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".
"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!
NYC Celebrates "Brazil's Independence Day!"
(Check out my webisode below of me my experience at the festival) Viva la Brazil! I had such an awesome time at NYC's celeration on Brazil's Indepedence Day! This was the 25th year that NYC has held it's annual festival, honoring the day in 1822 that Brazil won it's independence from Portugal. It was a fun day of dancing and eating great food. They had live music, and we had such a blast. I really want to go to Carnival, the big festival they have in Rio, Brazil every year. So the plan is to make here in NY, so I can afford to travel around the world and check out different cultures in their native land. But I sure did feel like I was in Brazil!
Chris Brown Fails To Redeem Himself, Rihanna Keeps On Shining!
Chris Brown has failed to redeem himself on his interview with Larry King this week (not that an interview on TV could do that anyways, it has to genuinely come from the heart), which was obviously a last effort attempt to save his plundering career and endorsements. He downplayed the magnitude of his incident, and even went as far as to say that the media is “blowing it out of proportion” and insulted blog land for expressing their disappointment in his abusive actions. Newsflash Chris, the severity of what you did was a big deal, you did'nt just push or slap (which would still be horrid), you were repetitive and damaging in your violent blows to a young woman who was “physically” weaker then you (we all saw the picture and read the report!). She may be smaller then you in size, but now we all see she is bigger then you in self-esteem and expression. He sounded so arrogant in the interview, which is the type of attitude that probably led him to think it was ok to hit a woman in the first place. Anytime a man hits a woman, it’s just pathetic! Some abusive men think it asserts their “power” when they brutally attack a woman, however, it takes real power to be gentle, and in control of one’s self. Only a weak and immature man would ever disrespect the feminine in such an aggressive way that Brown did. Also, there are men who are emotionally and mentally abusive to women, and that is just as damaging. Being a “real man” does not mean “controlling a woman”, it means “protecting her well being”, not that she can’t protect herself though. Kanye West has commented on how significant Rihanna is to our culture, and she has been nicknamed “Princess Ri Ri” by the hip hop community, so when Chris Brown hit Rihanna, he did more then hit her, he attacked a community’s princess archetype. He degraded the anima, the vessel of light, the heroine. He needs to apologize to all women, because as a celebrity, he has a responsibility to know that his actions affect millions. Rihanna has handled this situation gracefully, and she is still a strong and great role model in my eyes. Every time I see and talk to her, she radiates light and strength, and even this dark incident will not dim her, for she will only rise above and empower women to not put up with disrespect. I say Rihanna’s own words back at her, from her hit single “Live Your Life”, she preaches, “You're gonna be a shining star, And then you'll see, you're gonna go far. Cause everyone knows who you are-are. So live your life, ay ay ay. Just live your life!” Please visit this site to know more about this important issue: http://www.domesticviolence.org/
Michael Jackson is laid to rest, an angel he was.
Michael Jackson was finally laid to rest tonight. And I do hope people will just let him be. The music he made will forever remain a part of our culture. He was more than the King of Pop, he was a hero to anyone who wanted to authentically express themselves and not conform to what society dictated. Michael was an amazing talent, who taught so many how to dance, and inspired so many singers to try to follow in his footsteps. He was also an activist who fought to make the world a better place, and endorsed so many causes. Even in the lyrics of some of his songs he challenged the human race to acknowledge many important social and humanity issues. I love what he symbolized and I feel a loss that he’s graduated on. However, he will always have a place in our world, for he was an angel whose presence touched so many hearts and lives. God bless you Michael, those vultures can’t touch you now! May you come back as a dove, or a flower or whatever else your beautiful spirit manifests to be. I know the attacks on you provoked troubles for you during your time here, but all that you gave is what matters, and that was a whole lot of light. I’m sending love to you, and a rose.
Discriminatory Former Miss Calif. Sues For "Discrimination"
I just landed in New York City! I’ve lived in California my whole life, so I need a change. Yet before I dive into writing about all things NYC, I have one thing to express about my native home…an imposter has tainted the image of California and is threatening the pursuit of happiness for many Americans, and that would be Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California. As of a couple days ago, she is now suing the Miss California pageant for “religious discrimination”! This is so hypercritical, for she was the only one using “religion to discriminate”, when she expressed that two people loving each other is unacceptable, unless they subscribe to her narrow ideas of what’s worthy of “legal protections and dignity” or not. She thinks its ok for her to discriminate, but heaven forbid she’s “discriminated” against. For the record, she was not discriminated against; she failed to live up to her contract, and was given the boot! She is not in a place to be a spokesperson for Jesus, for he was about compassion, unity and love. Prejean is about judgment, shallowness and feels the oppression of minorities is justified! Yet, if she wants to uphold the Bible as absolute, then why is she breaking the “Thou Shall Not Lie” commandment? “It was a windy day” she says when asked about her nude photos! “Windy day” my arse! Carrie is not a victim as she pathetically tries to convey, yet the LGBT Americans who she is a spokesperson against are the real victims of her and her kind. I was so proud growing up as a Californian, for my native state paved the way in so many social change movements. The rest of the country always looked to us to progressively shake things up. Northern California produced the peace loving hippies, the revolutionary Black Panthers and collage protests. Southern California has given so much to immigration reform, and inspired the term “California love” due to the fun in the sun, mellow, relaxed optimistic bohemian like cultures. What a liberal legacy we have! Prejean is in direct opposition of everything positive my home state has contributed to this country’s evolution of humanity and social reform. Sadly, the religious right wing is lifting her up to spread their agenda of tyranny. She is more dangerous than some acknowledge! She’s also suing for “slander”, yet she’s the only one slandering same sex couples! Good God! The bottom line is Carrie is in need of attention, for her 15 minutes are almost up. Liar, bigot & entitlement issues are all things Prejean. I applaud Shanna Moakler for resigning as co-director of the pageant saying, “I want to be a role model for young women …and feel it more important to be a role model for my children.” Exactly! We must protect our children from people like Prejean who teach prejudice and lies. She’s living in a fantasy if she thinks she’s a “martyr”. I pray this nuisance of a lawsuit is dismissed! Moakler expressed through her lawyer two days ago, “Ms. Prejean’s unfortunate and bigoted statements are responsible for any public humiliation or damages to her reputation that she has claimed to have suffered.” Amen to that! Carrie, please stop embarrassing my beloved state, and go work as Sarah Palin’s secretary or something!
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