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Jerry Tallmer, Adieu

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Despite the frigid temperatures, everything was war

jerry stillerm and witty at Theater for the New City’s beautiful send off to long time theatre critic Jerry Tallmer.  Crystal Field, head honcho of the theatre opened up the evening of ruminations about this talented critic , one who was first to encourage the works of the radically different playwrights like Jean Genet, Brecht, Edwar Albee, Tom Stoppard  and Sam Shepherd. God, he even created the Obies.

Ed Fancher, the remaining living founder of The Village Voice, gave a detailed history of the early days of the Voice and Tallmer’s contributions not only as writer, but delivery man. When Norman Mailer’s aggressive style with the news vendors proved too rough, Tallmer was the one to step in. He was the only one who really knew how to run a paper from his Dartmouth days and so it was left to him to drop off papers and oversee production with a printer in New Jersey every week.

Fancher described a much different Village with a sensibility the newbies can only envy. When the Voice needed to postdate pay checks by a few days, a local liquor shop offered to give the staff their salaries right on Friday; the owner confident that at least some of the writers have been known to drink a little…

It was a magical New York, fresh out of the locked up fifties and bursting with energy.   When Billie Holiday was asked to perform for a benefit for The Voice, it was Tallmer who drove to Philadelphia, found a pretty juiced up Holiday, struggled in traffic and brought her to the show on time.

Baby Jane Dexter and pianist Steve Ross, two performers who were given the green light from Mr. Tallmer’s pen, performed a couple of songs, Dexter’s voice deep, rich and jazzy, and Ross, giving an old lower East Sider Irving Berlin ,   a chance to Put on the Ritz.

Another Jerry, Stiller, regaled the crowd with adorable anecdotes about his early days in Shakespeare, screamingly funny while his daughter Amy, read one of Tallmer’s reviews of her father’s performance, memorable primarily for the great acting of his scene partner, a dog.

From his NY Post days, we heard from journalist Diana Maychick who like many of the writers suggested that   Tallmer’s erudition and generosity made for a very good mentor, indeed.  Austin Pendleton was thrilled when he got a decent review, but even happier when Tallmer, who had become a friend, used to talk recipes with Austin’s wife, a Greek who knew something more than moussaka. I never quite got whether Tallmer cooked or not, but he did seem to have a refined palette and palate


Two things I learned was that Tallmer was let go from the Post when he supported one of the newspaper unions’ strike. He had sailed through the Murdoch takeover, but showed true courage to given the publishing climate. Also, he was an air witness to one of the bombings of Nagasaki; surely something like that must have affected him in the way Kurt Vonngegut’s creative life was intensified by the destruction of Dresden.

Someone read a piece Tallmer wrote about Norman Mailer’s Town Hall debate with Jill Johnston and Germaine Greer. I’ve seen the film and everyone should read the article for themselves, as it speaks so much to the time of early feminism and sixties happenings.

Many references were made to the love of his life Frances Martin. She modestly only took a bow when heckled to do so and one can understand why this aesthetic man was so devoted to the lovely, Flamenco dancer.

The last speaker Lincoln Anderson of the Villager where Tallmer spent some of his third act was bubbling with the enthusiasm of a writer who most likely should have lived in the sixties, but does his best now to keep the political beat happening at this downtown rag. Like everyone, he was gracious in his admiration.

We’ve lost three journalists just this month: Bob Simon,  Dave Carr and now Jerry Tallmer. Let’s hope there are equally inspired writers, women and men, ready to step into their shoes and media worthy of their talents.

The evening’s speakers: Crystal Field, Steve Ross & Baby Jane Dexter, Ed Fancher, abbey Tallmer, Austin Pendleton, Diana Maychick, Jonathan Slaff, Mario Fratti, John Sutter, Bill Ervolino and Lincoln Anderson.



Letters read from Tom Stoppard, Terrence McNally, Merle Debuskey and Jules Feiffer. Photo courtesy of Rena Cohen






Written by nancykoan

February 25, 2015 at 3:19 am


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Sir Harold Evans helmed a panel to discuss the merits of free and uncensored art. The sold out event was put together by  Glenn D. Lowry and Klaus Biesenbach of Moma and Anne Pasternak of Creative Time in little more than a week. There is apparently a great hunger to discuss and try to understand the  values of free expression in our increasingly dangerous world. The panelists included artists Sharon Hayes, Kadar Attia, comedian Aasif Mandviwala, Jason Mojica, Editor-in-Chief of Vice News, and Art History Professor Simon Schama. It was organized with the help of Creative Time.

Aasif:  has more to do with coming up with a newsworthy act for al qaeda .

Simon: Art’s not the issue; we have to fight the gains of the Enlightenment all over again.

Jason: Vice didn’t publish Hebdo’s cartoon of Mohammed after the shooting because it wasn’t news.

Simon: Charlie didn’t ask people to kill. When free speech leads to murder…

Kader:  Injury of colonization in France is deep; radical Islamism  — there are legitimate reasons they are inspired.

Sharon:  there is great complexity…

It wasn’t the most coherent discussion but it was lively and important.  We need to talk about these things…like why we’re still supporting a relationship with fundamentalist Saudi Arabia while bloggers  get a thousand lashes and women fight for the right to drive.

I would have liked to have discussed Hustler Magazine’s 1978 cover of a woman in a meat grinder. It was shocking and ugly. Not everyone has a god, but we all have a mother…  Still, I don’t think Larry Flynt was shot for that cover and perhaps he was really trying to make a point, ironic though it seems. It’s a strong image and might have made even more of a point if it had been a cartoon

Piss Christ’s Andres Serrano sat behind me; one artist who has had to deal with objections to his transgressive and beautiful work.


As Ms. Schwartz, my neighbor to the right said as we were leaving, “we let them march in Skokie. That’s freedom.”

OK, HERE I go AGAINjedsus20150107_213303

Written by nancykoan

February 4, 2015 at 5:13 am

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