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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is the President of Intermat, Inc., a consulting practice that specializes in the intersection of media, technology and marketing. For two years, he produced the Emmys on the Web and supervised web related activities for the Academy, including for the 50th Anniversary year of the Emmy Awards. In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.

A Letter From New York

01 06 2005

This week, more than most, I have shuttled back and forth from the city and Claverack. It’s been refreshing – as the differences between the hamlet of Claverack and the big city are profound – but so too are some similarities.

On one of my nights up here, Tripp was in the city and so I ambled down to the Red Dot, a local bistro/tavern/Cheers spot for Hudsonians. When I walked in, I was greeted warmly by the owner, Alana, and Robert the bartender as well as the rest of the staff. As we go there almost every Friday night and have done so for the last three years, we have become known.

We are almost regulars and like a Cheers, I knew some of the customers in there. There was David, who lives down the road and a couple of others with whom I have nodding acquaintance. It was a nice thing to go and have dinner at the bar with a good Pinot Grigio and feel surrounded by friendly acquaintances. Alana thanked me for our help on New Year’s Eve. We helped fill helium balloons before the festivities.

It was neighborhood comfortable.

Down in the city, I went in to have lunch at my local diner, Jimmy’s, on Madison between 32 and 33. It’s near the office and I frequent it occasionally but enough that some of the waitresses know me. They wished me Happy New Year and asked me about my holidays.

It too was neighborhood comfortable.

All week I have been thinking about neighborhoods. Marshall McLuhan, back when I was in school, started writing about the “global village.” It is now a dictionary term.

“The world, esp. considered as the home of all nations and peoples living interdependently.” Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc.,

If the world seemed a village when McLuhan started writing about it in the 1960’s, imagine how much more so it has become since then, with the internet knitting us together, with text messaging a prime methodology in Asia to locate relatives scattered in the Tsunami.

It seems closer to me than ever when the waitress who serves me at my local diner is a native of one of the countries assaulted by the Tsunmai and when my eyes and ears are flooded with images in real time from devastated countries, some of which I have visited.

We are electronically linked and, more than ever, culturally linked as America continues to be the melting pot of the world [albeit, that’s a bit under assault since 9/11].

However, it is this sense of village, sense of one planet, which causes us to react so generously when catastrophe strikes one part of the world or another. It is what resulted in an outpouring of caring from the world to New York and the US when the Towers fell. It is what causes us to reach into our pockets to give to the Tsunami victims half a world away.

Because we are all connected and we know it now more than we ever have because of our electronic connections, we feel we live in the “neighborhood.” Although Americans tend to be less well traveled than citizens of other countries, our population is infused with individuals from all over the world and many have traveled the world. Watching the Swedish caskets arrive from Asia, I wondered about the people I had known in Stockholm. Could they have been on Holiday there, then?

There are more than two thousand Americans missing. Most of the people I know who travel in those parts of the world are accounted for, but not all. As I write this, I have started thinking of people I know from all over the world who spent Christmas in areas that have been ravaged. I must account for them.

It all illustrates how closely connected we are. And causes me to wonder why it is that we are spending so much time working on ways to hurt each other when there are so many hurt that need to be helped?