Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy



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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

An Uncomfortable Winter

It is bitterly cold in New York, for New Yorkers. Having decided to leave Minnesota when it was 73 degrees below zero wind chill factor, I find temperatures in the 20’s to still be quite reasonable but today is the coldest day in two years. It’s colder than New Yorkers are prepared for and so there is a lot of discomfort in the streets today.

It is that kind of time, discomforting. New York is lodged in a time of discomfort; it’s cold and uncomfortable, the days have been grayer than we like and there is edginess in the air.

It’s hard to pin it down to any one thing but it’s there.

New York is in the midst of meetings to discuss rebuilding at the Trade Center site and, to everyone’s amazement, fewer people are breathing fire over the plans than expected. The speculation is that we are all feeling fatigue about the site. Tripp hit it the other day when he said, watching clips of hearings: I know it sounds terrible but I’m getting tired of this. So, it seems, are a lot of New Yorkers.

It is not out of disrespect or lack of caring. It is that we are tired right now, from everything and rebuilding is important but it is not the center of attention.

The news of Iraq troubles us but it has become staccato in the background. We have arms inspections going on, Bush shaking his fist while Tony Blair seems to be attempting a measure of compromise on the situation. We all talk about it but it is not, despite all the urgent news alerts and “Breaking News” inserts, actually something that is happening. It’s there now, like a dubious market, cold weather, a souring economy and more cold weather.

The New York Times speculated that we may be forlornly accepting war as inevitable because of the incessant drum beat of the cable news services. [Anyone else remember the Maine? William Randolph Hearst got us into a war with Spain to burst circulation.]

All of which are making us uncomfortable.

The fall of Steve Case did not send AOL Time Warner stock skyrocketing. [Did anyone think it would?] This morning it was announced that bankrupt K-Mart was going to be laying off 35,000 more people. That’s a staggering number. Many towns aren’t that large.

There are more layoffs at other companies and those friends I know who fall into the traditionally unemployed sector are not having much luck in finding jobs.

In the meantime Ricin is found in a London apartment and there is an anthrax scare of some kind going on right now at the D.C. Post Office. At the same time, North Korea is threatening us with a “sea of fire.”

Last night I rode the subway up to a meeting and one stop after I got on, a gentleman got on and announced in a voice sounding much like God’s in a movie: “Praise the Lord, Ladies and Gentleman, the world is going to end. The United States is going to war with Iraq and it signals the end times. Glory to God and Praise Be to Jesus! The world is ending!” The harbinger of Armageddon was an African American in his forties who was clutching a bible and sporting a beatific smile.

No one looked at him or said a word. I mean, what do you say to an announcement of the end of the world? But everyone’s faces were grim – and a little frightened because here he was, striking at the deepest fear in all our hearts: that all of this is the beginning of the proverbial end. That Book of Revelations stuff, the Beast, the mark, and I thought the woman across from me was saying to herself: why the hell didn’t I read the Book of Revelations more carefully in Bible study?

I got off at 49th; so did he. Another gentleman, well dressed, a Caucasian in a business suit, marched up to him and embraced him and thanked him for announcing the truth.

Every one else watched and then began the walk toward the exits. Several people in a group were joking about our prophet when one of them just said, “Hush.” I understood.

So this is how we are living our lives, in the cold discomfort of this particular winter, surrounded by bad news and hoping that it gets no worse. While at same time, no matter how uncomfortable we are, we keep going on, doing what we have to do because that is what we have to do.