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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

A Freudian Slip
By Mat Tombers

Last week, at 0 dark hundred, while standing under the shower at the
Park Hyatt in Los Angeles, on Friday morning as I was preparing to
return to New York, it came to me with a sudden, dismal rush, that I had
forgotten to do my column for the week.

Forgotten? How could I have forgotten? It was a question which plagued
me all the way to the airport, all the way home [the part of the flight
for which I was awake, which was not much] and into the weekend. Every
week, since I began this, I have organized my thoughts and my week
around getting this column written - and last week I did not.

Was it just that I was traveling and got lost in time? That I had a
particularly busy schedule that pushed this out of my mind?

No, I don't think so.

It had to do with some deep, profound and unknown need I had to take a
vacation, to a "leave" from the psychological front of the war on
terrorism. I needed, without knowing it and not until I had taken it,
an R&R leave.

I arrived in Los Angeles on Monday, a fresh and beautiful morning and
headed straight to my hotel to check in, shower, unpack and organize.
Throwing open the sliding doors of my hotel room I enjoyed the sight and
smell of Los Angeles beneath me - and felt - again I didn't realize it
until I analyzed it - a weight lift from my shoulders.

Going over to Westwood, I had coffee with an old friend, Bob Chmiel, who
is VP of Creative Affairs for Daniel L. Paulson Productions. We
discussed projects, things we were doing, how our lives were going. He
looked great and it was a great moment to see an old friend and catch up
- and may be do some business with him.

From there I returned to my hotel, saw another old friend, renewed an
option I had on a project of his, met Medora Heilbron to work on a
project we're pitching together and then went off to dinner with a group
of old friends at the Napa Valley Grill.

I had four days of this, four days of great adventures with old friends,
opportunities to visit with people, good food, conversations which
stimulated me. I spoke on a panel for the Non-Fiction Peer Group at the
Television Academy and kept on seeing old friends, sharing more good
food and more good conversations.

It was intoxicating - and only when I woke up with the hangover -
realizing I had forgotten to write my column -- did I stop to think
about why the week was so much what I needed and had not known I needed.

It was not that New York was ever very far from my thoughts or that my
friends and I didn't talk about it but when we did; it was about some
other place, some place distant from where I was. I had not known that
I was "war weary," that living in New York in this time has taken a toll
on me.

And it has. There has been a change in who I am as a result of what has
happened. It is true, I believe, for every living American but there is
a special toll, I guess, that being in New York causes. I cannot get
away at night from the pillars of lights; I cannot escape the constant
conversation about re-building. There is no flight from the hole that
gapes in the earth two blocks north of me and which I drove by this
morning with an overwhelming sense of sadness.

In Los Angeles, and in every other city in America, you do not see the
hole except in pictures - and being of the television generation - we
are one step removed from what we see on television. It is far more
"real" than a newspaper report but it is not as "real" as being there.

I now appreciate the concept of R&R for soldiers in a way I didn't
before. It was soothing to be away, to be magically transported by
United Airlines, to a city that was psychologically affected but
physically intact. It was calming to people who discussed world events
with just a little bit of distance to their view.

Until this, I had not realized what has changed about me as I have been
living downtown. I am changed because I not only know the Trade Center
is gone; I see its wound every day. I live every day with tourists
pointing out to one another this or that missing landmark or how
different downtown is than it was in August. I see the faces of the
workers as they come and go from the excavation/recovery site; I see
them in the morning in the little store and I see them at night on their
way home or to the bars.

I cough, a cough that came after September 11th and which has not gone
away, a small, annoying little cough that is shared by many I know.

In a very human way, I wanted and must have needed not to think about my
home and the world in which I live because it went out the window last
week, victim to my need for R&R. And why I needed it was not apparent
to me until I thought about it, and after I had returned to New York,
coming home in the darkness of the early evening, past the glare of
lights that illuminate the hole round the clock, past the pillars of
light that are the temporary memorial to all who have been lost and all
that is gone. It didn't occur to me until I heard my friends who live
in New York speak of their gnawing unease while going out of their way
to return to normal routines.

You see, we live almost, but not quite, in a war zone and all that goes
with that. My empathy for everyone who lives in Israel and Palestine
has soared as that situation deteriorates.

As is my occasional custom, I went to Trinity Church for morning prayer
on Monday and as I walked to and from, I knew I was home and I knew that
I had needed a little rest and that I had been grateful for it and I
wondered - and worried - for all those who need a rest but have not had
it nor will likely get it.