Baby Boomer From Woodstock So, So Mad at Daphne Merkin

The New York Times mag fills a front-of-book page with a grab bag of the week's correspondence. Some of the people they print are mad, some are sad, and some are impressed. Who are these people? Why did they decide to write in? Did they read whatever they're writing about during brunch? Or, was it on a porch! Gawker Weekend will provide you with that back story.

This week, we check in with a nice, aging hippie named Maya Horowitz, who responded with indignation earlier this month when she read Daphne Merkin's self-directed takedown on baby boomers in "The Way We Live Now." Merkin had said some pretty mean things in her piece. Indeed, the entire first paragraph was a list of unflattering things—menopause, an aversion to butter, chronic credit-card debt, etc.—that supposedly characterized her pathetic, decaying generation. "Hey, Daphne Merkin!" Mrs. Horowitz wrote in her response, "You left off vitamins, herbs, homeopathy, natural fibers, chemically free foods and products, meditation, moderate exercise, enlightened relationships. You omitted the things that led many of us boomers to enjoy life in our 50s. All it took was to remember to be here now, every step of the way." Our delightful Q&A with Mrs. Horowitz, after the jump.

When we reached her at home today, the first thing Mrs. Horowitz did was e-mail us a copy of her original letter. Apparently the Times had left out some crucial details in editing, starting with her age (55) and her comment about how baby boomers enrich their lives by viewing/hearing/reading the art(s) created by [their] peers." "Ain't the internet grand?" Mrs. Horowitz said, having confirmed that the e-mail had been delivered. Yes! Yes it is!

So, what caught my eye about your letter was that you addressed the author of the article so directly. 'Hey, Daphne Merkin!' Very few people do that. Why did you?
Because she's a peer. If she were somebody in the upper echelon, whom I considered to be superior to me, I don't think I would have been—I would have used that as a salutation. I felt like I was addressing a peer, like I could say, 'Hey!'

What about the article provoked you to write in?
I totally disagreed with everything that she wrote about the baby boomers' aging process. I think she basically described us as being superficial.... I live in Woodstock, which is a town of the arts. And my background is in the arts. And I think that really sets us apart from being the superficial people that she described us as being. Because we patronize our peers who are creating art.

What kind of art background do you have?
Dance, choreography.

You're a dancer and a choreographer?

Was.

You made a short list in your letter of things that make baby boomers enjoy life in their 50s. How many of those activities do you engage in on a day-to-day basis?

Everyone I know—I have friends all over the country—engages in everything I printed. We're all into holistic medicine, vitamins, meditation, everything I listed. That's totally how I live my life.

But you didn't think the article reflected that?
She lists a hundred things—between 70 and 100 things in the first paragraph of her article, she just lists them. And then she ends the paragraph, "if you still haven't figured out, I'm talking about the baby boomers. And it's like... nobody I know has had a Botox injection. Nobody I know is in love with cilantro. Nobody I know is a second-time father old enough to be a grandfather. Nobody I know is upset that they failed to make obscene amounts of money as a hedge fund manager.... I think there are two kinds of baby boomers: there are the baby boomers who gracefully got old, holding onto our values from the sixties and the baby boomers who fought becoming like their parents, ungracefully, and ended up becoming like their parents anyway.

Did you become like your parents?
Me? No! It's Daphne's people! Daphne's people who feel like they're doing—she lists comb-overs! Do you know what it is?

Yes.
My friends, my male friends when they started to lose their hair, they shaved their heads, and they walk around bald, proudly! There are many attractive baby boomers who have shaved their heads bald.

Reinventing Middle Age [NYT]
Letters [NYT]