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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Letter From New York

March 30, 2005

The value of low batteries…

Today, when I went to the gym, I forgot to plug my phone in to recharge and so I had to ration myself when I left home to limited use, which is difficult for me as I am now addicted to my “crackberry,” the combination phone and e-mail device from Blackberry that has become de rigueur for smart executives – which I like to think I am. [Please no comment from the peanut galleries.]

Today, I had to keep it off for periods of time to conserve juice, for occasional e-mail orgies and desperate phone calls – where are you? Our MTV meeting is starting in 5 minutes!

However, I couldn’t indulge myself in constant conversation or power e-mail interchanges.

What I did find myself doing – and, oh my, enjoying -- was the fact it was a beautiful day in New York, the first real day heralding spring’s arrival. My appointments were all New York close, thus I walked the city too, enjoying the pleasures of the city’s riot of smells and parade of people.

With a few minutes between appointments, I wandered into Shakespeare & Co., an old fashioned bookstore on Broadway, which I first became aware of when I would buy books in its Paris branch during a brief, youthful sojourn there. I had lunch in a superb French bistro in the Village run by Japanese [who knew?].

I am one of those New Yorkers pounding the streets, earpiece in place, talking and gesturing at the same time, conversing with the universe, providing cover for our city’s crazies. Talking to oneself seems no longer strange: everyone does it, it’s just some of us are using technology, others are not.

It gave me precious time to think and to savor my city and my life.

Mitz, our cat, continues a slow and, we think, comfortable fade into the eternal nap a friend wished for him. He was in my thoughts as I wandered.

I took time to read and not just scan the newspapers.

Johnnie Cochran has died. The Iraqi Parliament seems locked in dissension; the toll of the Indonesian earthquake was great but not as great as December’s and was not followed by a deadly tsunami. Annan was criticized but not indicted. And I read the whole story!

Often I find myself doing rather than thinking. As an independent entrepreneur, there is never a lack of things to do, calls to make, meetings to schedule or e-mails to do. Occasionally I find myself jumping in taxis because it allows me time to continue conversations and maximize the all too short days.

In the morning, after crawling to the coffee pot, filling a cup thoughtfully placed there the night before by Mr. Tripp, I lurch to my desk and begin downloading the day’s e-mails, feeling compelled to see what might have come in over night.

My work world is filled with people who send me e-mails at the most outrageous hours. What is the CEO of a cable network doing sending me e-mails at midnight?

Technology has freed us from the tethers of the office and it has enslaved us to the freeing technology. It seems impossible to walk the streets of New York – or even Hudson for that matter – and not find almost every other person with a phone glued to their ear, almost oblivious of everything around them. At its best, walking in New York City is a bit of a game of dodge ‘em, but when half the world is on the phone, including you, it’s more like a baffling ballet of chaotic balance. When in car oriented cities [and what city in America isn’t?] it makes driving an even more exciting adventure. How many gracious, royal waves have I received from a cell phone clutching driver who has nearly broadsided me? Those who are talking and doing e-mail strike terror in me.

Today, no battery life gave me a chance to taste my own life. It gave me pause; perhaps I should declare a “crackberry” free time in my life on a regular basis and force myself into the natural world for a few minutes to see its wonder and to visit my own soul.