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SITES FOR BABY BOOMERS OPEN DOORS TO THE PAST, OFFER HELP FOR TODAY


Special to the Tribune
June 8, 2000

They've traded granny glasses for bifocals and Woodstock for blue-chip stocks, but Baby Boomers are still a force to be reckoned with on the Internet. Although it might look as if every site on the Web is tailored for Generation Xers, Boomers still make up an undeniably attractive market. Numbering about 75 million and earning incomes that average $75,00 or more, the former rebels are today's demographic dream.

So, it's no wonder that an ever-increasing number of Web sites and portals are focusing on this set. No one can pinpoint the Baby Boom generation exactly, but anyone born from 1948 to 1964 is probably in the club. That puts most Boomers in their 40s, with the leading edge in their early 50s. However, a lot of Boomers aren't ready to slow down yet.

"People who are in their early 50s today are not into AARP (American Association for Retired People)," said David Henderson, founder of the Boomer Cafe (www.boomercafe.com). "My partner Greg Dobbs and I were talking about magazines (for our age group) and he said, `This doesn't relate to me at all. I'm out kayaking and mountain climbing."'

Henderson's and Dobbs' Boomer Cafe is anything but a retirement site. About 30,000 people visit the cafe each month, reading articles on spirituality, travel, books, families and relationships.

"We want to be an on-line magazine for people who are really interested in new things," Henderson said.

Whereas Boomer Cafe operates on a shoestring (the site has yet to see any profit), other, slicker sites have launched with firm financial backing.

MyPrimeTime (www.myprimetime.com) is backed by entertainer Joan Rivers and has a partnership with Fidelity. ThirdAge (www.thirdage.com) is partly backed by CBS. Both are going for the lucrative Boomer market in a big way and they are tailoring content to focus on an active lifestyle, rather than on nostalgia.

"The site is about changes going on in your life: caring for aging parents, kids moving out, finding romance in mid-life," said Mindy Cebers, public relations manager for ThirdAge. "We know what works and what doesn't. A lot of people would be offended if you called a 52-year-old a senior."

Well-written articles on travel, finances, health, fashion and pop culture make this site worth a visit. On-line classes focus on travel, finding romance and Net issues. There are more than 1 million registered users at ThirdAge.

At MyPrimeTime, a recent article focused on women who are pregnant in their 40s -- hardly a typical topic for "seniors." Sub-titled "A Personal Trainer for Life," this site focuses on mid-lifers as active participants. Articles on boxing for women, real-estate investing and "The Zen of Work" make this a site for those with eclectic interests.

Still, when many people think of Baby Boomers, they think of aging hipsters who still play air guitar to Jimi Hendrix music when no one's looking. Surely, nostalgia plays a big part at Boomer sites, because the '60s was a decade that's hard to forget. In light of today's celebrity idols, such as 'N Sync and Leonard DiCaprio, many people would like to go back to the Beatles and "Easy Rider."

So, reminisce about tie-died T-shirts, go-go boots and Afro hairdos at Baby Boomer Memory Bank (www.octanecreative.com/boomerbaby/index.html). The new site archives recollections of those odd little relics of the past, from push-button car transmissions to Sting-Ray bicycles. They are seeking input, so tell them all about your memories of Rat Fink toys or purple bell-bottoms.

Baby Boomer Headquarters (www.bbhq.com) is a vast site that covers everything from the 1969 moon landing to parenting issues. There are sites for '60s trivia, a reunion area for looking up old classmates, polls, book reviews, featured records and even a tour of the entire site.

"A grandparent?" Now there's a shattering life change for any former hippie. Baby Boomers Homepage (www.netwalk.com/ duchapl) addresses this and many other mid-life issues. The '60s get a special salute and a doctor answers questions about such unhappy surprises as peri-menopause.

Classic rock reunions, oldies music, radio stations and trips back to the '50s and '60s are features at Boomernet (www.boomernet.com). Text-heavy and still under construction, this site focuses on the music of past.

Boomers International (boomersint.org/home.htm) has plenty of facts and figures about the graying Me Generation. There's a bulletin board and chat room here plus articles on politics, music and Vietnam.

Sign up for the Boom! E-zine (www.boommalls.com/frontpage.html) and get articles delivered straight to your e-mail box. Chat with other folks who remember eight-track tapes and ironing hair at Baby Boomer Bistro Page (http://www.bbb. org.uk/). This site is based in the United Kingdom.

What happened the year you were born? Zip over to Boomer Initiative (www.babyboomers.com/ index.htm) to find out. Don't feel old, but chances are that Dwight Eisenhower was president.

SIXTIES REDUX

For many mid-lifers, the '60s is the only decade worth remembering. The era of psychedelia and free love, the '60s still spawn devotion, even among kids who dote on Austin Powers. Here are a few Web resources:

The '60s (www.slip.net/scmetro/sixties.htm). All we can say is "far out." This site has myriad links to everything from Bob Dylan to John F. Kennedy to Carlos Santana (new again).

Psychedelic '60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change (www.lib.virginia. edu/exhibits/ sixties/index.html). In-depth articles on the Beatles, Timothy Leary and a wonderful section on Woodstock.

The '60s (www.hippy.com/60s.htm). Haight-Asbury, The Summer of Love and everything groovy get center-stage at this site.

Sixties.net (www. sixties.net). More amazing links including radio archives and "Jimi Hendrix Digital Voodoo."

-L.A.V.

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