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recently sold METEORS TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael
ORourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television
movie. Visit his
web site at http://www.intermat.tv
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 20s to still
be quite reasonable but today is the coldest day in two years.
Its 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; its cold and uncomfortable,
the days have been grayer than we like and there is edginess
in the air.
Its hard to pin it down to any one thing but its
New York is in the midst of meetings to discuss rebuilding
at the Trade Center site and, to everyones 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 Im 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.
Its 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. Thats a staggering number. Many
towns arent 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 Gods 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 everyones
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 didnt
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.