Archives for posts with tag: U.S.

 

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I like having options.

I enjoy and celebrate diversity.

I seek out energies that bring out and affirm the best in me.

It has become clear to me that through many divisive tactics, diversity is being manipulated, suppressed and punished. This Presidential Race in America is just another example of giving the appearance of options, while the powers that be seek to silence opposition, leaving us with a mindset that it’s really only about the two major parties. This strategy has played out before us time and time again, and the environment created is quite bleak in my opinion. It has brought out the worst in us: a climate of fear, limitation and brutishness.

Instead of just looking at something terrible and assuming there’s nothing that can be done, some go another route. Some shine a light on disorder for the purpose of transforming it. Often attacked for merely pointing out dysfunctions and seeking greater freedom, we often fight those who are actually doing the good work.

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But there is much to be said about the relentless spirit. That determination to be heard, to be counted, to be acknowledged. Obstacles and negativity may be multi-form saying, “there’s nothing wrong here”, “you don’t belong here”, “follow the herd”, “your path doesn’t work”, “you’re too different” or “we won’t let you in”. Despite strong contrasts, individuals come forth to strongly say, “I exist. I belong here. I have something to say. I matter”. In today’s case, I’m talking about U.S. Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein, VP Candidate and International Human Rights Activist Ajamu Baraka, The Green Party and the Social Movements they are in harmony with. These individuals and groups are pointing out disorder, while also presenting strategies and policies they believe have the highest possibility for positive transformation of the environmental, economic, political, sociological and justice systems in America.

2016 Full Platform

This is encapsulated in the phrase used by Jill and her campaign, “People, Planet & Peace over Profit”. People over profit, such as their commitment to not accepting money from corporations. Such as their commitment to indigenous people’s rights, lands and respecting treaties, most recently at the Dakota Access Pipeline (Bold Alliance Petition). Such as their willingness to address systemic racism, police brutality and mass incarceration in this country (in harmony with Black Lives Matter), pointing out root causes and tracing back this pattern of oppression. Repairing communities, establishing community run police review boards, releasing non-violent drug offenders from prison and demilitarizing the police are a few steps they are ready to enact if elected. There’s also their call for health care as a human right, and their respect of all life regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or any other distinguishing factor. One of their boldest demonstrations of people first, is their call to end student debt in America and free 44 million people from economic slavery. If we can bail out Wall St., we can do it for the students who are being held hostage, unable to fully participate and contribute to the economy and to society with their skills and intelligence. They would demand education as a human right,  guarantee tuition-free education from pre-school through university and protect public schools from privatization.

Planet over profit, with their call for a Green New Deal. Transferring us away from fossil-fuels to 100% renewable energy by 2030. This emergency shift is an answer to the myriad of environmental problems that we have brought on ourselves . When 7 species of bees are now on the endangered species list for example (For those in WA: Environment Washington), something is seriously wrong. Anyone whose is capable and willing can receive a full-time job transforming the economy, investing in public transit, developing and protecting sustainable energy systems, food systems, ecosystems and infrastructures under this Green New Deal.

Peace over profit, by having a foreign policy that’s based on international law and human rights. Fighting terrorism with a “Peace Offensive”, including a weapons embargo and halting funds to countries that fund terrorism. They call to cut the military’s budget by 50%, close hundreds of foreign military bases, transitioning those jobs to ones in renewable energy, transportation and green infrastructure development. They also call for the banning of drone use for assassination, bombing and other offensive purposes and leading the charge for nuclear disarmament. These are just a few elements of their Platform that stand out to me.

There are those who would scoff at such talk. But it’s that kind of strength, that kind of teamwork, that kind of intelligence and love, that empowered individuals and organizations to demand change for the better through the ages. When the powers that be say it’s OK to treat black people, brown people, women, LGBTQIA+ or any other minority and/or group as lower than human, it takes stronger collective positive energy to comfort, uplift, empower, inspire, bring justice and raise consciousness above bigotry, hatred and oppression. When the powers that be say it’s OK to treat the environment any which way with little or no regard for respecting Life and delicate balances of ecosystems, it takes the stronger collective positive energy of individuals to raise consciousness above recklessness, ignorance and destruction, towards greater harmony, efficiency and conservation. And when the powers that be say it’s OK in the “land of the free” to restrict the political system to only two sets of party voices, under the guise that they are diverse enough to represent the voices of this country and act on their behalf, it takes the stronger collective positive energy of the People to raise consciousness above limitation, fear and manipulation, towards greater freedom, and diversity of opinion and policy.

I feel Jill and Ajamu have the strongest foundation and platform, with the full backing of their party and finances that don’t come from big money, to begin lifting us out of this mess and into a better, more harmonious age. Tinkering with the system won’t be enough. The system has let us down. And we let ourselves down, when we bow to the powers that be and willingly give up our freedom, voice and power. Cheers to Jill Stein, Ajamu Baraka, The Green Party and all those working towards a brighter future.

**Jill illustration credit: JGENNNillustrations

– Jimi Jaxon

 

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To start off, I’ll say that Porter Robinson’s ‘Worlds’ show was one of the best I’ve ever seen! It was in the same room and on the same stage that I saw Daft Punk in 2007, when my interest in electronic music first started. Being there got me on a path to be an artist myself, start this site and eventually do this interview present day. I saw and felt some similar things, both shows representing originality, top-notch stage/light productions, emotional depth, perfect cohesion and the ability to create different versions/edits of their songs, new and old. 

So rare that I can speak with someone whose had a hand in bringing such a memorable show to life.  They just recently wrapped up a massive U.S. tour, and are now preparing for the final shows in South Lake Tahoe (California), London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Luxembourg and Australia. Cheers to every person involved in this tour, both mentioned and not. And of course, thanks to Porter Robinson for crafting this beautiful album. Now, onto my conversation with ‘Worlds’ VJ and show collaborator, Ghostdad..

 

DD Hey man! So kool to have you on Disco Droppings a second time. Onto even more massive things!

GD Thanks man glad to be back!

DD In the first part of the ‘Worlds’ live tour documentary, Porter mentioned the two of you spending four straight days in one place, figuring out how to execute this live visual show. Did your own experiences and inspirations come through in this collaboration? You worked alongside each other in 2012 as well, and I’m curious about your fingerprint on this next level..

GD Those four straight days were spent editing the show. The content itself was developed over a much longer process and involved many artists. All the illustrated animation you see in the show was directed by Invisible Light Network who are also in NY. There was recently a great write up about their process in Animation World Network. I met up with Elliot at ILN a few times while his team was at work, and also made a batch of visuals for the show. I had been playing around with 3D stuff using Blender and Photoshop, and Porter was really feeling the low poly vintage 3D vibe, so a lot of what I made was in that zone and added a nice contrast to the 2D animation. Porter was back and forth with all of us through that process before I collected all the footage and brought it down to North Carolina for the fabled four day editing session.

So my role kind of shifted from creating content to edit mode. We ended up making some new things too that week from existing material or as transition pieces. Our goal of cutting all the visuals to music ahead of time, was to do something that was super tight and related directly to the beat or sometimes individual instruments in the live mix. We wanted to emphasize things with tighter cuts to the beat rather than fades or transitions. Luckily this goes in line with how I like to perform visuals. I think Porter and I share the goal of wanting to catch the viewers attention unapologetically. There’s something inherently dazzling about video that lines up with a song, but we both like it when it really hits you in the face and doesn’t leave your senses to interpret the timing or the mood. That way you can just chill out and feel it completely.

 

DD What is the feeling like this time around? Compared to the “Language Tour”?

GD We’re very proud of this show. Ben Coker also had a tremendous role in preproduction. He designed everything you see on stage including the clear table Porter performs on. His sleepless nights came in Vancouver when we put the rig together for the first time and he really got into the nitty gritty of programming the lights.

We were proud of the Language tour as well, and that gave us a chance to try different things. On that tour Porter could change up his DJ set, and we could try different things with the visuals and lighting and see how our styles all fit together. But for the Worlds tour Porter had a very solid vision of what he wanted his music to LOOK like, and that gave us a chance to think about how we could best present that vision live ahead of time.

So we’re intensely proud of Worlds as a touring production and very thankful for everyone who helped put it together. We worked with a bigger crew on this one and it wouldn’t have been as consistent a presentation of an amazing show without a solid team to see it through.

DD As I’ve taken in everything surrounding ‘Worlds’, it’s given me new insight into the reality I find myself in and am creating. These fictional universes have given me fresh eyes to see what’s out there. How has all this translated for you?

GD Sometimes I think about all the places we’ve been these past few years and how those can inspire fictional landscapes. Like the coastline in Australia or the highway that takes you into Hong Kong. We’ve seen some really beautiful places in both a natural and urban setting. Tokyo of course another amazing place just to be immersed in even for a day. Some of the stuff I make is collage based and uses photos so I like to think about how I can relate fictional landscapes to places I’ve been. It’s a nice way to remember.

DD For days and days after the Seattle show, I had lyrics and melodies swirling around in my head. You spend more time with this imagery and music than most, do you find your mind superimposing these environments into your day to day travels? Having your vision glitch out in a way?

GD By the end of this tour I knew every frame of the show. I could probably hear a song from the album now and see what’s on the screens in my head at that exact moment. I’m also way too used to being in dark theaters all day. Staring at the screens every night definitely leaves some of the images burned into my eyes. I’ll have to spend some time in the daylight and see if anything does glitch out in my vision. Could be interesting!

DD Any especially special moments on tour so far?

GD San Francisco was a really big show. 7000 people showed up and were all totally feeling it top to bottom. That was a definite morale boost early on in the tour. The Aragon in Chicago also stands out as a really cool show just because of the history in that theater. Old theaters always have sort of a spooky magical feel and in that one we took a tour of the catwalks above the ceiling and got to check out the old pipe organ that still plays from the balcony. And finally the 9:30 club in DC was an incredible show. DC is an awesome town for live music, in part because the 9:30 Club has always placed emphasis on keeping their venue all ages and making it really comfortable for concertgoers. That kind of puts the focus on the show a little more I think. The crowd there was singing every song.

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*Concept pictures credit to ILN on Tumblr

*Transparent gifs provided by Ghostdad on Tumblr

DD I watched this behind the scenes documentary about Blade Runner. Ridley Scott would play the soundtrack to the cast and crew during filming to help immerse everyone further. Is there anything similar to that for the crew/yourself as you travel all over?

GD Soundcheck before the doors opened was a good daily ritual on this tour. It was Ben and I’s chance to make sure the show was working and in synch and also make any changes we wanted for that day. Porter would also come out and watch the show, or sometimes just chill on stage and work out some new synth parts. It was a good chance to make sure everyone was on the same page before showtime.

DD And how was that opening DJ set you did for one of the shows?

GD Oh yah that DJ set was fun!  I didn’t really plan it out so I was sort of playing random jams. People seemed to dig it though so maybe I should do some more! I used to DJ a lot but have been more into production and the visual thing the last couple of years.

DD Any last words? Seriously wish you all the best with the remainder of the tour and beyond. You’re doing reallllly superb things Ryan.

GD We’re looking forward to some good shows in Europe and Australia! I’ve also got some other projects I’m working on for the new year including music from my band WIN WIN and a new website that will showcase the visual work I’ve done with several artists these past few years. So stay tuned for that!

Ghostdad – Twitter

djghostdad.com

porterrobinson.com

– 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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In President Barack Obama’s words, from the 2013 State of the Union Address..

“America must also face the rapidly growing threat from cyber-attacks. We know hackers steal people’s identities and infiltrate private e-mail. We know foreign countries and companies swipe our corporate secrets. Now our enemies are also seeking the ability to sabotage our power grid, our financial institutions, and our air traffic control systems. We cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.

That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.” 

At first glance, this looks fine. Cyber attacks are a real threat, and defenses need to be there. But the nature and scope of these defenses, and their invasive, vague language is a big problem. CISPA would allow private companies, intelligence firms and homeland security a way to freely share private user information. If the information is deemed a “cyber threat” it can be shared with impunity. As if it wasn’t enough for every American to have their online activities recorded since 9/11 via the NSA. CISPA goes further and removes any legal problems a third party business or intelligence agency could run into for sharing information with the government. So for our own protection, Americans will have absolutely no privacy online. Once again the rights of the people are trampled over by the government, all based on fear. 

 

I see a big gap between what the President says, and what’s going on behind the scenes. The U.S. government has hounded whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, for revealing America’s true colors. They would deem whistleblowers as “cyber threats”, and with the passage of CISPA it would be much easier to hunt these people and organizations down. From childhood I’ve been taught that if you’re dishonest about your activities or your doing something that’s harming others, that’s wrong. If someone points this out to you, you should listen, examine yourself and stop the bad behavior. It seems that in the world of American government, those rules don’t apply. If you do something that’s wrong, hide it, lie about it, and if someone points it out, try to throw them in jail. Great lesson for all the youngsters out there. 

These attitudes show that this country doesn’t actually believe in all that freedom and liberty stuff. They are only words if actions do not follow. I’m not sure what to call this country anymore. Tracking every move of Americans online, stripping away my right to a trial under the NDAA, leading a witch hunt against those exposing corrupt government practices and pushing for a final end to internet privacy with CISPA doesn’t sound like America. Call it the United States of Dystopia; one nation under fear, with liberty and possible indefinite detention for all. 

 

CISPA, aka H.R. 624 has now been referred to the House Committee on Intelligence. With an executive order passed to give it a boost, support from companies like Facebook, and a lack of serious conversation about it in the mainstream media, the government hopes to get it passed into law. It seems intentional to constantly bombard citizens with confusing acronyms like SOPA/PIPA/FISA/CISPA and cryptic language so they don’t understand or don’t care about the nature of these bills. It’s draining to attempt to unpack all this information at my small level. But for the sake of the internet, and to join those who wish to protect and encourage it, I will continue to share my thoughts and stand up against the powers that be. Internet pioneers and activists like Aaron Swartz didn’t die for the rest of us to sit back and take it lying down. 

There is still time to contact Congress and say “violating our privacy is not an option.”. To find out more information and get involved, check out these sites..

Cispaisback.org

Savetheinternet.com 

– Jimi Jaxon