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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

July 1, 2002

To stay or not to stay? Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take up arms against a sea of sorrows? [Forgive me, Mr. Shakespeare, for slaughtering your words.]

USA Today had a small article in it last week that raised the issue of whether tourists would go to Washington, D.C. and New York this 4th of July weekend or if they would stay away? Some interviewed stated they were declining the opportunity to see the cradle of democracy or spend any time on the Great White Way. Others are flocking to stand in Times Square and to visit the Smithsonian. For New Yorkers, the issue is: do I stay or do I get out of Dodge?

We're getting out of Dodge.

Of course, we have the country house and we get there as often as we can and it's the 4th of July and we're having a barbeque on the deck with friends. But Tripp does not want to be in New York on the 4th of July.

He sees no sense in tempting the universe when we have a place to go. He's not alone. Many friends are leaving town. In fact, I know of several people who are getting out of town and preparing their own special kits, taking with them their passports, bankbooks and all important documents.

A friend called from the west coast to ask us if we'd be here for the 4th? When I said no, she asked why? I told her we didn't intend to be there because we had the country house and, with that, had a perfect excuse to be out of the city but if we hadn't had that I suspect that we would have gone somewhere.

Tripp has not flown and he doesn't want to be in the city on the 4th of July. My California friend was not happy: she and her family were coming to New Jersey and New York for the 4th and were feeling a little nervous. Our decision to be absent did not do anything to make her feel better. But she is still coming.

Personally, I don't really think there is going to be a terrorist attack on New York over the 4th nor do I think there will be one on Washington, D.C. But I am also not unhappy to have our upstate retreat so that we can retreat from the possibility.

What I am afraid of is that we will have another attack, sooner than later. Out there in the world are men and women who have every intention of doing more evil things to our "evil empire."

It is this thought that keeps me feeling fragile and desirous to have plans in place that will help us ride out whatever storm erupts on our heads. Here I am cynical and I wish I were not. I am afraid that we are not doing the right things to address the issues that are causing the terrorism against us - and, whether we like to admit it or not, there ARE issues that need to be dealt with. I don't believe America is the evil Satan that some fundamentalist Muslims think we are. But in the vast and complex miasma that is this mess, out of which erupts acts of terror large and small, are issues that are vast and complex and not, I'm fearful, being addressed.

Not since I was a little boy doing "duck and cover" exercises in Catholic school have I felt so globally fragile and so individually frightened.

It troubles me that I am relieved that I will not be in New York on the 4th of July for the reasons I am relieved. I should be relieved that I am going to be out of the heat and the clutter and in the quiet countryside by my own babbling brook. But truth be told, I am glad I'm not going to be there because I am just a bit afraid of being blown up.

This is not good. This is not fun. This is awful. And the question I ask myself, beyond whether I should stay or go, is what can I do to sooth this sea of troubles and stop the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? What can I do? What can you do? And, more importantly, what will we do?