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
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
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.