Letter From New York: An American Experience
By Mat Tombers
August 3, 2006
Tombers Reports on Living When It is Hot as H**L, Part Deux
Usually I begin working on my Letter From New York
at least a day before its due; today I am battling my
deadline to get this in. Its been a combination of factors
that has put me behind schedule. Just starting a new assignment
for a client, I have been down in the city for three days,
two nights and since it has been a long time since Ive
spent a night in the city, I have used it to squeeze in seeing
a number of people I have [perhaps] neglected. Tuesday I had
dinner with an old colleague from Discovery who now runs programming
for WE: Womens Entertainment. Wednesday I had dinner
with an old friend, down in SoHo, not far from where I lived
when first in New York. The following night, I moderated a
panel for the PGA [Producers Guild of America] with
two of my favorite people, the Renaud brothers, Craig and
Brent, who have just been nominated for a News and Documentary
Emmy for their HBO film, DOPE SICK LOVE.
New York, which has recently been called the nicest
big city in the world has had that title tested this
past week against the pressure of the mind boggling heat wave
that has pressed down upon the city, the heat wave having
migrated across the country from west to east, providing misery
to many as it marched, like Sherman to the sea.
As the heat wave laid siege to Louisville, a local wag friend
said it was so bad it was making the Red State of Kentucky
believe in Al Gore. On the train, people chatted about a scientist
who had been outlining the worst case scenario of Global Warming.
While not quite following, I knew it was not a pretty picture.
The eastern power grid has been challenged and every day
new warnings were issued, reminding easterners to turn up
their air conditioning and turn down their lights to take
stress off a system churning out more power than it ever has
with magnificent luck only pockets broke down and burned
out [poor Queens, the borough most unloved by the electricity
Everyone I know has moved with uncharacteristic slowness,
a kind of languor that would make tourists think they were
in Savannah rather than in the city that never slept. And
the city is full of tourists. Going to a meeting near Times
Square I had to dodge dozens with maps unfolded, attempting
to find their way to their next landmark. Slipping by them,
I had to twist around the ladies with the placards declaring
that the time of Rapture was upon us.
What with the heat, the bad news from Lebanon and Iraq and
Israel, the possibility that Iran is making nukes and the
rumor that the Pakistanis are building a very suspicious reactor,
its no wonder the ladies were waving their
Rapture signs so high.
In what seemed more movie script like than reality, several
news organizations on and off air explored the concepts of
Rapture and Armageddon while squirreling through the quatrains
of Master Nostradamus to find sense of the present while looking
for road signs for the future. St. Johns Book of Revelations
seemed suddenly more popular than usual.
In an unusual move for me, news junkie that I am, I found
I was rationing my doses of bad news. I doubt that I am alone
in this non-activity.
My theory of the week is that the heat has acerbated everything
around us and the heat is a catalyst for everything that has
been causing us anxiety. Surprisingly, in this heat and the
anxiety surrounding us, the people on the streets have been
remarkably polite. No one knocked down the Rapture Ladies;
tourists were helped and while Beirut and Baghdad burn, we
continue on and in our continuing on continue to be what I
like to think we are at our hearts: decent.