California girl Ashley runs away from her home in LA to go to The Big Apple to find inspiration for her writing. With a background in entertainment public relations, journalism & activism in social issues and politics, mixed with her quest for spiritual enlightenment, she throws herself into the center of all facets of New York City culture, & starts a blog, "Ashley and New York".
Serena Williams Strikes Back Against Sexism And Inaccurate Judges
I am so proud of Serena Williams for continuing to be a great role model to women and challenging the unfair system that has admitted to inaccurately judging Serena's performance (therefore robbing her of her earned title. She also addresses the sexism involved in sports. She wrote on her blog a few days ago a letter explaining her point of view about the record breaking $92,000 fine she has been stamped with. Many times when a man uses inappropriate language during a sport, he is called "passionate" or ""competitive" or any other positive adjective. For example, John McEnroe & Jimmy Conners are 2 legends in the tennis world, and had outburst 20 times more repetitive and foul mouthed then Serena, but they were not vilified as much as Serena, and were never fined more then 10K. Yet on the other hand, when a woman is aggressive, she is called "a bitch" or "too competitive" or many other negative titles. I felt a pain when Serena was again ROBBED of her title. What's going on here? I'm not even a professional line caller, and I could see how outrageous and wrong many calls against Serena have been. Its only natural Serena snapped! Though she is a super star athlete, guess what: She is also a human being! She actually has feelings, and a heart! She has worked unusually hard all her life, and sacrificed so much, only to have the title she earned fair and square taken from her from tainted judges, and more then once! I'm thrilled that Serena did not let the association get away with out her calling out the truth, since their referees seem unable to consistently do so. Please read Serena's heart felt letter: http://horiwood.com/2009/12/09/serena-williams-reply-to-her-92000-fine/
The children are supported at the UNICEF Snowflake Ball
I had a blast at the annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani's. The work UNICEF does for children around the world has always been very close to my heart. As a child my parents donated money to organizations that helped in need children overseas, and we had pictures up of some of the children we were sponsoring. I knew at a young age how severe the crisis of poverty and poor health care is in many countries. A goal of mine since 6 years old has been to adopt children from Africa and/or Latin American countries, not just because that's my heritage, but mainly because the children in those regions are in more need then the children in the US.
It was a lovely affair, and LA Reid was honored, and Mariah Carey gave him his award. I have loved her music since I was a child, and it was nice to see her. I'm so happy her acting has been gaining praise, because this is one singer that can actually act well! I also met Bryant Gumbel's daughter, Jillian Beth Gumbel. She is really nice and is a volunteer for UNICEF's "The Next Generation". (I am sorry to report that just a couple days after this event, Bryant Gumbel announced he has cancer. Please pray for him and his family during this trying time.)
I met some people who live in Africa, and after telling them of my life long intention of going to Mother Africa, they said they could help me come! It was a dream come true, and I am seriously going to go in 2010. There was a lot of friendly people at the gala. The beautiful Betts sisters ( Maggie and Jessie ) were part of the hosting team for the gala, and also the after party.
After the gala we went to the official after party at Juliet. It sure was a lot of fun! I like having fun when I know it's for a vital and good cause.
Please help UNICEF protect and heal innocent children around the world. Info:http://www.unicef.org/index.php
Photograph captions: Top: Mariah Carey, Ashley - Middle: Jillian Beth Gumbel, Bryant Gumbel, Ashley - Bottom: Prudence Chaiban, Ashley
Diddy's 40th Birthday Party and the funnest party in NYC this month!
Sean Combs "Diddy" (formerly Puff Daddy)turned 40 this week, and of course celebrated lavishly with style at the Grand Ballroom at the legendary Plaza Hotel. It was the funnest party I have been to yet in New York City, and so many people I know from LA were there, so it was like a family reunion! Stars Jay Z (we danced our asses off during his song "Empire State of Mind), Lil Kim (love her new hair!), Bono (my dad has always loved U2), Gayle King, Spike Lee (he's such a revolutionary), Kim Kardashian (w/ mom Kris), NeNe Leaks (my favorite reality star of "Real Housewives of Atlanta"), Cassie, Rev Al Sharpton (he sure did have "good hair!" lol), Tracey Edmunds, Veronica Webb and many others partied all night like rock stars! It was amazing to talk to so many people that I look up to and respect.
Rihanna says "I AM STRONG" on 20/20
Rihanna sat down with Dianne Sawyer recently on 20/20 for the first time ever to discuss her ex-relationship with Chris Brown. Rihanna was very honest, forgiving and brave. She gave details of "the night" that made headlines, and Brown has since complained of her disclosure. If he cared so much for privacy, he should not have assaulted a public figure! If he valued his image so much, then he should not have behaved like an arrogant, abusive and savage little boy that gets violent when he doesn't get his way! He went on the Wendy Williams show last week as part of his "remorse tour" and had the audacity to criticize Rihanna for giving her testimony on 20/20, even though her words are inspiring girls and women around the world to not accept domestic violence. Once again Brown shows how self-centered he is to think that he is more important then the millions of girls and women who have been positively effected by Rihanna's interview which encouraged women to put emotions aside, and get out, before it's too late. My favorite part of the interview (which I've posted above) is when Sawyer commented on how Rihanna seemed to be the last person to be in an abusive relationship because she seemed so "confident and strong". - Rihanna interrupts her and says, "I AM strong. I didn't cause this. I didn't do it. This happened TO me, and it can happen to anybody, and I'm glad it happened to me, because now I can help girls who are going through it." It was very powerful for her to set the record straight- when a man hits a woman- it does not show his "strength", it actually shows his "weakness"- and likewise- Rihanna, or any woman, is not weak because they were attacked. The victim is only weak if she stays in the abuse. Women, minorities, spiritually free people, true artists, and oppressed individuals are not "weak" because they live in a violent, capitalistic, superficial, scared and lost environment that seeks to devalue the divine feminine and promote fear and class systems to control and degrade the masses- they are only weak if they buy into all these disgusting lies and propaganda. Physical violence is never the answer- and true power comes from inside, not from the fist. Violence does not not trump love, inside beauty, courage, feelings, faith and forgiveness. "We are strong!"
Editor @ NY Post sued for sexual harassment, sexism and racism!
Two days ago Sandra Guzman filed a lawsuit against New York Post editor Col Allan, accusing him (and others at The Post)of being sexist, racist and sexually harassing. A racist cartoon was drawn portraying President Obama as a monkey, and after Guzman complained about this offensive image, she was fired (which was a month ago). Now she is taking a stand and calling out some of her former employers for causing a hostile and uncomfortable work environment. One may ask "Why didn't she press charges before she was fired?" Well I'm sure it's not a simple answer. One answer could be is that she didn't want to be blacklisted in her professional industry as "a woman not to hire"- meaning that many women do not come forward with complaints because they feel it will jeopardize their future and security. I remember years ago when I was working for a corporation, and the person who hired me expressed that he "liked me" and wanted to go on a date". I just let it go and ignored the situation. Then when the company had to make layoffs, I didn't make the cut. I'm sure if I had "complied" with my superior's request for romantic attention, my job would have been safe. I felt that if I had pressed charges, that companies in the future would have been cautious of hiring me once they found out I made a complaint (which they could see as a "risk"- even though the true "risk" was the man who chose to break company policy by pursuing a coworker romantically). Now I wish I had told HR, because no woman should have to be harassed at work. I feel grateful now though that I have more control over my work situation, and do not have to be in a hierarchy of a company where I can't control my work environment. I'm happy that Sandra is stepping up, and I hope justice is served. I also find it appalling that the cartoon that was in the New York Post is referring to Obama as a "monkey". What I've learned about racism in my 2o's is that racist people generally do not hate "other people/races", they actually "hate themselves", and expressing racist rants is just their sick way of dealing with their own feelings of insecurities and inadequateness. To read more about this lawsuit, check out this link http://gawker.com/5401475/the-new-york-post-is-a-hellish-cauldron-of-racism-sexism-and-white-rage-lawsuit
Ashley's Recap Of The Last Few Weeks
I have not written in my blog for over 3 weeks up until a couple days ago. A lot has happened this month. I moved to Harlem, and love my new place! I have a back yard with trees, and my cat Angel is happy she can go outside. It’s been good times getting my nest together, and it’s finally very cozy and feels like home. I went to Washington DC for the first time, and had fun exploring the whole city. A couple days ago I went to Atlantic City also for the first time, and won $227.00! I have finally been getting my book proposal together, and spending a lot of time researching on the particulars. I have also been researching about which literary agents or publishers would better suit my product. It was raining tonight, so in true California girl fashion, I decided to stay in (on a Saturday night, can you believe it!). I ordered a pizza from Patsy’s on 1rst Ave, and watched a couple movies. I worked a little on my book too. It’s been almost 2 months since I moved here, so I feel like I’m finally getting my bearings, and have more of an idea of what I want to do, and how to go about doing so. I am doing okay, and I am confident I made the right decision to move here. I have met some amazing people that I trust, and the causes I believe in are appreciated here. I’m not sure what I’m going to be for Halloween yet, any ideas?
Pierre Hotel's hot spot "Le Caprice" has arrived!
Finally, The Pierre Hotel’s long awaited opening of it’s new restaurant/bar, Le Caprice, has arrived! On Wednesday a couple girlfriends and I had the privilege of attending a private pre-opening dinner which attracted New York’s elite such as Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Naomi Campbell, Martha Stewart, Gayle King, Anne Dexter-Jones, Benny Medina, Alan Cumming, Cynthia Rowley, Princess Firyal, Victoria Alexander, Leo Wyndham, Jennifer Creel, Keith McNally, Alexandra Champlalimaud, Stephen Connery, Pat Schoenfeld, Amanda Brooks, Jane Keltner, Julia Erdman, and of course, photographer extraordinaire, Patrick McMullan. Guests enjoyed French and Italian cuisine (delicious risotto and halibut), while listening to live music from the piano. The renovation of the space was well received by socialites and press alike, as the ancient/stuffy décor from before was completely transformed into a modern chic aesthetic, with photographs of iconic sixties model Jean Shrimpton, by legendary British photographer David Bailey, on the walls. With the original Le Caprice in London being ever so popular and swanky, this location is bound to do the same. The prayers of Upper East Siders have been answered: a posh place to eat, drink, socialize with fabulous people and listen to live music will be officially opening on October 26th. Xoxo, NYC Girl
"DUMBO Arts Festival"
Today, my friend Brad and I went to the 13th Annual DUMBO Art Under The Bridge Festival. DUMB0 (which is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a cute little neighborhood in Brooklyn which is home to many emerging artists. My roommate says DUMBO is a more “contemporary version of Williamsburg”, which is also an artsy neighborhood on Brooklyn. The festival we went to today was all over the neighborhood, in a couple parks, on the streets and in some buildings. One theme of many artworks that stood out for me was cleaning up the environment. Many of the artists chose social and political issues to convey through their art work. As I write this blog, Michael Moore is being interviewed on Larry King about his new doco “Capitalism: A Love Story”, he is such a hero, and I love how he speaks the truth, even if some people would prefer to stay in ignorant bliss. Back to the festival, there was a human sculpture of a person draped in recyclable materials, who spoke out against pollution. There were musicians and dancers outside cafes. Maybe next year I will submit some of my drawings or paintings to the festival. I really like Brooklyn, and am considering moving there because Manhattan is so expensive. We will see what happens. Tomorrow the festival continues, so check it out at www.dumboartfestival.com. Enough of Brooklyn for now, gotta go party in Manhattan!
United Nations are in New York City making the world a better place!
Last night I had a life changing time at the Louise Blouin Foundation (LBF) Awards Ceremony honoring leaders from around the world who have demonstrated exceptional creative achievement. The United Nations General Assembly is happening right now in New York City, and a lot of needed debates are happening. The UN really has the platform to heal a lot of wounds in this world, and I am hopeful that they will get more aggressive in doing so. At the LBF gala, Former Prime Minister Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Finland Matti Vanhanen, and Industrial designer Bruce Mau were honored. Bhutto, who was assassinated on Dec. 27, 2007, “was concerned with not only the clash of civilizations between East and West but within Islam itself. She fought for democracy, human rights, and the role of women in society, as well as respect for religion, technology, and modernity”. She is a martyr, and knew that returning to her homeland could cost her her life, but she felt the needs of her people were more important, and she fearlessly did so much for her community. Her husband accepted the award for her, and we were able to meet him, as well as many people from different countries. It was very inspirational to be in a room with so many different cultures, all wanting the world to be a better place. I interviewed Jasmine Plummer, who works for the Louise Blouin Foundation (see live interview below). I know a lot of people who work for the UN, and I am considering doing some volunteer work for them. There’s a big world out there, and we all need to come together and save this world before we ruin it anymore then we have.
Williamsburg Fashion Weekend!
Eat your heart out Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Williamsburg Fashion Weekend (WFW) is also in the fashion game! Founded 5 years ago in Willimiamsburg, Brooklyn, WFW is known as “the original innovator of unorthodox fashion shows in Brooklyn”. Whereas some fashion lines look like cookie cutter versions of each other, one can always expect to see authentic, unusual style, some even over the top in a fun way. My friend, Alisha Trimble, was one of the featured designers, and she also did an art performance at the show with performance artist Cleo Fishel (both of whom are in my webisode with me featured below). Not only did designers show their new clothes, but different bands and musicians played. It was an indie of a fab time! After the event, model friends and I went to this party at a club called Glassline a few blocks away, which was hosting a soul clap dance off contest! A couple people who had registered did not show, and the vodka had kicked in by then, so I volunteered to compete. Even though my dancing skills are funny, I just wanted to have fun, and it sure was! Remember, it’s not about winning, it’s about enjoying different experiences! To learn more about WFW: williamsburgfashionweekend.com
Marc Jacobs party/Lady Gaga performance
The party that looks the craziest outside during NYC Fashion Week every season is of course the Marc Jacobs after party. I’ve seen almost 200 people outside one year frantically trying to get in. This year was bound to be a great party, for Lady Gaga was giving a special performance. I went with a friend of mine. It was very packed on the inside, I could barely move, but the VIP area was even more crammed. I was happy to see Janet Jackson. She seems to be holding up well, and looked like the new matriarch of her iconic family should be, just lovely. Micha Barton, Russell Simons, super model Liya Kebede and others were there. It was such a lovely NYC crowd. As Lady Gaga started to perform, I left the VIP area and somehow made it up to the front of the stage are, where the security guard was nice enough to let me get really close to film an exclusive “Ashley And New York TV” episode of her performance (see below). She was angelic looking with her white piano and sun goddess hat. I ran into my friend Josh from LA who is one of the managers now at the party’s venue, Maritime. The gift bags were the best this Fashion week, with MAC makeup, Lady Gaga inspired sunglasses, shoes, silver leggings, etc..
Kanye West Attacks Sweet Taylor Swift
True to MTV VMA fashion, drama occurred. As Taylor Swift recived her award for Best Female Video of the year, Kanye West grabbed her mic and exclaimed that “Beyonce had the best video of a time.” Well, Beyonce did win Video Of The Year, which is the highest honor of the night, so it’s not like she was jilted. It was just bad form for a grown adult to bully a teenage girl during her moment to shine (and shocking and uncomfortable to watch). Taylor deserved that award, as I’m sure the other nominees did too, and Kanye was wrong. I am fan of Kanye’s political expressions, and even some of his outbursts, like when he called former President Bush out for not helping the black community as much as he should. But poor Taylor did not have to be a casualty of Kanye’s war against the world! However, Beyonce, who has always been a consistent class act, redeemed Taylor’s honor and let her finish her thank you speech. I’m curious as why Kanye did that? Did he think racism was involved? Again, Beyonce received the highest honor, so what were his motives? Anyways, I confess that I am big fan of Taylor Swift’s music, and Carrie Underwood, and many other country songs. Hey!- a black girl can listen to country pop, and still be black! I love the theme of love lyrics and inspirational messages in a lot of country songs. Kanye has since apologized, saying he was drunk. Well, I’ve done some crazy things when I was drunk too (shhh….don’t tell anyone!), but I don’t think I’ve ever broke a poor kids heart on one of the biggest nights of her life! At the end of the day, I feel Kanye just had a bad day, but over all, he has done more for social change then harm it.
MTV Video Music Awards After Party!
On Sunday, September 13, MTV held it's Video Music Awards. I went to one of the after parties, hosted by In Touch Magazine. It was at St Bart's Church. That's right, a party was actually held at a church, which was actually a very liberating experience! In the Bible it says its wrong to drink and let loose in a church like everyone was, but I think spirituality should totally be about celebration! Church should not be about judgments and condemning, it should be about living life, honoring artwork and making music! So I did not feel guilty that I had my go go shorts on and drinking champagne! My heart was in in the right place, and that's all that's matters! DJ Sam Ronson was the DJ, followed by her brother, Mark Ronson. I saw Sam backstage, with Santigold (who performed at the party). We three took a pic together, after which Sam said I was the only person she smiled for in a picture. Awww...so sweet. Keep on smiling Sam, you have such an adorable smile!I ran into a few NYC acquaintances from the past, which was perfect, for in this town, one needs friends!
"The Beautiful Life" Premiere Party
Saturday night was the party to celebrate the premiere of CW’s show “The Beautiful Life”, starring Micha Barton and Corbin Bleu. It was held at Abe and Arthur’s “Simyone’s Lounge”, owned by Mark Birnbaum (the cutest venue owner ever!) and Co. (EMM to be exact). The Beautiful Life “is a show that revolves around a group of models living together in a co-ed residence in New York”. It was a fun party! I ran into Richie Rich (former designer of “Heatherette”). My friend knew some of the actors who are starring in the new movie coming out “Fame”, as in the song “We’re gonna live forever; they’re gonna remember my name… Fame!” We then went to Def Jam’s pre MTV Video Music Awards Party. The hip hop music played in NYC parties is off the hook!
Amber Rose & Rose Bar
Last night was another long night of Fashion Week! However, the rain made me a little gloomy/lazy in the first part of the day (I will always be a California girl at heart!), so I didn’t attend some of the day fashion shows at the Bryant Park tents, and opted just to go to the parties (which are more fun anyways!) First we went to the launch of Persona Magazine, hosted by Russell Simmons and cover girl Amber Rose. Ms Rose is dating Kanye West. She’s known for her loud unique fashion, and buzz short blonde hair. She’s so mysterious, as she wears hip sunglasses inside a lot. Then we went across the street to eat at one of my favorite NYC restaurants, Pastis, a French restaurant with a fun bar. I had the salmon, super yummy! I was really proud of myself for not ordering their delicious mac-n-cheese or pomme frites. Then I went to go meet up with my friend Rachel at this massive party on top of the Bowery Hotel. She’s one of my NYC besties. Then Rachel and I went to Rose Bar, where a band was playing. It’s rainy again today, but I’m summoning my inner sunshine to give me the energy to get ready to go out for another fun filled night.
Wednesday in East Village &Tribeca, Thursday-Fashion Week kick Off!
NYC Fashion Week arrived yesterday! The day before on Wednesday was fun, my friends Debbie and Soraya La Pread and I went to Jaiko’s album release party. He ‘s the new Capital artist from Barbados. Mark my words; he’s the next Chris Brown (minus the domestic violence part). We went to Randy’s party (the founder of Village People- the cowboy). Then we went to the Bowery Hotel to meet a friend, then next door to the Bowery Electric to listen to some great 80’s music and enjoyed free jello shots. Then Soraya and I got lost in the East Village(where I fell in love with a singer songwriter’s music as he played the piano and sang on stage in a cute little diver bar), and St. Marks (boho central), before meeting up with Sorayas friends from New Zealand (where she was raised too) at the hipster joint “Lit”, where we danced the night away. We ran into Micha Barton there again. The next day was the “Fashion Night Out” city wide party ,where all of Manhattan partied in the dept. stores, boutiques and streets! I saw so many people from LA I know, and it was fun. Then I headed over to meet my friend Courtani (NYC PR superstar!) at the Roca Wear party where Jay Z and Beyonce attended, and all the cool hip hop people folks were at. Shout out to my boy BJ Coleman who I had not seen since we were riding in a limo with Naomi Campbell, Quincy Jones and Terrance Howard 2 or 3 years ago after a Pre Grammy party. After the Rocowear party, Courtani and I went to meet up with some folks in Tribeca, stayed out too late, and ate too much food before going to bed. Today is the 2nd day of Fashion Week, and it’s raining, and I’m not happy about that, as I got my hair did yesterday! Black girl’s hair and the rain do not see eye to eye on many things. I was gonna do a special episode for “Ashley and New York TV” at the September 11 Memorial site, but it’s raining, and my video guy does not want to go. But much love to all the families who lost loved ones due to war. Better go get ready to go out for another long night. This time I won’t forget my umbrella- ella -ella!
Paper Magazine's 25th Anniversary Gala was bananas!
I had an amazing time at Paper Magazine’s 25th Anniversary Gala tonight! What a great first big party for me to attend, for it truly encompassed everything which makes New York City…New York City! It was a diverse blend of all cultures thrown together, with champagne, loud clothes, eclectic music, the girl next door, the icon on stage, and all these full of life personalities! I went with a few girl friends, and was so surprised to see so many people I knew, many from LA. In fact, my friend Rachel and her two friends were there, and they too have made the move from LA to NY. Rachel told me about her new poetry blog, so stay tuned for more on that! Poetry’s gonna save the world! Amanda Lepore looked stunning as usual, and I finally met Andy Cohen, CEO of Bravo, one of my favorite TV networks. I am so entertained by those Real Housewives of ATL! Kanye West, his girl/singer Amber Rose and DJ Mark Ronson were drinking by us. My two highlights of the night were when Queen Latifah performed “UNITY” on stage (the crowd went bananas!) and when Liza Minnelli performed “New York, New York” (classic!). The Virgins also performed. I caught up with Mischa Barton, who I know from LA, who also now lives in NYC (filming her new show “The Beautiful Life”). And I am now seeing that living in NYC truly is “the beautiful life”. Maybe not so much on the concrete jungle outside, but definitely in the culture and human interaction. Paper Magazine is very NYC culture in the way it brings all different cultures and people together. It is the little boutique paper that made it big time! I met some of the faces of Paper, Mr. Mickey (the fabulous well dressed personality), and also Kim, (one the founders), and the editor David. I am a little intimidated from all the fashion in NYC parties, because people are so flawlessly fashionable and sharp here. I confess I’m really just a boho Cali girl who could care less about high fashion or designer brands, but I know I have to at least look the part a little bit if I’m to make it in this town. I need a fashion stylist pronto; these blue jeans and cotton shirts won’t do in NYC! Fun, fun, fun tonight was! Fashion week is almost here, and I need to get some rest so I can party like a Manhattan-ite rock star!
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