Archives for posts with tag: Breaking The Set

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It’s been a little over two years since Abby stopped by Disco Droppings for a conversation. I’m very grateful she has returned! I observe so many discussions on subjects like the ones below, and it can be a trip to say the least. When I think about a contribution I can make, a big part is building a space for these ideas and energies to be demonstrated. Where distinct individuals can share, and readers can take it in at their own pace, in a site that isn’t difficult to look at. I aim to keep things clean and minimal. So, in we go with this hard-hitting investigative journalist: Founder of Media Roots, Former host of Breaking The Set, Board of Directors for Project Censored, Founder of The Empire Files and quite the artist as well. I soundtracked this feature to The Prodigy album, The Fat of the Land (very fitting I’d say)..

DD Who and/or what moved you the most this past year of 2015, and what message did they bring?

AM My partner Mike, he made me follow my heart across the country. It took a leap to adventure to NYC with me to partner in our show The Empire Files. His support and intelligence has pushed my vision to a whole other level.

DD I want to go back to a past interview you did a few years ago that could use another look. I especially love your conversation with Alex & Allyson Grey, who are said to be “the most prolific psychedelic artists in the world..” There are discussions of “inner sight” and “turning within”. How does this translate to the lens through which you see the world?

AM They are truly beautiful people. I think the most important human component is empathy. Instead of speaking about the horrors of the world in the abstract, we need to start humanizing others and putting ourselves in their shoes. Whenever I report an issue, I try to report it from the peoples perspective, through the lens of the oppressed and suffering.

DD What internal human imbalances contribute most to the external dysfunctions you witness and report on, in your eyes?

AM I don’t know about internal imbalances so much as external ones that force internal strife. We are living in an economic system that institutionalizes inequality and barbarism. Poverty is deepening at an increasingly rapid rate. The extreme consequences of living under the shadow of militaristic imperialism are playing out all around us, driving desperate people to commit crime, violence and terrorism. The propaganda that maintains US Empire breeds division, hatred and discrimination. Unless people can work together to challenge the power structure in the heart of this country, I fear the dysfunction of the system will lead to its violent collapse.

DD I feel this problem with unification. What’s holding us back from coming together? What veils need to be lifted?

AM Behind the veil is the common humanity that unites us all. From nationalism to “otherism”, myths are the glue that hold society subservient. These myths also work to justify untold unjust and criminal policies. I think most division in America is bred from a manufactured fear of what we don’t know or understand. The propaganda behind the endless ‘War on Terror’ is more convoluted and effective now. Many people I related to ten years ago have since followed an extreme Islamophobic trajectory. It’s scary. In times of strife, people’s fears will take hold and fascists will rise–it’s up to those of us that are awake to support and build each other up.

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DD How is life with Telesur, the host of your new show Empire Files? And how would you describe the energy of this show vs. Breaking The Set?

AM Every episode of Breaking the Set was like a punch in the gut of hard truth. For three years I was like a steam engine, with a team of only two people to churn out a daily show. The energy output was insane, and I knew that I couldn’t keep it up. I also knew that I wanted to embark on investigative documentary work, and with The Empire Files, I’m able to invest an entire week’s worth of work to provide important and timeless context to the issues of the day. Although the budget for the show is much less than RT, it’s been an invaluable experience to learn what goes into creating a show from scratch.

DD My favorite art pieces from you are the collages. “Ganesha Nagarani”, “Business Man’s Trip” and “Earth Awakening” really draw me in. There’s this chaotic energy, and at the same time a cohesion and melding together of many elements. How has this outlet been moving for you recently? If you haven’t been focusing on this area recently, are there other visual artists you find especially striking at this time?

AM “Ganesha Nagarani” is my favorite piece! I love creating captivating, psychedelic webs of cultural expression. I still only have a staff of two helping to create the weekly production of The Empire Files, so having free time for art is limited. I’m trying to set up a show while I’m on the east coast, which will force me to produce more. Out of all the art I’ve seen in NYC so far, there is very little cutting political commentary and I hope to inject some before I move on to the next place.

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DD About the election and 2-party system. I’m remembering my high hopes for Obama, going with that “choose the lesser of two evils”, and questioning that mindset later. What’s your take on the election this year, Trump, Clinton and Sanders? What is your option for people who may think, “there’s no other way that has a serious chance”? My gut says, why project barriers and give into limitations? But I struggle with what to align myself with.

AM I think this election cycle is fascinating and promising for many reasons. The entire Republican establishment backed a candidate that its voter base totally rejected. Only good things can come from the corporate duopoly splintering like this. On the Democratic side, I think Bernie Sanders’ support is significant. It’s more than just symbolism. Unlike Obama, Sanders has a decades long record of policy votes to stand behind. Hillary’s upset so far is about a visceral rejection of the status quo and shows Americans are hungry for significant change. Unfortunately, Bernie already pledged to endorse corporate criminal Hillary Clinton as the democratic nominee and not run as an independent, which would be disastrous and demoralizing to his supporters. If he loses the nomination, I hope his base rallies behind Green Party candidate Jill Stein. I always advise people to vote with their heart, because any vote for a candidate that doesn’t represent them is a wasted vote, not the other way around. The more we marginalize third parties the more the two-party dictatorship maintains its stranglehold over the already rigged election system.

 

DD And finally, what is your mission for 2016?

AM To forgive and learn from my mistakes, and to constantly strive to be a better, stronger person.

Abby Martin – Twitter Facebook

The Empire Files – Twitter Facebook Youtube

 – Jimi Jaxon

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There was a time years ago when I ignored the news. Overwhelmed, confused and full of fear, I’d just focus on my music. Abby Martin brought me back with her show Breaking The Set. She was a guest on Disco Droppings in 2013, and researching for that interview exposed me to so many issues around the world, from a perspective I wasn’t used to hearing. It was draining enough for me to just watch episode after episode and reflect. I was so impressed with her ability to soak in mountains of information, gather up all these people and organizations from many sides of the political spectrum, often voices rarely heard on a news program, and give them a platform to share their thoughts and energy.

It’s so clear to me that Abby has a huge heart for the world. Underneath all that frustration is a desire to see people truly come together. We are one human family, more similar than we are different, and that theme was reflected all throughout her show.

I don’t fully understand everything that was talked about on BTS. I’m no expert. Refusing to blindly follow anyone, and questioning more was another major part of her series. This is more about an individual taking their passions and doing something with it. Cheers to Abby for walking down her own unique path, traveling wherever she feels led. It’s not one person’s job to save the world. She’s made her waves, and I will continue to search for my ways to do the same.

 

– Jimi Jaxon

 

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I sense so much apathy and defeatism in the world today. I also sense those that run toward something else. I’m drawn to individuals that see the best in people, and push for an expansion of consciousness. Alex and Allyson Grey are prime examples. Their psychedelic art and pursuits over nearly 40 years, have moved the world across religions, ethnicities, orientations, genders and beyond. They talked with my friend Abby Martin last week on Breaking The Set, and I feel an urge to share their conversation. May this stir minds, and open up dialogues about who we are as human beings, and what we can accomplish together.

 

Alex Grey – Twitter

alexgrey.com

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– Jimi Jaxon

 

 

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Super hyped to present the first Disco Droppings interview of 2014. After interviewing Abby Martin, RT’s Breaking The Set host last year, I was so pleased with all the people checking out the feature. I will continue expanding the scope of Disco Droppings, which mostly focuses on music and showcase a wider variety of topics. In that spirit, I want to put Breaking The Set on a pedestal once again through it’s producer, Manuel Rapalo. See the humans behind the show..

DD You are the producer of Breaking The Set, hosted by Abby Martin. What kind of work goes into producing this show? How does this balance with your life outside of the job?

 
MR Wow, I don’t even know where to begin. Producing this show is a 24/7 gig, between booking guests, digging for the stories that the corporate media misses (either deliberately or not), fact checking our sources, writing and timing the show and God knows what else… it can really be overwhelming sometimes, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exhausting. But it’s a team effort, and we care deeply about the content and believe in it strongly, that makes it worth it. Work definitely bleeds into my personal life, but I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with amazing friends and family who both inspire me and keep me from going crazy.

DD You grew up in Honduras. I didn’t know much about this country until I watched an episode of BTS back in June of this year. Abby talked about the 4th anniversary of the Honduras Coup, and the complete chaos and instability since. You joined her to speak about many of the country’s problems. Being someone that was spent a lot of time in another country before moving to the US, how was this impacted your perspective on national American issues, as well as the way America interacts with Central America?

MR I was born and raised in Honduras and immigrated to the US when I was a teenager. As proud as I am of my Honduran roots, I’m also proud and grateful for the opportunity to live in the US. Being here as an expatriate has actually given me a sense of obligation to try to help people contextualize the issues that are important to Hondurans and Latinos. And my upbringing and education in Honduras has certainly had a big role in shaping my understanding of US domestic and foreign policy. In fact, the US has played a major role in the history of Central America, both the good and the bad, and I think it’s important that this history isn’t forgotten. That’s why I’ve always been keen on shining a light on stories that challenge the way US interests continue to influence Latin America.

 

DD At 24, I’ve been attempting to widen my vision beyond just music, learn about a variety of issues and try to make some contribution for
the better. The process of taking in so much information on top of my work as an artist and my personal life is daunting. It’s also inspiring and challenging, but sometimes I just feel overrun by it all. Especially as an emotionally driven and sensitive person, I can soak in energies to very deep levels, sometimes to an extreme. I understand why many people block out so much that’s going on in the world, choosing to just focus on their immediate surroundings and relationships. However I feel like this pattern has had a devastating overall effect; allowing rights to be eroded, the planet to be pillaged to unsustainable levels, and for the governments and corporations to take precedent over ordinary citizens. What would you say to people who wish to help, but either feel overwhelmed, apathetic etc.?

MR Day to day life is hard as it is. Couple that with trying to grasp why there’s so much pain and suffering in the world and it’s hard to see anything other than defeat. But apathy is acceptance; even more so, it’s consenting to the status quo, and I really don’t believe human beings are programed to be that way. I think that people often turn away from news of a drone dismembering a child in Pakistan, or the shooting that’s happening every other school day of the year in America because that shit’s depressing. But how do you fix that? I think the first step is getting yourself informed, and I don’t mean flipping on some corporate media channel talking about Justin Bieber for a full 24 hour cycle… Seek out information for yourself and then share it, and if you have an opinion about it, share it too! People can accomplish big things when they share their opinions; just ask any same-sex couple in Illinois who’s planning their wedding this year thanks to a whole lot of people who shared the same opinion.

 

DD What are some misconceptions or criticisms of BTS, and what would you say to them?

MR I realize that this show isn’t going to please everyone. Actually, if we did I’d have to question what we were doing wrong! But I remember just before we launched the show, Abby – who’s a perfectionist, had a very clear idea of how she wanted everything formatted. Once we went on air we worried that people might not take well to the way we presented the content, but we were actually very surprised by the amount of support we got from day one. We were also surprised that the most common criticism was that Abby was “too attractive to take seriously”… we laughed it off at first, but it was very telling of how many people out there are still intimidated by a strong female voice. It’s been a great experience to watch the show grow though, and I think our viewers today appreciate our approach to discussing controversial issues; really it’s a learning experience for us too, and we’re always working on ways to make the show better.

DD I don’t just see Abby and yourself as journalists, I see real people. You guys often connect things on a very basic human level, not just a political one. What other interests or activities give you energy and inspiration?

MR I grew up spending a lot of time in nature and I love the ocean. Of course living and working in DC does limit how much time I have for making that sort of connection. But living here has allowed me to surround myself with some amazing people that inspire and motivate me every day. And although you can hardly pull me away from my email, there’s nothing more energizing than disconnecting and going off the grid every once in a while, I think that’s down right necessary.

DD Are you able to gauge the diversity within your fan base and/or viewers of BTS?

MR I wouldn’t be able to give you any statistics, but we’re very proud of how many people we’re reaching around the world. It’s always amazing when we get messages from a parent saying that one of our episodes about food safety inspired their kid, or activists in Gabon thanking us for coverage of corruption in their country’s government, it’s great to know that we’re always reaching new audiences and new demographics.

DD The fearless attitude of BTS seems to be rare these days. Who else would you lift up, as people and/or organizations that share your passions, ethics, and mindsets?

MR This is a great question because I certainly don’t feel like BTS is alone in challenging pre-established narratives. We follow investigative journalists who aren’t afraid of advocating for the public good. So shout outs to Nafeez Ahmed, Amy Goodman, Ben Swann, Andy Stepanian from Sparrow Media, our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, and really anyone on social media who isn’t afraid to share what they believe.

* Photo credit: Ian Sblacio

Manuel Rapalo – Twitter

Breaking The Set – Facebook Twitter Youtube

– Jimi Jaxon

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It is a special day here on Disco Droppings. I love a good challenge, and when I got the OK from Abby Martin for this interview I was elated and a tad intimidated. This fearless investigative journalist and artist has been on my mind daily, for her brilliant work as host of RT’s Breaking The Set. She has been instrumental in opening my eyes to a struggling world. From the NDAA to drones, Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, there is no issue that Abby is afraid to tackle. I feel empowered, highly aware and motivated to expand my horizons as an artist and human being, thanks to her tireless efforts. I’m excited to see how my work as Jimi Jaxon will evolve to include topics beyond just music, and Abby Martin is a perfect conduit for this.

Here is a wonderful and well said exert from her bio..”Whether reflecting on the natural world or the manmade world, the awakening or deadening of consciousness, cultural controlling dichotomies, the power of the mystic and all that is unknown, the condition of the social, the construction of the economic, or the corruption of the political, Abby’s work displays an intense passion for life and her deep desire to engage others in her vision.” 

 

DD When did you first begin dreaming up a show like Breaking The Set?

AM My friends and I started a proto RT type internet show about five years ago, before I knew anything about RT. We put together mini documentary investigative pieces on the same types of issues that I am covering now, and when that fell through from lack of funding I started my own media project called Media Roots that continued to cover tHhe same issues. Once I got hired at RT, I was finally able to put my passion about the issues into fruition. The concept of Breaking the Set had always been there, it was just a matter of getting the resources together to make it happen.

DD How do you feel about the scope of your work, and how far it reaches? Are you ever discouraged by stats/views that are lower than you wish, or do you trust that at least the material is available for people to take in as they find it?

AM I am always striving to be better and to reach more people with the information. But as far as the stats, it’s almost impossible to know really how many people I reach because the information is available in so many different avenues–cable, live on the internet, Hulu and Youtube. Actually counting the audience numbers is almost impossible, but every day I get at least one positive message of feedback from someone in the world who is watching, which makes everything I do worth it.

 

DD When you see examples being made of people exposing government corruption, do you consciously walk a fine line with your platform on BTS? Are you wondering where the walls are, where the limits are now with free speech?

AM Not at all. People ask me every day if I am worried to say the things I do in the way I do. The thing is, it never even crossed my mind to be. I have always spoken the truth as I see it, and I will continue to, no matter how bad things get. If I get taken down or made an example of for simply practicing my first amendment rights of free press and free speech, than we have really passed a threshold of no turning back in this country. This job and the things I try to bring attention to are much bigger than me and my life, so fear is not an option. That’s exactly what the establishment would like, and the chilling effect is exactly what this crackdown on the press is designed to do.

 

DD I want to highlight the team behind Breaking The Set. What is your crew like?

AM The show consists of four people in total: my line producer who times me out and makes the show visual. She is the badass working behind the scenes to make sure the show actually happens and airs. Then there are my two other producers Manny Rapalo and Ameera David. We advise on everything together–they really are rockstars, and I am so lucky to have such talented and passionate people on my team sharing my vision for the show and constantly striving to help me make it better. On any given work day, I don’t come up for air or even have time to get lunch because I have to make sure I have the entire show ready to be taped live at 6 pm EST and then immediately when it’s over I need to start preparing for the next day. It’s quite difficult to never be able to chill after taping because there is always the stress of what is the next day going to look like. And it also sucks to have the pressure of doing everything live because I am never entirely happy with my performance, and you only get one shot to make it right, which sucks.

DD What helps keep you focused and positive, when constantly researching and confronting difficult issues all over the world? I think some people are afraid to look into the news, feeling overwhelmed and powerless. There was a time when I ignored the world around me, and looking back into it (thanks to you especially) was extremely draining. Now I would say that I’m happy to be more of a world citizen, that isn’t solely wrapped up in my own life. 

AM This is the eternal challenge for a lot of people. I really think surrounding yourself with people who inspire you and don’t drain you is key to being content and happy with your own life, and you need to be before you begin to take on the rest of the world’s problems. For me, it’s really about finding the balance. I try to do a lot of art and get into nature as much as I can to center the insanity and stress. But I would be lying if I didn’t say I struggle with depression from constantly researching horrific and tragic topics on a day to day basis. At the end of the day, I think information is power, and enlightenment is about opening yourself up to the bad and good of everything in life. Being aware is a beautiful thing, it’s just about how you choose to channel that awareness and bring your perspective into the world. Don’t be afraid of the truth, embrace it and then focus your energy on how you can work to change just a small part of the world. Be the change you wish to see, while being a kind person to your fellow human beings. Because at the end of the day, that’s all we can ever really do.

 

DD Do you still find time to work on your graphic art, paintings and such? I bring up this area of your life, as some people just see you as a journalist.

AM Unfortunately I have such little time to myself that I don’t do nearly as much art as I would like to. But I still try to create some at least every week or so. It keeps me sane, and it really helps to tell stories and display emotions I could never verbalize on my own. The art is my conduit to do so. Right now, I am putting 150% of my entire being into the TV show. But I know art will take a more prominent role later in my life. I think finding some form of self expression is essential for every human being on earth.

Abby Martin – Facebook Twitter

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Breaking The Set – RT Hulu Facebook

– Jimi Jaxon