The Remarkable Last Column of Village Voice Founding Editor Jerry Tallmer

From his room at the DeWitt Rehabilitation & Nursing Center on the Upper East Side in late October, Jerry Tallmer filed a typically frank essay to The Villager. Titled “Blue Moon Johnny; I Wasn’t My Brother’s Keeper,” it now reads, in the wake of the author’s death Sunday at age 93, as a vivid and painful reminder of the fractured family circumstances that the Village Voice founding editor was able to overcome.

From the column:

My mother, Ilona Lowenthal Tallmer Müller-Munk, never really liked my brother, equating him with my father — Johnny’s and my father — whom she had run away from in the 1930s to go live in a flat on Third Avenue, next to the roaring rattletrap Third Avenue el, with Berlin-born artist and silversmith Peter Müller-Munk. I have sharp memories of aristocratic PMM ducking out a window to an adjacent rooftop to comply with a court order whenever Johnny or I came in sight…

The remainder of my memory of Jonathan Tallmer is bathed in tears — his tears — whenever, in or out of public places (like restaurants), he’d have news for me about his starting a new career, getting a job or losing one, and that continued off and on for a few years until the fateful Sunday in 1967 when my mother ran out of things to read, or thought she did, which adds up to the same terrible thing.

Tallmer is referring to their mother’s self-inflicted death. Mr. Müller-Munk followed in the same fashion a month later. There are only two commenters at press time below the October 24 Villager essay, but they are both notable. Chiming in to share their thoughts two weeks ago: Jerry Tallmer’s nieces.