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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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


It is important never to say never.

I was thinking about that as I was winding my way through lower
Manhattan, bringing some things in my car from the house upstate to the new apartment we have just rented. It's a great place, with a view out to Ellis Island and down on Trinity Church.

If you know anything about New York, you know we're moving down near
ground zero - or you may know that because you've read this offering
before. As I was attempting just how to get around all the blocked
roads, I couldn't help but remember that once I said I would never drive
in New York.

And here I was, driving in New York. The West Side Highway, beneath
Houston, was closed today to everyone but police cars. Also, every
other street - at least it seemed that way - is closed by reconstruction
and guarded full time by police, who stopped me with a siren when I
started to drive down one street.

"Could you help me?" I asked the young policewoman.

"I am helping you by preventing you from driving into the big hole in
front of you." I smiled. At the end of the block, the street ended in
the hole that is the World Trade Center site. Now I don't think I would
have actually driven into the hole but I smiled and was appreciative.

So she kindly directed me to drive the wrong way down a one way street,
telling me what magic words to say to the officers in the patrol cars
guarding that street.

It all reminded me that once I said I would never drive in New York City
but here I was, driving in New York, wondering if I should feel proud of
myself or if I was confirming to myself that there are moments when I
can be a damn fool.

When I was in college I pontificated that there was one thing I knew I
would never do: I would never live in Los Angeles. I remembered that
one morning when I woke up on my 30th birthday and realized I had said
that and that I had now been living in Los Angeles for five years. Not
only had I been living in Los Angeles for five years, I was also very
fond of the place and vehemently defended the city when my friends from
college trashed the place.

I am not sure that I never said I'd never live in New York. I must
have. It's one of those things I might have said. You see, I really
didn't like New York. On my first visit, a year after I graduated from
college, it was 98 plus degrees everyday with a humidity to match during
a time I was suffering the flu and there was a garbage strike going on.
So my first impressions of the city were not the best and so, for a
number of years, I avoided New York.

Then business forced me to come and I slowly fell in love. We had a
long courtship, New York and me. [Or is it I?] One day I was walking
down Third Avenue and realized that I had better have an attitude
readjustment or I was going to be miserable. If you work in advertising
or television, you are almost sure to end up in New York on a regular
basis. So I opened my eyes and began to let the place get under my

Then, one day, I remember coming into town in a car that had picked me
up from a red eye into the city and, as dawn began to bleed its red
light across the city, realized that I hadn't been in New York in six
weeks and that I was missing the place.

Then I began to commute between Los Angeles and New York on an every
other week basis and had trouble knowing where I felt I "lived." Then I
was asked to move here full time - and I was glad because it forced a
decision on me. I was going to live in New York.

We were part of a small West Coast exodus of dot comers moved from one
coast to the other, all of us settling into the city at the same time,
together still forming a small community. This weekend we will join
together in helping us move and in celebrating a milestone birthday for
another. We are also all linked to the city by the events of 9/11. We
were here, we survived it, we suffered with the city and we are somehow
part of it and no matter where we go in the future, we will have been
here when here was ground zero of something so much larger than any of
us or all of us combined.

I have been so lucky, I realize, to have lived in and loved some of the
great cities in this country. Sitting at the dining room table this
weekend, up in the country, looking out at the creek slowly freeze over
while watching the soft, powdery flakes of snow fall, I concentrated on
my sense of good luck. Because, despite the many untoward things that
have happened in the last two years, including the dot com crash, being
laid off, feeling professionally unanchored for a time, I am
extraordinarily lucky. Many of us are. The cocooning that has been
happening is, I believe, a reinforcement of our sense of luck and a
desire to burrow deeply into it, to feel and sense and taste and touch
it. It may be the simple thing of watching one's significant other
building a fire or as sweetly innocent as putting a kiss on a child's
forehead but this time has been a time of savoring the great, good luck
that surrounds us all.

One of the lessons I have learned is to never say never. It is a curse
upon oneself. I never wanted to drive in New York and now I must do it
on a regular basis - and, to tell you the truth, it doesn't bother me
that much, to my great surprise. I said I would never live in Los
Angeles but I did and I passionately love that city and New York, too,
though I once thought of it as the most distasteful spot on earth [but,
hey, there was a garbage strike on!].

Right now, I don't want to move anywhere else, or even ever again. But
I am not so stupid as to say never.