A few years ago, I fell down the rabbit hole, and managed to make some basic diagrammatic sense of my family history back a few generations, until it became strangely addictive and frighteningly time-consuming. And cost too much money. So I suspended operations. 

Then I stumbled across this chart, and it gave me such a popsicle headache that I had to stop looking at it. But I know some people for whom it will answer a lot of nagging questions, like “how do we refer to Great Aunt Bessie’s daughter?”

So have at it, all you amateur genealogists! 


Greenwich Village, 1964


In many ways, the years 1960-1964 were a extension of the 1950s. Most photos and videos (and movies) of Manhattan show men and women in traditional suits and dresses, in the styles of the Fifties.

But Greenwich Village has always been an enclave within Manhattan where non-conformity reigned. While the people in this photo appear to us to be “dressed up” compared with people on the street today, the style is a lot more relaxed. It’s just a wonderful little time capsule, just before the culture and styles changed so radically in the late 1960s. 



I stopped smoking at age 27, after having smoked a pack-a-day or more for more than ten years, and it was both the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and the best health decision I’ve ever made. Had I continued at that pace, I’d probably be dead.

But everybody smoked back then. Even the “Doctors” who promoted smoking in ads smoked. Even Joe DiMaggio smoked, or at least made you think he did in the cigarette ads he was handsomely paid to do.  You were kind of weird if you didn’t smoke.

And I tried to stop many times, unsuccessfully, until one cold evening in the Fall of 1970, walking home from work along Charles Street on Beacon Hill, then turning up Revere Street, and discovering that I couldn’t walk up the hill. I was gasping for breath.  

So I stopped smoking, even though the temptation was always there for several months until, finally, the smell of cigarette smoke became unpleasant, and I knew I had stopped for good.

Still, when I look at ads like this one, I understand how much all the little social rituals around smoking influenced so many to start, and, with the nicotine, made it so hard for them to stop. 

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again


Volkswagen’s recent announcement that they are dropping the Beetle from their product line had a familiar ring to me. I remember the excitement I felt when the company announced that it would be bringing back the Beetle in 2000, as the “New Beetle,” after a long hiatus. 

Since 2000, I’ve noticed that VW has tweaked the New Beetle several times, but I guess too many baby boomers have been aging out to sustain demand (or to be able to get into and out of it, despite all the hip and knee replacements), and SUVs and huge “minivans” are the vehicles most people really seem to want these days.

Or maybe it’s that too many members of the original Hippie and counterculture core market have had their car keys taken away.

Whatever. RIP (for now) VW Beetle.