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Weekly Features
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.

March 22, 2007

Media Matters

Three events conspired this past week to give me a pause, a space from the electronic and social demands of my life.

“There’s a storm a’comin’!” was the refrain from one of my favorite clients as he suggested I cancel a planned trip to Stamford, CT. last Friday. It was a wise suggestion; a powerful storm blew across New York State. It kissed the city and belted Columbia County. There was just more than a dusting of snow in the city while Claverack was buried under 22” of snow that drifted up to four feet in places.

From Friday around two until Saturday night at ten, I was stranded in an island of snow, my driveway [and car] buried. Sensing what was about to come, I went to the grocery store before the storm and stocked up, purchasing for myself every conceivable treat I thought I might want.

For thirty six hours I was stranded by the snow. I was reveling in the thought that I could catch up on all the programs I had recorded on my DVR. Unfortunately as the snow fell my DVR died, losing everything that was cached in its hard drive.

And speaking of hard drives, the one in my laptop died too. So there I was, bereft of electronic pleasures and stranded by snow.

It gave me time to think, to indulge in that most antediluvian of pastimes – reading. I listened to music. I thought.

On NPR I heard that we, as average consumers, are assaulted by 6,000 marketing messages a day. SIX THOUSAND! It was an astounding but somehow unsurprising number. And there I was, trapped in Claverack Cottage, withdrawn from the assault, caught in a self-revelatory silence. I was forced to take a retreat, a silent retreat and in the silence I found communion with myself, my soul and with nature. On the creek, despite the pelting snow, the hundred or so geese that call my creek their home resided noisily during the snowfall. All in all, it was a bucolic scene and made for contemplation. I was forced to spend quality time with myself.

It was intoxicating. Spared the marketing messages [and I recognize that world of marketing and messaging is what has earned my living all these years] I could listen to my self. I found myself seriously wondering what it is that I think about this Iraq adventure and to contrast my attitude toward the soldiers of Viet Nam and the soldier who are serving in Iraq. There is a distinct difference in attitudes; and that is the result of a more mature America – and that this war is not being fought by draftees. If it were, the streets would be swelled with protesters – or at least I think.

I found myself thinking about New York City, which is slowly emerging from its 9/11 mourning – the event that set all these strange forces into motion. The trauma is beginning to recede; people are less jittery, confidence is returning to the streets of Gotham.

It is a city that will never be the same; it is also a city that is emerging from its trauma and that is good.

Shut off from the torrent of marketing messages, I found I was having a dialogue with myself, a conversation with my own “self” assessing the importance of things and feeling, somehow, more myself than I did before the storm, the crash of my computer hard drive and the failure of my DVR.

It reminded me that there was merit in “retreat”, the removal of one’s self from “the normal” and the sound of the madding crowd. It reminded me of the value of retreat, so that we could hear our own souls speaking.

I highly recommend it.