It will be one year and four months since I put the liquor down. It was a hazy decision at first, because of the most known reputation La Crosse, let alone Wisconsin, is know for in our culture. People would debate about if it was alcohol abuse or not, due to the direction I took, cut dry cold turkey. I know many alcoholics who do not have the strength for this, true, but with education in the psychology field, my own spiritual strength, and experiences with family members who were also alcoholics, I conquered.
I emphasis with this, unless you were a roommate of mine or a close personal friend who would see me at the bars on almost a night to night basis, or a co-worker that I would open up to about being drunk at work when ethically I wasn’t suppose to be, then you cannot make any judgements. I have always had a strong spiritual strength within me with all the shit I been through in my life, regardless of growing up away from the organized religions, churches, mosques, etc… I can’t explain it, but I can promise you it’s there. Maybe it’s Grandpa G still walking with me as my guardian since the day I was born. I don’t have solid answers, but I have my own reasons and beliefs from my past experiences.
Just like other non-drinkers and well diverse individuals, I was getting frustrated with the reputation of La Crosse and Oktoberfest. I couldn’t see past beyond the stage of duality of our culture, so to speak, but slowly I met a few new people who had similar beliefs and stronger sobriety habits and my vision started to change.
For a few months now, I been trying to shine a new light for the La Crosse area and the people who I feel are making a big enough impact to make that reputation change. As bars start to struggle with business, restaurants & art are rising, as well as, a few local celebrities are, as they impact the country with their own style, intentional or not. I wanted to shine some light on those who I look up too in one aspect or another, which a few I can call close friends.
|I.M.P.A.C.T. Recordz LLC
CEO/Recording Artist Mario Street
Recording Artist: Mario Street
Well, Recording Artist is just one aspect of this multi-talented individual. Since I am a good friend of his, his story is like a broken record in my eyes, but I am sure he feels the same with me, as we both come up from two separate worlds and joint forces and a bond for the purpose of shining a positive light on the youth and the world.
Once a lost soul coming up on drugs, prison, and street gang activities in Chicago, Mario is now sober/cleaned with his head on straight and calls La Crosse home where he raises his four children.
Not only is his expertise in Hip-Hop music, but also taking up videographer/photographer, amongst other entitlements for his record label. He is currently working on a documentary on the three-time Super Bowl champion, Antonio Robinson.
|Radio DJ Noah, Me, Reed Grimm, & Brittany Stylez|
American Idol Finalist: Reed Grimm
Probably the most known local celebrity, other than Jennifer Livingston. He was an American Idol Finalist in Season 11.
He is one of a few tri-state area artists who has branched out on a national level, with Tim Olstad from Winona tailing him on last seasons “The X Factor.”
Reed currently resides in the Twin Cities & trails to California to continue to pursue his dreams and fills his schedule with solo performances, his band Shoeless Revolution, and plenty of charity/organization activity with the likes of Food Wafer and Habitat of Humanity. Reed also has started his own positivity gig with “Massive Amounts of Goods” which brings awareness and positive impacts to diversity.
|Grand River Singers|
VH1’s “Off Pitch” Stars: Grand River Singers
Or as I would like to call majority of the veteran members, my old karaoke gang. Back when it seem my world was small, these group of friends, especially members, Drew, Aubrey, Tim, & Rob, were one of my first group of friends when I just came home from Iraq in 2007 & move to La Crosse, WI.
That is also the time I would step away from a well known fear from “stage fright” and start singing karaoke and six months later, I would have started my performing arts in drag at UW-L.
Tim and Rob, big or small, had always been supporters and mentors in the field of arts, as well as, a friendship even outside of the public domain.
The Grand River Singers continue on their performance journeys to the likes of Walt Disney World in Florida and has finally branched away from the county and state fairs in Wisconsin.
News Anchor: Jennifer Livingston
Last, but very least, we have our local news anchor who blasted into International news after standing her ground, live, from a local negative Nazi who had expressed his own bullied opinion on how today’s society should be imaged to the younger generations. Shortly after the segment, word got out and the episode went viral rapidly. Her award: a trip to the Ellen DeGeneres show and also a trip to the Caribbean, thanks to Ellen.
Jennifer doesn’t let the exposure go to her head. She is just as humble and collected as she was before the unnecessary letter reached her hands and on air as a news segment.
I will leave you with her special commercial featuring Ellen and Matthew Perry.
Not only does La Crosse, Wisconsin, have these bright individuals in the area, but as I get out and explore the natural habitats of the bluffs and Perot State Park, I also see a change in the younger generations in their lifestyles. I also have many resources that express the bar businesses downtown and it’s just not the same or as habitable as it was in my earlier twenties. I just hope I can make a positive impact like the individuals I have posted, along with many others on a similar train as me.
Until Next Time….