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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Reflecting and Reacting

I'm sipping my coffee and finishing up the raft of newspapers I brought
with me on the Acela. I'm on my way down to D.C. to attend several
meetings at Discovery Communications and, when I am finished with that,
I'll have dinner with an old friend and his two sons. I'm anticipating
a pleasant day.

In the early part of the morning as I was riding in the cab to Penn
Station I went, as you have to, past "the hole" and was noticing, in
myself mostly, that there is a different mood that is settling over the
city now that the official search for remains is over. It's different.
It's "better" in that a certain sense of somberness has departed. You
can drive by with the official knowledge that down there, whatever
they're doing, they're not looking for body parts. I wasn't thinking
that would make a difference but it does. One phase of all of this is

Certainly the news coverage around us is different. 9/11 has been
taking a backseat to corporate fraud and flailing markets. 9/11 still,
though, remains the point in time when new things began. The news
magazines report that the new hot job in D.C. is to be part of the
Homeland Security Department. It is supposed to be becoming the
"pre-eminent" Washington agency and it hasn't even been formed yet. I
find it a little unsettling that there is a Department of Homeland
Security - it's always bothered me because when I hear the words I
recognize that the times, they are a-changing.

The market popped yesterday at the sight of John Rigas being led off in
handcuffs. It was a symbol of what people felt needed to be done -
putting the bad guys away. Though there were a lot of people who were
wondering why we aren't seeing Ken Lay in those handcuffs?

It's just so interesting to me that we're really moving on. It feels
good. Being angry at corporate evils is appropriate and feels more
normal than grieving for thousands dead. It feels healthier that we now
think of "the hole" as a building site though I think we're a REALLY
long way from consensus on what's to be built on the site. There is a
lot of emotion around it - as one would expect.

But in the background of the news is the dull thrum that these are
different times. 9/11 is not front page so much any more, not the first
story in the newscasts. But it is always there, down the line, in the
back pages, how the world is a little different. Are we getting ready
to invade Iraq? If not, asks a story, why are we painting military
trucks tan?

We wouldn't be thinking of invading Iraq if it weren't for 9/11.

The Presidency has been shaped by 9/11. On the cover of one of the news
magazines is the headline: like father, like son? Good in war but weak
on the economy? Polls are telling us the President gets good marks for
defense, poor marks when it comes to the markets.

If I recall correctly, W named Powell his choice as Secretary of State
prior to the election, a move that gave him a boost. Now the
speculation is about whether Powell will last the term. The hawks are
winning while Powell is the voice of moderation. Personally, I won't
feel good if he leaves. Moderation is not a bad thing.

We are facing up to the loss of innocents in Afghanistan but in a
subdued way while at the same time we keep learning of fresh horrors
from the time of the Taliban. Winter is approaching again and the
country is desperate for aid and asking us: how will you help?

9/11 as an event is receding toward the past, very slowly, but it is the
starting point of the yellow brick road into the future that we find
ourselves on. The world as we know it becoming a reflection and a
reaction to that day..