In this episode of The Common People Podcast we take a detour. Actually, detour might not be the appropriate word here. It’s more of a complete makeover than a detour. In the first 19 episodes of the podcast we heard from an awesome mix of people, but sometimes we left ourselves wondering, as great as it is to listen to these people and their stories, can’t we bring them to life? Turn these soundbites and figments of the imagination into something so tangible that they have real form. So we are pleased to announce with The CPP’s transition to video that we feel like the blind man who has spent a lifetime in darkness only to wake up one day with his vision restored.
This first video episode of the podcast takes you on a tour of Los Angeles. Hear it, see it, experience it. We hope you enjoy, thanks for checking us out!
Today on the podcast I sit down with my old friend Dan Berstein to talk about mental health. We talk about his personal experiences with bipolar disorder, we discuss different perspectives on mental health and we dive into some of the work he has done as a mental health professional, most recently as a mediator focusing on communication and conflict resolution in mental health.
Just a little background about Dan. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in college at the age of 19 after a manic episode. Since then, he has spent 10 years learning about communities in mental health and developing skills that could help improve how people communicate about mental health issues and the different perspectives in mental health. He spent some time in law school and learned about mental health law, he interned at The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and he studied at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in the mental health department to learn more about the science of mental illness and mental disorders. He trained as a mediator with the New York Peace Institute and sat on their mediator advisory board where he learned more about different conflict resolution processes. He has been a facilitator and operations committee member of the Mood Disorders Support Group of New York where he facilitated support groups for people living with bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anyone with any kind of mental disorder under 30 and their family members and supporters. He hosted The National Dialogue on Mental Health in their first event in NYC and the first one around the country that brought together different stakeholders and then he was asked to give a webinar for all the future event organizers to learn how to do the same. He has given trainings to mediators in over 10 states and has facilitated webinars for the National Association for Community Mediation and for the federal government teaching people about how to communicate better about mental health issues.
Thanks for tuning in everybody!
In this episode of the podcast I sit down with a special guest, world-renowned DJ Rob Swift (aka Brolic Arm), and together we take a deep dive into the world of DJing. Rob was first introduced to the turntables as a young kid, where he spent years learning his way around the turntable under the guidance of his older brother and father. Then, in 1991, he joined a Harlem-based DJ crew known as the X-ecutioners (originally the X-Men). Within a year he won the DMC east coast title and became an unstoppable force in the DJ world. Rob and the X-ecutioners achieved mainstream success, part of which was fueled by their hit ‘It’s Goin Down,’ which they did in collaboration with Linkin Park. Eventually, Rob decided to head out on his own to establish himself as a solo artist and to reclaim some of the creative energy that he felt was lost during the group’s rise to mainstream success.
Rob hit the ground running in his solo career, starting with an album he released in 1998 called ‘The Ablist’ and following that up with 4 more solo albums. Over his career, he’s experimented with all types of genres – hip hop, jazz, classical music – and collaborated with artists ranging from Jay-Z, Linkin Park and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Bob James and Herbie Hancock. He has made appearances on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman, he has toured all over the world and even DJ’ed for ESPN’s first late night sports entertainment show. It is through all of these efforts that he has explored and pushed the limits of his own creative potential.
But wait, there’s more. For the past six years Rob has dedicated himself to passing on the art and craft of DJing as a professor at The New School in NYC and through offering private DJ lessons. And now, Rob is set to release his first full-length album in six years called X-Files: Lost & Deleted. It’s a collection of rare, remixed and reinterpreted songs from Rob’s archives. Rob currently has an active Kickstarter campaign to raise money for this album (link below). It looks like he recently reached his goal, which is awesome and I bet he is really excited about that. Feel free to still contribute to the campaign, as I am sure this will be very much appreciated.
On a personal note, I learned a great deal from talking with Rob and watching and listening to a lot of the tracks and videos that he sent me before we sat down. The making of this episode was a blast to learn about a world that I previously knew very little about, not to mention Rob is just an awesome guy. Thanks for tuning in, enjoy!
P.S. There’s about a 45 second clip between my intro and the beginning of the discussion with Rob. Those are clips from ‘As The Technics Spin,’ which is a documentary about Rob and gives some great insight into him and DJing. I posted the link below if you want to watch it on YouTube.
X-Files: Lost & Deleted – Kickstarter Campaign
DJ Rob Swift’s Website
Dope on Plastic (Rob’s online radio show)
X-ecutioners – DMC Finals 1999
As The Technics Spin
DJ Rob Swift on YouTube
DJ Rob Swift on Facebook
DJ Rob Swift on Twitter
Master Class with DJ Rob Swift
Jen’s Battle at The New School
In this episode, Barry Shore takes us through his incredible journey of healing from a rare disease known as Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) that suddenly left him completely paralyzed over a decade ago. After the rapid onset of the paralysis that resulted from GBS, Barry spent months in the hospital as doctors first had to stop the disease in its tracks and then had to assist him in beginning the long recovery process.
One of the striking and key pieces to Barry’s story of recovery are the many amazing people that have been there for him along the way. There are the doctors and the other medical practitioners who administered great care to him, fought for him to get the best equipment possible and even created new gadgets to improve his stay in the hospital when all he could do was blink an eye. There are his friends and other members of the community who pushed him to begin aquatic therapy to regain movement, which served to kickstart his passion for swimming and the water (he now spends many hours a week in the pool and has swam over 5,000 miles). There is his aide, who I had the privilege of meeting that day and he has been with Barry for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for almost a decade. And most importantly, Barry has had his family and wife, who have been his greatest allies in this process, doing everything from bringing him home-cooked meals for every single meal during his months in the hospital to turning him over in bed throughout the night during the early days of his recovery.
But this story is also very much about Barry himself and his approach to life. I quickly realized when speaking with Barry that his own mindset has been an essential tool in his entire healing process. As he says, he is an “oozer.” He oozes optimism, happiness and JOY! He is also extremely grateful for the gifts that life has given him and he seems to constantly be expressing that. I have no doubt that this optimism and outlook on life were key components in enabling Barry to so triumph on his incredible journey of recovery.
It was a real pleasure to meet Barry and I found this to be an inspiring story not just of healing, but also of living each day to the fullest and building a mindset that allows you to do just that.
I hope you enjoy the episode, thanks for tuning in!
The season 1 finale has arrived. What a ride it has been thus far. If you would’ve told me a couple of months ago that we would make it to this point, I don’t think I would have believed you, not because I consider you to be a liar, but mainly because I didn’t realize we were doing this season by season, so how could I have known there would be a finale? Yet here we are, amazing.
In this episode we go on a musical tour de force of New Orleans with a quick detour (missed the exit sign) to Baton Rouge. Blues, jazz, Russian hooligan songs, street music, sounds from the LSU football game, it’s a season finale for the ages. The music was flat out incredible, firing on all brass cylinders day after day, night after night. I said get up on stage and play me some songs, son, and that’s what you did. But you didn’t just do it because your name was on the chalkboard outside the club, you did it because it’s your way of speaking with us and the message we received is that you have no choice but to play the heck out of these songs.
Someone once told me that in a previous life I was a musician living in the South, so for me this wasn’t just my first trip to New Orleans, but it was really a homecoming of sorts. Thanks for tuning in to this episode and to any others that you have listened to this season. We appreciate the awesome support we have received all season and without you, well, without you we’d have one less listener. And every listener is a reflection of all our listeners, so on that note, we are truly grateful for you taking the time to be here. We will be back with season 2 in mid-May, which is important for you to know so you don’t start frantically waking up in the middle of the night to check iTunes for the season premiere long before it hits the shelves. See you then!
Bands and Musicians
The New Orleans Suspects
Treme Brass Band
King James & The Special Men
Cedric Burnside Project
Johnny Mastro & MBs
The Preservation Hall-Stars featuring Shannon Powell
Sarah McCoy & The Oopsie Daisies
Jumbo Shrimp Jazz Band
Leah Chase Quartet
In this episode I sit down with New Orleans-based filmmaker and writer Brian Paul. I met Brian in New Orleans at an art fair right off Frenchmen Street where he had a table set up to promote his movie about train hopping (a subculture that I previously knew very little about) – titled ‘Cure For The Crash.’
After hearing a little about his experience riding the rails and making the movie, I invited him to be on the podcast. I didn’t know much of anything about Brian or his life before we sat down to record, but what followed was a very open and honest look into some of his life experiences and work. We talk about the making of the movie, the writing of his new book “GLACIER ‘How the rails became my rehab'” and we also go well beyond that into some very personal experiences and the ways in which mental illness has impacted him and his family.
Cure For The Crash – Trailer
This week we sit down with Harris, one of my younger brother’s closest friends, to talk about his experience with type 2 diabetes.
During his junior year of high school, Harris found out he had type 2 diabetes when he was in the hospital being treated for a football injury. It came as a real surprise. And, despite having a family history of diabetes and being overweight, nobody in his family had to face the challenges that come with having the disease at such a young age. Following doctor recommendations, Harris made some small adjustments to his diet and lifestyle in the years following the diagnosis, but it wasn’t until graduating college last year (Harris is now 22) that he decided he was going to tackle his diabetes head on and make some real lifestyle changes. Since graduation, Harris has made some serious dietary changes and has already lost a significant amount of weight. In this episode, Harris shares wisdom and insight from his journey, discussing his early struggles and denial, the hurdles he has faced along the way (especially dealing with diabetes during college) and the tools and strategies that he has used to take control of this disease. Thanks for tuning in!
When I arrived in Austin I had two main things that I wanted to accomplish during my time there – visit as many food trucks as possible and listen to a lot of live music (and maybe take a quick swim in Barton Springs Pool). But my plan was quickly thrown into disarray on the first evening when I happened upon the opening night party for the Austin Film Festival at The Driskill Hotel. I had heard of other Austin based festivals such as South By Southwest and Austin City Limits, but the Austin Film Festival (AFF) seemed to fly under the radar. The AFF is known as ‘The Writer’s Festival.’ Many of the workshops are given by famous and accomplished writers and many people in the industry were in attendance specifically for these workshops.
Although I am not in the film industry, I eventually got the badge that would give me access to all the events that would be going on that week. In this episode, I take you through my time at the festival – the workshops, the movies, the parties – discussing things that I learned and found interesting along the way. If you’re looking for some potentially lesser known but really interesting documentaries, I discuss a few of my favorites. If you write or have an inkling to start, I share some of the great tips that I learned from the screenwriting workshops. Thanks for tuning in!
If you only want to listen to the discussion of a specific movie in this episode, the starting time of that discussion is listed next to the links to the movies below.
Austin Film Festival
Hardy – 12:38
Taking It Back – 27:15
Crazy Carl and His Man-Boobs: An Austin Love Story – Trailer – 41:03
61 Bullets – 43:44
The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young – 51:04
Wild – 59:14
Tomorrow We Disappear – 1:04:44
How I Got Over – 1:08:09
The Texas Promise – 1:10:40
Morphine: Journey of Dreams – 1:14:16
On New Year’s Eve, I attempted to compile a cross section of the hopes and dreams of people as they were gearing up for an epic 2015. I arrived at Penn Station with a couple of hours left in 2014 – as the anticipation of the New Year was starting to build – and I walked all around this magnificent train depot asking random people about their resolutions and goals for 2015.
I started the night by hanging around the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tracks and surrounding eating establishments, then I briefly popped onto the subway platforms before moving on to the NJ Transit and Amtrak areas. With a few minutes left before the New Year, I made my way up to the streets and walked towards Times Square. In this episode, you will hear what people had to say. Thanks for tuning in!