Thy Movement To Shine A New Light Over An Old Reputation

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….

"Save the Warehouse" campaign!

 Warehouse Alliance Mission Statement“The Warehouse Alliance will support and promote the growth of the music & arts community of the Greater Coulee Region through events, shows, workshops, classes, volunteerism, and immersive learning opportunities.”   
The Warehouse resides in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It is a non-profit, for all-ages concert venue located in the heart of downtown on the historic Pearl Street. The Warehouse is also known for its long history of concerts since the early 1990s with the likes of Everclear, Fall Out Boy, All-Star Weekend, and Hawthorne Heights, just to name very few bands that have performed here. There have been over 6,000 bands that have performed in this particular venue.  

What is so special about this venue? Well, it stands against the same stigma of the town it resides in that I stand against. As Wisconsin sits at the #3 spot for the most bar per capita in states, La Crosse is well-known for the largest bar per capita city in the United States. Even before the ban of smoking in bars and restaurants was passed in 2010 here in Wisconsin, the Warehouse stayed smoke free.  As I am coming up to my one-year anniversary of sobriety, I am celebrating by reaching out to the Warehouse crew, who are working hard to save this precious historical place. There are not many venues or places in La Crosse, let alone Wisconsin, like the Warehouse.  It truly is a one of a kind.  

I think the coolest part of this concert venue is the availability of soda pops it holds. The Warehouse stocks over 75 types of soda pops from all over the World from countries like Japan, Canada, Ireland, England, etc. It’s almost like the sober-edition of the tavern, Bodega, here in La Crosse.  
As great as the story and history is with the Warehouse, each story has a climax. Right now, the Warehouse is at its own climax with their current financial situation as a non-profit organization. The owners are being threatened by the bank to put up the good fight, so they can turn the venue into condos downtown. Unfortunately, the climax is at the tip of the iceberg, as the deadline of October 19th is coming to a close for donations and the mission to “Save the Warehouse.”   
I talked with Steve Harm and asked him a few questions on the mission and the concert venue:

Please, share with us your story and how the Warehouse got started? 
During high school (in the late 70s, early 80s) I was in a local band, and we had nowhere to play.  So we toured quite a bit, across the US, released some records, and finally put it to rest in the late 80s.  I took a job working for a sound company, doing everything from announcement systems at demolition derbys to auction systems in pig barns at fairgrounds to full concert systems for events.  Between gigs I would hang out in the basement of a building in downtown La Crosse, where a couple buddies had a tanning salon.  One day I asked them if they had keys to the upstairs. I loved old buildings, and thought it would be fun to explore.  Once I got inside I feel in love with the woodwork and the spaciousness, but especially the big open room upstairs.  Then something clicked in my head and a little voice said “How hard could it be to open a venue?”  That little voice was mighty inexperienced. 

1.  When and if the Warehouse is saved and given another chance, do you have a new rendition or plans in the making to draw in more crowds and possibly older crowds, so the kids you draw in has older influences?   We have never really focused on “kids” past the age of 20, because this town grabs kids after high school and chews them up.  The lure of booze, which is EVERYWHERE, is too hard for us to compete with once kids hit that age.  While they are in high school, we can make a difference. But once they move out on their own, the pressure from media, peers, and every business (from grocery store to restaurant), billboards, sporting events…. EVERYTHING tells them to drink.  We can only do so much.  That being said, we DO get plenty of kids over 18 in the venue, and they’re not drunk, because they know we can and will throw them out.  We won’t mix drunks with kids, unlike some other venues that do all-ages and simultaneously sell alcohol.  That has never worked anywhere that I have been — kids are always peer-pressured into drinking, and they find a way.  We bring in big older bands like Meat Puppets, Frank Black, etc., and the crowd can range from 14 to 50.  They’ll have at least two things in common: they love music, and they won’t be drunk. 

2.   As I research your history of concerts, I am aware that majority of the bands you book are of the Rock genre. Do you ever consider booking other artists, of other genres, who support the same mission as you do with the existence of the Warehouse?  That’s another misconception about the Warehouse: its all metal.  We had someone complaining online about that a couple months ago, and I pointed out that within a month of that complaint, we had metal, rock, alternative, ska, punk, acoustic singer songwriter, and Americana bands.  The thing that limits us a bit is that we are at the mercy of whomever is touring.  We can’t just book local bands every week — those locals will burn themselves out, no one will come see them, then we kill the scene instead of growing it.  Left to their own devices, local bands will play 7 nights a week all over town, and destroy themselves quickly.  We try really hard to manage that. Close-minded bands think we’re meddling in their business, but eventually the ones who survive thank us.  In a town this small, managing the scene is critical, and other venues usually could care less about the big picture.  I find it incredibly important.  We like to help up and coming national bands on their tours, and add local bands to the shows.  The local bands (if they have not overplayed) help with the draw, and they get a fantastic opportunity to befriend national touring bands and learn about what it really takes to succeed.  The national bands that come through are everything across the board from That 1 Guy to Born Of Osiris.   

3.  Ever considered also to expand the business to the likes of an “Open Mic” for local artists? Root Note has an open mic.  We can let them deal with that.  Since they’ve opened, we have tended to send a lot of the acoustic type stuff to them anyways.  It just works better there, unless it’s a Teddy Geiger or Ari Herstand etc. 

4.  What other non-profit organizations and/or charities is the Warehouse known to collaborate with? In the past we have donated to WAFER FOOD PANTRY, COULEE REGION HUMANE SOCIETY, CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK, JAYCEES, UNITED WAY, AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, SALVATION ARMY, SIERRA CLUB, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND, WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO, MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO, YWCA 

5.  Other than donations, what other options are there to help meet your goal in the “Save the Warehouse” campaign?   To meet our goal right now, which is intended to stall the foreclosure proceedings and keep the bank at bay, the ONLY thing that is going to have any significant difference is monetary donations.   

6.  Is there anything we can do between the deadline of October 19th – 31st, i.e. continue donations outside of Pay Pal? If so, where can we send those donations?    At the last bank meeting (yesterday) the Bankers set the next meeting for Nov 6, so we will continue fundraising as long as possible, and try to pay down some of the back taxes and mortgage payments.  There are vulture developers already eyeing this building without any concern whatsoever for the history and impact of the Warehouse.  We’re fighting to save that. 

7.  And last, but in my own eyes, most importantly, remind us, in your own words, why the Warehouse should be saved?   Well in a city full of alcoholics, we are an oasis for kids to not feel any pressure whatsoever to drink.  Over the past 2 decades, we have also been a place where kids who aren’t into high school sports or high school music programs or other school activities to come and find a sense of community with like-minded kids.  For those kids, we ARE their baseball field or football field or showchoir room.  It would be easy to sit up on our high horse trumpeting how important the Warehouse was, without anything to back it up.  But we’ve been here for 22 years.  Warehouse Kids from the early 90s are bringing THEIR kids here now.  The kind of comments that were coming in during the fundraiser, from kids would been a part of the Warehouse for 4-6 years, then moved on, but wanted to reflect back with us on how important it was to them, was staggering.  Kids who were now in their 30s and their entire current circle of friends were people they met at the Warehouse.  Kids who met someone at the Warehouse who they are now married to.  It is a community for misfits and “normal” kids, where everyone can fit in and feel at home and enjoy great bands and most of all, discover who they are.  
8.  Anything else you want to add, Steve? Only that we have a really solid plan for our 501c# Warehouse Alliance non-profit, but that the non-profit is irrelevant if we cannot get past the current financial troubles.  Fundraising now is our biggest priority, and we all hate having to do it.  

 
As the time runs low, we can only hope for a miracle right now for the “Save the Warehouse” campaign. If you support for a more positive influence and for a strong music bond for the younger generations, head to the following link,  Save The Warehouse, and give any donation as low as $5. Every dollar counts for this precious moment. I want to thank Steve Harm for taking the time to answer my questions for my readers and fans out there, so I can spread the news and lighten intentions to help with the mission.

 

Until next time,

H.M. Gautsch

Sack Depression Like You Are Clay Matthews

I am stepping away from my poetry posts, to share a little influence with you all. Life surely knows how to throw it’s punches. Am I right? It isn’t easy, but you do get stronger with time and the knowledge you prevail along your journey. One intel I will share about me is that I struggle with  post traumatic stress disorder and I have also struggled with depression from time to time. I was diagnosed in 2009, with years prior where I battled with denial and a negative surrounding. 

I guess part of my success with my issues, is I have accepted my mental disorders and I learned to research and expand my knowledge in the psychology field to see what works for me and what doesn’t work for me, as well as, understanding how my membrane works during my days on the brink.

Now, because I am diagnosed with both PTSD and depression, that doesn’t mean I am long in the face from day to day basis with no hope in life. Honestly, I do struggle with my faith from time to time, but it’s humane to do so. I truly believe that God wouldn’t give you the life you can’t handle. Usually I am like a rabbit, hopping around with a load of energy, with my personality and many wonder where a twenty-seven year old like me has so much spunk. Most of the time, people don’t think I am as old as I am, but not sure if that’s my personality or my young looks. 

Lately, I have been on another struggling bound in my life, but this time it’s different from the previous years. Instead of mixing medication with alcohol, I am hitting this thing head on without alcohol and chemicals that train the mind to be a robot. Well, that’s my experience with it anyways. Not sure if it was the chemical mixture of both, but I was numb with no feelings and/or angry with the World. My exes from previous years would tell you I was an “asshole” or a “bitch.” I was sour with life just rolling with it, but that was the past.

Also, when I use to drink, I was the life of the party, with my friends anyways. With my exes, it was usually drama and passing out. Today, I am social to an extent, but I’d rather just chill at home watching my favorite movies, cook and mess up my kitchen like a tornado hit it, and just write on my projects. I have been slacking with my fitness gig, I need to push myself back into it. I crashed and burned in March for overdoing my work outs with Insanity four-five days a week, plus kickboxing on the weekends, and gym time for two hours at a time, for at least three-four times a week. It was my distraction from drinking for awhile. I felt like wonder woman during the winter. Now, I am lucky if I get the motivation to hit the gym, twice a week. 

Anytime, I get frustrated with life, I look back at where I once was just a few years ago and where I am now, in the present moment. No, I am not talking about sitting on my ass and staring at my computer screen. I am talking about being nearly eleven months sober and about to publish my first poetry book for my audience, while I work on several novel projects and my personal life memoir as I reveal the journey that got me where I am today. For that, I want to re-post what I once posted over a year ago, about the natural therapeutic techniques that have helped me ten times more than just medication and counseling.

Natural Therapeutic Techniques

 

  • Moral Support
    – Emotional & mental support is the best whether it’s a significant other, family member, or a true friend. I learned to let go of the negative in my life finally after being afraid of it. It’s true, misery loves company and it is tempting to lock yourself in it’s comfort zone, but don’t. You will learn it’s just a black hole, preventing you from extraordinary things. Find friends and loved ones who treat you, the way you treat them, as if you are their World.

  •  Pets
    – I have two small dogs. I sometimes wish I had a bigger cuddle buddy, but at the end of the night, and looking pass the dog fur that has shed all over the apartment, and their imperfections, these two dogs are my mirror, so to speak. Rocky had a huge temper problem, like me, when I first got him over three years ago, but with a little work and discipline and unconditional love, he is secured in his relationship with me and snugs with me every chance he gets. Bear, on the other hand, loves to play and needs to be loved too much. He is just a lost cost, but he’s open my eyes to what I have been yearning for, for years now. I don’t how I would have gotten through most my bad days without having someone to go home to at the end of the day. Even if that person is a furry four legged pain in the ass. A great reason to not let go of your pet. You learn you need them as much as they need you. 

 

  • Grateful List
    – Make a list of the things  you’re grateful for and add a new thing daily. It’ll make your day go by so much easier and smoother. Big or small, for example. “I am grateful to wake up for another day. Thank you, Jesus.” -or- “I am grateful to not be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, to be committed to crimes I did not commit.” It’s all about perspective in life. Bottle half full, bottle half empty, or just drink the damn thing and go on with your business!


  • Foods & Beverages
    – To start the food and drinks transition, make a pros and cons list of the items you digest in your body. From my experience, It’s best to lay off the soda, pop, soda pop and replace it with green tea, black tea, chai, and water. As for the food intake, try to lay off the eating out, especially at fast food, and cook at home more. It’s fun overall, but it’s more fun when and if you can share the kitchen with a friend or a companion. I have a Culinary Management degree, there should be no exception for me, unless I work at a restaurant, but right now, I don’t. The biggest factor as well to live by, is of course, portions you eat. Don’t eat the same thing over and over and over again. Boring! Nor, don’t overload your plate with food you won’t eat. The problem with Americans is we tend to bigger eyes than we do our stomachs. We need to train our minds to eat to live, not live to eat. Educate yourself with nutrition, hell, even take a class. Nutrition was one of my favorite classes I took in college. Maybe I’ll take it again, for shits and giggles. 


  • Nature
    – I love the outdoors! There is nothing more peaceful than hiking in the bluffs that lie across the river banks of the grand ole’ Mississippi River. Nature is a key place, away from the city, or in an Eco-system park, if you can’t escape the city, that is purely right for meditation and catch up with Mother Earth. I am a strong believer that if you take good care of her, she will in return, take good care of you. I also grew up in the country, and when I can escape the current city I live in, I go home to my parents’ future retirement spot, let Mother cook me breakfast, as I start a bonfire without trying to burn our neighbor’s corn field down. Wisconsin has so much more to offer than the whole binge drinking atmosphere and reputation we carry. I just wish we, as the citizens, could look past that and conquer the issue, hands on. Also, it breaks my heart to see the frac sand mining companies destroy something so valuable just for the greed of money made of paper.


  • Music
    – Music is one of the best therapies for me. I am a huge music fan, considering I grew up to country music, hip hop music, real boy bands who are now men, alternative rock and Creed. Music has gotten me through so much in my early years as a teen, before I was diagnosed with depression. Today, music is a huge influence for my poetic findings in words. Which, ironically has also been a main therapeutic techniques for my bad days. Some of my favorite artists are Lady Antebellum, T.I., Eminem, George Straight, Faith Hill, Chris Rene, Flipsyde, & Creed, etc. I just realize, too many to list.

     
  • Movies
    – One of my favorite hobbies is watching movies, whether it’s movies I grew up too, for example, Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood or Charlie Sheen’s The Three Musketeers or foreign movies with my favorite actor, Roy Dupuis. Movies also trigger ideas and is an influence to my story writings. Unfortunately I am still getting use to the story concept of writing and deal with many writer’s block on this level. However, there seems to be a pattern here with the writing scheme. I don’t think I need another bulletin for it.


So the conclusion of this note is if it wasn’t for the alternative therapy techniques, I’d probably still be an alcoholic on medication, drinking my paychecks away. Great times! Even though I am on a small downfall at the moment in time, I know I’ll pull through eventually. I just need to let the roller coast it’s way through this current moment. But no, in all realness, believe in yourself cause someone else out there believes in you. Don’t worry about your mistakes, cause that’s what makes you and at the end of the day, we are all human. We were born to make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to let go of the past, because once you learn to close the door of unnecessary, the door of opportunities opens for you.

~ Stay blessed,

H.M. Gautsch