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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Southern California is burning.

It is impossible to turn on the television without seeing pictures of fire.

For anyone who has a connection with southern California it is the topic of conversation.

I know what it is like to stand in Los Angeles and witness the hills ringed with fire – I used to live there, after all, and to live in L.A. is to live with fire – and earthquake, both of which I have experienced.

While many Americans think of Los Angeles and Southern California as that far away, exotic place, almost another country within this country, soft, sun-drenched, sybaritic, it is also one of the great centers of the world and the fires are wrecking some havoc on the country, even if we’re not aware of it immediately.

The football game was moved to Tempe, Arizona from San Diego and flights are being re-directed. Off shore, freighters are beginning to pile up, their goods being delayed in landing and then in deploying. A photo shoot I had scheduled in Malibu was cancelled on Saturday; everyone was off fighting fires or standing guard against the fires at their homes.

While southern California battles fires, defending the hills between Simi Valley and Malibu from the enemy flames, the American Occupation of Iraq becomes daily more a war again than an occupation. It seems every morning begins with a new list of American and Iraqi dead.

My friend Peter has been in Iraq, one of many American and British businessmen there, working to build businesses creating infrastructure in that tattered country. Peter is an expert at these things, having spent much of his career discovering ways to give third world countries telecommunications infrastructure.

I made sure he was not at the Rashid Hotel when it was hit by rockets. He was not, thankfully, having just returned to the States.

In the meantime, I am sure there is something profound happening in Iraq – a future we can not predict is being formed and I wish I understood better what was happening there. Not just on the intellectual level but from the visceral level. In an interesting way, I am envious of Peter for having been there, for having seen with his own eyes and for having felt with his own emotions what is going on, in the streets. It is a different perspective than one can get in any other way. It is why my friend Joe lingered in Iraq when the rest of his unit was deployed back to the States.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

The occupation of Iraq, suicide bombers and an increasingly bitter dispute over the future of the WTC site are direct results of 9/11.

It was fascinating to me that at a weekend dinner in a house high over the Hudson in northern Columbia Country, a group joined together for dinner and before long, those who didn’t know one another, began to ask each other where they had been that day. I turned to the man seated next to me and expressed my surprise that this still happened. But it does.

One woman admitted it was the reason she lived in Columbia County, to be out of the line of fire. Another became a full time resident because the economic downturn following had booted him out of two successive jobs.

While Iraq and California burn, each for different reasons, a bit of sports history was made as the Marlins defeated the Yankees and New York turned to sports mourning as a pastime.

The leaves continue to turn gold and fall, the world revolves on its axis, and the sounds of gunfire are increasing again. All of this makes for interesting thinking and frightening contemplation.