Thursday, September 29, 2005

I got back from New Orleans last night. It was definitely an emotional trip. I met Kevin in Houston and we started out for New Orleans at 4am. Well at about 6 am we needed gas so we pulled into a gas station with many other cars. we had to wait 4 1/2 hours for gas. That put us well behind schedule. We finally got to the city and we were escorted through the checkpoints. Very strange. It was actually eerie because we were driving through the city and there were absolutely no cars. Occassionally you would see military or police but absolutely no citizens. As we approached my street I felt a surge of emotion. There was so much wind and tree damage in my area, part of me was scared that I would see my house with a tree through the front. It was an almost surreal moment when I saw my house because in the midst of all the destruction my house looked imaculate. I definitely picked the right colors because it was the only happy looking house on all the streetsthat I had I seen. There was so little debris in my yard, I felt like someone actually had taken care of my house. The moment I was dreading came and I knew when I got to my house I had to immediately go up stairs and see if my neighbors had taken the guinea pigs. Kevin brought a video camera and was filming my entrance to the house. As I entered the house, I knew that the guinea pigs had been left because the smell was unmistakable. I cried when I saw them in there cage decompossing. I will never forgive myself for not haven taken this hurricane seriously. Part of me is angry at the neighbors but I know that they were probably struggling with the flooding taking their own kids and pets to safety. It was my responsibility and I am sick over it. Jackson still thinks that the neighbors have them. I just don't think I have the guts to tell him the truth. Next I went to see if the turtles had made it. It was very strange because I only found 1 and his eyes were missing. Someone later told me that flies probably had taken them. I feel so bad and a little creeped out that I only found 1.
After I calmed down we put on masks and gloves and started removing the refridgerator and freezer. Kevin said at one point the freezer door opened and he almost puked from the smell. I had to go upstairs and clear out my office get my computer and files. The upstairs was so putrid smelling because of the guinea pigs . I only took what I needed and I took very few clothes because they were just permeated with the stink. I can only imagine how the city smelt with so many decomposing bodies. It was horrible.
Time was running fast and the curfew was at 6pm so we needed to get going. We left the horse food on my porch and the rescue people came and picked it up later. They seemed very excited, I hoped that I could help some of those animals. ( 1300lbs of horse feed).
Then we went down to the french quarter. There were only 2 stores open 1 a walgreens 2 a dominoes. Very strange. Just a ghost town. When we got to the building I couldn't believe that our little sign seemed untouched. We went into the bar first and I can honestly say that the army guys left the bar cleaner then we usually do. There were a few notes and a beautiful pair of army boots signed by their company. Thank you guys so much for taking care of my bar. We went upstairs and the second floor stunk. the freaking staff left food there when they evacuated, I told Chantel last night when we start moving people into the building there will be rules and they will not treat my home with such disrespect. Chantel'e appartment had been broken in to. The military had kicked down her door to secure the building. I don't think anything was stolen though. Those guys were very respectful. After we went through the building we saw about 7 blown out windows and there are leaks stemming from the roof. Kevin felt that it wasn't as bad as we had thought but if I don't fix it there will be major problems in the future. So I'll get it fixed.
Upon leaving I felt a lot of turmoil. I really missed New Orleans but the city I just went back to was not the same city I left. Just for the record. My car has been showing temperature readings of 108 in Austin, New Orleans was a cool 90 degrees.
I hope that we can turn things around at that little bar. Coyote Ugly New Orleans was home to many people, I just hope we can recreate that .
In other news, Tommy Lee was at the San Antonio bar the other night. I wonder if any of the girls went home with him?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Kevin and I are going to New Orleans on Tuesday. I have communicated with some people from an animal rescue center that need our help. Because most of the phone lines are down it is hard to communicate with them. There main concern is the growing number of horses they have rescued. I promised we would bring horse feed. I know nothing about this but I'm sure by tomorrow I will be educated in the dietary needs of horses. There is a man down there named Dave, that is working day and night trying to rescue these horses. Hurricane Rita created new flooding and this man is caring for so many horses with very little food and very little diesel fuel to operate his horse trailer. We'll try our best.
If anyone in Austin can donate horse feed please e-mail lil@coyoteuglysaloon.com

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Joe, Chantel's boyfriend, was able to go into the New orleans bar yesterday. He said we had electricity . He told us that the national guard left us a bunch of notes wishing us well and a pair of boots that they all signed. He said they also cleaned the bar. That makes me so happy. We will display those boots with great pride.
I'm praying that Rita does not cause more damage. I'm in Austin, we haven't been told to evacuate, because we are located inland, but I am curious what category storm it will be when it hits us.
I have logged in so many hours watching CNN. Last night I was glued to the Jetblue emergency landing. I really felt myself scared for those people. When they were interviewing some of the passengers they seemed so calm and collected. I fly Jetblue all the time. On Jetblue, every pasenger has free cable tv on a screen in front of them. These people actually watched cnn broadcasting minute to minute updates about the plane they were on. I wonder if that was calming or more scary?
I received an e-mail from one of my girls yesterday. She said that her boyfriend had mailed me a wedding update to the New Orleans bar. She told me that she said to him, " why did you do that when New Orleans is not receiving mail?" He said " don't worry I put it in a ziploc bag." I have laughed for hours over this. I wait with utter anticipation for this ziplocked letter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I bit the bullet. For the last week I was trying inconspicuously to go into the apple store and use the computers. They actually had incredibly fast internet service so I would access my mail and try and get as much done as possible without a saleperson bothering me. After 1 week of doing this , I gave in and bought myself another computer. I hate buying something that I already have but after being away for 1 month I just can't go any longer without a computer.
I have been here two weeks and I have only gone into the Austin bar 1 night and several days. I feel badly about this but I just am not settled yet.
What is going on in the Coyote Ugly world: Again we are looking at new spaces in Cancun. We have a deal pending in El Salvador. We are waiting for license approval in Ft. Lauderdale so we can start renovations. Miami is way way behind schedule. We are still working on a project in California but that has been in the works for over a year . And then the big kahuna is New Orleans. The army left the bar yesterday so I'm pleased about that. I can't wait to do an inventory of the bar and see what is left.
Most of the bars are having a phenomenal week. Very pleased.
I have gotten many e-mails about when I am reopening New Orleans. Until I inspect the building, I just don't know. As of yesterday we didn't have electricity. Hurricane Rita has forced me to wait 1 more week to go to New Orleans. I found myself weeping yesterday over a news report about a blind man being reunited with his seeing eye dog after the storm. Today I heard a report about a man that had to seperate from his dog. He tied his shirt around his dogs neck . On that shirt he had written all of his contact information. The dog had been shipped to a shelter in California where the workers saw this note. I think they will reunite tonight on CNN. That will be a 4 tissue newscast.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What a day. I had arranged a meeting with Steve Wherry a contractor that we love and use on some of my bars. He was going to meet Kevin and I on Thursday in New Orleans to access the damage to the building and the bar. By 11 am I had to cancel that trip because of Tropical storm Rita, which would possibly hit New Orleans as a hurricane on Thursday or Friday. Well I decided to start driving to New Orleans in the afternoon and pick up some stuff , secure my house and building again and be out of New Orleans by Tuesday afternoon, as to not encounter the storm. By 4 pm that plan was scrapped because they had stopped letting people into New Orleans. I do not know what Ray Nagin is thinking. Chantel and I have made a million calls and the assessment from people who live and work in New Orleans is that the city is not ready to have people or businesses back. How can I send my staff back when the quarter has only intermittent electricity and very little potable water. The major beer distributors are still closed because their factories were flooded. It's just pointless and unsafe. There is one bar in the quarter that has stayed opened and from what we have gathered they broke into other bars and stole their inventory. Now all their inventory is either skunky or they are getting it illegally from outside the city. While I give them cudos for trying, I couldn't forgive myself if someone was hurt.
I actually heard on the local Austin news this evening that they were going to issue a hurricane warning in Austin. Austin never has hurricanes. A good friend of mine referred to me as a jinx. She said that in all her years working for Disney she had never seen an hurricane that actually caused destruction to Disney world. Well the one time she takes me, last year, the biggest hurricane to hit Disney in a million years comes , causing millions of dollars in destruction and yielding injuries. Perhaps I am the grim reaper. I have spent 3 1/2 years living in New Orleans thinking I would either move back to New York or move somewhere else. Just 1 1/2 months ago, I decided I was going to stay. I had my house painted and I made arrangements to get bids for a pool and a new sunroom. I wonder if the decision to stay in New Orleans caused some planetary misalignment and has cursed the city. Now Austin! ( for people who don't know me, I'm just joking, kind of)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

" Howdy Partner" Jackson has been practising that phrase nonstop. He said it's how he'll fit in. Yup folks that's right , these " Damn Yankees" lives in Texas now. I have to say that Austin is actually quite nice. I took Jackson hiking today only 12 minutes from my house. Really beautiful parks here. My only complaint is that you have to drive everywhere. In both New York and New Orleans you can walk to a lot of places from your house.
I took Jackson to a Pot Luck dinner at his school. I figured I have to try to particitpate for his sake. Since I had just moved into the new house, I brought a bottle of wine instead of cooking something. When I got there everyone looked at me like I had just made the most horrendous gesture by bringing alchohol to a school dinner. In my defense his last school had whole areas dedicated to wine and beer during school activities. I assume that was because both the french and the New Orleanians love to drink. Another family that had been transplanted from Austin was there. The dad came up to me and said " not quite as fun as their old school" I said " you're not kidding." Oh well
I'm trying to get to know the Austin girls better. I haven't spent enough time at the bar but I feel there are extenuating circumstances. These are very serious young women. Very hard workers and they love the bar . Hopefully they will lighten up a little.
Nashville kicking butt this weekend!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

I moved into this great house yesterday. I'm so relieved. The backyard is huge and Jackson said " this is better then our house!" So finally we get some normalcy into our lives.
New Orleans: Well the mayor is allowing some people and businesses to come back to New Orleans next week.. At first I was ecstatic. But that dream fell apart when I started thinking of logistics. I lost my whole staff to relocation. 75 % of them were in school so they have now started classes at other schools. At the earliest, they may be able to come back in January. Now out of the 100% I would say 75% have also lost their homes. So they have now started over in other cities and don't want to come back. I just don't think there is anyway for Coyote to open for at least 3 weeks. I need to create temporary housing for people for them to even consider moving back.
Now the other problem as I found out yesterday, the army has comandeered my building and the bar is now an army surplus store. The positive to this is hopefully they are protecting the building from looters and respecting all the items in the building and the bar.
Now the negative: Are they going to reimburse me for using the building? Do they help with my mortgage? I found out that they are using the bar phone. Do they pay the phone bill? When do they vacate? If there is merchandise , inventory, or chantels's furniture missing do they pay for that? Should they reimburse me for insurance costs incase some army guy hurts himself in the building?
I have no answers to these questions so I'm going down there next week . Maybe I'll go speak directly to the raging cajun!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ah what a wonderful sleep at the " Roach Motel" last night. Jackson can use his new bug vacuum right in the hotel, isn't that great! I had to switch rooms because the last room, while spacious, was in an unlit corner and there were some unsavory characters lingering in that area. But on a positive note, it's damn cheap, and right now that is a god send.
There still is business going on so let's focus on that. Last night every bar had a good night after a two week lull. I was so pleased. San Antonio, really good night, that makes momma very happy.
Sunday Kelly ( gm S A) surprised me at the Austin bar. The managers gave Jackson and me some clothes and some gift certificates. I was so thankful. While kelly and I were looking through the bag of stuff, I could see Daniel's ( AM Austin) face. I could read his mind and it was saying " KISS ASS". So I turned to him and I said "this is why the female managers are my favorites. They remember my birthday, they remember Jackson's birthday, they get me presents and send me kind letters. Daniel, my birthday is in a few weeks , so get me something good and you too will be one of my favorites."
Had some talks about Cancun yesterday. Kevin and Jeff just got back from El Salvador. They were very positive about opening in El Salvador, let's see what happens. Got a call from Dubai yesterday. The guy acted as if it was yesterday when we were in negotiations. " I found a space" It's been two years, I didn't think you were still looking."
I read today in " The Times Picayune" that the mayor of New Orleans was encouraging businesses in the french quarter to come back next week. But in the same article the president of Entergy ( the electric company) said that he thought it would take up to 1 month to get full electric service in the french quarter. It's so taxing, trying to get information . If there is no electricty then why the fuck should I send people back. No electricity means no ice, no ac, no soda systems, no music and generally no business. I wrote a letter to Mary Landreau, let's see if she writes me back.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm actually writting this from an apple store. Two and a half weeks and I'm in my 4th hotel, wow this is hard.
I was so pissed yesterday. There was a cover story in USA TODAy about Jacqui-imos restaurant. This restaurant ( incredible great food). Is based in New orleans but has a store also in New York. The story told about how they are trying to collect for their New Orleans employees. I yelled at Lee, goddamn it get us in the fucking paper!
Our on line merch store is temporarily down because it was based out of New Orleans. When we put it up a portion of the proceeds will go to the relief fund.
The salesmen are now looking at me, so got to go.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

There are two people I have forgotten to mention but they did something so nice I need to speak about it. I asked Lee and Kevin to drive my car from the Atlanta airport to Austin, so that the car would be here when Jackson and I arrived. I got to Austin the day after they left Austin and they informed me that the car was in the hotel parking lot. Jackson and I were pretty beat the night we came in so I didn't get the car until the next day. Lee kept on asking if I had retrieved the car. In my mind I was thinking, I bet they got the car washed ( it drives both of them crazy that I have this pimp car that has kid stuff thrown around it). So the next day I go down to get the car. Well I was right, they not only washed the car but they got it detailed ( it looked incredible inside and out). But what I then discovered was inside the car they had stacked toy after toy for Jackson knowing he had just lost everything. I was so overwhelmed by this I am tearing up right now writing about it. It was like Christmas for Jackson and he genuinely loved every gift they bought him. ( especially the bug vacuum and spiderman outfit). I have some wonderful friends .

Friday, September 09, 2005

I've had a lot of people ask about Jackson's guinea pigs and turtles. I'm not sure if they are alright or not. I can't get in touch with my neighbors who were watching them. I just have a feeling when they evacuated they did not take them with them. I got an e-mail from a new orleans regular that is in one of the armed forces I asked him to try and get them. Tomorrow will be two weeks, I just don't think they could of made it that long. I'm sick over it. In my short 4 years living in New Orleans, I became jaded to the seriousness of hurricanes. The routine was that you leave for a few days then you come back and everything is fine. Obviously, we were all wrong. If I could just replay that Saturday I would of done things a lot differently. But we can't go back in time and we have to live with the mistakes we make.
There are a few people that are asking for jobs at the various coyotes claiming they are employees of the New orleans bar. To all the franchises, call the Nashville bar and leave a message for Chantel, asking for verification or write me an e-mail. I think Dallas hired someone who had been fired by us.
Good news, I think I found a place for Jackson and I to live. I hope it works out. I didn't bring my check book and I am running low on cash. I'm trying to get a hold of someone at my bank but they have moved locations and I am not having any luck. I feel so badly for people who are not as fortunate as I am. Right now I'm relieing ( sp)on credit cards and my status as the founder of Coyote Ugly, most people aren't that lucky.
Jackson has been incredible. He started his new school yesterday. He wasn't shy he wasn't scared. He just walked in like it was another day. I found out that two more students from his old school have enrolled next week in his class, so I'm happy he will have some comrads in arms. Tonight we are going to see the famous bats of Austin. He is beyond excited about that.
Bar stories, as per usual, Mike from Denver is on my shitlist. He did something so bad , I was actually speechless when Lee told me about it. I even laughed because it was so bad, I couldn't believe it.
Nashville is having the worst week ever. Jeff Myers has started Tara from New Orleans this week. He said " she's great but can you tone down her language, this is the bible belt." I said " everyone from New Orleans has a foul mouth. It's just part of who they are." " Tara, you say what ever you motherfucking want to say. ( that you know I would approve of)"
I got a call yesterday from an old employee of Austin. When she called I thought it was going to be a genuine call of concern and wishing me well. But she actually called because she wanted a job babysitting Jackson. Marshall and I laughed , he said that it was nice to know she hadn't changed.
Daniel from Austin wanted me to add that he does love older women, but they have to have money to spend on him. I guess I wasn't looking at their jewels when I saw the porn pictures on the bar computer.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Lil and everyone else,

Unfortunately my first email did not go out the way I intended it to. So I am going to try this again.
I have worked for coyote ugly for almost four years now, and to start from the beginning we take a very long time, but there are a few things I would like to say.
As everyone knows the New Orleans bar just went through a very difficult event. It has left my staff without a job for a few months as well as some of them without homes. This company and its employees have extended a helping hand out to everyone. Liliana has taken the time to place my staff in other coyotes across the states. She has made sure that everyone it accounted for and that they are safe. The general managers of the San Antonio, Nashville, Austin and Denver bar have opened their doors to my staff. Words cannot express how thankful
I am that this is going on.
Myself and a few of my employees are in Nashville, and every night the Nashville girls pass a bucket around the crowd to raise money for the New Orleans bar. Mike from Denver called me to tell me about the benefit concert they are doing to raise money for us. Marshall in his creative ways as always is doing several things to raise money for not only the New Orleans bar but the Police and Fire officers in New Orleans how are risking their lives every day to help get our city back and running. These efforts to raise money for us are incredible. I just want to express how thankful I am for everyone in this company and to remind people that we are very fortunate to have such a large family of people all over the states that are willing to step up when one of their fellow coyotes are in trouble.
To all of you I thank you on behalf of my staff for everything that you have done and continue to do for us. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers and if there is anything I can do for y'all at any time please do not hesitate to ask.
Again Liliana thank you for just being there especially for me!!!

Love always,
Chantel and the staff of New Orleans.

I've been in Austin for 24 hours. What a change! I went to Jackson new school. It was very nice. He'll do well there. There is a lot of traffic in Austin. I spent about 3 hours in the car getting lost. I have no idea where I'm going to live. It's a bit depressing to have to start over. I keep on beating myself up over some of my choices. I knew I was evacuating due to a hurricane. But I brought barely anything. I think in the back of my mind I thought it would be like every other hurricane and we would be back in our house in 3 days. I didn't bring my laptop, so I have none of my important e-mail addresses or files. I didn't bring any important paperwork. No photos. I don't know what I was thinking when I packed my clothes. I brought a pair of sweats, sneakers, 2 dresses and a pair of white high heels. I think I just figured it would be a fun weekend in Ny. ( By the way went to the NY bar Sat. night The girls are so sweet. I really like the new girl Julianna, a few months she'll be great.Very busy night) Jacqui bought me a few things . She gave me 3 pairs of jeans with Coyote Ugly on them. As much as I love my company, I'm a bit embarrassed that I have nothing sans Coyote Ugly on it. I really miss my house, my stuff. I just want 1 day to get into my house and grab some of my stuff. That is if it is not collapsed or completely vandilized. Unfortunately today I read that the area where I live has been hit badly by looters. I just keep telling myself how lucky we are, we are alive and I have the means to move somewhere and be alright. The Ny times wrote an article entitled " The Haves and Have nots" , basically this article was about the people who lost everything and have no means to support themselves and the people who were better off and can afford to relocate. I know I'm in the "haves" group. Part of me feels guilty about that. I'm feeling pretty bad even scared sometimes but I'll be fine. Those poor people who have lost everything, I feel so bad for them. I'll set up something on the site for donations.
I have Rizzo and Michelle moving to Austin. Both of them are very anxious about moving to a city they don't know. Today Michelle asked if she could be put close to Rizzo. I said to her " I know you're scared. But beggars can't be choosers. I'll get you a place to stay and a job. The girls are so kind and nice. Don't worry." It's been hard because the New Orleans staff wants to be together but I have to spread them out. I can't burden just one bar.
I'm sitting in the Austin bar's office right now. Daniel had been in here last. I walk to the computer and there are pages of porn on the screen. He claims it was meant as a joke for me. But I saw a few pages of let's call it " geriatric love" I think Daniel might have a soft spot for older, very rubinesuqe women.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

I feel overwhelmed with the heartfelt letters that I have received over the last few days. This tragedy really brought out the true good in people. Thanks everyone for so many wonderful prayers and thoughts.
I want to send out a special thanks a prayer to Joe, Chantel's boyfriend. He is a police officer in New Orleans and has worked 24 hours a day for the last 7 days. He has made sure to keep watch on the bar and has tried to keep us informed about all of our neighborhoods and friends. " Thank you Joe, for protecting our bar. We love you."
Personally, I decided I needed to try and do what was best for Jackson. I chose two cities to investigate as our living alternatives. Those cities were NY ( Manhattan) and Austin Tx. I found schools in both cities that were similar in structure to Jackson's school. I e-mailed and called both. A few hours after I did this I got a call from the director of the Austin school. He was so wonderful. He said to take my time and he would hold Jackson's spot. He even offered help in relocating us to Austin.
As of yet I still have not heard from the French school in NY.
So the decision was easy, I moving to Austin. I realize that over the past few years I have made jokes about southerners, accents, and culture. And I can't promise that I never will again. But what I want to say is that the southern culture is so giving and loving. I now understand a little better what " Texas Pride" is really about. This Ol' Yankee is moving to Texas Yeehaw.

Friday, September 02, 2005

All the New Orleans staff is accounted for, which makes me very relieved. So much misery. So many people who lost everything. I feel a great deal of responsibility to make sure everyone is safe with a roof on their head. Today is the first day I really felt self pity and loss. I'm trying to push that aside. I have absolutly no idea if my house is alright. God, everything, I love is in there. Every picture of Jackson. Every memory. And the more practicle, all the paperwork for the building , my house insurance . Just everything. But I am alive. My son is alive and I'm trying to push those thoughts to the side.
I took Jackson to Jeff W's house in upstate NY. He lives way in the country. Jackson loved it. He caught bugs, he went to a swimming hole. His favorite thing was playing with Jeff's son Julian and his dog Fairfax. It was very peaceful place I understand why he lives there.
Jacqui used to be a personal shopper ( back in the day). So when I arrived back in the city she greeted me with 50 new outfits for Jackson. It was very nice because he doesn't have anything anymore, so it was something on the list that I don't have to do . We have been walking around with the same clothes for days. Thanks Jacqui.
Jackson definitely doesn't get it. I think he thinks we are on an extended vacation. I've shown him the flood pictures but he keeps repeating that our house is just too big for any of that to happen. It's funny how kids always remember things so much bigger and better then they are. But right now in my own mind, my house was the best house ever.
I want to thank all my managers, employees, franchises, so many people who have helped all my New Orleans family. I will never forget it.

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