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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Looking into haunted eyes
By Mat Tombers

Friday night of last week found me on a train coming back from Washington,
D.C. on which I ran into a business acquaintance from New York, John Carlo
Vernile of Sony Records. We visited and once into New York I took the subway
down to the apartment. By the time I walked in the door it was 9:30 at night.

A little tired, a little hungry, Tripp and I decided to try out one of the
local little joints near the new digs so we walked down to Moran's on
Washington Street. It's two blocks south of the Trade Center site.

We walked in and settled at the bar, ordering drinks and some food. It was
while waiting for the food that we realized we were outsiders. It wasn't
that we were unwelcome but at this time of night Moran's becomes a gathering
place for those getting off shift at the excavation site.

It was a green room, smoky and probably once had a fair share of Wall
Streeters popping in for a quick pop after the market closed. But now it has
become the local haunt for many of the workers who struggle the long hours
digging out the Trade Center, doing it at a speed that is remarkable to

It is a pub and this pub was filled with men who looked like they were still
covered in dust even though they had rinsed it off before leaving the site.
It was a conversation not of stocks and bonds but on cranes and other kinds
of heavy equipment. It was a night that was big on crane conversation.

Attempting to adhere to Tripp's motto of: glance, evaluate, I attempted to
get a sense of the room. Most of the men had the look about them that our
fathers had a generation or two ago, of being older than they actually were.

The eyes of these men were almost all bloodshot and they almost all smoked,
drinking beers or brown liquors. They mingled familiarly but not
professionally with the girls who came down between shows at the Pussycat
Club [it is New York; it is an eclectic
neighborhood. They eyes were puffy, with deep bags underneath that spoke of
too little sleep and too many things seen. These are construction men
plowing up the biggest hole in New York and emptying it out, while watching
every minute for a body that might be recovered. Two were, just yesterday.

The eyes of these men reminded me of the eyes of men who I had seen when I
was very little, veterans of World War II, who drank and smoked and did not
necessarily speak of what it was that caused their eyes to look haunted. Men
like my Uncle Ted who spent fours years of the war beneath the water line on
a Navy ship, scared to death, who came
back from the war to smoke and drink himself to death. He and the men at
Moran's had the same eyes.

Eyes that were haunted by things they had seen but had not wanted to see,
haunted by work they did manfully while it being work they loathed having to
do, men who are the antithesis of what so many in the world think we are.
These are men who represent the last battalion now of the thousands of
workers who swarmed to the site in the days
after disaster, men who will be faithful to the end and after the end and
will probably not ever look for a television movie deal out of this.

The crowds are gone that lined the street cheering them when they went home.
They come and go in the quiet and the darkness. In the end, they will tell
their children and their grandchildren about how they were there. And that
will probably be all that they will ever say about the months they have spent
laboring in the hole.