All posts tagged “New Orleans

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EVERYTHING BUT ESSENCE

For an explanation of feet, keep reading.

Names and details have been changed to act like I am protecting the identity of family and friends but we all know I’m not. 

This was the first time I made a effort to attend Essence. Although I grew up in New Orleans, Essence weekend has always been a headache for locals. The influx of nearly every African American woman, unfortunate husbands and boyfriends, cat daddies, and a couple of lost colonizers results in traffic and price gouging so we always left town. I made a few attempts several years ago but it was hot AF so I swore to never return during the months of July and August yet there I was but the weather was not impossible thanks to a few showers.

I am not sure of the details but the cousins group chat spilled over into a fake-ass Girls Trip. We lost a few cousins so it was just the four of us. No, they are not dead but didn’t attend for reasons that are none of your business. Due to my cousins wanting an authentic experience, we did everything but Essence (but you already knew that because it’s the title of this post). We saw one panel featuring Amanda Seales, Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell-Martin, and Kym Whitley, spent a ton of time trying to find the Read’s booth, browsing stages where we saw Mary J. Blige and Fonzworth Bentley, and passing tons of vendors. Essence requires more than the weekend. You need time to tour the city, get the energy necessary to attend the panels and performances, check out the night life and recuperate (which I haven’t since I returned to a sick child and husband; thereby, resulting in me being sick).

We ate and drunk all weekend; most notably, Cafe Du Monde, Superior Seafood (where I learned about non-binary gender and valet kept bringing me the wrong car), Ruby Slipper (where Kofi Siriboe stood us up, he was invited via twitter), Deanie’s Seafood (where we received terrible service for the first time ever but the tip was already included so they didn’t give a damn), 30/90, and District Donuts.

Listed on my Bucket List and something I’ve been trying to see for three years is the Read Live! This is the very first podcast I started listening to and still my favorite. We arrived during the pre-show to a podcast we aren’t familiar with but who I was familiar with was their guest: Big Freedia, the Queen Diva (you already knoooow, girl down). If you don’t know who she is, google. I don’t have time for your foolishness.

As expected, Freedia gave us a twerk session and asked for volunteers. This is the moment I’ve been preparing for since giving birth. I twerk at least once a day and felt that I was ready to perform on stage when she asked for volunteers so there I was, next to Freedia, throwing it in a circle… in my head. There is no way I am going to shake my mommy ass in public so you guys can upload it to your Snapchat or whatever mediums you millennials use.

According to one of my cousins, their live episode is available and I’m wondering if I will be able to hear myself ask Crissle to let Meghan ask a question. I take full responsibility for the positive impact she’s going to make on white America. Each one teach one.

We also saw Dustin, Fran and Assante which was a nice treat since I also listen to their podcast, the Friend Zone.

We did a little shopping on Bayou Road where there is a string of black-owned businesses. I bought a book and pins from Community Book Center, another pin from Material Life and a cupcake from Cupcake Fairies.

We shopped in the French Quarters where I bought Pyrite studs from NOLA Rock Co and a T-shirt and onesie from Kitchen Ink which illustrates to Jacksonians I will always be a New Orleanian as if they don’t already know, as if they care.

We drove through Uptown, the Garden District, City Park, and I took the cousins to the Lakefront. Speaking of the French Quarters, I finally got the chance to see my best friend since childhood perform at 30/90. Please follow Sierra Green & the Soul Machine and see her live instead of jumping on the bandwagon later on. I mean, I’m sure she’ll still take your money but I’m just saying.

Other notable experiences include my lesbian cousins dressing alike opposed to the required skank-wear, cousins falling asleep every time they get in the car like newborns, my cousin’s feet being entirely too close to my face (we had an abundance of space), my cousin getting out of my car and telling Pickup Truck Patrick to stop blocking the hotel parking lot because he was causing traffic and you guessed it, he did not move. There were other activities we shall not speak of *stares*

We are already talking about attending next year but it will most definitely require me taking several days of vacation and actually attending Essence. I didn’t take a ton of pictures, that’s not my ministry. You can check out several on Instagram, you’re welcome.

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POST STORM SURVIVAL & WHERE TO DONATE


Due to being an awesome and well prepared blogger, I often have a backlog of blog posts. Prior to Hurricane Harvey, I was trying to determine if I should publish a post on my new skincare routine, bitch about my pregnancy or tell you about a new artist I am obsessed with. None of those topics seem important right now.

August 29th marked the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the worst experience of my life to date. We lost everything, I no longer have childhood homes or schools, and the emotional and psychological effects are lasting. Being refereed to as “refugees,” judged for looting, blamed for crimes in areas where we relocated, and being told it happened because New Orleans needed to be “cleansed” didn’t help. And, people are already saying some of the same things about Houston.

This past week was hard because it brought back some of the same anxiety. Although I am in dry and boring Mississippi, my New Orleans family and friends relocated to Houston after Hurricane Katrina and the flood in Baton Rouge last year. My husband is from Houston so his entire family and friends (that I actually like) are there. Although this event is catastrophic, I am grateful for the same thing I was grateful for 12 years ago. None of my family and friends died but not everyone was as fortunate. After all, things can be replaced. But then there is the aftermath and I’m hoping I can provide some advice to people experiencing this as well as those who want to help.

WHERE TO GET ASSISTANCE?

First and foremost, compose a list of necessities then a list of things that need to be replaced.

  • Contact FEMA for assistance
  • Although controversial, contact Red Cross too
  • FREE accommodations from Airbnb
  • The Greater Houston Community Foundation composed this list of relief resources

So, a bit of time has passed and you are in the process of rebuilding your life. You will need counseling, your kids will need counseling. People who have experienced such devastation often suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

WHERE TO DONATE:

Congratulations, you are not as bad as I thought. Donate to the following:

  • Pay Pal has listed several agencies to donate to.
  • If you are near the areas affected, offer space for free through Airbnb
  • Donate through Apple’s App Store or iTunes
  • Donate money and supplies to the Greater Houston Community Foundation
  • Donate money, goods, supplies, clothing, furniture and cars to the Salvation Army
  • Donate diapers
  • Donate money, food and volunteer at the Houston Food Bank
  • Donate money and food to the Galveston County Food Bank
  • Donate money and food to the Corpus Christi Food Bank
  • Donate to Entergy and Red Cross who have partnered to restore power
  • Donate through GoFundMe
  • Use this Charity Navigator to find organizations to donate to
  • Donate or volunteer through the North American Mission Board
  • Donate to Heart to Heart International
  • Donate or volunteer through Samaritan’s Purse
  • Donate to the Texas Workers Relief Fund
  • Donate to the Animal Defense League of Texas or purchase from their Amazon wishlist
  • Donate to SPCA of Texas
  • Donate to Portlight

If you are about that life (I’m not), donate blood.

As stated previously, I have family that have been affected. If you are interested in helping, email me.

Although recovering from such devastation takes time, can be frustrating and is most definitely a test of perseverance, you can get through this. It’s possible.

Ashlee, out!

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I’M THANKFUL FOR FAMILY, FOOD & DAIQUIRIS

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This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving in New Orleans with my family so there was no need for a list of shows to binge watch, a stack of magazines to read or tips on how to properly socialize. Although the Thanksgiving meal (in which I contributed the Mac and Cheese) was awesome, I was most excited about seafood, beignets and daiquiris. They put whipped cream in the daiquiris out here, I can’t condone or participate in that. 

Highlights from My Trip: 

Spending time with family and realizing I’m shady because of genetics; specifically, my grandparents on both sides (you too Mom).

Walking through the French Market and French Quarters, taking in the sound of jazz from street musicians as well as the smell which is usually a combination of horse s***, piss from people who probably don’t drink enough water, pralines and seafood?

Giving Dad a birthday card full of glitter, hoping it would explode all over his house resulting in him spending an eternity cleaning it up. Unfortunately, he didn’t trust me and opened it outside. Don’t feel sorry for him, we have an ongoing feud.

Being asked if I wanted an eyebrow demonstration from a makeup artist located at a kiosk in the Riverwalk. Having my brows filled, matte makeup applied then removed because I didn’t want to pay 15 bucks for her to do the other side. But honestly, I do like their products and will likely shop them at a later date.

Seeing Tank and the Bangas, live! They’re my favorite New Orleans band right now. The crowd was colorful and their performance was awesome. For example:

I know, she’s a bit eccentric. Don’t you love that? Overall, it was a good, lazy Thanksgiving vacation. Next, is Christmas in Houston with the in-laws. How was your Thanksgiving? Did you eat too much? Did you drink too much? Who in your family should be banned from cooking?

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FORMATION IN 24HRS OR LESS 

New Orleans, September 24, 2016 Source: Parkwood Entertainment

7:00 AM: It’s entirely too early but I haven’t packed a thing and need to buy deodorant. Note: Husband likes to use my deodorant and misplaced it. 

8:50 AM: I’m leaving Walgreens with the aforementioned deodorant and heading to Almesha’s house.

9:17 AM (I think): I’m outside of Almesha’s house, she has breakfast (I was out of strawberries and skipped my breakfast smoothie). We hit the road.

11 something AM: We eat lunch, drop off our bags, Paw Paw gives me several kisses, and we put on a light layer of makeup. It will be hot and humid in New Orleans and I didn’t want my foundation dripping off my face.

1 something PM: We park at the edge of the French Quarters (and it’s still hot as hell). We walk through the French Market. I smile but internally (because I don’t like to show emotion). Being home always makes me happy. Anyway, we look at all of the cool art, handmade jewelry and other weird stuff. We stop for Pralines (of course, I get the one with booze in it). It’s still hot. We finally make it to Cafe Du Monde and the line is entirely too long and being that it’s hot as hell, I remember there’s one in the Riverwalk so we head there.

2 something PM: We arrive at the cooler Cafe Du Mondale and split an order of beignets. Almesha gets powder on her clothes. We then head upstairs and spot a beauty kiosk. Almesha needs to get a couple of things done so I run a very important errand while she waits… I head to Fat Tuesday’s.

4:30 PM: It’s time to head back to the car, it’s a long walk from where we are. We then take a quick detour to my grandma’s house to drop off flax seed and fiber powder to my mom. Apparently, this is not sold in New Orleans.

… 

5:15 PM: We park at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and get in line. According to the tickets, the doors open at 5:30. Guess what, 5:30 comes and goes and they don’t let us in until 6:30.

7 something PM: A drunk woman and her girlfriend sits next to us. They’re from Chicago where the tickets were super expensive but apparently it was cheaper to book flights and a hotel room in New Orleans versus tickets there. I think they’re an entertaining couple but Almesha thinks they’re weird. The drunk woman who happens to be white asks us our age and tells us “black don’t crack.” She asks if we’re married and we say yes. She’s excited because she found new lesbians friends but we inform her that we are married to men and they are home, maintaining the household. Like real men do.

8:04 PM: DJ Khalid comes out screeching and I’m not impressed. I want Big Freedia (The Queen Diva) to open. I sent this request on social media ages ago. Surprisingly, he’s really good. Really. I don’t get up to dance unlike drunky to my left. After, Almesha and I spend the next several minutes judging people.

8:15 PM: There is a video with a woman by the name of Ingrid rapping. I thought we saw the last of “Ingrids” in the 1960s. I take a mental note to Google her the next day (which I did and ended up buying the song “Fun”). I really like the music that’s playing, I don’t listen to the radio. I think that Beyoncé should compile this into a CD and sell it.

9:01 PM: I’m getting restless, it’s past my bedtime. At this point, I feel like I should be doing something more productive. I wonder if Beyoncé would let me go to one of her booths and help sell merch. I might as well make a little spending money while I’m waiting.

Maybe 11 minutes later PM: The lights go out and a video starts playing on this giant screen. 3 minutes later, Formation starts playing. Beyonce and her dancers start walking out but then I hear Freedia. I jump out of my seat and start screaming. I haven’t screamed since 85′, during my birth.

What’s up, New Orleans? Did you come to get slayed or what? Oh yes Mrs. B coming at the girls heavy, girl down! I did not come to play with you hoes, I came to slay bitch! I like cornbread and collard greens. You better believe it, girl down! Slay. Slay. Slay. Are you ready New Orleans? The one and only, you best to get ready because she came to slay. And the Queen!

Watch a video of her introduction here.

For the next two hours, we enjoyed songs from Lemonade and mixes and remixes of previous hits. There was lighting, flames, fireworks, confetti, water, and even acrobatics. If you weren’t close to the stage, no problem. The giant box and 2 screens to the left and right displayed the concert. And, it was packed. People were all the way in the nosebleed section. Apparently, this is where we would’ve been if Almesha hadn’t upgraded our tickets! Thank you girl!!!

It was truly magical, it’s hard to explain. Of course she looked perfect, is the best performer and sounds great live but so did her band, dancers and backup singers. Speaking of looking perfect, there was a lot of people dressed up. New weaves, stilettos and a full face of makeup in a dark arena. I’m not judging (maybe I am) but weren’t the tickets enough of a cost? 

Shortly after 11:00 PM: Wow, its over. It has to be quite a feeling to have so many people be there to see her. Night after night. Giving her all of their money. She does all of this and I can’t event finish a measly dissertation for a little PhD.

12:37 PM: Bedtime!

6:00 AM: Stupid birds chirping, I guess it’s time to wake up.

7:33 AM: We eat breakfast and get gas.

*We arrive back in Jackson entirely too fast, I won’t tell the time for fear of implicating myself* 

10:30 AM: Back to bed I go.

Fin.

So, Beyonce told me to tell you to subscribe to Pink Gumbeaux, the NEWSLETTER, follow me on Facebook (where I spend most of my time), TwitterInstagram and Bloglovin. Read and share my previous post: Pumpkin, Fruit of the Devil

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention. This was my first concert, ever!