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Monday, June 6, 2005


Farewell to a friend

Joel Oppenheimer

For nearly ten years, Joel Oppenheimer has been one of my best friends. I could write about how great a person I know him to be, but it would come out sounding like Frank Sinatra’s brainwashed dialogue in The Manchurian Candidate: “Joel is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

At least I know I’m not alone in liking the guy. A couple hundred folks came out on Saturday to celebrate all things Joel: A performance by Chemystry Set, of which he is a founding member. The performance debut of Deep Dig Ensemble, Joel’s new jazz combo, and the release of their new CD. And, not least, Joel’s birthday.

There were two bittersweet milestones to recognize, as well: Joel’s departure from St. Joseph’s Village Family Center, where he’s worked for years on the front lines of social services in San Francisco, and his return to the East Coast to earn a master’s in social work. Of course we’re thrilled for him, but it’s sad to see him go.

There wasn’t a lot of sadness in evidence on Saturday, though, and I’ve got 20 pieces of photographic evidence. Check out the Joelapalooza gallery.