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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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie. Visit his web site at

All Snow, All The Time!

It’s Thursday evening, late, and my column is due in the morning. And it’s
been such a week! We awoke Monday morning, President’s Day, to a clear day
up at Claverack Cottage, attempting to decide which afternoon train we would
take back to the city.

I phoned, innocently, the taxi company we use to take us to the train.
“Mat,” they said, “we’re in the process of calling all the cabs in! Don’t
you know what’s going on? The weather! The weather!”

Scurrying to the television, I punched up The Weather Channel to discover
that the storm of the century was blowing in upon us and the roads were
rapidly closing down. When we went to bed, there was only supposed to be an
inch or four of snow up in Claverack but by the time I made the call to the
taxi company the promise was twelve to eighteen inches.

Don Hoke, the man who built our bookshelves, who watches the house, who
comes by twice a week to make sure we haven’t been burgled and that all the
various services have been done, came to our aid and drove us to the train

Buying our tickets at the window, the train stationmaster, who now knows who
I am, responded to my question about how it was going with a shake of his
head worthy of a Dickens’ character. “Bad. Bad. They’ve cancelled all the
buses into the city from the ski resorts. They think they’re all going to
get on the train. It’s gonna be hell, man. It’s gonna be hell, man.”

Well, we got back to the city on the train. By the time we got to New York
there was a good twelve inches of snow on the ground. Wet, heavy, ugly snow
that reminded me, unpleasantly, of Minnesota. No taxis from Penn Station in
this weather. Home by subway, with a half-mile hike through the mounds back
to the new apartment.

Oh my god but was it a relief!

We went from the all Iraq, all the time, Channels to the All Snow, All the
Time Channels! I watched religiously. It was so exciting to watch a news
channel and have something on besides the upcoming [and we guarantee it!]
war with Iraq.

All snow! All the time! Oh, it was lovely!

It was a respite from the road the world seems to be on and it was embraced
by everyone I know. Everyone was so relieved to have an opportunity to
forget the Iraq situation and focus in on something as innocent as a
snowstorm that brought the East Coast to a standstill…

Tonight, I was at a meeting. Before it began I circulated, sipping coffee.
We talked about news. Everyone there was delighted with the snowstorm
because it meant a break from Countdown Iraq! Iraqi Showdown! Or any of
the other marketing phrases that have been attached to the confrontation
happening with Saddam Hussein…

As we were chatting, more than one of us spoke about the fact that their
primary source of news was the BBC.

Thank god, said one, for BBC America and PBS!

Or: just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts!

The two most popular newscasts in New York right now, among a certain group,
are the BBC and NYC1, the local cable news. And they’re popular because all
they do is tell the facts and leave the interpretation to us.

Everyone else has become, it seems, the barker for a war we don’t seem to
want but seem to be about to fight.

While the snow was beginning to fall over the East Coast, thirty million
people around the world joined together in marches against war. Now, by my
rough calculation [and remember that the only “D” I ever received was in
math] that’s 0.05% of the world’s population.

Excuse me! That’s pretty impressive. One half of one percent of the world’s
population went out of their homes and declared themselves against war.


Now I wasn’t there. I didn’t march but I certainly am against war. So add
all of us into the equation and you have, what? 1% of the world’s
population? 2%? How about if we subtract all the people in the world who
don’t know what is going on? Then do we have 5%?

[Okay, understand, I want Saddam Hussein gone. Gone! Gone!]

Noble goal; wrong methodology. I think it’s good we’ve surrounded him with
troops. I think the noose effect is good but I dream of all the innocents
that will die if we really go to war.

My life is shaped by an experience as a child in Honduras, watching a
ten-year-old die because he didn’t have the medications he needed. I was
there. I was witness to it. I don’t know that child’s name but as long as I
live he lives with me.

Everything is shaped from that. Everything I am is from that.

And that is what will happen a thousand fold if we go to war with Iraq.
Innocents will die.

We are weary of innocents dying. All of us, I hope.

So is the rest of the world. That’s why we were so happy to have to all
snow, all the time! Snow is so easy to deal with compared with all the
other things in front of us.