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dirac

New York magazine sacks John Simon

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Out with the old, in with the new: New York magazine fires soon-to-be octogenarian John Simon and replaces him with Jeremy McCarter of The New York Sun:

http://www.broadway.com/gen/Buzz_Story.aspx?ci=512102

There are things I dislike about Simon's writing, but there are very few critics around with his background in the arts and he's shown no signs of senility in print. I cancelled my subscription to New York when Tobias got the boot, but if I hadn't already done so I'd cancel it now. (Nothing against McCarter.)

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In a way this is poetic justice. I haven't read Simon in years, but I distinctly remember his comments on the age and appearance of actors who displeased him. Ruth Gordon was the victim of a particularly savage attack.

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In a way this is poetic justice. I haven't read Simon in years, but I distinctly remember his comments on the age and appearance of actors who displeased him. Ruth Gordon was the victim of a particularly savage attack.

Well I stopped New York Mag last year, but I too had stopped reading Simon years ago.

I was turned off my the nasty, sarcastic comments.

A few years ago on the way to BAM, I was in an elevator with him, and I heard him commenting on the negative feedback (to be discrete) his reviews generated and he chuckled about it.

Richard

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Well, I wouldn’t expect him to get all weepy. :FIREdevil:

Simon isn’t the most sympathetic of victims, but there are very few critics out there who know as much and have seen as much as he has, which I thought was more to the point.

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Llike richard53dog, I long ago lost interest in John Simon. I'm having a senior moment about him, however. Am I right in thinking that he was, in the 60s, vociferously, almost violently, hostile to new trends in theater casting that ignored physical type, race, ethnicity, etc.? Or was that someone else in the NYC magazine press?

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Well, I never thought I would be defending John Simon, although I would be the first to say he was too caustic most of the time...but when he saw something he truly admired he was a pleasure to read. Take a look at his review of "Doubt: A Parable" (NewYorkMetro.com) and see if you don't have some respect (grudgingly) of this old codger.

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Thank you, atm711. Simon was very kind to “The Light in the Piazza,” too, which I thought he would hammer.

Another article on the topic, from the Los Angeles Times:

http://www.calendarlive.com/printedition/c...1,6868963.story

"It was time to do something new," Moss explained in a phone interview. "I think you would be hard pressed to find a critic at any other publication or in any other art form who has had as long a run."

Simon, who can be found in the May 9 issue heaping contempt upon a "degrading, detestable" production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and warning of "rotary earthquakes" near the grave of Marlon Brando, brushed his employer's praise aside. "I seem to be in possession of all my faculties. People tell me that my writing has not fallen off in any way. I'm physically un-disabled," the critic said Tuesday. "But I am old, and no doubt I have a point of view that is not a point of view of young folks today. I can see what they're up to, and I can't say that I cannot understand it. I just didn't think it would come at this time, and without any previous warning."

Stanley Kauffmann has been film critic for The New Republic since about 1968, and he started writing for the magazine well before that. He’s going strong, too. I hope TNR doesn’t follow suit and throw the geezer out on his ear.

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I'm told that Simon was somewhat mellower in his dotage and I'll take ATM's word for it, among others. But it doesn't mitigate what went before. He was way beyond "caustic;" he was a character assassin who should have been fired long ago.

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I thanked atm711, but it occurs to me that I should have extended that thank-you to all of you for posting! :FIREdevil:

Simon is a regular contributor to The New Criterion on matters literary, so he's not disappearing from the map. (He could be advantageously substituted for Mark Steyn as theatre critic, IMO.......)

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It's a hard call -- keep a veteran critic (who IS caustic, and probably whether one likes him or not has depends on whether he's skewed a favorite or two) or let in a fresh breeze. Or, translated into business terms, fire an elder and let in a younger person. Which is age discrimination and against the law.

I winced at many a Simon column when I read New York (which I haven't for many years; I'd just read the dance coverage, when there was dance coverage). But I also admired him for going, week after week, to mediocre work and saying it was mediocre. I have a soft spot for critics who can't be hyped. Then on the next week -- the 21st, say, after a run of 20 pans -- he'd see something he thought was genuinely good and he'd say so. I admired that rigor. It's hard to do that.

I'm glad he's still writing.

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