No matter how mundane a city’s origins, urban concentrations can have magical consequences. So says the great urban economist Edward Glaeser.
He points out that the Romans settled on an island in the Seine because it was a good spot to protect themselves against unfriendly Gauls. Two thousand years later we have Paris, one of the greatest centres of cultural and economic innovation on the planet.
Here in Australia, our cities are mere infants compared to Paris but, like cities pretty much everywhere, ours face an immense array of challenges. We are among the most urbanised of nations with three out of every four Australians living in cities. And though we might be good at farming and mining, it is our cities that generate 80 per cent of our wealth.
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Just when you think mainstream culture couldn’t get any shallower along comes the hipster.
No, I don’t mean the hipster sub-culture that beat writers like Jack Kerouac identified with in the 50s or low riding jeans most of us shouldn’t wear, I’m talking about the new breed of inner city trendy taking over small bars, laneways and cafe\bookstores everywhere.
Somehow draping yourself in ridiculous clothes and capering around while being deliberately ironic has become highly desirable for thousands of twenty and thirty somethings.
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