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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

July 21, 2003

As I write this New York and the majority of the East Coast is swaddled in
almost decent weather. It hasn’t been raining too much; the temperature
doesn’t demand sweaters even though it has a distinctly fall-ish feel about
it. The sidewalk cafes in Washington, D.C., Boston and New York are crowded
to overflowing and, as I walked into my building, past one, I noticed that
the occupants of the table seemed to be enjoying themselves in the casual
summer way that people have when it’s summer and the living is easy.

As I walked into the building, I was thinking that it is good that it’s
summer when all this Iraq WMD conversation is going on as the easy living
tends, at least in America, to result in scandals and political issues
floating away down old man river – at least until the ice forms, when they
occasionally become resurrected.

All weekend the newspapers were filled with conversations about empire and
the cost of it. Someone, and I forget who as on Sunday I curl up with
anywhere from three to six newspapers, suggested that we must take on the
role that was once filled by the British in their pith helmets and their

For several minutes, I remember really attempting to imagine any young
American I know in a pith helmet and jodhpurs. It was impossible.

However, the juicy news that is filling the tables with conversation is not
the empire building we may or may not be doing but about the ongoing drama
of John Kennedy, Jr. and his troubled marriage. VANITY FAIR has the late
couple on their cover as does every magazine that can find their own angle
on it.

This is good summer stuff and very distracting from some very pesky problems
we’re facing right now.

While I was on train coming in from Boston I started to write a note to my
friend Joe who is in Iraq. Joe’s unit got sent back to the States several
weeks ago but he raised his hand and asked to stay awhile longer. He is, as
I am, fascinated with how this is all going to turn out. He’s risking his
life to have a front row seat.

This is BIG history in the making. Domestically and internationally, this
is history. Right now. We’ve been living a sea change with no defined
ending since September 11th, 2001.

It is so big that it’s no wonder that we’re avidly drawn into the ongoing
saga of the Kennedy family. There is something comfortable in drowning in a
story that has been a backdrop to all of our lives. There isn’t anyone
alive, I don’t think, that really remembers a time when Kennedys weren’t

The sad part is that is has become more soap opera than high drama.

But soap opera was invented to entertain; a distraction in the early days of
radio from the grim reality of the Depression which doesn’t seem so
different from our need for soap opera now.

Not long ago I heard on the radio that the real unemployment rate is closer
to 12% than the officially reported 6.4% rate; the difference is that the
5.6% difference represents the people who have just quit looking.

The other thing is that I’m probably part of that 5.4%. I’ve given up
looking for a “job” but have created my own life as something other than an
employee. And I’m curious how many others in that 5.4% are individuals like
myself – people who quit looking for jobs because they had created some new
paradigm for themselves.

It bears looking in to.

As we go through our summer, planning parties, eating in sidewalks cafés,
soaking in all the joy we can after the long and bitter northeast winter, we
are living on the edge of a new world that is defining itself and reshaping

On one hand, we are becoming a land, more than ever, of small entrepreneurs
scuffling for a place at the economic table. And, as we do that, we seem to
be creating an “empire” of some sorts – and we are finding the price of
“empire” expensive, both in human and monetary terms. People are dying and
our coffers are being emptied by this new adventure we have embarked upon –
a journey that began with that hole created on 9/11.