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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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


January 7th, 2002

The New Year has begun. And it seems that there is universal relief
that 2001 has departed in the slipstream of history.

That's the feel of the streets here in New York, relief, an almost giddy
delight that we can write 2002 on checks. Everything has a feel of the
upbeat about it. The local news for the region is upbeat. The 1 & 9
subways lines, thought to be closed for years could re-open before the
end of the year.

The fires seem to be out down at Ground Zero and the smell is much
better. Rational talk fills the radio about rebuilding the World Trade
Center site and the voices demanding the next tallest buildings in the
world have retreated to a dull hum. The conversation now seems to be
very practical: what will the world accept at this place that is both
some of the most valuable real estate in the world and a hallowed ground
for survivors?

Out in the streets, when a fire engine roars by, people look up
admiringly but the furrow of fear on their faces has retreated. We are
not expecting the other shoe to drop today.

Buffalo is buried in snow; the south is frozen in place. It's still
above zero in New York and there is no snow on the ground yet. It's
coming but it's not here today.

New York is facing its worst budget crisis since the '70's but the civic
feel seems to be: if we managed to survive the last three months we'll
get through a budget crisis. Don't know how quite yet but we'll get
through it.

The stock market is up; the national and regional economy seems to be
recovering. Christmas was not quite as horrible as everyone thought and
the dot com layoffs seem to be slowing, too.

So it is that on a very insular level, in our own city state nation we
are feeling very good, very upbeat, very much in the recovery mode. The
New York Times has ceased publishing the section "A Nation Challenged."
Every family of an attack victim that would agree to an interview for
the "Portraits of Grief" section has had their loved one profiled.

So we are a city that is very much in the moving on mode as the New Year
dawns. We've cocooned, we've licked our wounds, we'll never be the same
but we are going on. We are changed, transformed, emotionally reborn
with priorities resorted but we are moving on, taking the lessons of the
last few months into the new world we want to create.

Our focus on world events is less centered in the concentric circles
that rippled away from the World Trade Center attack and more centered
on other events in the world. Our nervous looks over our shoulders are
directed to the two contentious nuclear neighbors inhabiting the
subcontinent. India? Pakistan? What are you doing with your nuclear
saber rattling? How much misery can your countries take?

Our furrowed brows are reserved for issues like India and Pakistan and
our concern seems to now look to feeding the poor of Afghanistan, who
now have their old warlords looting the aid we send. Fires ring Sydney
and seem to be growing worse and on my list of things to do is to phone
my friends who live there to see how they are coping.

Around me, boxes are beginning to pile up as we prepare to move out of
SoHo. We are joining the migration of people who are moving down into
the Financial District. It was our plan to do so, long before September
11th as it would make Tripp's commute easier. We were delayed by the
disaster but not deterred.

We've taken an apartment a few blocks from Ground Zero and feel a bit
like pioneers, joining a migration to help build something. There is an
interesting feel to the neighborhood, of individuals gathering together
as a group to continue, to grow, to rebuild. We feel it will be
exciting to watch the changes over the next year.

It will be exciting. That's how we feel right now, as the year begins.
We are facing an exciting adventure after the grim reality of the last
few months. If the nuclear lid will stay on the sub-continent; if we
can make things positive things happen in Afghanistan for the people
there, if a lot of things..

But we start this year with the sense that it can all be done -- and
that's a long psychological way from September 11th.