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Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

February 13, 2006

Pondering paranoia in paradise

As I sit writing this, the east coast is bracing for a mid-winter storm of significant proportions. From Washington, D.C. to the top of Vermont, there are snow warnings out for somewhere between one and eighteen inches.

While the east is bracing for snow, I am by the pool of friends in Rancho Mirage, having successfully navigating the sea of traffic that flowed from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, a torrent of multi-colored metal consuming unfathomable amounts of oil.

Having been in L.A. for a few days of non-stop meetings, all scattered over every part of the metropolitan area, I have spent a great deal of time in my rental car, with whom I have been developing a relationship: we have been getting to know each other’s quirks.

I am directionally challenged and thus perpetually lost; I rent cars with navigation systems, God’s gift to individuals such as myself. So while plying the highways and byways of the Los Angeles Basin, I have had a car that talked to me while I have been listening to every kind of radio station.

In these days I have consumed NPR and drunk in the all news stations, which offer, thankfully, traffic updates every seven minutes. [This navigation system cannot interface with traffic reports; they already have or are developing ones that do. YES!] As a result, I have been submersed in a sea of audio information, all of which has led me to feeling quite…distressed.

Off in England, a man is not fighting extradition over the charge of having murdered his wife and child in Massachusetts. He is being called the east coast answer to Scott Petersen. [We don’t need one, thank you!] English by birth, he returned there after his spouse and child were found dead in the bed in which they cuddling.

Off in Iraq, the free lance journalist Jill Carroll is warning us her captors mean business and if their demands are not met, she will meet her maker. In Gitmo, American forces are force feeding detainees who are on hunger strikes in a manner which seem more torture than nurture.

On my way to Anaheim last night, I listened for hours to a long and depressing discussion on global warming, a conversation precipitated by the day’s announcement that the northern hemisphere is warmer than it’s been for twelve HUNDRED years.

The result was that I arrived at a restaurant for dinner with a long time friend from business feeling very depressed and wondering if his grandchildren would have a world in which to grow up [or for me to grow old in]. It did not, though, stop me from enjoying a very fine meal.

I listened to the fall out from and the burning downs which have resulted from the printing in European newspapers of a cartoon of Muhammad with a turban fashioned from bombs. The Danish started this in their newspapers and have had embassies and consulates burned as a result.

A town manager somewhere in America flew a Danish flag is support of freedom of the press which resulted in a full town meeting debating the appropriateness of doing that. While possibly inappropriate in his unilateral decision to do so, the conversation surrounding the action was more about fear of retaliation than the appropriateness of action.

Sitting in this sunny “paradise” of sunny southern California, I found my self pondering my paranoia.

Retreating from the audio avalanche of troubling news, I sought refuge in perusing the L.A. Weekly. For a giggle, I looked at the personals and found one that said: SOUKMATE NEEDED FOR SUICIDE PACT…MUST BE WILLING TO PULL TRIGGER LAST.

No giggles here but a moment of unspoken paranoia. I mentioned it to another friend with whom I was having dinner. Souk is the word for the market in an Arabian town. Was this a typo or a terrorist recruiter? She spoke my paranoia.

Against the backdrop of the President announcing a broken terror plot on the tallest building in Los Angeles, it seemed possible this was a demented terrorist looking for a soul mate for a terror act.

Of my moments in Los Angeles, that was the defining moment: sitting in a tony Westwood restaurant, sipping a really wonderful pinot while realizing I was living in a world going mad – or was I the mad one, succumbing to paranoia in paradise?