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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.


ON'T YELL at me," pouts the heroine. "I've just had a fainting spell."It seems that her suave, elegantly macho lover Ivan has just left her for another woman and she's on the verge of well. . . something. She attracts other women on the verge until something like farce happens.According to the title of Pedro Almodovar's wildly acclaimed Spanish comedy, she's on the ve…

MILES DAVIS never recorded a more beautiful or concentrated or haunting blues than the title music for Louis Malle's 1959 movie "Elevator to the Scaffold." It is desperate jazz for the Age of Anxiety, a musical statement of less than three minutes that no one with any musical sense whatsoever could hear as anything less than musical Art (capital A, with all that it im…

Tess' hair just isn't "serious" and she knows it. It's such a huge puff of absent-minded wisp that it barely seems to exist at all. She wears dark fishnet stockings and says ungrammatical things like "he don't" sometimes. Her live-in boyfriend reads Motor Trend in bed.Tess does not, shall we say, project that power image. All she has is savvy -- by the acre. Far more …

Pick a date at random. Dec. 22, say.Next year, it will be the beginning of Hanukkah. If you consult the 1989 Macmillan Baseball Engagement Calendar, you discover that in that wonderful year 1914, Dec. 22 was the day that old Charlie Ebbets officially bought the Brooklyn Dodgers. (There is no mention, however, of whether old Charlie even knew at the time that the ci…

"I feel the need . . . the need for speed." -- Tom Cruise in "Top Gun"TOM CRUISE saunters in wearing a narrow-brimmed fedora, the kind that street punks in Hell's Kitchen or South Philly used to wear in 1965. It never leaves his head.His anti-fashion statement is probably the only particle of punk about him. He is an exceedingly polite and reasonably thoughtful youn…

THE BEST THING about Bill Murray's new movie "Scrooged" is the neatly satiric opening. It does -- perhaps for all time -- what many think should be done to network television's idea of Christmas programs. It goes like this: a bunch of network geniuses are sitting around the conference room scoping out the promos for the December onslaught of seasonal slush -- nifty f…

RAYMOND can do mathematical computations in his head instantly -- not just 10 x 20 but, say, 4,624 x 8,998. If you spill a box of toothpicks on the floor in front of him, he can tell you in a flash that there are exactly 296 of them.But he never talks to anyone unless he feels he absolutely has to. He never looks anyone in the eye either. And he is not allowed to leav…

Phil Woods, Warm Woods (Columbia Portrait RJ-44408) and Richie Cole, Signature (Milestone M-9162). The Raw and the Cooked. First came Bird, of course. Then came all the little Birds including Phil Woods who first made this gorgeous record in 1957. And then came Richie Cole, a kind of antic Junior Woods-man who can play fluently but all too often seems to be hacking ar…

IVAN REITMAN'S "Twins" started out with the same comic problem as "Scrooged." The biggest laugh in the whole movie begins long before you even sit down in the theater. The major delight is the idea itself, the "high concept" in Hollywood terms -- Bill Murray as Ebenezer Scrooge, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as twin brothers.Building enough variations on The …

SUDDENLY IT ALL became clear.Dustin Hoffman was talking to five members of the press in a small Manhattan hotel suite. Almost instantly, it became obvious why he is extravagantly revered by fellow actors -- and almost equally exasperating to insensitive producers and directors who consider him the embodiment of actorly neurosis and difficulty.Such communal interviews …

DOCUMENTARY photographer Paul Strand wrote to Ansel Adams and objected when Adams sold a magnificent portfolio of his own prints for what Strand calculated to be $8 apiece. Adams, he argued, was undermining photography as a fine art by denying the painterly singularity of his images.Adams, who would become the most popular of American photographers, wrote back: "To me…

POETS HAVE been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese," said G. K. Chesterton. Maybe so. But the human tendency to mate (or at least to consider it seriously) seems to be inherently funny or at least provocative to just about everyone. Money is always good and the meaning of life is nice. But very few subjects lend themselves to outrageous quotability the way l…

Bobby Previte, Claude's Late Morning (Grammavision 18-8811-1). Bobby Previte is easily Western New York's greatest gift to jazz in the '80s -- a hugely talented drummer and composer who happens to be an integral member of the most interesting thought collective on the scene at the moment (Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn, et. al.). This seems to be a quantum leap in Previte's…

BONNY BON MOTSTAKE A LOOK at the cover of the new issue of Life magazine -- the one with the sultry magnolia stares of Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley covering four fifths of it, the one announcing "ELVIS'S DAUGHTER TALKS" in hot pink lettering.Over at the side, announcing the story of lesser importance, you see "Holiday Bonus -- Why Are We Here?: The Meaning of Life…

GORDON HESSLER'S "The Girl in a Swing" is not to be confused with "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing," a 1955 film about the Stanford White -- Harry K. Thaw murder case which starred Ray Milland, Joan Collins and Farley Granger.The new "Swing" is a fantasy thriller exploring the extreme but hitherto unsuspected amount of eroticism in the international antique business.…