Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy



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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

An Endlessly Fascinating Place

I've been wondering what it is that our Mayor knows that I might not know? He's been on the news lately suggesting we put together survival kits, if we haven't already. Plus we should have our backpacks ready to get out of town fast…

This is a kind of talk we haven't been hearing a lot of lately.

No one has forgotten 9/11 but all around us efforts are being made to be "normal" in a different time. We have to deal with the realities of high unemployment, high taxes, no smoking in restaurants, higher transit fares, constant high alerts. But against this rather grim backdrop, the city is attempting to get on with its rambunctious life.

Tripp noticed yesterday that people are swinging their arms wide again as they stride through the streets, oblivious of everyone else. Very normal New York.

We are facing a whole series of crimes that are very normal New York - a hostage situation here, a drug killing there, a domestic dispute that escalates.

The new AOL Time Warner building up at Columbus Circle is a combination of offices and condos and the biggest of the condos, about 12,000 square feet, just sold for $45,000,000 to a mysterious British banker for a price per square foot that breaks records. That's definitely very New York.

We are facing a population that is rapidly growing, in girth. The news this week has been filled with reports about the size of the city's children. They seem to be getting as big as the city itself - and that's not a good thing. In fact, people of size are uniting and some resorts are specifically catering to helping people of size have a comfortable time.

The news of the city is filled with all the normal kinds of things for which New York is famous: star sightings, incredibly expensive things [everything, it seems], and restaurants opening and closing and moving. Subway riders are glued to Liz Smith as the subways rock [literally] across the city.

But in addition to all of these kinds of things, these normal beats of things, we are integrating to our lives other "normal" things: the soldiers all around, the barricades, the mayor chatting about the importance of escape routes, survival supplies and backpacks for getting out of town fast.

Downtown, in Battery Park, the sphere from the old World Trade Center sits with its eternal flame and with fresh flowers still placed there by individuals coming to acknowledge an event that is changing the world.

The "hole" where once stood the World Trade Center still attracts the individuals who come to see where it all began. People recognize that what brought down that building started a new but still uncharted age. My friend Christine, who lives in Golden Valley, Minnesota, intends to come to New York, partially because she feels a need to see the place where this new age started.

You see, almost all the important news that is going on in the world right now has some kind of connection back to the event that created that hole.

We are in Iraq and still chasing Saddam, not to mention Osama. We are in Afghanistan but we hear less about this. The civic conversation we are engaged in now is about things we weren't thinking of two years ago. It includes polls on whether or not the U.S. Armed Forces are stretched too thin, whether the President misled the nation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, whether the President lied to the public and, if he did, what will be the consequences, if any? And is it appropriate to be questioning the President? And, if it isn't, why isn't it?

The President is in Africa, facing up to AIDS and defending his State of the Union address. Did he need to go to Africa to do that?

It is, at the end of the day, endlessly fascinating, to watch this city deal with itself, to search for itself in the midst of being the place where a new age no one imagined or wanted, started.