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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

As I write this, I am also watching CameraPlanet's film 7 Days In September, airing on A&E, as we march toward the second anniversary of 9/11. It is a good film, directed by an acquaintance of mine, Steve Rosenbaum and it returns me, emotionally and psychically, to the week that followed the collapse of the Twin Towers. It is good for me to watch and to feel pain but not to be so in pain I cannot watch.

It is fitting that it should have been on when I walked into the apartment as the anniversary had been on my mind as I rocked my way on the train from Washington, D.C. to New York. The march to the anniversary had great prominence on the front page of USA TODAY and I consider that a bit of a bell weather of the temperature of Middle America.

Based on that and based on the airing of Steve's film, as well as some of the e-mail alerts that are coming from the Downtown Alliance regarding Memorial events, and the staccato drumbeat of stories on local news, I am very aware that the anniversary is upon us.

Actually, my mind has been more focused on the California elections. It's pretty interesting reading, and certainly more the talk of the town than the upcoming anniversary.

The headlines tend to the witty. "Dim and Dimmer" was one I saw in the Washington Post.

Doonesbury is having a field day with my old state. The election events of California are a perfect set-up for the wit of Gary Trudeau. During a break in a meeting several people, who knew I had once lived in California, asked me what the difference was between Angelyne and Mary Carey?

I did my best.

But it is interesting to watch California right now. And it is more interesting if you look at the history of California's populist politics. Earlier populist revolts in California, as kooky as they might have seemed when they happened, were actually harbingers of national change.

Look back at that long ago voter revolt which ushered in the era of Prop 13. When the voters voted themselves a property tax decrease, most of the country was aghast. Voters weren't supposed to do that! Legislators were to raise and lower taxes. But Californians took matters into their own hands, voted themselves a break and within two years, so had forty plus states.

So as wacky as this particular election may seem to everyone who watches it, including many who live in California, it can't be ignored. California is a huge state in population and wealth. And if past is prelude; we may see political upheaval across the country as a result of this.

We are not happy campers. We are not comfortable with our current governments, local, state and national. And California is not the only state capable of wacky political behavior. Have we so quickly forgotten Texas' Legislature in Exile in Oklahoma?

So, it's my thought that as California goes this Fall, so will go the rest of the country. Right next door, in Nevada, the populace is trying to punish the Governor by organizing a recall there - some unpopular taxes got them nettled. They got their inspiration for action from the Golden State.

There may not be an incumbent anywhere that will be safe. New York's Governor Pataki is walking on a bit of an edge these days with some of the same problems that have been facing Gray Davis. And what about the biggest incumbent of them all: George W. Bush?

The nation is broadly loyal to this President but, particularly in recent weeks, we have ceased being comfortable with him and his government. The truth is, we are deeply uncomfortable about everything. We are told the economy is getting better but on individual basis, most folks I know don't quite see it. We are told things are under control in Iraq, but we don't quite see it in the reports on television and in the newspapers.

September 11th is an event seen, in retrospect, by some to have salvaged the Bush Presidency by his handling of the crisis. The second anniversary may mark the turn of events that lead to his undoing.