It's hard to believe someone who lived and loved with such ferocity could suddenly be... gone.
The NOLA Bloggers are still in shock, but so too are they mobilizing to help Ashley's wife and three children. Talk of fundraising and memorials that will carry his passions forward are in high gear.
Ashley was both large and larger than life. As passionate and enraged as he often was on his blog, in person he was one of the most considerate and affable people you could possibly know.
Some quick stories to remember:
When we had what was left of our house demolished, I blogged about losing my albums. My music collection was mostly 70's and 80's rock and punk, and I lamented that many were either too rare or too local to ever replace. Ashley immediately rushed in to help. He offered to give me his collection of old LPs and a turntable that he said he no longer used. Ashley noted that we shared a similar appreciation for early punk rock. Tempting as it was, I had to turn him down because there was no room in a FEMA travel trailer for such a gift. Undeterred, he later offered to give me a TV.
When the Saints returned to the Superdome, Ashley was right there. His blogs about that experience were so powerful, so completely heartfelt for something as trivial as a football game--yet Ashley was able to make the connection between a mere game and the soul of this struggling city, a city down physically and emotionally. His words poured out of his blog like fine wine, each phrase so delicious to savor. Out of the blue one day, Ashley invited me to be his guest at the next Saints game. This time I took him up on his generosity and we enjoyed a smashing Saints victory.
Ashley later had a large fleur de lis inked into his arm. When I saw him at Rising Tide II last year, I immediately asked to see the tattoo. Ashley's grin grew as wide as his biceps as he yanked up his sleeve. Nobody ever loved such a dysfunctional, backward, messed-up place as New Orleans as much as Ashley did.