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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

New York Now
April 17, 2003

It is Thursday evening and this week we have had winter, spring, and summer followed by a rapid return to winter. Saturday the sun broke through the heavy leaden skies around one in the afternoon; the temperature soared and spirits rose with the temperature. Sunday was glorious! I walked four miles along the country roads of Columbia County, alone with my thoughts.

The war, it is said, is all but over. My friend Joe, who is in Iraq, clearing landmines, is alive and well. The small number of coalition causalities was, and is, astounding. I am amazed so few were hurt, on both sides. But those who did die and were wounded will haunt me.

Were we right? History will judge us. Both sides have now crossed the Rubicon. By terrorists on September 11th and by us the day we rolled our tanks into Iraq. We have all thrown the dice and we will see, someday, what numbers come up.

Indeed, there has been a collective sigh of relief since it began. The talking and the posturing are over. And the world didn't end immediately.

Oh, so now we have to get back to living…

The alert level has been lowered around the country, everywhere but New York. Well, we haven't been below Orange since this rating thing was started. We're used to it.

Walking home from a meeting tonight, my cell phone rang. It was a friend from the west coast, asking some advice on how advertising works, which I gave. But before we said good-bye, he wanted to know: how are you? How is New York?

I must admit I was a little surprised. Everyone else may be noticing we're Code Orange but we're just going on the way we have been in this new normal we have been experiencing for the last eighteen months.

We're almost living normal lives.

Monday night I went to the opening of a one man show, off Broadway at the Actor's Playhouse, currently home to NAKED MEN SINGING, a show that is exactly that: naked men singing. It has been a surprising hit since before I moved to New York but which seems to be finally running its course.

RHAPSODY IN SETH is a very, very funny show about Seth Rudetsky's experiences growing up gay on Long Island. Seth has played in several orchestras on Broadway. He has written for Rosie. He is SOMEONE in New York.

Behind me sat the lead in MAMMA MIA on Broadway; BeBe Neuwirth was two rows in front. Patty Lupone, the original Evita, was somewhere in the audience.

As the audience came and went, I listened carefully.

No one was speaking of Iraq.

No one was talking about war.

The weather was a big topic.

The city budget cuts were a big topic. [For those of you not living in New York and not thinking about the Big Apple, let me tell you we're in BIG financial trouble. There is NO money.]

Money is a topic that is on everyone's lips - as in everyone doesn't seem to have enough. The jocular mantra of the month is: cash flow! Cash flow! A banker friend lamented he had to let his housekeeper go. Freelance friends are desperate for staff jobs because the freelance market SUCKS. What was once a month's work is now three days worth. But staff jobs are not easy what with hundreds applying for each and every one.

And SARS! Mayor Bloomberg went down to Chinatown to have lunch to help dispel fears that SARS was running rampant there. [It's not.] But tell the truth, we're more afraid of SARS right now than of terrorists. One of the most traveled people I know told me, when I told her we were thinking of going to Toronto, that she wouldn't go. Not now. Not after hearing two hospitals have closed.

SARS is pounding another nail into airline coffins. Cathay Pacific is thinking of grounding its fleet.

So, guess what? We're not going to Toronto.

Well, we have war and pestilence. Famine is a constant. Where is that Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse? When is he going to come riding onto the stage?