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".
Golden Globes parties!
I needed to get away from the cold and rainy and snowy weather in NYC for a bit, and had some meetings and events I had to attend for work. I was invited to the Golden Globes, but opted to just go the after parties, because its too tiring to go to both the Awards AND the after parties. First we went to the NBC/Universal/Focus Features party, which is OK, but is generally considered the least desirable of the after parties, which are all held at the Beverly Hills Hilton, directly following the awards, which are also at the hotel. Then we went to the best party, which is the Warner Brothers & In Style Magazine party. Now this was the fun party! The DJ was great, and we danced and drank champagne until almost the very end. I saw a bunch of friends and associates.
I was happy Avatar won for best film, but was disappointed Precious did not receive more awards.
Martin Luther King Day Parade! Rain or Shine, we are marching!!!
I had the rejuvenating joy of attending the Martin Luther King Day parade this weekend. I wanted to go because this is such a special time for the African American community, as Obama is the first president, our country is helping Haiti and more and more people are demanding that Mother Africa be protected from all the outside attackers.
I had been partying until 5 in the morning after The Golden Globes, and after I came home, I was only able to get 1 hour of sleep before my alarm went off. I turned off the alarm and thought I was too tired to go to the parade, but then I thought of all my friends who I wanted to see, and why it was especially important this year to show our pride in our communities progress, and I somehow found the energy (and coffee) to get up and get ready.
It was great to see activist friends of mine I had seen in a while, since I moved to New York last year, and I made a lot of new friends!
Halfway during the march it started to rain, and my shoes became buckets of water! I became drenched, but kept on marching. Our ancestors had to ednure so much more then walking in the rain.
I wonder how Martin Luther King would feel today if he saw how many human beings in America are still being stripped of their civil rights, like LGBT people, and undocumented workers, and women's right to choose, etc.. We still have so much work to do!
Marie: The Haitian Woman Who Refused To Make A Pact With The Devil!
Recently the always racist and crazy Pat Robertson, the evangelical Christian pundit, has said God was punishing Haitians with the flood, because they made a "pact to the devil". This is absurd, and the truth is, the Haitian people were so strong spirited that they were the first ever slave country to defeat their overseers and win independence. Anyways, here is my rebuttal to Robinson's hate speech:
I stayed home last Halloween because I didn’t feel like going out. I cuddled up on my couch, ordered Thai food, and turned on the TV and went to the TV Guide Channel. “A Feast Of All Saints” was about to start, and I decided to watch that. Though it was not intended to be a horror film, it was by far the most horrifying movie I had ever seen.
It focused on people called “The Free People Of Color” that resided in Louisiana prior to slavery being abolished. One of the main characters was named Marie St. Marie. Her mother, Cecil, was from Haiti, and was the daughter of a white plantation owner and a Haitian black slave. During the Haitian revolution (when the slaves defeated the French, becoming the first country to have a successful slave revolt), Cecil’s father was hanged for owning slaves. A wealthy black woman kidnapped Cecil from her slave mother, telling the mother she had died, and brought her to America. Cecil was raised with freedom in Louisiana, the only state in the US that had a free black society. When she became an adult, it was decided she would become the mistress to a wealthy plantation owner. This system was called “placage” (to place with) in which many biracial, black or women color were formally placed with white men who were contracted to provide for them long term, which was basically like marriage, but with less rights. It was a common practice during the time, and many women of color saw this as the best way to be safe and provide for their families, as the brutality and inhumane system of slavery was the only other option for many. She gave birth to two children, Marie and Marcel.
Marie went to a good school, and enjoyed the comforts most free people do. But she was woman, so her external freedom was limited, and also because of her ancestry. She was a beautiful woman, and men, both black and white, adored her. However, she was not proud of her outer looks, for what she valued in life came from within.
She joined a charity group and found joy in helping those less fortunate then her. She had privileges that most black people did not, and she was saddened that her people were being dehumanized by white slave owners. She found no joy in the privileges she was lucky to have. In fact, she did not respect her mother Cecile for being with a man who oppressed her people. Though she was mix raced and very light skinned, she identified as a proud black woman.
Marie's father fell on financial hardships, as his jealous white wife became jealous of the love he had for her mother Cecile, her father's mistress. His wife arranged for the control of the estate to be transferred to her side of the family, thinking it would inspire him to leave Marie and Cecile's family. It did not work, for he wanted to be with Marie’s mother. He eventually died, leaving the family with barely any means to provide for themselves.
In a panic, Cecile suggested that Marie allow one of the many wealthy white admirers of hers to “take care” of her, and help the family during their financial crisis. Marie said she did not have the heart to be with anyone who mistreated human beings the way the slave owners did. She expressed that there was not enough money in all the world to inspire her to become property of a greedy man who had exchanged his soul for worldly riches. Marie was fine with losing the lifestyle she was accustomed to, as long as she could stay honest to her heart, and hold out for true love.
Cecile was perplexed and full of fear. She tried her hardest to brainwash Marie into giving into the same lies she had that said that women were 2nd class human beings who were meant to cater to men. She desperately tried to trick Marie into placing a higher value on money then on humanity and love. But it wasn’t working, for there were some things Marie loved doing above anything else, and that was smiling and laughing. She knew if she made a pact with the devil, that she would lose her desire to smile, and her happiness would go down the drain. She was not impressed by diamonds, all they were was clear mineral stones that some man had dug up from the earth and proclaimed as “valuable”. All the people in Mother Africa murdered by European diamond miners just so disillusioned people could go crazy over the worth they were tricked into thinking diamonds held made her ill. Marie’s heart was broken that her own mother would want to sacrifice her daughter’s happiness just so they could remain wealthy.
Marie was not going to compromise, and Louisiana society was confused. It had always been assumed that since she was a popular socialite that she would “choose the highest bidder”, never mind the fact that the highest bidder had sacrificed human decency for dollars. Her suitors pleaded that she give them a chance. She found them pathetic and repulsive. “Let me protect you” they expressed. But the only protection she wanted was from them, not by them. “Let us save you from the lifestyle we enforce on the rest of your people” they pleaded. It’s as if they thought they would find some small amount of redemption if she allowed them to have her favor, but she knew the only way they would find redemption would be to ask forgiveness for their sins against humanity and abolish slavery. But all they cared about was power and money, and sex.
Marie knew she was not a sex object. She was a spirit meant to evolve, learn, love and be loved. She was a woman who was meant to give, to be cherished and to live her own life. Though powerful men in the white high society around her held the notion that women were nothing more then sex objects, servants and child bearers, Marie was not submitting. Marie’s named comes from the name “Mary”. Marie did not buy that “Mary of Magdalene” was a “whore” as some say. The only real “whores” were all the slave owners around her who had sold not their body, but their souls, just so they could be rich. These “whores”/corporations were destroying the world around them, oppressing ethnic minorities, killing people for money, and ruining the environment, and degrading all the feminine values she had faith in. And yet they called Mary, and even Eve, “whores“, when the truth is that these women were “victims“ of falsehoods preached by false prophets. She believed that Mary was Jesus’ companion, his lover, his beloved, his vessel of light. Marie’s intuition unveiled to her that dishonest kings of the past had rewritten parts of the Bible to promote women as 2nd class citizens and people of color as inferior to white people. She felt without a doubt that no creator of life would ever condone that! She knew Jesus worshipped the divine feminine, and that Jesus preached that a woman’s greatest asset was not her body, but her spirit. When one is as enlightened to the truth as Marie, it’s hard to put a veil over her eyes.
The predators pursued her. She kept her faith. Since Marie was unwilling to sign a contract with the devil, spite broke out amongst the men she had rejected. It was shocking to these wealthy dishonest men that a woman of color knew she was better then the offers they were giving her, and it made them feel even more of horrid people since they knew she was rejecting them because she thought they were evil. And when being a “gentleman” wouldn’t work, they decided to use aggression.
“If you won’t come quietly and be a good little girl, I could use force to make you my slave”
Marie replied “I will never be a slave in my mind. Even the black people you chain in your fields are not slaves, for I hear the soul songs they sing under the hot sun as they work, and though they are physically captive, they have souls that will overcome your treachery, and their forced labor will end soon enough. You are surely the true slave. You are a slave to your greed, fear and rage. You are enslaved to all the lies you preach and believe. Money is your master, and has you chained.”
In a desperate attempt to have light shine upon him they said, “I will give you anything you want”
She said, “What I want you do not possess. I do not want your silly stones you call jewels or your big house with no love inside of it. There’s this thing I have called a soul, you should totally try getting yours back, it may be hard after all the sins against humanity you have committed, but it’s totally worth it! Please leave me be, it will never happen!”
Enraged, they became jealous of what they could not have. They had sacrificed their souls to buy land and riches, and thought because of their status they could have any woman they wanted. Jealousy is the most scariest sin of all, for it leads to violence, lies, self loathing and hate.
And then a few men conspired to attack Marie. They felt powerless that they could not possess her, and hopeless that she had called them out on their devilish practices. In their warped minds, they thought by assaulting her it would somehow make them more powerful. And poor Marie. She was one of the only women in her time to stand up against Louisiana high society and say she was not interested in being the property of a horrid king,. So she became physically assaulted by monsters who could not tolerate her authentic power and faith that women and ethnic minorities are not subhuman.
And then the woman who had just wanted to be left alone, was crushed.
She did not go home, she ran to a haunted house in the rain, locked herself up, and threw away the key. She would not talk to anyone. And the lovely creature of God who had kept her faith through so many hardships and temptations, suddenly lost hope. The darkness of her assailants invaded her safe space, and her flowers wilted. She was changed. She cursed the world that could allow such horrible actions against good people. She cursed the oppression that continued to plague her people. She blew out the candles, and sat there in the darkness, vowing never to leave the house.
Her long time friend Anna Bella, who was also a freed woman of color, came to the house determined to take Marie with her to care for her. Marie felt defeated, and ruined, and did not want to return to a society that had abused her. She told Anna that “she must have deserved to be treated like an animal”. Anna replied, “There is no truth in that! What happened was not your fault. They may have attacked you, but they will never ever have you!”. Marie had allowed the oppressors to get inside her head and convince her she was nothing but a sex slave and a prisoner to the white men’s agenda. As strong and resilient as she had been, their act of brutality had broken her, and she felt victimized. Realizing Marie would not leave her prison, Anna left.
Marie decided that maybe the world was right. Maybe she was a 2nd class human being because of her race and gender. Maybe she needed a powerful man she did not love to buy her a house. Maybe the faith she had in love and humanity was a child like romantic notion. So she made the decision to consider submitting to the status quo and all it‘s lies, and walked downstairs to compromise all she held dear. A trophy collector grabbed her hand and proceeded to kiss it, and right before he laid his lips on her hand, something inside her revolted. She pulled her hand away and ran outside into the garden.
The life she had temporarily suppressed had tried in a desperate attempt to resurrect her faith. And there in the garden was love, waiting for her. But then fear crept back inside her. She told love to leave or she would scream. Love said it would not leave. She told love that she was damaged, and love replied that though she may have been a victim of the damaged souls of others, that she herself was still a rose. And she told love that she wanted to die, but love said she did not truly believe that. Marie asked love to leave her alone, and that she would never trust again. Love told her that it would be patient, and gentle and would listen. Love vowed nothing bad would ever happen to her again with love by her side. Marie cried, and she cried, and she looked into love’s eyes, and felt it's genuine goodness. Yet, she had built these walls around her, still fearful of all the evil in the world, so she again told love to go. But love refused to abandon her!
And love picked Marie up, just like she had always believed in her heart love would, and carried her out of that haunted house, and the ghosts vanished, for the ghosts were never real, just imagined.
Light flowed back into Marie, and was available all along. Marie realized that the oppression she had endured was a test to her faith, and she committed herself to pass the test, and survive, and then thrive. Somehow, her flowers came back to life.
Marie followed her heart, and with love, boarded a ship for Paris. In Paris there was no slavery, and women were more respected. She would start anew. And as the ship drifted away, she looked back at New Orleans. She would miss her family, and her friends, and her community. But she could not change that place, and sometimes the only solution is to leave, to let go. And then her smile came back to her. She had made the right choice, and there was hope.
Haiti in crisis
Tragedy struck Haiti yesterday, as a massive earthquake hit, killing over a 100 thousand people, and causing destruction in an already impoverished country. I have so much respect for the people of Haiti, as they were the first nation after America to win independence from imperialism. Haiti was the first Black republic as well. One of my best friends in New York City is named Jada. Her family is from Haiti, and her parents migrated here before she was born. She told me that America barged into Haiti in the early 1900’s, set up a brutal military occupation (killing almost 12,000 innocent Haitians), and made false promises of setting up modern infrastructure, education and resources. Then they pulled out, leaving the people with unfinished roads, in debt and did not even teach the people how to finish the job the US left. The US left the country in utter ruins, and to make matters even more inhumane, the US then placed an embargo on Haiti, making them impoverished. Our country owes it to the people of Haiti to help them in their time of need.
Some immoral lunatic/false messenger named Pat Robertson is spreading propaganda in the media regarding Haiti saying, “And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it’s a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another,"
Wow! What person who calls himself a man of God would ever express such hate speech and falsehoods (sadly, a lot do)? It was God who helped Haiti rid themselves of the greedy and moral free imperialists. It was God who gave the indigenous people the faith and strength to stand up against the French. Oh, when I say the word “God”, know that I do not mean “an organized religious, judgmental God”, I mean the “all loving energy, universal, open, free spirited God”. People like Pat Robinson need to stop misrepresenting the essence of God’s word, which did not condone theft, bullying and lies. Please pray for people who preach hate like Robinson, and ask that they will accept love and humanity in their lives. Please pray that the US will give real aide to Haiti. Pray that the people of Haiti will resurrect the strength they had during their revolution to pull themselves out of this catastrophe.
Hip Hop artist Wyclef Jean is urging people to donate $5 to his Haitian charity, Yéle Haiti, by texting "YELE" to 501501
I miss southern California :(
As the cold weather overwhelms New York City, I feel a longing for the warmth and outside freedom I am accustomed too, and then I miss other things about California, like the upbeat and sunny energy, my friends and family, the laziness and peace, the glitz and glam, the hippies and the hype, the beach and bohos, the mellow coolness and lovely weather. I like to stay inside when it's cold, so I am turning into a hibernating bear, which is good cuz I'm getting a lot of writing done in my book, but bad because I'm not being as social as I should be. When I meet people from Cali in NYC, and they are the chill all lovin' Cali native types, I get a little (that means a lot) home sick. But then I remind myself that now is time for work, and that my business interests are more centered here in NYC, and so for now it's best to be here. And though the weather sucks in NYC (and some of the people need some major sunshine in their life!), other things make up for it. But there is only one Southern Cali in the world, and my heart will always belong to the shores and deserts of Cali. I miss how there is so much space inside and out. I miss driving in my car listening to music, and being the navigator. Sundays with my friends at the drum circle was like church. Late nights at the beach looking up at the stars. Cute cafes and coffee shops. Green this, green that. Running into people I know at the grocery store or the club. Power walking with beautiful scenery. Relaxation. BBQ every other weekend. Optimism. Up in the Hollywood Hills looking out over the bright lights. Used book stores in Silverlake, Beachwood Canyon and Los Filas. Live music all over. Shopping on Melrose or The Beverly Center. Getting lost hiking in the mountains of Malibu. Hipping out in Topanga Canyon. Like oh my gosh in the valley. Vacationing and dreams of retirement in Santa Barbara, the French Riviera of the west. I better stop writing this blog before I book a one way ticket to LAX!
Photo: Ashley- Sunbathing at Windansea Beach, San Diego, California
Video: "California Love" - Tupac
New York fashion icon Marc Jacobs gets married in St. Barts!
Fashion designer Marc Jacobs married his boyfriend Lorenzo Martone this weekend in uber chic hot spot St Barts (of course they married there, they are the Kings of style!). He is one of my favorite New York designers. I am so happy for Marc. I was introduced to him years ago backstage at one of his fashion shows during NY Fashion Week, and ever since I have gone to his shows and after parties every Fall season. His parties are indisputably the most fun, fab and exclusive during Fashion Week, and this year Lady Gaga performed at his after party (see my coverage of that party: http://ashleyandnewyork.blogspot.com/2009/09/marc-jacobs-partylady-gaga-performance.html).
Marc has always struck me as unusual because he doesn't have the same diva attitude a lot of other designers I know have. He's very sweet and humble. It saddens me that such a good hearted person in love like Marc can't get married in New York just because he loves someone who happens to be the same sex that he is. I thought it was 2010, yet some people are still stuck in cave man mentality, attacking people who are different, and stripping them of their civil rights. Anyone should be able to get married to anyone they love, and minorities should not have their civil rights voted away by the majority. I remember being a little girl and feeling so proud to be in America, the land of the free. I guess the "freedom" is only for some. :( Don't get me started, I just want to savor the happiness that Marc found someone he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Congrats to Marc and Lorenzo, they are such a cute couple!
Photos: (Top)- Marc Jacobs and Lorenzo Martone at their wedding. - (Bottom)- Ashley and Marc Jacobs at his 2009 fashion show after party
My 10 New Years Resolutions for 2010!
I am getting a late start getting my list of New Years resolutions. Here they are:
1- Eat more vegetarian dishes.
2- Finish writing my book this year
3- Be more disciplined
4- FORGIVE- A)- forgive family members who hurt me (and take responsibility for what I did that was hurtful to them) B)- forgive men in my past who I am allowing to influence my present by not forgiving, just let go…
5- Explore more artistic passions of mine
6- Travel as much as I can- Africa, Europe, South and Central America, Asia
7- Lose the 10 pounds I gained since I moved to New York (too much good soul food, pizza and Spanish food here- plus it's so cold that my subconscious is urging me to eat a lot to keep warm)
8- Be more self-sufficient, get my business off the ground
9- Get more involved in activism and social issues in New York
10-Floss more regularly
I know having 10 resolutions is a very tall order, but something tells me that this year I need to give 101%, wish me luck!
I moved to the Village, yay!
I finally moved to the East Village this weekend. I have had quite a spiritual experience unpacking, and getting everything organized, and now the feng shui is totally on point. A few of my friends live in the area, and I was always around, so I decided to get a place here. It's a very young, artsy, non-pretentious neighborhood, but it still trendy. There are a lot of cool bars/clubs, and yummy food. It's also a lot closer to the events and business meetings I have then Harlem is, so I will save travel time. I couldn't really focus in my last place, cuz it was so small and I felt trapped, and the environment in my building was not as chill as I am accustomed to,and my privacy was not respected, so as soon as my 3 month agreement was up I started to look for a new place. One's sanctuary (living quarters) really plays a influential role in one's mood, productiveness and creativity. I feel so free in my new spot, and feel like the Village is a place I can live long term.
This picture is of my cat Angel hopping around in my suitcase. She is so cute and always loves to help Mommy pack!
New Year, New Decade, New Life!
Happy New Years! I'm done sleeping, I'm gonna change my life this year, no more waiting, no more excuses- just faith, discipline, love, action, optimism, and hard work!
I partied on New Years Eve at Mariah Carey's concert at Madison Square Gardens. We had a private box. Can you think of any better way to bring in a new decade then to listen to some of your favorite love songs? I certainly could not! I was born in the 80’s, so Mariah Carey was my first pop idol that I connected with. But Mariah was more then a pop sensation to many, for the lyrics of so many of her love ballads inspired people to rank love above all else, and to believe in one’s ability to accomplish one’s goals. “Vision Of Love” gave me hope that though I had a rocky childhood, that love was waiting for me in my journey. Her ballad “Hero” told me that I had the tools inside myself to take matters into my own hands, be brave, and heal from unfortunate situations in my past. “Make It Happen” inspired me to get up off my ass and get it done! And so forth.
I am taking risks this year and allowing the whirlwind of love to take hold of me, taking me to where my soul desires. Oh yes, I will eject the fear that has crippled me, break out of my self induced cast, and run towards the road that I have seen in my dreams, but that is now meant for reality. No longer am I waiting for a hero to save me. That’s right, I am going to be the hero I thought I needed in someone else. I am woman, but it doesn’t mean I can’t learn to pick up a sword and protect myself. No offense Hans Christian Anderson and The Grimm’s Brothers, but I reject your mistranslations/fairy tales that women are pathetic little childlike princesses who have to be saved. For you see, my mother is a feminist, and she tells me I can create my own destiny. The sword may be heavy, but my arms are empowered with optimism and courage. Instead of using the conventional metal plate for a shield, I will shield myself with innocent faith. You heard me- faith is more mighty then metal, violence, money and hate. I have been hanging out in this tower I was sent to for so long, but the spell the evil witches and brainwashers of this world put on me is withering away, and I see more clearly now. I see that it is ok for me to jump out the tower window and follow my heart. If a dragon approaches, my light will defend me, compassion will spare the dragon from my sword, and inspiration will transform the enraged and greedy dragon into a peaceful and giving unicorn. And the unicorn will accompany me on my journey as I seek answers, see the world and find and spread love. Call me a rebel butterfly, but I am so over this cocoon that the media has infested with lies, oppression and a brutal attack on the divine feminine. I am unleashing myself out of this cage, unfolding my wings, and flying into an abundance of light, laughter and lilies.
Photo: Ashley backstage at Madison Square Gardens
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