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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.


ROCK The Rolling Stones, "Their Satanic Majesties Request: 50th Anniversary Special Edition" (Abkco two vinyl records and two discs, mono and stereo). Keith Richards pretty much hates it. Mick Jagger mostly writes it off as a druggy detour that took forever to make because drugs kept getting in the way. Writer/annotater Rob Bowman says of one of the Stones' most impo…

They're a couple you know--universally loved superstar Jennifer Lawrence and filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, who's 22 years older. They connected while making the supremely wild and woolly demi-thriller "Mother!" which goes nuts in American movie theaters this weekend. Anyone who doubted their coupleness for a second is smacked in the face with it in the film's first hou…

Blame Dan Rather. It's always easy to do and not always wrong. In his case, Dan Rather in 1961, was a news director/reporter at Houston's KHOU when Hurricane Carla hit. It was about to join the list of 10 most powerful storms in American history. Rather not only understood how big hurricane stories are, he understood that they were "great television"; if you're looki…

"Twin Peaks: The Return," Showtime's extraordinary offer of prime time to David Lynch and his partner Mark Frost, has been must-see TV this summer. I watched every episode with a weird combination of duty and excitement. To have been a critic watching, right from the very beginning, David Lynch's career (including interviewing him in what seemed at the time like a Lynch…

"The commodification of flesh and sexual imagery" is what David Simon's co-creator George Pelecanos said  "The Deuce" is about. Sex exploitation went "from being in a brown paper bag and under the counter to universal in American life." I don't know about "universal" but I take his point. The period in which "The Deuce" takes place is 1971, just before the advent of "D…

JAZZ Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, "Whispers on the Wind" with Randy Brecker and Gregoire Maret (Mama) and Christian McBride, "Bringin' It" (Mack Avenue). You couldn't ask for more diametrically opposite approaches to jazz orchestras than the opening tracks of these two discs- -- Chuck Owen's incorporation of roots elements and heartland aura in the 14-minute "Warpe…

Stephen King appeared onscreen before the film at the screening of "It," which was adapted from his huge, bestselling 1986 novel. "One of my favorite and most personal works" he told us. He also said he liked what writer/director Andy Muschietti did with it. You can see why he calls it "personal." It's the horror film version of "Stand by Me," a nostalgic tale of seven …

JAZZ Oded Tzur, "Translator's Note" (Enja) It's an old reviewer's trope. When faced with something that's brand new but reminiscent of one of an art form's giants, you call it "the 21st Century (fill in the blank.)" So help me though, you couldn't blame the international jazz critic who called the quartet of the sensational tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur, the Coltran…

JAZZ Vijay Iyer Sextet, "Far From Over" (ECM). The journey from the Rochester suburb of Fairport to the national aesthetic forefront has, by no means, proven impossible. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman was the most famous to have accomplished it. But so has the great Amer-Indian composer and jazz pianist (and Harvard professor) Vijay Iyer. Iyer has no trouble in t…

Reese Witherspoon was on a nice roll for a while. "Big Little Lies" -- in which she not only starred but produced and, indeed, got off the ground -- was one of TV's best last year. "Wild" was a nice-sized movie hit. It wasn't much of a movie to some of us (among other things, Witherspoon was about half the size of Cheryl Strayed, whose book was adapted) but then we were…

“Collected Poems: 1991-2000" by John Ashbery, edited by Mark Ford, Library of America, 819 pages, $45. John Ashbery was born in Rochester and spent major chunks of his youth outside Rochester, in Sodus and a lakeside cottage in Putneyville. That didn’t stop him from being proclaimed one of the most influential poets of the past half century and, at the same time, th…

CLASSICAL Daniel Barenboim, "A Retrospective:The Complete Sony Recordings" (Sony Classical, 43 discs and 3 DVD's) It isn't every 21st century classical titan whose life has the tempestuousness, melodrama and tragedy of their 19th century ancestors. Daniel Barenboim is virtually alone at the moment, it seems, on his level. The tale of the Argentine/Israeli piano vi…

JAZZ Jane Ira Bloom, "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" (Outline, two discs) What an astonishing figure Jane Ira Bloom continues to be. Even if her tone on soprano saxophone weren't uniquely beautiful and her technique preternaturally pliable, there would be her longtime connection with some of the greatest players in current jazz to distinguish her – pia…

“Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music” by Ann Powers; Dey St., 418 pages, $26.99. Sure, sure, sure, we all know that the song that all-but-functioned as Rock’s Big Bang was “Tutti Frutti.” Its immortal beginning was “A-whomp-bobba-loo-bomp-a-whomp-bam-BOOM/Tutti Frutti/Aw Rootie.” Right? Wrong. Little Richard’s origi…

The Big Money Story with "Good Time" is Robert Pattinson, the film's star -- how much more worthy and talented he is than the tedious stiff who co-starred with Kristen Stewart in all that "Twilight" hoo-ha. No argument from me about Pattinson. It's always nice when a real actor stands up to be counted among his real peers, even though his movies are already up to their cla…