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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.


THERE IS no one else in the world of film remotely like Terry Gilliam.Whatever else he is, the non-performing visual ringmaster of Monty Python's Flying Circus may be the last great visionary in huge-budget commercial movies.He is the only one who could have made a lunatic paean to the imagination like "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," a wild, megabudget vision of…

YOU KNOW Sweeps Weeks are over when . . .On the same day at the same time: A) one network launches into a highly acclaimed piece of work like "Day One," one of writer David W. Rintel's eminently serious dramatic histories of post-war politics and B) another offers the first major acting (?) role of Robin Givens, the star of "Goldiggers of 1988," in her first starring …

ZACK'S MISTRESS inches her way into the house to discover him frolicking in bed with another young woman -- her very own hairdresser, in fact. In an imploding rage, she quietly gets the nearest revolver and holds them both at gunpoint.Then Zack's wife walks in.Clearly, this is a man with a problem. In ancient terms, you might call it "Don Juanism.""I truly love women,…

Bach, Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin performed by Itzhak Perlman (EMI- Angel CD-7 494832). A fundamentalist death decree from one of the indentured maniacs of international politics wouldn't be enough to keep one of the greatest of contemporary violinists from eventually scaling the Baroque summit of solo violin literature. A violin titan who hasn't rec…

We're talking jazz basics here -- none of your vanguard fripperies or high-toned esthetic presumptions. The artists coming to the Tralf this week couldn't be more essential if they tried. No crash course or sideline coaxing is necessary for immediate appreciation of their wonderfully expressive art. Tonight and Saturday at 8 and 11:30 tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrent…

DETECTIVE COLUMBO has the ideal American brain -- the kind of brain America has encouraged us all to think is best and the kind of brain which has served, for almost 40 years, as television's standard definition of intelligence.Columbo always hides what he knows under the pretense of knowing nothing at all. And if it smacks of anything intellectual, it's a good bet tha…

YOU CAN'T say "Gone With the Wind" isn't a great film. It may be, in fact, the crowning masterpiece of American kitsch (i.e., pseudo-art, sometimes in zestful and hilarious bad taste, as in plastic Parthenons or Day-Glo da Vincis for sale at "starving artist prices").And like all the greatest kitsch, there are delirious moments in "Gone With the Wind" when it is no lon…

SUSAN SONTAG, Gay Talese and William Styron. Remember those names.They are three of the biggest on a short list of Western writers to rush out publicly in defense of Salman Rushdie when his novel "The Satanic Verses" was banned and burned and when the writer himself was publicly sentenced to death by the Ayatollah Khomeini.Writers who usually can be counted on to make…

EXCEPT FOR blessed events like the first Buffalo appearance in 33 years by Max Roach, big name jazz in Buffalo slept for 15 months. Without an active, well-booked jazz club or a continually adventurous Buffalo jazz radio station, it's been difficult to hear of some of the biggest excitements in jazz.But jazz has been in such a virulently active and energetic period th…

HIS BEDROOM is a monk's cell just off his legal office and his office is in a slum neighborhood. He smokes joints on the job, wears a ponytail and defends an endless string of the city's drug scum in court. They pay him in small bills -- in wads big enough to choke a fair-sized hippo.In the '60s, though, Eddie Dodd was a radical lawyer with a Mike Tyson won-lost recor…

THE TRALF is dead. Long live the Tralf.The Tralfamadore Cafe died of a financial hemorrhage 15 months ago. The new downtown jazz club that opens tonight in its old Theater Place location with a special Ramsey Lewis benefit is an entirely new setup, formally called the Tralfamadore Jazz Institute.Call it the Tralf, though. Go ahead. Everyone else does.If you want to be…

To the unbounded joy of the audience, eight of the world's greatest living tap dancers do their stuff in "Tap" -- men like Harold Nicholas, Sandman Sims, Arthur Duncan and Jimmy Slyde. And so do the film's two stars, Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr., men no one now living could possibly top in taps.And so too does Suzzanne Douglas. The exceptionally beautiful Douglas…

COUSINS" intends to be a warm, sloppy, delightful, life-celebrating fiesta of a movie and, by God, it is.In any given year, the number of American romantic comedies that are truly and even tidally romantic can usually be counted on your thumb -- if you're lucky. Joel Schumacher's unexpectedly delightful remake of Jean-Charles Tacchella's 1975 French hit "Cousin, Cousi…

YOU CAN have "Dirty Dancing". Give me "Tap" any day.Sure, the dancing was impressively dirty in "Dirty Dancing" but you'd practically have to be made of linoleum to resist the greatest living masters of the black tap tradition doing what they do better than anyone else on earth.When it's good, "Tap" is sensational. And everything that's sensational about "Tap" happens…