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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.

July 3, 2006

Notes From The Heartland

My friend Ed Feuerherd, who is head of Creation Films in Louisville, Kentucky, is a fan of my column and regularly forwards it on to a colleague or two, one of whom feels it is good and yet not very relevant to her life in Louisville. I am, in my writing, “too New York centric.” As it happens, I ended up in Louisville, doing some work with Ed and his company this past week. Louisville is a gracious city experiencing a boom in downtown revitalization, nestled along the banks of the Ohio River, a regional center of civilization, industry and arts, not to mention home to the Kentucky Derby.

Twice while there I had dinner with Ed and Sandy, the woman with whom he is involved, and listened carefully to our conversation to discern if their Louisville concerns were vastly different from my “New York centric” ones. Ed and Sandy both own small businesses, as do I. His film company specializes in historical works and Sandy, an elegant lady, runs Notting Hill, an antique store in a lovely section of Louisville. Their views may differ; their concerns are the same. They are concerned with the progress of the war in Iraq. They are troubled that their taxpayer dollars might be being spent foolishly on a sports stadium project that is unneeded, while other issues are ignored, like education. This conversation mirrored the dialogue in New York regarding a West Side Stadium. Our local concerns are parallel if not exactly duplicated. On the national level, our conversation knew no localisms other than the permutations native to their locale and to my locale.

Kentucky is providing troops to the war effort; so is New York State. Many of the New York Guardsmen come from towns as small as some in Kentucky. National Service is not defined by locale; it is shaped by the policies made in yet another city, Washington, D.C.

Moving on from Louisville, I came ‘home’ to Minneapolis, the town where I was born and raised, another town that is, like Louisville, experiencing a Renaissance of sorts, with great new buildings by Michael Graves and Cesar Pelli, with the Guthrie Theatre, the beacon for Regional Theater all over the country, opening in new digs, brilliant in design with stunning views of the city and the Mississippi River.

As I walked around Lake Harriet on different days with different friends and talked over other fine meals in wonderful restaurants and in comfortable homes, I listened to the concerns of my friends in the Twin Cities and found they, too, have concerns that echo those of my friends in Louisville. There is concern about the war, the national deficit, the bent of the political life of the country. Conversations in Louisville and Minneapolis centered, at times, around discussing the nature of the individuals running for local office. The names were different and the cities were different though the issues were again, I found, parallel: crime and taxes and civic services and all the big and large things that result in cities working or not working are focuses for political contests in Minneapolis and Louisville --and New York.

The problems of New Orleans are seen through the prism of Katrina and are, at the bottom, about many of the same issues facing Louisville and Minneapolis -- how crime is contained and tax dollars spent. We live in a world of commonality of concerns, regardless of the city we reside in. Concerns are reflected from one place to another and are more binding than dividing.

Each city I have visited in the last week is unique and is also a mirror of the other cities, with local shadings of shared issues which makes life in one city completely relevant to those in other places. We are more alike than different, no matter how fiercely we cling to our local identity. The United States, as vast as it is, is knitted together today in ways that were unfathomed a century ago, bonding us to each other through the media, the amazing way we throw ourselves around the country in planes, trains and automobiles and by the fact we all participate in any burden placed upon as a nation by the government we all elect.