71 minutes | Nov 27, 2021
Episode 43 - Stergios Skatharoudis
Stergios is a Social Worker in Rochester, NY and has contributed hours of compassionate care and laughter to folks at The LENS. As an avid participant in ecstatic Native American rites such as sweat lodge, sundance, and vision quest, Stergios is a constant source of fully embodied wisdom. We spoke today about the tragedy of being an unwanted child, abandonment, healing, and ways Stergios has found his home. What is home? Reach out to Stergios at LinkedIn. Earlier in the show… Denis announced his private psychotherapy practice. The LENS had their Spring 2021 Retreat in June on the shores of Lake Erie near Buffalo, NY. They are planning 3 more retreats between now and September 2022. Your next opportunity to participate is September 2021 (this time on the shores of Lake Ontario near Rochester, NY). After that there will be 2 more retreats near Buffalo on Lake Erie again. For a full schedule of the events planned please contact info@TheLENSPodcast.org. The wonderful setting for my conversation with Stergios is Love In Motion Yoga provided courtesy of Kathleen Engelhardt.
117 minutes | Dec 24, 2020
Valdis Abols is the editor of Rigas Laiks Magazine. He served as the Latvian ambassador to Spain for 4 years. Denis met him in 1989 when Valdis, an English teacher at Janis Rosenthal Riga Art School, organized an exchange program with Rita Auerbach, an art teacher at Clarence High School (a suburb of Buffalo, NY). Denis and Valdis talk about Dundaga, Rock Music, The BBC, Voice of America, Glasnost, The Green Movement, Denis’ attempts to spread Christianity with a guitar, Valdis publishing the first Latvian translation of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, the Chautauqua Institute exchange between The Eisenhower Institute and the Friendship Society, the recently opened archives of Checka, mass deportations to Siberia, and the beautifully terrifying film, The Chronicles of Melanie. [See Movie Trailer]
91 minutes | Jul 17, 2020
Curtis and Denis had this conversation over a year ago. Before the pandemic. Before the murder of George Floyd. And before the passing of Curtis’ mother, Lorna C. Hill, just two short weeks ago. Even though their time-capsuled conversation lacks an awareness of today’s sorrows, would you say the poignancy of our present day reality is diminished? Or is it amplified? Show Notes Denis and Curtis first met after her performance at Creative Mornings, a monthly gathering of creative people. They talk about why all the superlatives attributed to her mother, Lorna C. Hill, are forever fitting. Curtis talks about “being raised on the stage” in the shining light of Ujima Company, a multi-ethnic and multicultural professional theater company founded by her mother. As a child, Curtis performed in Ujima’s annual mother’s day production, And Bid Him Sing written by her mother. The play is a celebration of the poetry and vision of Paul Laurence Dunbar, and has also been a perennial celebration of Buffalo's great talent in theater, music, and dance. Curtis mentioned performing in the Buffalo Infringement Festival. Curtis’ spoke fondly of her brother Amilcar, also known as DJ Milk, who provides the grooving thump and pump at practically every professional sporting event in Buffalo. Curtis mentioned recording in Bobby Takac’s studio, GCR Audio, in Buffalo, NY. Curtis attended PS 192 Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts and is proud of her music and performance apprenticeship with such mentors as George Davis and Frank Scinta. Curtis reminds us that the original Me Too movement was an empowering message of empathy among women of color who were sexually abused. Denis mentioned that he had just recently heard the original history of Me Too from Marxist, Slavoj Žižek. Curtis and Denis discuss what makes it possible for disparate people to maintain their humanity and civility while engaging in challenging discourse. Curtis breaks down her song, Exorcise and remembers the astonishing moment this song brought an audience member to tears. You can follow Curtis’ performances and projects on her website, CurtisLovellMusic.com, and listen to her music on Spotify.
131 minutes | May 12, 2019
Katie Krawczyk is Chief Executive Officer and Partner at 19 IDEAS, a marketing, PR, and web development company she started with her husband, Dan Gigante. Katie qualifies a genuine Buffalo Boss Babe, but if you ask her (or Denis), she’s simply the boss. Denis and Katie talk about growing up in the eighties, life in the burbs (Katie was born and raised in Hamburg, NY), taking risks, playing the game we need to play vs. playing the game we want to play, and finally… choosing the life we’ve lived. The question arises, just how much of our lives can be considered a choice? Well… how much responsibility can you handle? Katie will inspire you to accept more. Show Notes Kaite mentioned that Mamoser’s has highly rated, quintessential Buffalo wings. Denis mentioned co-counseling (or re-evaluation counseling) which encourages people to discharge their pent up emotions (distress patterns) created within each of us through traumatic and harmful encounters. Katie mentioned how, in a addition to therapeutic outlets for releasing rage and grief, she found Krav Maga to be an excellent way to release rage while also connecting. But few interventions have served her better than the good old fashioned punching bag. Denis first met Katie at Larkin Square, a happening place that was built in Denis’ neighborhood shortly after he moved to Buffalo ten years ago. Earlier in the show… Denis talked about the upcoming LENS event, The Entheogenic Experience. If you can’t make it, there are more events coming.
142 minutes | Apr 21, 2019
Avi was born in Jerusalem as a wave of hope was cresting. Hope in a peace that had drawn closer than anyone dared to imagine. Hope felt so strongly by Avi’s parents, his middle name is Shalom. Over the next twenty years Avi and his family found themselves in Cleveland, Chicago, Phoenix, New Jersey, Manhattan… and finally… Avi found his own personal Shangri-La… Fredonia, NY, where he attended college, discovered nature amongst the charms of small-town life, and had his first psychedelic experience. Denis and Avi talk about where hope yet lies this quarter century since his birth. Could it be the promising results emerging from psychedelic research? And yet Avi hastens to qualify every statement he makes about psychedelics with attention to honesty and critical thinking. He’s careful to point out the small study samples, and he humbly admits that his own experiences are highly subjective. Details, caveats, conditions, and contingencies are generously supplied. His candor reveals a wider ratio of risk to benefit than one is likely to hear from the growing throng of psychedelic enthusiasts. Denis found Avi’s rational exuberance for inebriants nothing short of… sobering.
111 minutes | Feb 17, 2019
Travel On with Garrett Shea
Garrett Shea wants to bring poetry to pop. And if a song happens to save a life, that isn’t too shabby either (stay tuned to hear THAT story and song at the end of the episode). As a proud Villa Maria student, Garrett majored in Music Industry. There he connected with Grammy nominated producer Anthony Casuccio who produced Garrett’s first album with the band, Breckenwood. If you listen to their two albums you can not only hear loads of growth in his recording and song craft, but also a shift from pop-punk to just… pop. The pull of pop eventually led Garrett away from the band four years ago. He continues to write and record original songs, while having a blast in his cover band, The Red Letter Kings. Garrett talked about that “switch” that needs to go off in his mind and heart before he is able to release a new song to the public. It took him over a year before he was willing to put his song, Travel On up on Spotify. Garrett is also a music instructor who heads up the music lessons department at Guitar Center in Cheektowaga. They are putting together a Rock Show program where students get focused training for a week in a rock ensemble that makes immediate use of their skills and taste. You can keep up with Garrett’s latest singles, announcements, vlog, and brisk gigging schedule on his web site, GarretSheaMusic.com. Show Notes Garrett mentioned a recent article by Buffalo music critic, Jeff Miers about the music scene in Buffalo. Garrett also mentioned his friend, Tim Britt who he thinks does a great job straddling the line between original and cover band vital to a band’s success in Buffalo. Garrett also mentioned Matt Bannister whom he collaborates with as an acoustic duo. Garrett gave a shout out to his album art designer, Daniel Morris. Earlier in the show, Denis used the tool, Inner Authority by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels to help him bring some authenticity and creative energy to his upcoming job interview. Denis also mentioned that he is starting a therapeutic community in the form of a religion, which you can find out more about in the episode, We are Building a Religion. There is a very special first meeting coming up on Sunday March 31. If you want to take part, please contact Denis at Denis@TheLensPodcast.org. Denis mentioned Dennis McKenna’s book, The Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss. Garrett mentioned this fascinating Ted Talk on how lyrics in pop music have gotten measurably more repetitive over the years.
33 minutes | Jan 6, 2019
We Are Building a Religion
In this Sunday Shit-Show edition of the Lens. Denis invites you to create a reasonable religion with him. What could go wrong?
87 minutes | Dec 30, 2018
The Art of Dog with Dave Putman
Dave began his career as a dog trainer with mentor Josh Moran, who Denis interviewed in Episode 3. Dave and Josh have a podcast, Philosophers and Madmen, which focuses on dog-training and world-renowned dog-trainers. Dave and Denis talk loads about BJJ. As they explore Dave’s life journey from childhood it became clear that Dave’s path led not only to dog training, but human training. Eventually they arrive at Dave’s recent strides in self development, and their conversation turned to the role of psychedelics in becoming more whole. Dave talked about Learned Irrelevance, a concept described in the book, Excel-Erated Learning. Dave’s favorite poets are Pablo Neruda and E.E. Cummings, and he shared one of Rupi Kaur’s poems, which raises questions about what traits we ought to praise in one another. Denis mentioned the book, The Secret Chief Revealed, about a psychotherapist who simply provides psychedelic experiences in a safe and supportive set and setting, then helps people integrate these extraordinary trips into one’s ordinary day-to-day living. Denis recounts how he got into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu shortly after reading this Psychology Today article, Earlier in the show… Denis mentioned a book he’s reading, Entheogens and the Future of Religion. How this book, and the dozen or so similarly titled books he’s currently reading will affect his life in 2019 will be revealed in the next episode. Also, Denis earned a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It was once an impossible idea he dared not to believe. But sometimes the impossible is manifested as reality. Denis loves it whens that happens. He suspects that may be the very definition of a life worth living.
24 minutes | Nov 25, 2018
In this Sunday Shit Show edition of the The Lens, Denis practices Inner Authority, a tool that helps you get in touch with your shadow so that you can speak to an audience. Do you want to be real? Do you want to be brilliant? Do you believe that gaining the attention of your audience actually matters? This tool will tip the scales in your favor. Also… Denis moved!
122 minutes | Nov 18, 2018
Shari Berman’s movie, My Life as Abraham Lincoln, is a journey with a woman desperately trying to unravel the tragic mystery of her own mind. It’s also a joyous love letter to films and film genres Shari most enjoys. Shari also directed Sugar, a rock-and-roll movie about middle-aged women making the most of what could be their last moment to shine (even if it’s only on “MILF-at-Loser-Tube-Dot-Com”!). Denis marveled at the film’s bass-player, June Millington, a kick-ass guitar player from the all-girl band, Fanny. Shari is pulling her next production together, Pink Mist. For starters, it has muslim immigrants, neighborhood bullies, a yiddish ghost and a tween amputee. Denis is looking forward to seeing where this all goes, and how Shari will weave her sense of humor into the tale. Shari is producing Pink Mist with actor/producer Michael Cuomo. She highly recommends Michael’s film, Happy New Year. One of the lead roles will be played by Lynn Cohen, who is also well known for her character Mags, from the Hunger Games. Shari’s husband, Chris Benker will be the director of photography. Shari edited the web series, Switch, a dramatic exploration into the real life experiences of people who work in BDSM dungeons.
74 minutes | Oct 8, 2018
Notes from The Horizons Conference
Denis attended The Horizons Conference: Perspectives on Psychedelics. There he met with other enthusiastic attendees, most notably Kalindi Iyi, Hamilton Morris, and Roberta Russell. He also got to hear accomplished speakers share their research findings on the therapeutic applications of MDMA to treat PTSD, DMT for treatment-resistant depression, and psilocybin to treat cocaine addiction. Michael Pollan was a highlight. Pollan’s in depth, solemn, and almost ‘mainstream’ treatment of psychedelics in his book, How to Change Your Mind, was the inspiration Denis needed to attend this conference and seek out other therapists who are bringing entheogenic substances to the folks who need them.
80 minutes | Sep 30, 2018
All I Need with Myron Deputat
Myron is a renaissance man. A devoted full time engineer, and part time music writer, producer, and charismatic leader of the band, Those Idiots. If you find yourself in Buffalo the day after Easter, prepare to encounter a parallel universe in which everyone is Polish, armed with pussy willows and squirt guns, and willing to FIGHT… for your RIGHT… to POOOOOOOOOLKA! Denis and Myron talk about immigrants, millennials, creating the digital future of Ukraine as the Soviet Union crumbled, and how to be popular with help from harmonicas. Myron also talks about the tragic night music saved his life.
16 minutes | Sep 9, 2018
Just because something doesn’t last doesn’t mean it sucks.
147 minutes | Sep 3, 2018
Monuments to Cognitive Dissonance
Denis goes on a road trip to Kentucky with a couple of his former church brothers. They talk creationism vs. evolution, christianity vs. agnosticism; all the while surfing waves of cognitive dissonance.
15 minutes | Aug 19, 2018
I Got My Hospital Bill
In this episode of the Sunday Shit Show, Denis gets his Hospital Bill. It was absolutely shocking. He also talks about the Rust Belt Adventure Cottage that will rise from the ashes of what his wife claims is a buffet of human flesh for rat-mites and other assorted vermin. Hovel of wretched parasites? Or the happiest place on earth? We'll let airbnb decide.
87 minutes | Aug 12, 2018
From Warrior to Protector with Max Rathburn
Max is an arborist and black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu living in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. He and Denis talk about the ‘street-readiness’ mindset of Jiu Jitsu, and how training and experience has brought him on a voyage from warrior to protector. Show Notes You can train with Prof. Max at Gracie Barra Vancouver. Denis mentioned a book by Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, in which it is revealed that the lives of lobsters are a fascinating study in our own struggle to establish a solid place in a hierarchy that determines our success and happiness in life, and it all starts with fighting. Earlier in the show, Denis talks about a workshop he went to in NYC where Barry Michels helped him cross a new threshold with The Shadow. It was yet another forward-moving experience fueled by The Tools. Denis goes into some detail regarding Rudolf Steiner’s take on the shadow, wherein the shadow becomes a guide to new thresholds. Inspired by what he experienced there, Denis wrote the following Prayer of Repentance to My Shadow. The workshop was at a completely unique fitness, wellness, and medical facility, Shift where folks there treated Denis (and his fucking irresponsible shadow) with kindness and compassion. Denis also made reference to previous podcast episodes, including The Trip to Vancouver, an interview with filmmaker Chris Benker, and that time Denis’ shadow waged an all out take-over, a cautionary tale told in A Predator Like Me.
111 minutes | Aug 5, 2018
Moving Forward with Adrian Michael Kelly
Reading Adrian's novel, Down Sterling Road was an emotional experience for Denis. They talk about Adrian's writing, and growing up in a small town in 1970s Canada. Adrian also shares the tools (from the book, The Tools) that help him move forward and strengthen his commitment to writing. Adrian’s next book, a collection of linked stories, comes out this October and is titled, The Ambassador of What. You can learn more about Adrian, his writing, teaching, and coaching at his website, https://adrianmichaelkelly.com/
18 minutes | Jul 29, 2018
Problems Are No Reason To Suffer
Denis goes to Boston to see Radiohead with his son, Matvey, and their generous friend, Dave. Denis mentioned how Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now provided some perspective as even a perfect trip like this is not without its problems.
22 minutes | Jul 22, 2018
My Legs Stopped Working
In this episode of the Sunday Shit Show, Denis talks about his anniversary with Marjorie and how his legs stopped working and how he thought he was having a stroke and how he then performed a daring and romantic feat of telepathy. It was a good day.