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.