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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

July 4, 2003

September 11th 2001 crashed its reality into me when, dripping from the shower and toweling myself off, the phone rang and Tripp asked me if I knew what was going on?

So when Tripp phoned me yesterday and asked me what was going on I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. No, I didn't. Nor did he. But from where he stood in his office window at the U.S. Court of International Trade he could see a small fleet of black helicopters swooping around lower Manhattan.

The subways had ceased running north and south and people milled in the streets waiting to find out what was going on.

It was, thankfully, a false alarm but one that brought an edgy city to a standstill for hours. I did not breathe easily until Tripp had told me the Court had sounded the all clear. A business associate told me it had taken him two hours to get to his office; the first thing he did when he got out of the subway was to phone his wife to make sure she was fine and to make sure she knew he was fine.

We are an edgy city and yesterday demonstrated the depth of the edginess.

An investment banker friend told me he has noticed the number of machine gun toting soldiers has risen dramatically around the city the last few days. Happy 4th of July!

Last week I was in the Midwest and driving to various points gave me a lot of time to listen to the radio. It was an interesting experience, hours in a car, awash in talk radio.

I listened to insightful exegesis regarding the Supreme Court's decision regarding sexual privacy for consenting adults of all sexes and listened to rather fearful discourses from the religious right regarding the negative moral impact of that same decision.

London, New York and Los Angeles I learned are the global capitols of a new male movement which is called "metrosexuality" - referring to straight men who spend enormous amounts of time with their feminine selves, including a great deal of time spent choosing clothes and maintain a healthy glow to their skin.

There were titillating reports about the new book on JFK, Jr. with both radio and newspapers and television reports gleefully reaping readership and ratings on the back of what sounds like a tragic marriage.

Against the backdrop of the bucolic American Midwest, sitting on the bank of a lake, watching the sun play off the water, I read and listened to reports regarding [at least to some commentators] the dreadful state of preparedness we are in should there be another terrorist attack. Words that worked their worry with me yesterday during the false alarm that shut down the lower third of Manhattan.

I have spent some time on the phone with a business man who is working in Iraq now, a smart guy who was called in by the U.S. Government to help restore basic services. He has experience in this: he helped do it in Bosnia. His concern, shared by many commentators, is that we have won the war but are rapidly losing the peace. His anguish is based on experience. And his anguish reflects my own concerns.

A client of mine, a very liberal Democrat, found the news in the New York Times so distressing he couldn't continue reading. He finds every action by the Bush Administration repugnant. We had a conversation, speculating that Bush and Company were shaping American democracy into an Athenian style oligarchy - a thing which I don't think could be good, if indeed true.

And all of this conversation was framed by a long interview with a writer and analyst whose name I did not catch on NPR who spoke eloquently and articulately about the current need for America to understand that Imperialism on our part was a moral and political necessity for this time. He was very persuasive though I have to admit I find all this Imperial talk unsettling, especially as it seems to include a need for our streets to be patrolled by uniformed men with machine guns.

Happy July 4th.