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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Reflections On A City
By Mat Tombers

Last week New York Magazine devoted itself, as did the whole of the

city, to our collective state of mind six months later. It is both

encouraging and disheartening, this place we are in, here in New York.

Every day I suspect everyone is like me: we think somehow that the New

York Times will be different when we open it in the morning, that the

world will be “normal” and that the events of September 11th will never

have happened or at least have faded into another life.

But that hasn’t happened and when I opened the Times on the subway while

on my way to a meeting I realized, as I have before, that everything

that is happening in the world seems somehow related to that moment.

That we have reached a six month anniversary has been cause for

additional intellectual exegesis in every magazine printed and news

story aired, or so it seemed.

The conclusion: we are recovering, psychically and economically, but we

are more deeply wounded than we want to admit to our own private selves.

When we sit in the quiet of the night, in the soft darkness, left to the

private honesty that comes in the quiet and the dark, we are afraid.

I wonder if it is the same way in the rest of the country? As I typed

the words above, I wanted to immediately reach out and phone someone and

say: are you afraid? But we aren’t talking about it as much today as we

were months ago. We have become so American stoic again. I had dinner

with a friend and realized we were both making efforts to talk about the

fun things but that isn’t all of what is going on with either of us.

We are not what we were and we are not yet where we will be going.

Even now, months after, people are still leaving the city, one by one,

usually not reported but because this was the six month anniversary,

people took note of those who have been so wounded in their souls that

they cannot bear the touch of the city any longer.

In reading the papers, we find the stories of the widows and orphans of

the disaster, people coping with mountains of paperwork and the dull,

ongoing pain of grief, often unrelieved by the actual opportunity to say

good-bye because their loved ones have not been found. But these are

only some of the threads of that day.

From that moment comes the realization that there are new orphans in

Afghanistan. Last week, outside of Kandahar, two boys were bartered

away by their father for two bags of grain because it was either that or

let the whole family starve.

In awful fact, it may not be as bad in Afghanistan now as it would have

been if it had not been for the war because at least humanitarian aid is

arriving in sufficient quantities to minimize a potential catastrophe.

Events in Israel and Palestine have a new importance; that dispute is

the fire that forged the zealots who flew into the Towers. With each

suicide bombing I become angrier, at both sides, for not finding a

solution, for not compromising, for not respecting one another. There

are friends who tell me I am naïve to hope for such a thing, but I do

because if there is no peace there, chances are there will be no peace


I live on Greenwich Street where it intersects Rector. It came to me

this week that I have been on Rector several times. The DMV is here but

I didn’t recognize the street when I moved here because so much is

different here than it was. It was disorienting. And that is what we

are, disoriented.

New York Magazine reported that many individuals who were nowhere near

the Towers are exhibiting genuine post traumatic stress syndrome,

showing up in all kinds of ways, from headaches to stomachaches to

exhaustion to general nervousness. We, at least, have an infrastructure

to help us. I wonder what services a poor woman in Afghanistan has to

help her cope with loss. Is the man in Tel Aviv who was on a bus blown

up but lived to tell the tale getting sufficient support?

Lives are being reborn and being remade. I know of people changing

careers, slowing down, leaving the offices earlier, and being more

meaningful in their good-byes, more joyous in their hellos. I hear in

the subways individuals saying good-bye with the phrase: safe home!

But did they say that before 9/11?

I don’t know what it’s like out there, in other parts of the country. I

need to find out. In the next two weeks I will be going to Los Angeles

and to Atlanta, on business. But I will look and ask and seek…