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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Doing Our Best
By Mat Tombers

I have spent more time traveling in the last two weeks than I have in
over a year. My road trip has taken me from New York to Los Angeles;
New York to D.C., New York to Atlanta, up to the country house, another
day trip to D.C.

I don't have to go anywhere but the country this weekend - and I am
glad. This used to be how I lived every week of my life. No wonder I
gained a little weight during that time and felt more tired than I do

This past weekend I was up in the country, and found great solace in
cooking for friends - it is easy to get lost in ordinary things like
slicing mushrooms and getting the table set. These are simple things I
like to do and from which I derive great joy.

The rhythm of it felt good; the sense of preparing a salad, dressing it,
tossing in the cheese, all of the little things that go in to making a
meal. Following that with a long dinner and good conversation with
friends for dinner - you have the perfect evening, made even more
perfect by a long night of chat by the fire with Tripp afterwards,
watching wood burn in our old Vermont stove while sipping a cool Pinot

These are respites from the world I treasure more than I ever have
before and I hope that I do not lose my ability to savor the sweet
texture of these moments in my life.

Once, years ago, I woke on a Sunday morning and was reading the
newspaper and was almost relieved I had no children as the world seemed
such a fragile place. With children, you must surrender to hope and
that morning, in my bleakness for god knows what reason, I did not feel

Today I find myself more torn than I have ever been. At some dinner
parties, people make the decision not to discuss geo-politics because it
is too fearsome, or if the subject includes Israel and Palestine, too
divisive for civil rationality at times.

Reading this morning's New York Times I felt shattered by the war that
is escalating in the Middle East, reading of the horrible things each
side is doing to the other.

Over the weekend there was only mild laughter when someone proclaimed:
it's Armageddon, you know that! Deep in my heart, at least, is the
fear that this is Armageddon.

I have not felt this fear, this kind of visceral fear, since I was a
very little boy at the time of the Cuban missile crisis when I did not
know what was wrong but just knew that something was very, very wrong
and I was afraid. I remember sitting on the stairs leading to our
basement and asking my father what we were going to do if we went to
war. He told me, as authoritatively as he could, that we would not be
going to war. But even now, I can look back and see his face and know
that he was not sure of the words he spoke.

It is in my power to deny we are on the brink of Armageddon but it is
not within my power to hide the lack of conviction to my answer in my

It is not that I am alone in my fears. Playing to those fears is why
some cable network was repeating the documentary on Nostradamus hosted
by Orson Welles that always seems to play when world events go south.

Today I was traveling with one of my clients, John, who was reading the
Times at the same pace I was and we were on the same page at the same
time, following up on a front page story about the situation in Israel.
"The world is really ****** up," I said. And he agreed, making my Anglo
Saxon expletive even stronger.

I am aware of how fragile our world is. Friday night, watching
Nightline chronicle the clean up efforts at the World Trade Center site,
I realized what a huge feat it was to build those buildings and what a
huge feat it is to remove their debris. Both efforts are modern
miracles of engineering. As I watched I wondered if the country could
sustain a dozen such efforts or would we groan under the weight,
physical, financial, and emotional of digging our world out from under?

When I was barely a teen, I spent some time in Honduras and saw a kind
of poverty that is unimaginable to most Americans but it is the kind of
poverty that most of the world lives in. Then I wondered, as I wonder
now, what responsibility our wealth has put upon us for those children
who have nothing but a cold pile of ashes for toys?

John, my client, has just adopted a daughter and I asked him if he was
afraid for her in this world. He shook his head. There is no good time
to be born. You just are. Every age has its wars and hurts and this is
the one we have to live with now. We just have to do our best.

And, at the end of the day, that is my hope: that we will do our best
and in doing our best will throw cold water on the fires that are
burning all around us.