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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.


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I want to make a plea to American media: no more "sexual misconduct" stories. I don't mean no more stories in the current reckoning of sexual abuse for men in power positions. Quite the opposite. I think every legitimate story about sexual abuse of power should be told by anyone candid and brave enough to tell it. What has to stop is "sexual misconduct" as a generic …

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Charlie Rose. There he is with his hawkish integrity looming over his interview subject and finding openings for questions. His subject in this case is Ben Bradlee, late and legendary executive editor of the Washington Post. Rose is pushing him to get real, as he was always wont to do until The Reckoning banished him back to his living room. The occasion of the Bradl…

“The Last Interview and Other Conversations” by Christopher Hitchens with an introduction by Stephen Fry, Melville House, 178 pages, $15.99 paperback. The first and most important thing about this new paperback is that it’s part of a long series from Melville House of “Last Interview” books. In the past, they’ve collected late-period interviews from an immense variety o…

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Jazz Michel Camilo, "Live in London" (Redondo Music).  Fred Hersch, "[Open Book]" (Palmetto) The ultimate jazz piano extrovert and the ultimate jazz piano introvert. It hasn't escaped notice in jazz that Cuban piano players play the bejabbers out of their instruments (hear Gonzala Rubalcaba, Chucho Valdes and his father Bebo Valdes.) It isn't just that they are aston…

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Jazz Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan, "Small Town: Recorded Live at the Village Vanguard" (ECM) "Chamber Jazz" doesn't get a whole lot more "chamber" than this duet which was recorded at the venerable Village Vanguard by the duo that will, this weekend, mark jazz producer Bruce Eaton's return to the Art of Jazz series at the Albright-Knox Gallery. Paul Motion's "It…

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Pop Music Steve Miller Band, Ultimate Hits (Capitol/UMe, two discs) The best thing about the Steve Miller Band is that no one in his right mind would ever accuse them of being a major rock band a la The Beatles or Stones or Who or Zeppelin or U2. We probably ought to think of them as a tasty San Francisco treat, like Rice-A-Roni. What's close to irresistible about…

It was interview time. It just so happened that my "interviewer" on the other end of the phone was one of my favorite people in the world -- my grandson, whose eighth birthday is in January. As a homework assignment over Thanksgiving, his class was told to ask a grandparent -- or some other suitably ancient person -- what their life was like growing up back in the Juras…

Jazz Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, (Blue Note) A mildly disappointing sextet of fine musicians led by one of the indisputably great jazz drummers around these days, New Orleans' Brian Blade. The disc proves to be a far more effective showcase for lyrical composition than anyone might have expected from a drummer so often employed by others to swing the hou…

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Jazz Gregory Porter, Nat "King" Cole and Me." (Blue Note) Vince Mendoza once arranged, conducted and produced one of the disc masterpieces of the past 30 years -- Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" in which one of the greatest songwriters folk rock will ever have decided to show the world what she could do almost exclusively (except for her most famous song) as an inte…

Columns

It has a name now. There have been so many male casualties of sexual misconduct charges in the past five weeks that people have given it names: 1) "The Me Too Movement" to cover all the women, famous and not, who have stepped forward to say "Me Too" thereby opening up their own experiences with sexual harrassment and abuse; and 2) more darkly and importantly "The Reckoning…

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Rock The Eagles, "Hotel California: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" (Asylum, two discs) Elton John, "Diamonds" (Rocket Universal, two disc; also available in large three disc box) Let us now praise a few rock critics -- especially the first generation of passionate, often reckless American rock critics who often wrote in gleeful excess and lived the same way, no …

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“Why Write? Collected Nonfiction 1960-2013” Library of America, 452 pages, $35. Here in 1973 is Philip Roth describing with conspicuous art a 1924 photograph of Franz Kafka, taken at what was Roth’s age at the time, when a sick Kafka was 40 and approaching death. “His face is sharp and skeletal, a burrower’s face: pronounced cheekbones made even more conspicuous by the …

Books

DIARIES The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992 By Tina Brown Henry Holt 437 pages, $32 The first and greatest correspondent on journalism's Vanity beat was, of course, Ecclesiastes, who memorably reported to all of us (in King James' majestic translation) "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." All time pride of place after that belongs to John Bunyan, one of his…

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The first of the "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" has these three words on it: "Raped While Dying." On the second just yards away is written "And still no arrests." The third and final billboard in the series on Drinkwater Road asks "How Come Chief Willoughby?" Almost no one drives on Drinkwater Road anymore, not since they built the super highway. The billbo…

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This great movie season continues: "Last Flag Flying" is hilarious and melancholy and, ultimately, heartbreaking and powerful. It's a haunting film about the final errand of three Vietnam vets and it's one of the best of a marvelous year for small independent films. Their final errand together is to accompany the coffin of an Iraq War casualty home to New Hampshire, for…