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Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

May 5, 2005

A Relatively Ordinary Week

The last weeks have been full of flashy sort of experiences. Film Festival moments, encounters with folks who have blue blood backgrounds, stars of one sort or another.

We had a weekend dinner with our friends Paul and Lorraine at their home. Their houseguest for the weekend was Iman and her daughter by her husband, David Bowie. Iman, of course, was one of the first SUPER models. She was delightful, quiet and focused on her child.

This week has been quiet.


Two handmade grenades went off outside the Manhattan building housing the British Consulate in the wee hours of this morning. The city is walking just a little gingerly today, wondering what this was all about.

Since 9/11 there has been a fear that the nature of any attacks against the city could change from massive to individual, bombs going off as they seem to have last night. In our dark subliminal we fear suicide bombers on crowded subways. The city is plastered with signs that remind: If you see something, say something. Very like London in the 1970’s.

Officials are being careful about what they say – and do about last night’s event. Attention is being paid but the media is being careful not to overplay. All in all, we are giving this event a measured response while our stomachs churn.

It changes the nature of the way we look at things. Before this morning, we have been mostly focused on the weather. Spring is having a terrible time establishing itself on the East Coast. For every moment that promises spring, there has been a counterpoint that harkens back to winter.

Against this erratic environmental background, New York functions. Deals are done; buildings continue to rise, buses still run while everyone asks: what the HELL is going on with the weather?

Downtown there are major fights about what is to be re-built at the World Trade Center site. Compromises are everywhere and everywhere there is dissatisfaction. The Freedom Tower, already behind schedule, is now further behind schedule because various Government Agencies are declaring they have security concerns with the design. A major re-design has been ordered; delaying the building considerably.

This morning’s incident, albeit small, strengthens the case for caution.

I have spent time recently walking by the “hole,” the Ground Zero of our time, and am witnessing that SOMETHING is going on but I am not sure what is happening. Construction is occurring but from what I see in the papers no one is sure what direction that the construction is taking. As is true for New York adventures in architecture, fractiousness is the order of the day. There has been no civic movement in this city that has been achieved without a great deal of discord.

Daniel Liebeskind, the wunderkind architect chosen to guide the rebuilding has been minimized and has left for more fertile grounds elsewhere. On the north end of the site, a new World Trade Center 2 is arising, an island in a sea of confusion. It is a glistening tower that evokes both hope and pain.

All of this, I think, is a metaphor for what I suspect is America today. We have enormous amounts of activity but are not quite sure as to where that activity is taking us. We are paying attention to the grenades but are not sacrificing our attention to the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland.

I find it disconcerting we seem confused. I have always thought of us as a country that knew where it was going [granted, I think that has been delusional]. However, now I am afraid we have traded direction for activity and activity for purpose.

And while we are swirling in activity, having enjoyed relatively normal times, someone out there made a couple of hand grenades in their kitchen, blasting us back to a grimmer reality.