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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Yearning for Spring

It is that time of year when friends in California gleefully phone and remind you that they almost had to wear a sweater the night before.

It is that time of year when Californians visiting the east express glee at seeing snow because it is such a novelty! And their comments are met with hostile snarls from the residents of the east who have now felt they have had enough glee for two years, thank you very much.

It is the time of year when all New York seems to finally have become exhausted by winter and everyone seems growly. It is no longer cute to have rosy cheeks; it's just painful.

It is that time of year when friends in New York say, I can't stand it. I'm off to Aruba. Or St. Bart's. Or Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic! Any where warm. South Africa has been big this year. Exotic, distant, good value of the rand against the dollar, great wines - and, all things considered, it's relatively safe! No orange alert in Durban.

Warm. We want warm.

This winter has been particularly hard. Our caretaker in the country repeatedly has said to us that it's been thirty years or more since he's seen this much snow. [I, personally, have not seen this much snow this since I left Minnesota though I will happily report the cold in New York is not as brutal as the cold of Minnesota's Siberian winters.]

A few months ago it seemed novel to wear the long winter coat. Now it feels heavy and inconvenient and not as warm as it was a few months ago. I spend my days in my office huddled close to my heater as the air conditioning has not quit working in there since the 4th of July - good then but torture now.

It must be the end of February.

And it is. We are reaching the end of the physical season of winter and all around me there is a hope that with the passing of the physical symptoms the psychological winter that we have been experiencing will lift itself from our shoulders along with the weight of all that wool that has now become burdensome.

This year's psychological winter has been grueling and the physical symptoms of the season would not be as hard if it were not for all the things hemming us in psychologically.

It is impossible to forget 9/11 because yesterday the architectural team was chosen that will be endowed with the responsibility of rebuilding the Trade Center site. It was Studio Daniel Liebskind, my personal favorite.

And, as with all things New York, the decision made is only the beginning of controversy and not the end of conversation.

And then, of course, there is the fact that ten years ago Wednesday a truck bomb went off in the garage of the Trade Center. The blast killed six people but failed to be the wake up call we can now, in retrospect, recognize that it should have been.

It's a cold winter in New York, physically and psychologically. As I've mentioned before, unemployment here is almost twice the national average and the gap between our city budgets and our city revenue is the biggest it's been since New York almost went bankrupt back in the 1970's.

It is a wintry time as friends begin to leave New York to look for lives elsewhere - we said farewell to our close friends Andrew and Cheryl Tuesday. They're headed down to Annapolis to regroup.

This week the newspapers have been filled with ads that add to the wintry feelings that entangle themselves around our souls. The number of pages purchased by anti-war groups in the New York Times has gone up dramatically while the back page of one of the Times' sections was an Ad Council ad telling us how to prepare for an emergency - like a terrorist attack.

Not terribly different [was I relieved?] than all those things I used to do when I lived in California under the threat of an earthquake.

As a country we live with the threat of Iraq over our heads. In New York, it seems even closer because the first step toward this now was taken here. It seems closer because we have only to look to the east to see the shining U.N. buildings where debate is raging over our global future.

It is close because we are living with winter and can feel closely the cycle of death and rebirth and we have only to walk outside to experience a sense of death and desolation. We are waiting for spring, for the snow to melt and the trees to bloom, and while we are waiting for it on the physical level, yearning for a return to the season and time when the world brings forth its green and warmth, its crops and fruits, we are also waiting on a psychological level, wanting a return to stability and growth, to have the dark clouds of fear that are over our city to separate and for the sun, literally and figuratively, to shine again.