For a little while in my younger days, I fell under John Simon's curmudgeonly spell.
The brutal critic's claims to the precise use of English appealed to my language-purist side. For a while, I reveled in his acerbic theater, movie and book reviews in New York magazine and other publications.
Simon, who took a sick pleasure in blasting intellectually fashionable plays, films and books, died at age 94 Monday after suffering a stroke.
After a while, I found that Simon's attacks came more from personal spite than critical acumen. He unfairly disparaged gay, black and women artists. While he claimed total honesty, he violated the critic's duty to respect the theater.
Simon contributed to my intellectual and artistic education. But like the late Hilton Kramer, he was an intellectually dishonest bully who unfairly damaged theatrical, film and literary careers.