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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

September 6, 2004

On Monday of Convention Week I flew from Albany to DC for two days of business and then returned to Claverack Cottage. Like many New Yorkers, I avoided the city this week by availing myself of the flexibility of both my work and my lifestyle. And to honor Mr. Tripp's request that since I could stay out of harm's way, I do.
From here I have watched the Convention and observed the city. Each night I go to sleep with a sense of relief that another day of trouble seems to have been avoided.
Things have happened and they haven't been as amusing as the naked men on10th Avenue. The arrests are in the low thousands. The arrested are held in what is not fondly being called Guantánamo On The Pier, a holding facility that was once used for city trucks and has been abandoned for years. An associate had to go get one of his coworkers who had forgotten his Press Credentials and therefore had managed to get himself arrested.
My colleague said that it was as bad as the reports we had been hearing. Oily, dusty, probably asbestos laden, with insufficient sanitary facilities and not much in the way of air circulation; it was a completely unpleasant place to end up.
Wednesday morning Tripp made his way across Broadway and through a three mile long line of protestors holding up pink slips. From his office he saw lines of police guarding the city offices and found soldiers with submachine guns had taken positions in the lobby of his building.
While it may be apocryphal, I have heard that the subways weren't very crowded and that the city has thinned down to those who couldn't get away, delegates and protestors.
It may be my imagination but there seem to be more fireworks of every kind in New York than there were in Boston for the Democrats.
Literal, in that there was a brilliant display on opening night in New York that caused friends to go in to a state of shock and awe; figurative, in that the verbal battles have been bright and full of flash.
There has been no better political theatre than Chris Matthews and Zel Miller clashing verbal swords on television, with Mr. Miller regretting that dueling had gone out of fashion. Nor could there be anything more amusing than watching John Stewart verbally spar with the White House Communications Director on Wednesday evening. President Clinton has visited the Daily Show. So has Kerry. As has John McCain. But I don't think we are going to get a chance to see Stewart have his way with President Bush.
The Daily Show has, in fact, been on the edge of brilliance all through this season. Kudos to Stewart. His rapacious wit fits the need of the times.
Much has been made of the Bush twins. I found them amusing while many pundits found them either annoying or a little too risqué or simply too vacuous for words. But I am sure there are mothers all over the country who are hoping their daughters become like Jenna and Barbara.
It was a convention that was wrapped in the memories of 9/11 with numerous references to that event from almost every major speaker.
Thursday night was, of course, the BIG night, THE opportunity for W to define his campaign. The hours leading up to his moment were filled with speculation as to whether Hurricane Frances would steal the limelight from the President.
President Bush gave a superb speech, a carefully thought out, well polished address that did an excellent job of defining his differences from Senator Kerry. At midnight, Kerry appeared and threw his response back at Bush; the gloves are off. The chase has begun. Both men have declared the other unfit for office. It will be a rancorous election.
Bush did have to share Friday morning with Frances and with the Russian School Hostage Tragedy; a vivid reminder of the dangers our world holds. Frances is also a perfect counterpoint to the dangers outlined by President Bush: Mother Nature can be far more devastating than any band of terrorists.
A tip of the hat:
This past week Ken Solomon stepped down as Head of the Fine Living Network and Scripps made John MacDonald Acting GM. I've worked with John all this past year on the DWELL television program; he is a superb executive and a proud reflection of his Canadian heritage. Good luck to him and may the "acting" title only be temporary.