed by many.
There will be a memorial mass at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 6, in Foley, at St. John's Catholic Church, 621 Dewey St. Instead of flowers, Bob's family has requested that memorials be sent to the Community Fund Inc., Robert K. Kasner Fund, 24 Warren Pl., Brooklyn, NY, 11201. (Other details customary for conventional obituaries can be read elsewhere, if you're so moved: The Village Voice; Star Tribune)
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