John Loscalzo, AKA “Homer Fink,” the big-hearted and witty founder of the Brooklyn Heights Blog, died suddenly this past Wednesday at the age of 52.
His death shocked the many Heights residents who kept up with local news and issues via his popular blog, which he started in 2006. He also oversaw several other local blogs and led the Hidden Brooklyn Heights walking tours.
By day, Loscalzo was the director of music content at CBS Local. He worked for decades in the music industry at CBS Radio, MTV, K-Rock and other outlets.
Loscalzo, who was born in Queens and educated at NYU, was known for his absurd sense of humor, intelligence and generosity. He leaves behind his wife, Tracy Zamot, and their daughter Gracie, age 4 ½. A scholarship fund has been established for Gracie.
“I spent the last 23 years of my life laughing,” Zamot said. “You can see his laughter in his daughter; they have the same smile. His humor was based on generosity, really. He wasn’t mean. He was just the most generous person.”
Zamot said the couple moved to Brooklyn Heights in 2006. “He loved living here. It’s just like John to move somewhere and try to make it better with a blog. He showed up, he participated. He knew he wanted to start a family here and he wanted to know everything.”
Community members and officials praised the contribution Loscalzo made to the neighborhood.
“With his creation of the Brooklyn Heights Blog, Brooklyn Bugle, and Cobble Hill Blog, John played a significant part in unifying and supporting our neighborhood, providing a ready forum for residents to communicate with one another on local issues. We will miss his commentary, and his often-irreverent and hilarious posts and tweets,” the Brooklyn Heights Association said in a statement. Loscalzo was a 2011 recipient of the association’s Community Service Award.
“Today, Brooklyn Heights is missing a piece of itself. I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of John Loscalzo, a longtime Brooklyn Heights resident and integral part of the neighborhood,” Councilmember Stephen Levin said in a statement.
Levin said that Loscalzo “touched the lives of every Brooklyn Heights resident” through his blog, which he called “a vital space for neighbors and friends to come together to share and discuss community happenings.”
Levin added, “John will be remembered by all as a witty and incisive writer, a music buff, and a devoted father and husband. I send my sincerest condolences to his family, especially to his wife Tracy and young daughter Gracie. John will be sorely missed.”
Dozier Hasty, publisher of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and the Heights Press, shared many breakfasts with John in recent years. “He was so intelligent, ebullient and enthusiastic about two things we both love: media and this neighborhood,” said Hasty. “I will miss him.”
“In the nine years I’ve known and worked with John, I’ve learned much about how to thrive in the online world,” said Brooklyn Heights Blog contributor Claude Scales. “I’ve also had the great pleasure of his friendship and scintillating humor. I will miss his wisdom and his unfailing kindness.”
Mourned at CBS
Loscalzo joined CBS Local in 2012, where he was responsible for the music content of more than 100 CBS owned and operated TV and radio stations and affiliated websites, including radio.com.
“He had great relationships — people were very loyal to him because he was honest with them and people knew where they stood,” Adam Wiener, senior vice president at CBS Local, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “His team, his co-workers respected him because he was forthright.
“He was a unique person,” Wiener said. “He had a very quick wit, and his sense of humor was just different. He could be a bit of a class clown at times, but never inappropriately. He knew when to use it. People loved working with him. They knew it would be interesting, fun and they’d get the work accomplished.”
Wiener said that Loscalzo’s blog was one of the reasons he hired him at CBS.
“John had a deep music background, but having that understanding of local community interest really matters in the programming of local radio stations. He understood the voice local stations should employ as a result of local programming for his own passion,” Wiener said.
Online commenters posted their remembrances of Loscalzo – and his online persona Homer Fink — on the Brooklyn Heights Blog. They praised his intelligence and kindness, remembering times when he took them out to lunch or gave them a spot to publish their work on his blog. He was called “absurdly entertaining,” “genuine,” “extremely gentle” and a “Brooklyn Heights icon.”
“Brooklyn Heights without ‘Homer Fink’ in its midst is unthinkable,” was a typical comment.
“He gave me an outlet for my work, the stuff that ended up on the newsroom floor at the Daily News, but had local interest. In fact, I never thought of him as ‘a guy with a blog,’ he embodied the qualities of a true ‘news editor’ — only friendlier,” commented photographer Marc “Weegee” Hermann.
A memorial service will take place Wednesday evening, April 8, from 7 – 9 p.m. at Scotto’s Funeral Home, 106 1st Place, at Court Street, Brooklyn. There will be prayers and remarks at 8 p.m.; the family requests that attendees bring any pictures and stories they would like to share.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the education fund for his daughter Gracie. Checks made out to Grace Loscalzo may be deposited directly to her savings account, number 3044158243, at any Chase branch, or sent to Tracy Zamot, at 33 Willow Street, Apt 1, Brooklyn, NY 11201-1367.
Heather Quinlan, filmmaker and writer for the Brooklyn Heights Blog and Brooklyn Bugle, told the Eagle, “The first post I ever did for the blog was a video I’d made called ‘O Brooklyn! My Brooklyn!’ John and I have been friends ever since.”
Quinlan contributed a quote in Loscalzo’s memory. “The quote also has ‘bugle’ in it which I think is fitting,” she said.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.