This latest and I think most ambitious of Daniel Cantagallo’s remix-style cinepoems is accompanied by a thoughtful essay on Medium, “Don’t Touch the Poet | Joel Oppenheimer’s New York“. It begins:
Joel Oppenheimer knew cities…actually one in particular…New York City…and to be more specific “New York City below 14th Street”, in that once bohemian enclave of the 60s and 70s where he could do what he did best: be there when it happens and write it down.
Despite his relative obscurity today, Oppenheimer was a legendary figure of the West Village art scene, a Black Mountain College attendee, a regular columnist for the Village Voice, the first director of St. Mark’s Poetry Project on the Lower East Side, and yet still, he never quite received the recognition he felt he deserved in his time, let alone ours.
I came across the off-the-cuff, propulsive energy of Oppenheimer’s “Cities, This City” on UbuWeb from a 1976 reading at St. Mark’s Church. His elegiac affection and tough-talking ambivalence about urban life spoke to my feelings about New York after too many years sprinting a marathon on its hamster wheels with over 8 million other hamsters.