Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 in Music

Kat: It was a tough year for music.  In fact, I think the tough year explains why critics fell for Barbra Streisand's hideous WALLS.  The critics fell for it even as her fans rejected it.  For years, the soundtrack to ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER and the studio album BUTTERFLY were said to be her worst selling albums but now WALLS has that honor.  In fact, if she releases another album that sales so poorly, don't be surprised if COLUMBIA finally gives her a gold watch and shows her the door.

Barbra sounded a little husky on the album but Joan Baez was outright croaking on WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND.  Joan Baez, Barbra Streisand, Judy Collins and various other singers would do well to really listen to how they sound now before stepping in front of a microphone again.

Fortunately, 2018 was not without its pleasures.


1) Cat Powers' THE WANDERER.

Cat returned with another masterpiece.  A lot of people would like to have the discography of, say, Joni Mitchell.  Few will ever even come close to matching Bobby Sherman.  But Cat's shaping up to be a long term artists and THE WANDERER doesn't just satisfy, it also makes you hungry for her next album.


2) Sting and Shaggy's 44/876.

They're not a pair that naturally comes to mind -- at least not in my mind.  But the two worked together to produce what was easily the most fun in music this year.  Provided they don't try to go deep, I'd love to see them pair up again.


3) Rod Stewart's BLOOD RED ROSES.

There was a time -- from about the mid-seventies through the end of the eighties -- where a lot of us eagerly anticipated each new Rod Stewart album.  Would he dazzle us by mastering a new genre or blow us away with a beautiful ballad?  We were never sure but a lot of great songs came out of that period including "You Wear It Well," Young Turks," "Tonight's The Night," "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)," "Da You Think I'm Sexy," "Baby Jane," "Some Guys Have All The Luck," "Infatuation," "Lost In You," "My Heart Can't Tell You No," etc.  Those days ended a long, long time ago.  So imagine my surprise to discover BLOOD RED ROSES and a Rod that still mattered and still committed to the song.  This is a real treat and probably the hidden find of 2018.

cowboy junkies

4) The Cowboy Junkies' ALL THAT RECKONING.

The reckoning?  That Cowboy Junkies remain a band worth listening to.  They continue to explore the space  between the notes.  It's not just what they play or sing but what they don't.  One of the finest bands recording today.

5) Neko Case's HELL-ON.

"Bad Luck" should have been the anthem of 2018.  Actually, any of the album's twelve tracks could have been the year's anthem.  HELL-ON is the album where Neko fully lived up to the critical praise she's earned for years.  If you've never been able to connect with her before, check this out.

abba cher


Cher just wants to have fun.  And when the results are this dazzling, who can argue?  "The Winner Takes It All" is a must listen.

Speaking of fun:

But I'm just dumb enough to try
To keep you in my life
For a little while longer
And I'm insane enough to think
I'm gonna get out with my skin
And start my life again

7) That's the artist known as Father John Misty.  Josh Tillman really delivered on GOD'S FAVORITE CUSTOMER. 

8) Janelle Monae's DIRTY COMPUTER.

"I Got The Juice" was on Ava and C.I.'s iPods.  I heard it for months and thought it was some classic r&b song.  It was only around Thanksgiving that my sister's kid was playing it and I said, "Hey, I know that song."  To which the snot-nosed replied, "Aunt Kat, everyone does."  Apparently he was right.  As I got into DIRTY COMPUTER, I would praise this or that song to this or that friend and the reaction was repeatedly some variation on "Duh!"  This is one of 2018's finest albums.  If you're coming to it late, like I did, remember late is better than never.


9) Dashboard Confessional's CROOKED SHADOW.

Dashboard finally did what their fans -- their long suffering fans -- have been pleading for: Chris got back to basics.  It's their best album since the 90s.


Yes, it's a Christmas album but it's truly one of my favorite albums of 2018.  "Overjoyed" alone is amazing.  With the Supremes, Diana did SING HOLLAND-DOZIER-HOLLAND.  Maybe now it's time for a DIANA SINGS MOTOWN -- where she covers Stevie, Smokey, Marvin and others.


Click here for my 2004 music piecehere for 20052006 in music2007 in musichere for 2008here  for my 2009 piece, here for my look at the decadehere for my 2010 piecehere for my 2011 piece,  here for my 2012 piece, here for my 2013 piece, here for my 2014 piece, here for my 2015 piece, here for my 2016 piece. and here for my 2017 piece.

Corruption and harrassment: 'success' in 'liberated' Iraq

When Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States, will he leave the White House?  I have no reason to suspect that he won't leave, no US president has ever required prompting.  But it's a little different in Iraq.

For example, in 2016, Nouri al-Maliki refused to surrender the prime minister's home to the new prime minister.  And now?  Months after Hayder al-Abadi's term as prime minister ended, he's still holding onto housing.  RUDAW reports:

Iraq’s parliament speaker said he does not know how many state-owned houses are occupied by the former prime minister and members of his government as a rift between the former and current prime ministers deepens.

"The speaker of the Iraqi parliament does not have knowledge about the number of state houses [former prime minister Haider] al-Abadi and other officials have not yet handed over to the government," read an announcement from the office of speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi on Monday night.

Halbousi was compelled to make the declaration after Ali Sined, a member of the Nasr Coalition led by Abadi, claimed the former premier had handed back the keys of his state residence a month ago and that the speaker was aware of the situation.

The incident was apparently sparked when security guards of current Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi reportedly stormed a building occupied by Abadi in Baghdad.

In other news,

 “I don’t want a scandal,” Samir’s female companion told him as the university security staff arrived. The two students at the University of Mosul, in northern Iraq, were sitting side by side talking in one of the gardens on the university grounds. The security men wanted to know why they – male and female – were sitting next to one another in such a ”provocative” manner.
Samir ended up arguing loudly with the men and wanted to fight them. Eventually the men took the pair’s student IDs and marched them to the campus security office, where they were questioned further.
Afterwards Samir posted messages about the incident on Iraqi social media and was surprised to be joined by dozens of other students, who all had similar tales to tell. Many of them likened the incidents to being harassed by the Hisbah, the ”morality police” belonging to the Islamic State, the extremist group that had controlled the city between 2014 and 2017.

The hisbah used to punish women who left their homes without veiling their faces and a male guardian, as well as men who shaved their beards or smoked. They also prevented the genders from mixing.
When the Islamic State, or IS, group was eventually expelled from the city, a lot of the local youth, aghast at the way religion had been used to curtail freedoms, began to demand more personal liberty. But there are still plenty of staunchly religious people in the city and they warned about the trend toward atheism, seeing it as an attack on Islam as well as the local culture and social traditions.
Life has returned to the University of Mosul and already over 30,000 students from all over Iraq and from various different ethnic and religious groups attend lectures here again. It is one of Iraq’s most important educational institutions and religious and political leaders have always tried to influence what happens here.
In less than 24 hours, it was possible for NIQASH to collect nine stories similar to Samir’s.

So much for post-ISIS liberation in Mosul. 

Some Tweets from Margaret Kimberley

  1. I meant to say executed for carrying a toy gun.
  2. Help with Nicholas Heyward Sr. Funeral Cost His 13-year old son Nicholas Heyward Jr. was killed by NYPD in 1994. Executed for carrying a gun. The crooked Brooklyn DA made no effort to prosecute. The Heywards never got justice. Please contribute if you can.
  3. Please read and watch everything you see about the Integrity Initiative. The UK government is undermining democracy.
  4.   Retweeted
    “The argument that the US has defeated ISIS is ludicrous...No one on Capitol Hill asks: Who armed ISIS? Who trained ISIS? Who financed ISIS? Who bought ISIS oil? And who gave logistical support to ISIS?” I analysed the American presence in :
  5. "My father was a slave, and I have cousins who are sharecroppers, and I do not see my success in terms of myself." testimony before . Read it all. Start the new year off right.
  6. What black people should say when asked to denounce anyone. "You are responsible, and your forebears, for sixty million to one hundred million black people dying in the slave ships and on the plantations..." Paul Robeson HUAC testimony, read it all.
  7.   Retweeted
    Thank you for sharing this article, she knows full well the dangers of creeping totalitarianism and thank you as well to for your dedication to raise awareness
  8. Free Julian Assange!
  9. Happy New Year to and to all those unjustly imprisoned.
  10.   Retweeted
    Has anyone ever done a study on the impact of studying slavery and slave culture on the mental health of historians?
  11.   Retweeted
    So, I laid Harry to rest today in very small, private celebration of life. There were words, wine, laughter and love. The beauty of human beings is we are as ephemeral as a shooting star.
  12.   Retweeted
    Brilliant woman.
  13.   Retweeted
    A good listen as ever.
  14.   Retweeted
    Listen to Russiagate: The Scam That Will Not Die by Black Agenda Radio on In this week’s Black Agenda Radio I talked to ⁦⁩ about why will not be allowed to disappear.
  15.   Retweeted
    Wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR! Many thanks to everyone standing up for my son Julian this year & for your kind messages of support to him & his family. Look what you all did this year! fever to : The biggest hashtags of 2018
  16.   Retweeted
    Really excellent interview!
  17. I discussed it all here with
  18.   Retweeted
    Replying to 
    It's also how they deflect from any criticism. Anytime someone criticizes Dems they accuse us of spreading Russian propaganda or being Russian bots. They are already doing this now, so it'll be even worse for 2020.
  19.   Retweeted
    Interesting to watch how liberal corporate press - the real manipulators of democracy - present & frame opportunist democrats for the next round of "selections." Narrow - minded visionless hacks like Biden, Harris & Booker are transformed into thinkers with actual ideas.
  20. They won't let Russiagate die. They can't. It gets the dems off the hook for losing in 2016. They get buy in for censorship and endless war. They create a permanent enemy. That won't change in 2019 and they'll definitely beat the dead horse in 2020.
  21.   Retweeted
    The people responding to you are severe sufferers of TDS, CIA brainwashing and have this on their mantles.
  22.   Retweeted
    watch the 20 minute video on the patreon page. Margaret's an important voice
  23. Give to Margaret! Only one day left! Not really. But help a sister out. I’ll start out 2019 a little happier. Thank you.
  24. The successfully prevented a deportation flight from leaving the UK to Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. They were convicted of terrorism. Sentencing in February.
  25. Um, what was this about? Why blackface?
  26.   Retweeted
    Also, can we focus this love of the Obama’s on getting Barack to sign a CBA before his library displaces southside residents.
  27.   Retweeted
    This piece ends with explicit reference to David Sirota’s (entirely factual) reporting. So it very much seems the demand here is that journalists stop scrutinizing the records of people potentially seeking the most powerful office in the world.
  28.   Retweeted
    Also, god bless NBC for using language in this tweet they’d usually apply to a dissident faction causing upheaval in a State Department-backed dictatorship
  29.   Retweeted
    Yet its Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua who are demonized and targeted? Perhaps its because it has nothing to do with human rights and everything to do with attacking countries who stand against economic exploitation and neoliberalism.
  30.   Retweeted
    Think about whats being said here: folks like this are demanding a senator use his position to order reporters to stop scrutinizing government officials. Dont bewail fascism & a war on the press if you're demanding government officials use their power to shut down reporting.
  31.   Retweeted
    Would really like you to read the 44th newsletter from , a summary of our broad understanding of the current situation & sets out part of our research agenda, . Let us know what you think. I'm always available at
  32. Let’s not use PayPal.
  33.   Retweeted
    Poland, Czech Republica, Germany all fighting over cheap Ukrainian labor. Brutal. Gotta move further and further east — beyond the EU — in search of an cheap, exploitable workforce.
  34.   Retweeted
    At least 4.6 million Ukrainians—"25 percent of Ukraine’s economically active population"—lives & works abroad legally or illegally. The actual number is likely higher. Capitalism is working.
  35.   Retweeted
    Not only have the "right wing" media shared details of my home address along with a photo of my home to all & sundry. These imbeciles sharing the picture seem redundant to the potential danger...
  36.   Retweeted
    Formerly progressive Mother Jones is using a completely bogus story generated by a Silicon Valley-funded “false flag” disinformation campaign to raise money for more Russiagate coverage. Any word on this from ?
  37.   Retweeted
    Former President of Ecuador Rafael : US Vice President Mike Pence visited . Ecuador agreed to hand over Julian Assange to US As the political cost of taking him from the Embassy is too high, they plan to break him down mentally instead
  38.   Retweeted
    You have seen the positions the Black Alliance for Peace takes & you know the work we are involved in like campaign to shut down the U.S. Africa Command & closing down NATO. If you support our independent, grassroots orientation please support us today:
  39.   Retweeted
    The Obama administration justified a war on Syria for less human death than here, and can you imagine if this was the Russians. The moral hypocrisy of the West and the U.S. in particular is incredible.
  40.   Retweeted
    Welcome to the club. NYTimes is legend for stealing other journalists' labor. They feel its their entitled right.
  41.   Retweeted
    So many wheels. So much falling: MSM channels caught using literally the same phrase to refer to resignation of Mattis
  42.   Retweeted
    Will someone make a list of impressionable 'journalists' fabricating the Bernie/Beto smear? They're carrying water for the dark persuaders of American opinion. Out them. Ignore them. Let me start: Jonathan Allen, Alex Seitz-Wald, Jonathan Chait