Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 in music

Kat: The last year of the decade was one of the best, believe it or not.  The hardest thing on the ten was not cheating with "tie" which would have allowed me to have had 11 or 12 or 13 in to the top ten.  In a meager year, I might have gone with that.  But the ten chosen are strong and stand all on their own they shouldn't have to share with anyone else. 


1) Mavis Staples's LIVE IN LONDON.

Mavis delivered a live album that was the finest album of 2019.  I think it would have been the finest album of any year.  This is an album that no true collector can be without.  It's hard to pick one track to highlight but I'll go with "Love and Trust."

2) Coldplay's EVERYDAY LIFE.

Coldplay re-emerged with an album so good it matches their masterpiece A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD.  If you ever were along for the ride with this band, make a point to catch up with them now.  "Daddy" is my favorite track on the album.

3) Dionne Warwick's SHE'S BACK.

2019 had some strong music and the third strongest album of the year was made by a woman who first captured our attention in 1962 with "Don't Make Me Over."  "Tears Ago" is my favorite track on the album.

But I love everything.  And I'm thrilled Dionne's back. 

4) Solange's WHEN I GET HOME.

The artistic sister.  Solange continues to veer off the highway with her musical choices and it's a road trip we're glad to take with her.  "Sound of Rain" is trippy, different and amazing.

5) James Blake's ASSUME FORM.

A strong confessional album.  James has never been better.  Here's the title track.

What we really need is for Solange and James to go into the studio together.  They are pioneers and their collaboration would be something to here.

6) Mavis Staples' WE GET BY.

Mavis owned 2019.  Not only did she release the incredible live album, she also released this studio album.


I like Billie's album.  I'm interested in what comes next.  But I'm comfortable with it being number seven.  Maybe I'm down-grading due to the 'poppy' nature of the album?  Maybe. 

8) Vampire Weekend's FATHER OF THE BRIDE.

This is a growth album for the group.  It reminds me of one of the Rolling Stones' growth spurt albums, like AFTERMATH or BEGGARS BANQUET.  I think this is an album that will only grow stronger with each listen.  Here's one of my favorite tracks from the album, a duet with Haim's Danielle Haim, "We Belong Together."

9) Harry Styles' FINE LINE.

I love "Falling."

I love the whole album. 


America's never been sold on EPs.  That's extend-plays.  More playing time than a single, less than a full album.  The band's from Australia.  They deserve to be heard.  Doubt it?  Stream "Real Thing."

If that doesn't sell you on the EP, I don't think anything else will.


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. here for my 2017 piece, and here for my 2018 piece.

2019 in Books (Martha & Shirley)

Another year winds down.  2019 may still be too fresh to strike either of us as memorable but there were some good books we read this year.  Here are your picks for the top ten and, in Friday's gina & krista round-robin, we'll offer the next 20.


Ava and C.I. reviewed this one in the gina & krista round-robin.  Said it was the best non-fiction book of the year.  Clearly, the community agreed.  As Robyn observed when voting her choices, "How have we spent decades ignoring this issue?  This should be front and center of every discussion."  Instead, it barely made it as a fleeing topic in the Democratic debates this year.

2) Jacqueline Woodson's BROWN GIRL DREAMING.

Betty and C.I. led the book discussion for this one at the gina & krista round-robin.  They divided the book into four sections and moderated four discussions on it with participants Keesha, Gina, Beth, Ann, Marcia, Cedric and Darren.  

3) Carly Simon's TOUCHED BY THE SUN.

Ava and C.I. noted the book in a TV piece and Polly reviewed it for POLLY'S BREW.  This was a book with built-in interests -- first, you had another book by Carly whose BOYS IN THE TREES topped the 2015 list, second, you had a book about Jaqueline Onassis.  

3) Marguerite Young's MISS MACINTOSH, MY DARLING.

Twelve weeks.  A book discussion every week.  This mammoth novel is almost 1200 pages.  When Lauren announced she wanted to do a book discussion on this book, she warned about the page length.  Lauren moderated the discussions and participants for every one of the 12 discussions (we're not naming those who dropped out) were Gina, Krista, C.I., Ava, Wally, Kat, Trina, Bradley, Tori, Gareth, Elaine, Polly, Maria and us (Martha and Shirley).  We don't know about the others but that book was a heavy lift.  A worthy read, absolutely, but a heavy lift.  Lauren notes that HARP SONG FOR A RADICAL, Young's book about Eugene V. Debs, is what made her want to read MISS MACINTOSH, MY DARLING.  "But I knew it was going to have to be a group read to keep me focused on a book this huge," she told us.

4) Ronan Farrow's CATCH AND KILL

Meryl knew.  That really is the take away as Ava and C.I. pointed out in their review of the book for the gina & krista round-robin.  "Did Meryl think Rose was a fool?"  That's what they titled the book.  Rose McGowan called Meryl Streep out on her s**t and Meryl lied to the world.  'Oh, I just found out, I never knew.'  Maybe she could get away with it before Ronan's book.  In the book, Ronan tells Meryl what he's working on -- the assaults by Harvey Weinstein.  Meryl's response?  Don't do that, Harvey donates to so many great Democratic causes.

Oh, Meryl.  Cheap is not a good shade on you.

So, yes, she knew long before anyone.  She appears to have known when Ronan told her -- already known.  But if she wants to try to offer a non-defense, she can correct the public record to, "I didn't know until a year or so ago."

She could also explain why she refused to speak out during that time.  There are a lot of nuggets in the book and -- to quote from Ava and C.I.'s review -- "Don't think for one moment that you know the whole story and can skip the book."


5) Debbie Harry's FACE IT: A MEMOIR.

Blondie was a one of a kind band and Debbie's produced a one of a kind book.  Elaine nailed it in her review, everything about the book, including its look, is unique.  


Betty reviewed this one and the book works best as an art book, a showcase for Joni's watercolors.  


Ann and Trina covered this one for HILDA'S MIX.  Both love to cook, both can enjoy a meatless meal and are trying to find new ones.  "The ideal starter cookbook," they concluded.  "And one that benefits all levels of cooks."


Hilda reviewed this book in HILDA'S MIX.  Hilda dubbed the book "fascinating" and insisted "you don't need a science background to understand or enjoy" the book.  Enough of you agreed with her to make it the eighth most popular pick for 2019.


Roundtables are spontaneous, not planned.  Back in April, a gina & krista round-robin roundtable took a detour when Marcia and C.I. began discussing this book with regards to Gina raising the issue of whether family members can write memoirs worth reading or not?  Stephen L. Carter wrote a book about his grandmother and it's very much worth reading. 

10) Holly George-Warren has produced JANIS: HER LIFE AND MUSIC

Kat reviewed and ranked this book among the best of the books focusing on Janis Joplin.


Martha and  Shirley have also done the year in books for 20182017, 201620152014201320122011, 20102009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005.


From BURNPITS360.org:

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Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, December 31, 2019.  The US Embassy in Baghdad is stormed.  If you're not an adult, please don't join the conversation, we don't have time for the faux 'resistance' to try to turn this into another obsessive Donald Trump Twitter thread.

Well who didn't see this happening?  Basically the entire western press who makes a point to masturbate daily on the public's time when not pontificating about all things small and petty while ignoring reality.

The US Embassy in Baghdad has been stormed today.

What's going on?

Well since the press wouldn't tell you let's watch them scramble.

In the meantime, you can refer to this from Sunday and Monday:

  • Iraq snapshot
  • Joe hits bumpy waters on the campaign trail and th...

  • As we pointed out, attacking Kata'ib Hezbollah was attacking the Iraqi military.

    Last Friday, there was a rocket attack that killed 1 US contractor and left four US service members injured.  Now they were disappeared from the story, the four wounded.  Apparently, it was too 'messy' for the press.  The way Mark Bingham was disappeared from the 9/11 coverage when it was discovered he was gay.  Not saying the four were gay, just that they 'embarrassed' the press -- remember there's no war in Iraq, Barack ended. 

    That lie is embraced by so many.

    On Sunday, the US government bombed Kata'ib Hezbollah reportedly killing at least 25 members. 

    Kata'ib Hezbollah -- and all the militias -- were folded into the Iraqi military.  Nouri al-Maliki had wanted to do that.  Hayder al-Abadi formally did that.  Both were installed by the US government.  Now many of us were outraged that these thugs were being made a part of the Iraqi military.  Barack was president and he didn't opposed a damn thing so take that party to his house.

    No surprise, many in Iraq are outraged.  Yesterday afternoon came news that the prime minister of Iraq (that's a whole other story -- we'll get to it) was calling out the US government.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Monday condemned U.S. air strikes on bases of Iranian-backed Iraqi militia, a move that could plunge Iraq further into the heart of a proxy conflict between the United States and Iran. 

    [. . . ]

    “The prime minister described the American attack on the Iraqi armed forces as an unacceptable vicious assault that will have dangerous consequences,” his office said.

    Merrit Kennedy (NPR) reported yesterday:

    "We stress that Iraq is an independent country, and its internal security takes priority, and serious attention, and will not be allowed to become a battlefield, or a route for launching attacks," Iraq's Foreign Ministry said in a statement about what it planned to tell the U.S. ambassador.
    [. . .]
    Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's office said in a statement that he received a call from U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper shortly before the airstrikes and asked for them to be called off. Abdul-Mahdi decried the strikes as a unilateral act by the U.S.-led coalition that is considered a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.

    She doesn't note what other reports do, Mahdi has stated that as soon as he was informed, he attempted to contact Kata'ib Hezbollah to warn them.

    That's a key detail.

    It will have a huge impact, going forward, on US government interaction with Mahdi. 

    A huge detail like that needs to be reported, not ignored.

    Falih Hassan and Ben Hubbard (NEW YORK TIMES) report:

    Thousands of protesters marched into Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone on Tuesday after prayer services for the militia fighters killed in the American strikes. While few of them were armed, many were members of Kataib Hezbollah and other groups that are technically overseen by the Iraqi military. The militia is separate from the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, although both groups are backed by Iran and oppose the United States.
    At the United States Embassy, protesters broke security cameras, covered the compound walls with anti-American graffiti and lit a guardhouse on fire. After breaking open a compound entrance, dozens of men entered and lit more fires inside while embassy security guards fired tear gas.
    The demonstrators did not break into the embassy buildings, but their ability to storm the most heavily guarded zone in Baghdad prompted speculation that they had received at least tacit permission from Iraqi security officials sympathetic to their demands.

    The report has already resulted in two responses on Twitter.

    Replying to 
    The militias try to storm the US embassy in Baghdad, NOT "IRAQ PROTESTERS "

    Kareem Khadder, Arwa Damon and Angela Dewan (CNN) report:

    The pro-Iranian demonstrators were mostly from Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a coalition of predominantly Shiite militias, and three leaders of powerful militia groups were also seen at the protest.

    55 minutes ago, President Donald Trump Tweeted:

    Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will. Now Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. They will be held fully responsible. In addition, we expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!

    So when you see liars and whores Tweeting something from five minutes ago, grasp that they are shameless liars and whores who hopes no one checks on them.

    While Iranian-backed Shiite militia belonging to Hezbollah masquerading as "Iraqi protesters" are storming the largest US embassy in the world in Baghdad, Trump is tweeting about "sleepy Joe Biden" and his son Hunter. 🙄🙄

    Lying whore.  Grasp it, remember it.

    The US embassy in Iraq was attacked by protesters, gunfire was heard and a guard tower was set on fire. Not sure who is in the embassy, supposedly some military. The first tweet by is about Joe Biden. Good to know what his priorities are.

    And good to know that you have no ethics and a difficult relationship with the truth.

    There is a whole swarm of liars who are bound and determined to lie.  Why?  Because this can't be about Iraq for even one moment.  The faux 'resistance' must live their lives through a Donald Trump prism.  They're obsessed and they are liars and whores who are destroying the county.  Imagine if they'd used that time to work on ending wars, on addressing climate change, on actually doing something.  Instead, like rabid dogs, they foam at the mouth and show the entire world that they will lie in their efforts to smear Donald Trump.

    I've known Donald for years and, honestly, I'm shocked that anyone has to work so hard to say bad things about him.  They really have to work hard and they have to lie.  Every time they lie and get exposed, it just shows how unethical they are.  It also allows the pro-Trump faction to point out that they were caught lying on this and then argue so they must be lying about something else.

    The US Embassy in Baghdad was attacked and they want to play political football with it.

    I seem to recall the press and a lot of the public attacking Mitt Romney for doing that with Benghazi.

    There's much to address in what is happening right now -- including should US forces still be on the ground in Iraq -- a much larger issue than Donald Trump. 

    Important.. The Iraqi National Security Council headed by the PM Abd Mahdi considers the US bombing of the headquarters a violation of the Iraqi sovereignty, and this pushes the government to reconsider the relation with the led by the US.

    There's the fact that Mahdi is strutting around as prime minister again.  Supposedly, he was going to be in the background until replaced.  There's the anger over the attack on the Iraqi military -- that's what Sunday's bombing was -- which has many Iraqis outraged. 

    1. Iraqis throwing stones at US Embassy. This comes after Iraqis have put up with US occupation, rape, murder and meddling for decades. Time the western imperialists leave.

    Kata’ib supporters wearing an |ian flag attempting to break down a CCTV Camera at the Embassy I’m ,

    1. "(Qasem) Soleimani is my leader." Outside the US Embassy in 's $GreenZone.

    The Iraqi people do not want to be controlled by the US government or by the Iranian government.  There is, for some, an anti-Iranian government aspect to the ongoing, months long protest.

    The strike on Sunday was not smart in a large number of ways.  I'd noted Condi Rice here and how every time it seemed Moqtada al-Sadr was on the ropes in the early years of the Iraq War, she'd make some stupid remark that elevated him instead of letting him hang himself.  Now Moqtada's one of the country's most popular leaders.  Thank Condi for that.

    And thank Donald Trump for blowing the moment where strong divisions were emerging between Iran and Iraq. 

    There are real issues at stake here, including the future of Iraq.

    So if you think you're helping anyone by lying that Donald Trump hadn't Tweeted about the attack, you're not. 

    The world can't afford you.  You may have the luxury of lying and indulging in sloth but the world is suffering and if you can't address that you really need to stop pretending you're part of a grown up conversation.

    There are real issues here and maybe the immature 'resistance' can't handle real issues?  Who know.  A Tweet from a guy who served in the US Navy exhibits outrage that Donald is saying Iraq must protect the Embassy. 

    Any US Embassy has a small number of military support for protecting.  But it is always the host country's job to protect an embassy on their soil.  And what was the Iraqi government's response?  Did they send forces to attempt to disrupt the crowd attacking?  If not, why not?

    They may have sent some contingent of forces (they should have) but what they did needs to be known and discussed.

    BREAKING: Iraqi supporters of a Shiite militia have broken into the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad after smashing a door and storming inside, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire. The attack on the compounds follows deadly U.S. airstrikes.

    Protesters set fire to guard tower of US embassy compound in Baghdad in unrest over recent US air strikes - reports

    Kataib Hezbollah protesters breaching the gates of the US embassy in Baghdad. They say they will stay till US troops leave. It’s the biggest US embassy in the world & supposedly secure but hard to see how diplomats can remain now

    These are real issues. 

    The best video of the storming of US Embassy in Iraq is not coming from America but from , an Iranian based media outlet. US media showing handful of protesters burning trees and throwing rocks. Deception to the very end

    Our latest on the storming of the gates of US embassy Baghdad, with an eyewitness account by the great

    We don't need to be sheltered, we need to have an adult conversation.

    Violent Mob Storms, Burns Embassy in — American Soldiers Seen Trapped on Roof .S.Embassy...

    Is that true?  I have no idea.  But it's a scary thought, "American Soldiers Seen Trapped on Roof."  If that's true, it needs to be reported.  If it's true, we need to seriously look at what's going on.  I'd argue for Congressional hearings.  That image, I would argue, demands Congressional hearings.

    The following sites updated: