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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

As Summer Declines

It has been a brilliant week here in New York; the weather has been pretty damn good and we've all been savoring it, especially since the forecast is rain for a straight week all across the Empire State.

There is, across the eastern seaboard, a sudden, hurried desire to make sure that everyone squeezes in their full due of warm weather before Fall falls and winter begins. Friends and clients and acquaintances, EVERYONE I know, are making plans to grab a vacation because time is running out.

The wonderful thing about having Claverack Cottage is that has given me the sense that I get moments of time set out from ordinary life. I told my sister Mary Ann in one of our weekly conversations that I felt it was extending my life and deepening my appreciation of life.

The city has not been exactly a hotbed of activity this week. Everyone has started to squeeze in that vacation time and voice mails across the city announce the return date of dozens of executives, as do the automatic returns on e-mail. "Your message is important to me but I am on vacation. I will be returning to the office on [fill in the blank] and won't be checking messages until then. In case of an emergency, please contact my assistant at [fill in the blank]."

Do you know how many assistants I have found? Not many.

Not that there have been many emergencies. It is not an emergency sort of time.

And we're grateful for that. The major news this week has been the Kobe Bryant case. It's been at the top of the hour on almost every news programs. Before anything else… I would like to think it has something to do with the fact that it's almost the dog days of summer and not a commentary on the state of American news.

The most important news to me was a story that actually got buried deep in the New York Post but managed to be more prominent in other places: that planes are being targeted again by terrorists as weapons. Now why that wasn't further up the news food chain, I don't know. But it unsettled me. And it unsettled me that, while it became a big story, it wasn't a big story when it began.

Beside Kobe Bryant's story, the other big news in New York café conversation is about the possibility of gay marriage now that the Supreme Court has struck down the Texas Sodomy laws. My twenty-something old godson asked me how any could have passed a law like that in the first place? The fact he asked that question encouraged me to believe the world was slowly changing.

New York, notoriously blasé about anything outrageous, is not engaged in a huge civic conversation regarding gay marriage or the striking down of the Sodomy Law, other than to comment upon the heated and virulent reactions of severe conservatives, which now includes the Catholic Church, having launched a campaign to agitate for political resistance to gay marriage.

Ah, well, the Catholic Church and I long since parted ways.

The real push against gay marriage, I suspect, has been spurred not by the overthrow of the Texas Sodomy Law but by the sudden [seemingly] success of programs like: QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY; BOY MEETS BOY, etc. Suddenly, gay seems hip - and popular and therefore a little more threatening. The popular opinion polls indicate that all this popularity is having a bit of a backlash toward the gay community.

But, with the exception of the potential of hijacked planes, most of the news is benign. That is, unless you count the stories about the soldiers in Iraq that keep dying. I cock my eyebrow and wonder: isn't that a little more important than the Kobe Bryant scandal? Or gay marriage? How is it that soldiers dying have now slipped down to third or fourth position on the story tree? Are we tired of this? No. Is it that news services are concerned about being too negative regarding the war that is over but which we still haven't finished fighting? Possibly.