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recently sold METEORS TALE, an unpublished novel by Michael
ORourke, to Animal Planet for development as a television
movie. Visit his
web site at http://www.intermat.tv
Friends Should Stick Together
Its been an interesting week.
On every level.
For lots of reasons.
I woke up on Sunday morning up in the country and went over
to the XtraMart to get the papers. Its one of the rituals
of country life; getting the newspapers. I crawl out of bed
and go to the coffeemaker and start the coffee and when its
finished, pour myself a mug and take myself out to the car
for the two mile drive up Route 23 to the XtraMart for the
Sunday papers. I get three: the New York Times, the Times-Union
from Albany and the Hudson paper.
You have to get up early to get the Times; its gone
by noon. Around that time on Sunday there is an interesting
sight composed of Times deprived New Yorkers tearing from
store to store in a desperate search for their newspaper.
Getting home with my mountain of papers, I refilled my coffee
cup and threw myself back down on the bed for a greedy morning
of reading. I like to balance the various points of view.
The Hudson paper usually headlines local events typically
something like the rare robbery grabs banner headlines while
the world news is down on the lower half. The Times
Union gives a good sense of the state of the state of New
York while the Times gives a global overview.
And the global overview wasnt pretty. Congress had passed
a declaration allowing us to attack Iraq and all the papers
were filled with the various points of view regarding that
event. From outrage to strident support, the newspapers were
full of articles about the resolution and its potential ramifications.
My personal favorite headline was: The Dogs of War.
I thought that this week I would write about that, about the
headlines, about the march toward war but something happened
When I returned from the country, I found a message on my
home voice mail from a friend, Stephen, who lives in D.C.
I had met him through a mutual friend when I was living there.
Neither of us is in touch with the person who introduced us
but we have stayed close friends.
Just as I was listening to his message I heard that a nightclub
had blown up in Bali and that it was probably a terrorist
act. Australians had taken heavy causalities in this attack
and I said a quiet prayer that all the Australians that I
know were safe. Ive been there a half dozen times and
have lots of friends in Australia and I love their buoyant
spirit and joy of life. Hearing that Bali had been bombed,
I felt as if we were taking one more step into this bad dream
we seem to be living.
On Monday Steven called again and I returned the call. He
had phoned to share with me his news. The first was good;
he was launching his own business. He had found the backing
and was going forward with a dream. It was the second part
of the news that caused me to stop. Stop dead. In my tracks.
Three years younger than me, he had been just diagnosed with
a particular virulent form of prostate cancer and was going
to have surgery within days.
He had sat down and made a list of those he felt he wanted
to know and I was pleased that I was on the list. Not pleased
to know that he had prostate cancer but pleased to know he
thought enough of the quality of our relationship to share
with me the bad with the good.
It was Monday night when we connected and we spoke for well
over an hour and when we finished I went to bed, saddened.
There was not much I could do and certainly nothing was expected
of me, except that I maintain the quality of our friendship.
Tuesday morning, I got up and had breakfast with a friend,
Jack Myers. Hes been a business associate friend since
the mid 1980s and I hadnt seen him since just
before I had moved to New York.
We had a remarkably good breakfast at a diner in his local
neighborhood, on the Upper East Side. We got caught up and
shared both the good times and the bad of the last couple
of years. As we parted that morning, he thanked me for taking
the time to have breakfast. As he walked away toward his apartment,
he said to me: Friends should stick together.
And that has echoed within me the last couple of days. Because
of my Monday conversation with Steve, because of my Tuesday
breakfast with Jack, I have felt very aware of the people
in my life and have been finding myself treasuring them. Stephen
reminded me of our mortality, Jack of the goodness of the
encounters we have in life while the bombing in Bali reminded
me that we live in a mad world.
Every encounter and conversation this week has been infused
with a sense of mortality and joy at the goodness of some
of our relationships. If there are any lessons to be learned
from this awful time, it is just this: friends should stick