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 In addition to its consulting engagements, Intermat recently sold METEOR’S TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael O’Rourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television movie.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

Enjoying a respite…
By Mat Tombers

Changing the pace of life is a good thing, every now and again. And so this past weekend, we didn’t go up to the country but stayed in the city – and we couldn’t have picked a finer weekend to do so. It was warm without being hot; both Saturday and Sunday were perfect early autumn days.

Friday evening I went out to Plandome, where I met my godparents at the Plandome Country Club and we had an unusually jolly time together. All of us were relaxed; we viewed photos of their 60th wedding anniversary party in August. I winced seeing the photos, not liking these any more than any photo I’ve seen of myself. Oh dear…

We laughed, they laughed, I laughed. My whole lifetime is filled with memories shared with these two people and it was a particularly nice evening for me as two clients of mine had had some successes on projects I was working on with them. Betelgeuse Productions had a special sent up to Business Affairs at Travel for a contract and WETA was having success with another project. It felt good. My Turner folks were beginning to get their first responses back from some work I have been doing for them.

John and Eileen shared their travel down to West Virginia to see their oldest daughter, Mary Clare. We also talked about Joe, her son, their grandson, my friend who joined the Army after September 11th of last year and is now in Georgia but will soon go to southern California for desert training.

The following morning after a workout in the gym I was headed off to see about tickets to PROOF, starring Anne Heche, Len Cariou and Neil Patrick Harris. As I was getting ready to leave the phone rang and it was Tripp, telling me that something was going on outside and that we had to leave the building by a side door. He didn’t know what but there was a commotion downstairs.

I went down to discover that George’s, the funky little diner across the street had developed huge cracks, overnight. It was slowly collapsing and the rest of the weekend we saw the destruction of the building. Better to take it down before it fell down. And by Sunday it was gone. The event closed down the 1 and the 9 subways, just reopened. And for two or three days we waited to hear whether it was just the building – or if the building was a symptom of something deeper – a heretofore undetected structural fault that was related to the fall of the Trade Center.

Apparently it was an isolated incident. An all clear was sounded and by Tuesday you could hardly tell the building had ever been there. But most of all I wondered what had happened to the very nice lady from Eastern Europe who fussed over me whenever I came in, making me feel like I was more of a regular than I was. I don’t even know her name and may never see her again.

George says he will rebuild but that’s a ways off.

Sunday was a blissful day of the New York Times, walking the Esplanade, experimenting with the new water taxi that has just been added to New York’s means of transit, reading in the sun and walking through many of the back streets of downtown New York, past the Fraunces Tavern where George W. [as in Washington] said good-bye to his officers.

Far, far away were all the drumbeats we’ve been hearing about the war that is coming and for all of that we were grateful. My inbox is filling even more this week than last with exhortations for me to contact my elected representatives. But, for a moment, all things Iraq related seemed to become blessedly more distant. For a weekend, we seemed, as a city and as a nation to slip into a tranquil place where all good things were possible and all bad things simply transient clouds against the brilliant sun of a good world.

But no one is convinced that it won’t come. Conventional wisdom from friends down in Washington, D.C. is that nothing will happen until the weather cools in December and January [remember when Desert Storm happened: January]. Conventional wisdom is that George W. [as in Bush] sensed the political pulse of the nation and has made some efforts to make sure he doesn’t send in troops without having danced some more with the U.N. and our allies.

But, at the end of the day, if the allies and U.N. don’t come together with us, it still will happen and American troops will march on Baghdad.

But for a moment this last week the news turned from the talk of war to all the other things happening.

George’s collapse made the news all the way to Los Angeles. Mayor Bloomberg is campaigning for a quieter city now that he has shown that under his sway the crime rate hasn’t skyrocketed. We’re safer and now we’re going to be quieter.

I don’t object.

I don’t object to it being quieter. I don’t object to having some normalcy this week. It’s GOOD to be thinking about things like Martha Stewart resigning from the Board of the NYSE. It’s GOOD to be thinking about the elections.

It’s not good to be thinking about a sniper that killed five people at random in Maryland or the man who fired gunshots outside the U.N. It’s not good to know that despite the temporary quieting of the drumbeats of war their sound is becoming louder again.

It’s not good to be thinking of Joe going from Georgia to California for desert training.