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Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is the News' Arts and Books Editor. He has been writing for the paper since Spiro Agnew was the vice president.


Here are some records of the moment very much worth paying attention to: Rock Led Zeppelin, "How the West Was Won" (Atlantic/Rhino three discs) Do you want to know why Led Zeppelin just couldn't continue after the death of drummer John Bonham? Listen to these three discs of 1972 performances from Long Beach and L.A. It's all extraordinary, but listen especially to Bon…

Pauley Perrette is a mature woman. She has been on "NCIS" -- the most popular show on network television for years -- playing Abby Sciuto since before it officially began in 2003. In other words, both she and star Mark Harmon were featured on the two pilot episodes of the show that spun off from "JAG." It is to Perrette's eternal credit as an actress and personality …

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It was Walter Mondale  in 1984 who gave us the tragically useful phrase "Rust Belt." Here's the way Anne Trubek tells the tale in the introduction to her collection "Voices From the Rust Belt" (Picador Paperback, 253 pages, $16). "At a campaign stop during the presidential election, Mondale made a speech to steelworkers at the LTV plant in Cleveland in which he decried Rea…

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Her name is Judy Smith. Judy Who? you ask. How quickly we forget. Judy Smith was the Special Counsel and deputy press secretary to George H. W. Bush who was the original inspiration and model for Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope on the enormous Thursday night hit ABC TV show "Scandal." The final episode hits us this coming Thursday. Judging from last week's trailers fo…

He was 7 feet, 4 inches tall and weighed close to 500 pounds. That's what the wrestling promoters always claimed about Andre the Giant. Just a quick look at him and you weren't inclined to argue. He was a freak of nature – of disease really (acromegaly) –  for whom the word "giant" was no hyperbole. It's notable that for all the renown of his wrestling career before his…

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Classical Wagner, Orchestral Music from "Der Ring des Nibelungen" performed by Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta (Naxos). If you take an historical overview of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra you have to conclude that no BPO conductor has achieved anything close on record with the orchestra to the recording presence that Falletta has. Foss' ava…

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I'd have been perfectly fine with Steven Spielberg's career if he'd never made another film after "Schindler's List." It's a devastating masterwork but that's not only why it would have made a great final film. The ending of "Schindler's List"--in which the director broke the fourth wall and filmed himself and his family making a pilgrimage to Oskar Schindler's grave --…

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I was eight years old on March 5, 1953. That's the date officially listed as the date when Joseph Stalin died, after being stricken with a stroke four days before. Mine was not a news-consuming family. I had two uncles--attorneys both--who avidly kept up with the news but my immediate family seemed more news averse than anything else (on the general grounds that all new…

Columns

"Love" was the magic word. It was the answer. Of the two Anderson Cooper interviews with women suing Donald Trump last week, his long Thursday CNN interview with the former Playboy Playmate of the Year was, by far, the more interesting. That one is where Karen McDougal claimed to have had a 10-month affair with the current president during which she told him she loved h…

You'll discover a wonderful actor you're unlikely to have ever seen before in "The Last Suit." He's a 67-year-old Argentinian actor from a theatrical family named Miguel Angel Sola. He's never before been featured in a performance as potentially popular as the one in "The Last Suit" (whose Spanish title, "El Ultimo Traje" is where you'll find what few Internet references t…

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It's a tossup between baseball and boxing. Considering that we're in basketball's championship season, maybe we should make it a jump ball between them. The question is: Which sport--baseball or boxing--has engendered the greatest contributions to American literature? Some would rush to nominate baseball, "the great American game," on the strength of truly great nove…

Columns

Of course, we're looking to "60 Minutes" to get to the bottom of the Stormy Daniels business. Isn't that where we always look? When Gennifer Flowers told America she had a long sexual relationship with Bill Clinton in Arkansas, she was on "60 Minutes." When Monica Lewinsky's stained blue dress made a mockery of Clinton's contention that "I ... did ... not ... have ... s…

Columns

Let's talk numbers. Big numbers. More than $400 million to be specific. That was the prominent answer to the question "How many dollars did 'Black Panther' collect from American box offices in its first two weekends?" If it seems a staggering number, that's because it is. Nor is that all about the opening weekend of "Black Panther." It not only drew huge numbers of payi…

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CLASSICAL MUSIC "Kodaly, Concerto for Orchestra and Other Works" performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta (Naxos). No one ever said that friendship with a genius was easy. Zoltan Kodaly and Bela Bartok were lifelong friends from the time they met. They were near-contemporaries (Bartok was a year older) and after they investigated Hungary's n…

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Michael Haneke, the writer/director of "Happy End," doesn't like us very much. It's nothing specific that we did. It's just that if you're an avid member of the American filmgoing classes, you're a perfect target for the Austrian filmmaker. You're either too lazy or too intellectually fat or too bourgeois or all those things together by his lights. After all, haven't yo…