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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Taking A Break

As I write this, the sun is setting over Roswell, New Mexico. I am sitting cross legged on the bed in our hotel room and enjoying the fact I am far away from my normal life. I may or may not ever get back to Roswell but it’s been worth the trip.

I am on the first vacation I have taken since I launched Intermat four and half years ago. Sometimes we would go up to the Cottage when Tripp had time off but I rarely got too far from the computer, telephone and all the other ways we electronically tether ourselves to the world.

We planned this journey six months ago. I had always wanted to take a cross country rail journey; Kevin Malone, son of my oldest friend in the world, now a college sophomore asked us to come visit him and his parents on his spring break in Albuquerque.

So we booked a compartment on Amtrak and left New York last Saturday by train, snuggled, literally, into a bedroom compartment and from the vantage of its large windows, watched America roll by. From New York to Lamy, NM with a train change in Chicago.

The journey reminded me, once again, of the importance of having time to think, ponder, ruminate, philosophize. As we went across the country, gazing out the windows, I was staggered by the number of rusting cars that line the tracks, and the amount of dilapidated homes that are rotting alongside those same tracks. This is the America I don’t generally see and it was good to see it, to remind myself that it was there.

America is much more complex than what we generally see on television, more economically fragmented than we realize and more deprived in some areas than we acknowledge.

Sharing the dinner table with strangers was illuminating. One was a train junkie who trained whenever he could find a reason to do it. Another was a gentleman who was too afraid to climb aboard a plane [a psychological victim of 9/11]; another was a lady who did not explain why she could not fly.

One of the interesting – and troubling things – I have discovered on this journey is how gingerly, carefully, tentatively people enter into a conversation regarding politics. It reminded me we are deeply divided in our political views and the tension is palpable as we begin to broach the subject with people we do not know and whose views are unfamiliar to us.

At a dinner once we reached Albuquerque, the state of the nation became a subject of conversation – and then it stopped until the host determined our political leanings, determined to prevent a pleasant evening from degenerating bitterly. A sigh of relief could be felt as it was determined we were all pretty much of the same mind.

We drove down to Roswell, determined to see the source of hundreds of hours of television devoted to events here in early July, 1947. Did or did not aliens crash here? Were we or were we not deceived by our government? Roswell, along with Hitler and World War II, helped build more than one cable network during the 1980’s and 1990’s. ABC caught onto the trend recently with a two hour special, hosted by Peter Jennings, devoted to UFOs.

My image of Roswell as we were driving toward it was that would be like the towns we passed, grim and dusty, tattered and wind blown. Instead, it’s the boomingest place around. Between aliens and the Air Force, it seems to be doing pretty damn well. Main Street is a mix of contemporary buildings and well maintained older ones. Now may be it’s bad in the burbs but I haven’t seen that…yet.

Roswell stands at the center of an American story, true or not. I am very glad I came to see it and in the seeing, stepped out of my ordinary life for a few days, changed the pace, the locale, the rhythm, glad I cut down the number of calls I HAD to make, glad I am taking a breath…