Jane and Michael Stern, those celebrators of diners and Elvis and other roadside attractions, have turned their attentions inward for this, their 13th book.

They're "Sixties people," the fortysomething authors announce, so, hey, why don't we write a book about "Sixties people."Fast-forward me to the present, puh-leeze.

It is self-referential nostalgia like this that gives the '60s a bad name. Yes, they were pretty groovy, especially compared to subsequent decades, but the endless reliving of the past - any past - can be as annoying and repetitive as a scratched LP.

The Sterns lead a tour of the '60s by explaining - in pop-culture-as-anthropology prose - various archetypes of that era. They include Perky Girls ("That Girl" and Gidget), Playboys (Hef, James Bond, Brut-enveloped studs) and Rebels (Black Panthers and Hell's Angels).

None of whom are uninteresting, really; it's just that zany and mod and cool don't always come off as such on the printed page. They lose something in the translation - or, at least, this particular translation.

The book has its charming moments. "Sixties People" brings back some of the funny relics from that goofy era: the 1967 book, "Coffee, Tea or Me" that mythologized the kooky, big-breasted stewardess; the cult of the dry martini as the ultimate sophisticate's quaff.

Yet the book also makes you wade through deadly prose about lively subjects, such as this on hippies: "These new bohemians loved to dance. They were hot and physical, not cool and cerebral. . . . Their hair was wild and unruly, their beards full instead of neatly trimmed. . . . These new nonconformists took LSD trips and came back singing of joy and talking about good vibes."

Yawn! Wake me up when the '60s are over.

A major problem with the book is that everything about the decade ends up, in the biggest chill of all, as mere fashion. The Weathermen get the same treatment as the Flying Nun, the Manson murders get the same weight as the Frug, the Days of Rage the same space as "Where the Boys Are."

The point is, you can't have it both ways in a single book - both the pop stuff and the serious stuff. One deadens the other; one trivializes the other.

Perhaps it's time for the Sterns to cast another archetype: The Sixties People Who Won't Stop Talking about the Sixties.