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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.
Drowning Oscar, Moving Mania and On The Road

My first trip for my new consulting gig with Animal Planet International was down to Miami, which is to Latin America what New York is to the rest of the world. It is the commercial center for the region, a fast growing, fast paced city which seems to almost seamlessly slip back and forth between Latin and American.

Definitely, though, English is no longer the first language of the city; it’s Spanish. For those who have grown up there, there are no difficulties in slipping back and forth between languages easily and flawlessly, without accents in either. Some people can manage to do it Spanish, English and Portuguese.

I envy them and feel humbled by this exotic “species” of multi-talented, multi-lingual people. They are the future of America because, if you haven’t been paying attention, the largest minority in this country is Hispanic and the future speaks both languages.

Also, one of the treats of travel is seeing the world through the eyes of the local news.

One evening, while having dinner at the Bar downstairs, I steeped myself in the Miami Herald, which, while English written, reinforced my impression of Miami as the New York of Latin America. The paper’s focus was south, into that region, minimizing events north. The BTK Killer’s horrific confession consumed less space than an article about the politics of Bolivia. It paid interesting attention to the ebbs and flows of the political processes in Latin America and the general effects of Hispanic demos in the U.S. on the economic winds of the day.

At the same time I was in Miami, Leo Eaton, a friend and colleague was down shooting a demo tape on the Coast Guard, which I had helped him scout. I went over one evening to listen to “Drowning Oscar” rehearse. Remember “Drowning Oscar?” It’s a rock band made up of Coast Guard Enlistees, saving lives during the day and singing hearts out at night, named after the dummy used to practice rescuing drowning individuals – hence, “Drowning Oscar.”

Sandy Bartlett, lead singer, has a clean and mellifluous voice and is backed by a heartfelt group of Coasties who have both heart and humor. Watching them made me smile recalling the joy of their time of life. “Drowning Oscar” is not made up of innocents but of seasoned young men with one woman, who have on their side their common occupation and their capacity for joy.

So it was a privilege to go hear them sing in a break from consulting duties.

In those, I found an intellectual stimulation that is refreshing and challenging, making me look forward to the rest of the assignment.

Flying home, I was re-inducted into the joys of contemporary travel. My scheduled flight was delayed three hours; I changed on to a flight going earlier to Newark rather than LaGuardia, which itself was two hours late, experiencing good seating karma by getting a window seat on an exit row. We did however get trapped in runway gridlock as a 747 broke down in the middle of a taxiway, causing chaos. Ah, sweet travel. The only thing to do was to surrender to the experience, wrap myself in my blanket and nod off.

Returning home, I had to throw myself into a morning of moving as we are changing apartments in the city, going from Battery Park City up to Clinton [aka Hell’s Kitchen], an emerging neighborhood on the far west side of Manhattan. As is the wont of such adventures, chaos descended upon the morning as the mover’s were late, arriving just in time to coincide with a conference call which was interrupted by a phone call on my mobile from someone in Germany, who I had to say I would call back as the Salvation Army arrived at exactly the moment I was juggling all of this.

Somehow it all got handled, though I am not quite sure how…flexibility, I guess, on the part of myself and everyone around me…