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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.

Tombers Reports on His Inability to Report

August 24, 2006

For those of you who are regular readers of my column, you may have noticed there wasn't a new one posted last week. I took a few days off; a respite of sorts, going up to Provincetown where good friends have a home. Invited more than once, I hadn't been and decided to remedy that singular gap in my travels.

More than needing a physical rest, I needed a psychological respite, a quieting of the drumbeat of bad news. The world seemed a very sorry place and I felt any voice I gave to my thoughts would depress me and everyone who read me.

I am by nature both downbeat and optimistic, often, in apparent contradiction, at the same time. The deep shades of gray that cover our world can wash over me while at the same time I have a sense that somehow I [if it's personal] or the world [if it's general] will find its way out of whatever morass we discover ourselves in. I/we will triumph over adversity.

Personally, I have been feeling quite upbeat while despairing of the world situation. The world is very troubled. I had coffee with a friend [one of the smartest people I know] a few weeks ago as he and his family headed off to Europe. As we parted, after our global ruminations, he commented to me that it was hard to think it was going to get better.

So last week, I dusted off my hands of responsibilities and devoted a few days to reading books, touring around Provincetown, eating fabulous food and sleeping extravagant amounts of time in fresh sea air which had both a physical and psychological healing effect.

In the real world, an uneasy truce covers Lebanon. The deaths go on unabated in Iraq; more die there every week it seems than fell here on 9/11, many of them innocents, civilians like the people in the Towers, going about their daily business of attempting to buy groceries, get gasoline, mail letters, do their daily work, live lives only to be snuffed out by incessant, random attacks. Snipers recently wiped out dozens of religious pilgrims.

I find it interesting that the most popular television program in Iraq is a contest to find a new personality for one of the networks in that country. The contest is peppered with gallows humor comments from contestants, mocking the chaos into which the country has descended by pretending it does not exist. In this unique universe the only explosion that happens in Baghdad is something left too long in a microwave.

We have gallows humor here, too. A sitcom is being developed in which the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse arrive ten years too early and have to disguise themselves while waiting for their ravaging ride. In a not so humorous vein, there is a fall series about a town called Jericho, which may be home to the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust.

Gosh, just the kind of shows I want to watch between the dour newscasts of our era.

Between the Gulf Coast being revealed as a deeper mess than we would have thought a year later, with Iraq seemingly descending into sectarian civil war, with a ballooning deficit [just how much is it really?], with e-mails coming in predicting a total economic collapse before year's end [while selling financial cures], with Iran prevaricating, JonBenet's alleged killer returning to Colorado and Osama Bin Laden still successfully hiding, it was no wonder I took pause when a friend told me that a Muslim prophecy had the world ending this last Tuesday.

I mean, it doesn't look too rosy out there.

Monday night I treated myself to a good dinner and a nice, clean crisp Sauvignon Blanc before retiring. When Tuesday came and went and we were all still here muddling through, I thought, that's what we do: we muddle through. In Harry Potter's world, we are muggles muddling; hopefully we will muddle better in the months to come than we have in the months just past.