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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Friday, June 6, 2003

It is Friday morning and as I was organizing myself, I realized that I had gotten so engaged in some other tasks last night, I’d forgotten to write my
week’s column…

Last night I was reviewing applications for the Executive Director position at Body Positive, which is the HIV/AIDS organization of which I am the Chairman of the Board. As such, I am part of the search committee for the new E.D. and we have a deadline of June 30th to make a choice.

Reviewing the applications, I was aware that difficult times have a real upside for those who are looking to hire. The credentials of many of the applicants were absolutely stunning for a position that pays not very much.

It has been an interesting sort of week in New York… Martha Stewart is, of course, on everyone’s mind – and mouth. She has been on the front page of every New York paper all week and at the top of all the local news. There are pools being formed as to whether she will go to prison and, if she does, how long she will serve. Bets are also being taken as to what kind of prison she will do time in, if she does time.

These are long-term pools and pundits are just drooling here because this is
going to take a long time to work itself out. There is going to be fodder
for a whole generation of comedians here. Alas, it has taken an effect.
Martha’s syndicated program was down 27% in ratings during the last sweeps

When the Martha Stewart affair first broke – a long time ago – I was on a
plane and I knew she was in trouble when I was returning from the restroom
and saw a group of businesswomen and flight attendants doing high fives over
her troubles. They were joyous over the problems of the good living
doyenne, feeling, I suspected at the moment, a sense of vindication because
they couldn’t be successful businesswomen and perfect in the kitchen. The
object of their sense of diminishment was, herself, being diminished and it
felt good.

Martha glee helped balance the continued bad weather on the east coast. We
did have a day that reached 80 – about seven weeks ago. Other than that it
has been cold and unremittingly rainy. And it has been wearing on everyone.
It is the introductory note of every meeting, the chatter in the elevators
across Manhattan and the cocktail natter of the city. New Yorkers are
nearly unanimous in their meteorological despair.

Also, we have had to deal with the disarray of the New York Times. Now my
observation of this city is that whether or not you read it, there is a sort
of civic pride to being the home of THE NEW YORK TIMES. And our sense of
civic pride is a bit wounded by the disarray in the newsroom of that august

The departure of Howell Raines seemed a little unseemly, for lack of a
better word. You see, his bosses were walking around New York and D.C. just
the day before yesterday, saying they wouldn’t THINK of accepting his
resignation, until they did the next day.

Today, this particular day, Friday, June 06, 2003, the sun is out and we’re
expecting temperatures in the 70’s with bright, sunny skies. People are
beaming and taking the good while they can. Tomorrow the rain and cold will
be back.

These are the joys of a land with seasons. It is enough to make even the
most die hard New Yorkers look west to California with yearning. No weather
there, just a great climate! Florida! Hurricanes, yes, but they have sun!

Troubles for Martha Stewart and disarray at the New York Times, news from
the mid-east, everything is only a distraction from the central fact of a
New Yorker’s life: weather. We are in weather envy of almost every place
in the world, except India, where hundreds are dying from too much sun and

As for me, I am going outside to soak up the sun, seize the day and pray for
more of this.