I don’t find all global cities increasingly the same

Here is my Bloomberg column on that question, recently raised by Megan McArdle, here is one excerpt from my take:

Maybe it is only the “major” cities that are becoming more alike. If so, what is “major” supposed to mean? Among the more populous cities I have visited are Lagos, Tokyo, Mexico City, Delhi, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Cairo. I can find very real similarities among their gyms, coffee shops, hotels and smart phones used by the locals. Still, it is hard to argue they are converging on some common set of experiences or cultural memes. Those cities show different movies (for the most part), play different kinds of music in public spaces, serve different dominant cuisines, exhibit different modes of personal dress, and of course speak different languages.

And:

Even central London and central Manhattan have fundamental differences, and that is without bringing Harlem or East Harlem into it. I almost always feel pleasant and relaxed walking around London. In central Manhattan, I often feel a bit stressed. I go to Manhattan to hear jazz, to visit contemporary art galleries, to soak up the energy of the streets. When I am in London (less frequently), I visit well-stocked bookshops, eat Indian food, and absorb a very different vision of government and politics.

To be blunt, if the two cities are so similar, why do I much prefer spending time in London?

…More than ever before, London and New York offer more good ways of having different experiences.

There is much more at the link, hearkening back to my earlier book Creative Destruction: How Globalization is Changing the World’s Cultures.

Comments

hope the postmodern dutch don't export this postmodern aspect of
their socialist medical system

https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/teens/noa-pothoven-of-arnhem-in-the-netherlands-is-legally-euthanised/news-story/10b49ca69733eaa11b66e1b1b8e215a1

So we Revived Ophelia just to kill her again? I hope somebody's got those 9,000 instagram followers on suicide watch.

"Children as young as 12 can opt for euthanasia in the netherlands but only after a doctor determines that the patient’s pain is unbearable."
+1postmodern
moral borders are arbitrary
why 12?
"infanticide doesn't exist"
according to new york senator senator gilliband (dartmouth)

I used to feel stressed as well in NYC. That’s why I went. I went for the rush, the excitement like getting off the lift at a black diamond run and pointing my skis straight down the hill. I don’t get that feeling so much these days in part my heartbeat just doesn’t get going much these days-except inappropriately, of course- and in part due to Disney. Nike is less exciting than Bloomies in the old days.
There is better cheap Indian food in London, and the IRA hasn’t set off a bomb in years.

@Henry - adventure tourist are you? Africa beckons like an open grave. I suggest you take no vaccines, no anti-malaria pills and head up the river into the heart of darkness.

You need a life Ray.

I thought it was mildly amusing.

Sure, life is an adventure, and I am here to have fun! Thanks for the tip.

you know, I am no big fan of Stevie Ray Gould, but he would have said that there were billions of ancestors who lived most of their lives at room temperature or above, every single one of which reproduced with another ancestor, who led to your existence.

YMMV

wake up sheeple

Proverbs 8, in case you missed the real reference

London--come for the acid attacks and stabbings--stay for the grooming gangs.

Seems large US cities are waning increasingly the same: hell holes.

Make sure you have your shots before visiting Los Angeles https://abcnews.go.com/Health/lapd-officers-treated-typhoid-fever-typhus-symptoms/story?id=63371616

still better being strung out on opioids in a jobless rural shithole.

This is unreasonably bitter and negative. In real estate markets, regular people looking for places to live and work have bid up prices for real estate in cities such as NYC and London, so they definitely pass the market test for desirability.

Yeah, US cities are worse, just thought Tyler being weirdly pro-London w no recognition of downsides.

As a tourist in London, the odds of you getting attacked with acid or involved in a grooming gang are vanishingly small. London is still quite safe for the upper middle class.

Yes, it's not like US cities have a crime problem. People need to think before they snark.

Post peak tourism: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/crowds-tourists-are-ruining-popular-destinations/590767/ I think I will stay home.

The place is so crowded nobody goes there anymore.

"it is hard to argue they are converging on some common set of experiences or cultural memes."

"When I am in London (less frequently), I visit well-stocked bookshops, eat Indian food..."

From these two lines I just want Prof. Cowen to tell us what's the best British food, or more specifically: what's the best typical London dish?

Now, sorry for a long anecdote. It's also about travel, food and common features among large cities.

I visited friends last year in Berlin and when the choice for dinner was surprisingly complicate. As good hosts, they asked what I wanted for dinner? Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese. My repIy was that I wanted to try local food, the typical food of Berlin. My request caused a bit of discomfort.

My friends have been living for more than 7 years in Berlin and they honestly answered they had no idea what are the local specialties. Next day I bought a pair of shoes and I asked the seller for a food tip. He sent me to a unassuming little restaurant outside of a S-bahn station that served me a roasted pork knuckle and the one of the sweetest dark beers I've tasted in my life. Delicious.

My point is that the common feature of global cities is not that they offer the same things. The common feature of big cities is that you can eat everything from around the world, except the local dishes.

PS. Is jazz a commodity? I don't remember anyone (including me) talking about visiting a city for rock or hip-hop. People go to specific events that interest them. Cover bands of starving artists do not substitute the real thing, never.

Pork and beer is a common dish across central Europe. Sorry if you thought it was uniquely Berliner, but your friends were right.

That's not what he said. Not even close: "I visited friends last year in Berlin and when the choice for dinner was surprisingly complicate. As good hosts, they asked what I wanted for dinner? Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese. My repIy was that I wanted to try local food, the typical food of Berlin. My request caused a bit of discomfort."

"My friends have been living for more than 7 years in Berlin and they honestly answered they had no idea what are the local specialties. Next day I bought a pair of shoes and I asked the seller for a food tip. He sent me to a unassuming little restaurant outside of a S-bahn station that served me a roasted pork knuckle and the one of the sweetest dark beers I've tasted in my life. Delicious."

Cosmopolitanism seems to be very rigidly interpreted as "I can get Indian/Chinese/Thai food anywhere I go." It's funny how Diversity is actually not about diversity at all. It's just wanting the same rootless, striver affluence everywhere with zero appreciation of the ancestral peoples who built the place and maintain it.

While I don't disagree with criticism of people who *do* hold that mentality per se (whoever they are, and however many of them there are), I think it's worth mentioning that a good part of why you can get "Indian/Chinese/Thai food" in place X is because the local people want to be able to try that and have the choice and breadth of experience. It's not just, or even primarily, driven by outsiders with no ties to the place or for their convenience. A lot of it is frankly just capitalism working as it should to deliver a variety of experiences to where there is demand by local people for some more variety - if that's McDonalds in the 1970s and Thai food today, to a large extent, so be it. Demographic replacement against people's will and desire and "post-nationalism" is one thing, sharing of culture through the normal processes of the free market, free press, and free internet is another.

It would be easy for me to go to Dublin and complain there's not much distinctively Irish food on offer and the homogenisation of the city to world norms. But on the other hand, who am I to say that the local Dubliners shouldn't have a restaurant scene around eating a wider variety of non-Irish foods? Which would be the implication.

(Should be beyond totally obvious for me to say this anywhere that's at all economically minded, but in case its not.)

"Cosmopolitanism seems to be very rigidly interpreted as "I can get Indian/Chinese/Thai food anywhere I go." It's funny how Diversity is actually not about diversity at all. It's just wanting the same rootless, striver affluence everywhere with zero appreciation of the ancestral peoples who built the place and maintain it."

That, yes.

Yes indeed. I'm a huge fan of Tyler's writing and opinions. However I've never understood his enthusiam for Singapore. I've lived in East Asia for twenty years and most of the Westerners I know here despise the place. I wouldn't live there on a bet. It's like a large immaculate mall with many many rules. Even visiting is unpleasant as the 'culture' people share is pure consumption. For those whose goal is a united world with one heirarchical structure based purely on wealth I suppose it might be fine. Talk about your air conditioned nightmare. But oh what a success story! Easy when you suck money from the hundreds of millions to the south in Indo.

Yep. It'll be interesting to see if this changes at all over the next 20 years or so, in that people seem to seek out food from the poorest, most undeveloped places on the planet, since that's more "authentic" or whatever. But if India and southeast Asia continue to develop, will those kinds of cuisines lose their cachet? What will replace them among the bien pensant? Ethiopian food? Eventually, we're going to run out of Poor Rural Peasant cultures.

Yeah, also dark lager isn’t very Berlin, Berliner Weisse is the local brew

With a straw, and with raspberry or woodruff syrup oftentimes.

And currywurst is truly a local Berlin specialty, as is Döner (from a certain squinting perspective). In all honesty though, Berlin is not really considered all that great a place to enjoy local food, even from a German perspective. Munich has a variety of things to offer, and there are a few other places where one could enjoy local food dishes - think fish and the North or Baltic Sea. But basically, local German food is the same pretty much everywhere - Jäger- or Wienerschnitzel seems pretty universal, for example.

Where German food does have very local variety is in bread and wurst, where it is possible to get bread and wurst from a truly local baker or butcher (maybe less so in a big city, but many towns still have local butchers that slaughter local cattle).

The really amusing thing is that if the hosts did not offer Turkish as a choice, they were missing out on one of Berlin's more obvious cuisine.

The world works best when the people who want to work for a living can. Those who do not tend to push fake excuses that appear as tradition or nationalism but is really a thin veneer over what is really their own personal failures. If you want a society where people don't have to work, you can push for more left-wing policies but we don't advocate for that here as we prefer more classically liberal ways of living.

Show us on the doll where the bad nationalist touched you.

In the wallet. In my freedom.

I'd like to know specifically how nationalism is harming you. Are you a toilet paper manufacturer, and is stubborn American nationalism keeping out the billions of non-externality-imposing economic units, I mean, people you could be selling your toilet paper to?

You certainly killed that strawman.

@Millian: come on, there are regions where I'd never order a beer before trying all the wine before.

Pork is loved around Europe, but knuckles with lots of bone and fat are not a delicacy everywhere. By contemporary standards, low fat cuts are the best.

You can certainly go to St John or Hawksmoor and some others at the higher end, or gastropubs or something like this at the middle end, if you want to try stuff that is fairly self consciously British but not cheap food. That said, it's true there's not a huge market other than this for middle market, middle price point independently run restaurants with a very strong British identity (for whatever reason!) as opposed to the British version of pan-"modern European" restaurant food.

While its probably similar across the major cities of Northern Europe, I think you might find Northern Europe (and Northern European colonies) a little bit of an exception on this - in Tokyo or Seoul, Paris or Milan, you wouldn't find that much difficulty finding local food. (New York Pizza you don't find in London or Berlin, either.)

Not that I believe its that difficult to find local food in Northern European countries but even still less it would be difficult in any the aforementioned. The local food of Northern Europe, even though still probably the most popular in any and still quite highly varied (its simplicity is often exaggerated), does probably leave a bit more niche for foreign cuisines.

The iconic Berlin food is Currywurst, everyone knows about it and it's available all over the place in many different permutations, hard to believe this story. (Well, that and Döner, but I guess the OP thinks there's a whites only policy when it comes to the sources of Berlin cuisine)

It's not a white's only policy but low salt and low flavor additives policy (f*ck Maggi) .

I am curious to try Döner with real meat, not the processed one. Any recommendation of a Döner place with real lamb meat?

Re: Jazz and NYC

NYC is generally recognized by jazz players around the world as ground zero. If you want to make a career out of jazz you go to NYC. For that reason, if you want to improve your chances to see the best live jazz in the world you go to NYC. Network effect - it's the Silicon Valley of jazz.

Berlin has a very poor culinary tradition even compared to other German cities. It is a fairly new city, created in the middle of dreary impoverished Brandenburg as the capital of the upstart Hohenzollerns. It doesn’t have the centuries old traditional local fare you can find in Munich, Nuremberg or Frankfurt. Berlin is good for Currywurst and Döner Kebabs.

Since all there is to culture is Indian/Chinese/Thai restaurants (bonus points if you can tuck in "Eritrean" somewhere) and quaint bookstores or music stores with a good selection of jazz, then I'd say everywhere is converging pretty rapidly. Rap and techno are probably way more universal and popular than Tyler would like to think.

The problem is you're going to all human cities. Try going to Romulan cities, Vulcan cities, Jedi cities and you'll experience wildly different things.

This is just a more upscale version of road-travel culture. Driving the interstates around the US, there is a distinct truckstop culture. Everyone needs to refuel sooner or later, and you find roughly the same amenities around the highway system. Each rest/fuel stop has some kind of distinct flavor, but a lot of it is very homogenous. Some have little towns, some don’t.

A similar phenomenon exists for international business/professional travelers. Particularly those who may not venture too far from their hotel. It’s no surprise that a much higher end set of markets has sprung up to cater to their needs and tastes.

Personally, i think it's a lot more fun to go outside the city and see what the rest of the place looks like. Much more fun to see the English countryside than to eat curry in a downtown restaurant. Much more fun to go camping in upstate NY and see the fireflies at night than to pay $50 to get into a Manhattan club and drink alcohol. Much more fun to eat gallo pinto in a little cafe across the street from Xunantunich than it is to sample the country's fine dining. The best museum I've been to so far was a little natural history museum somewhere in San Salvador; but even that was nothing, compared to driving out into the countryside and seeing the pyramids that still haven't been excavated, or hiking around the crater lake of an extinct volcano.

Really, what do you want to do when you travel? Stay indoors all day? No thanks. Cities don't do it for me, no matter how similar or dissimilar they are.

What is increasingly similar is not the downtowns of major cities, despite many of them having equally diverse cuisines. It is the strip malls and auto rows of smaller urban areas where one finds the same chain food outlets and auto outlets and pretty much everything else. This holds in the US anyway, even if occasionally one of the strip malls will have an especially good and recently opened ethnic restaurant of the sort Tyler promotes in his ethnic dining guide and book on an economist eating lunch.

No, the problem is that a small landlord group of Republicans is destroying society.

All of Los Angeles’s problems stem from the Trump presidency. I support liberal anti-vaccine Jews but as a good liberal, I have to say that all of these problems are caused by ((Them)).

They’re right on vaccines but wrong on economics. They have bought into Nazi Trump, instead of accepting Warren’s plan of equalizing.

Also Israel is a colonialist abomination that must be destroyed. Islamic Jihad might throw gays from rooftops, but they’re socially woke and awesome.

It's not clever, it's not going to change any minds, it doesn't mean anything.

competition after deregulation changed the banking system. norwer merged with wells fargo and BOA bought Continental. The amount of assets in banking crossed the 100 billion threshold not just because of M&A, but increased competition for products such as out of out of state bank assets and foreign assets (look at the marijuana bottle neck today).

Just because a Red Lobster gets a bad name, doesn't mean the food industry didn't pay attention.

It's parody I guess, to amuse the author, and perhaps to reinforce biases in a certain flip-side group.

He would have us think the only reason to dump Trump is madness, rather than anything more moderate or reasoned.

I think it's a bit of a misnomer to say that global cities are all becoming alike (outside the amenities you mention). I believe it's more accurate to say that

1) Physical location matters less than it used to - many people spend most of their waking hours online, and the experience of accessing the web is far more similar across countries than almost any physical experience is (with notable exceptions such as the great firewall)

2) Information on foreign cities is far more accessible than it used to be. The Lonely Planetization of everywhere you visit (on hyperdrive via the web) means that you can gain great familiarity before you experience, and also means there is less mystery around what you might have missed experiencing.

In 1973 I first traveled outside the US. What I realized then was that towns in Peru were much like towns in Indiana, Ohio, except they spoke a language I didn't understand. But that wasnt much different then when I visited towns in Maine, greater Boston.

The reach of US corporations in delivering products globally was amazingg to me.

In the 70s, McDs had not reached total domination in the US and thus both defined fast food in the US forcing global expansion. Indiana was the testing ground for fast food franchises then so the "arches" were prominant and more distinctive then than today, but not so dominant that the A&W, Big Boy, Pizza Hut, iHop, Dunkin, Col Sanders, etc weren't more eye catching when I drove around town.

The big difference in Peru towns was the familiar signs were smaller.

And when I waste time with Google's crowdsource app, every place looks the same,, except for the non-global brand signs.

the reason London is more enjoyable is because of the bagnio. Since the 15th century, when the Mexicans, the Belgian nobleman, and the Spaniards (the Christian Alliance) fought against the Turks (the Arabs, who brought with them the slaves of the casamence valley), Western Europe remained neutral. Diego de Urbana (whom Cervantes served under) defeated Uchali, the king of Algiers.

The only way to come to the conclusion that Haifa is less modern than Jerusalem is if you didn't have a conversation with anyone in Jerusalem.

That stressed feeling in New York is probably more about *not* having the government based there than anything else. Downtown DC feels peaceful, too.

This article is an artful reframing away from the main issue that started this whole thing, namely that *European* cities are starting to look samey, subject to the same forces of globalism and mass relocation of foreign populations. By pulling back and zooming out on the entire world, and focusing on all the big cities of the world, Tyler changes the conversation away from what caused the uproar around John Cleese's quote and sidesteps the all-important issue of mass migration.

Yet here is Tyler in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/06/why-brexit-happened-the-lens-of-japan.html
"London does not [look and feel like England.]"

Ok, well... what does it look and feel like, then? The truth is that all major European cities, after having suffered the mass relocation of large numbers of non-Europeans, have started to all look the same: dirtier, grimier, seedier, less safe, plagued with the social ills of an artificially inflated underclass. They don't all look identical, but their changes in the last twenty years have been along the same path, in the same direction, and generally not for the better. Talking about Lagos or Cairo in this context is absurd.

Right- as Megan said:

"Back then, to go abroad was to be disconcerted, perhaps a little terrified, as all your hard-won knowledge about how to navigate the world became abruptly useless.

That’s still true in remoter, poorer places."

Tyler seems to have some very conflicting views on this. Take for example this link: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2009/11/swiss-minarets.html

In it, TC says:

I favor greater Muslim immigration into the United States and I think Muslim emigration to Europe is working better than most people think. I am happy to see that Switzerland has become a more cosmopolitan society, in large part by taking in more emigrants, including Muslims. Nonetheless, call me old-fashioned, but I don't think a Swiss town center should look like the photograph above. I guess the Swiss don't either.

Emphasis added by me. The photograph is no longer visible, but it was a drawing of a Swiss skyline with a minaret in it.

I'm for more immigration. I think cities ought to incorporate any food or architecture from anywhere without pause. That's how evolution and/or creative destruction happens. And I think in a world increasingly made small by a universally human pop culture and the spread of 5 major languages where there used to be hundreds, we're all bound to converge in the same general direction. I simply do not understand people who want to try to stop that evolution from happening just because they loved the good old days. You can't go back, so your best bet is to try to make the best future you can.

"Those cities show different movies (for the most part), play different kinds of music in public spaces, serve different dominant cuisines, exhibit different modes of personal dress, and of course speak different languages."

More so now than 50, 100, 200 years ago? What is the direction of the trend?

New York vs. London is a bad comparison because New York *is* one of the very few unique cities in the world. What makes it unique is the dense combination of residential and commercial within the same block, virtually all over Manhattan. You can't really find that anywhere else. London is a complete bore comparatively.

The only other major city that's extremely unique is Tokyo - which almost feels like going to a different planet. As if the world developed in an alternate universe.

Virtually every other city in the world is identical; more and more so each year. Just recently visited Seoul and Buenos Aires. Cocktail bar here, hipster coffee shop there. Museum a few blocks away. Yawn.

San Francisco has a similar commercial + residential vibe in many sections (not all, some are just one or the other, which is true of parts of NY too)

As a resident of San Francisco... what part of it? Maybe a few blocks of Valencia near the park? Density isn't nearly Manhattan-level though.

The Marina, Cow Hollow, Noe Valley, Haight Ashbury, the Mission, Cole Valley, Inner Sunset...

No they don't have Manhattan density and high rise residential, but there's plenty of mixed commercial/residential neighborhoods.

Was just in Tokyo for first time in awhile— it’s not nearly as weird and unique as it used to be. This particularly applies to Street fashion. Food wasn’t particularly great either. And with the masses of tourists there now- something that didn’t exist even 10 years ago- it actually felt less Japanese. It was a bummer to be honest. Not as fun as it used to be.

I was just there myself 6 months ago - I'm not sure where else in the world you can find anything like Shibuya or Omotesando or Daikanyama. The Shinjuku area north of Yoyogi park is fairly cookie cutter I guess.

Shinjuku is the most unique part of Tokyo! What were you looking at? What stood out to you in Shibuya that made it different? It's like Times Square- with very similar shops. Omotesando is a nice shopping street, but the particularly Japanese aspects of it have been muted.

Tokyo has more Michelin stars than Paris if that's your thing. Asian food from street food to haute cuisine is generally really good. A lot of Instagram food trends originate there. Hard to say without knowing what you ate and where. I personally rank them #1 in food and I eat everywhere. More than Tyler even.

Asian street food is average at best. Are you telling me you'll find better Vietnamese food in Tokyo than you do in the USA? The Indian restaurants are good I'll give you that but again, there's a thresh hold here and it doesn't take all that much to meet it.

"New York vs. London is a bad comparison because New York *is* one of the very few unique cities in the world" ... because it is a good comparison. It is London that is unique. It is the only major city in the world that has a combination an acclaimed entertainment, national government, finance (at least up until now), and history. NY: No national government (and certainly less history); LA: no national government, finance, and history; etc.

I actually believe that it was Professor Cowen who pointed this out some time ago.

All true, but none of them- except for the arts- influence the experience of visiting the city very much. That's what this discussion is about.

When you walk off the train from Heathrow, are you wowed by what you see? After a day of walking around, do you think, "wow, this is an amazing place unlike anywhere else I've been?" As a tourist and traveler, that's what I'm after and I agree completely with McCardle that you don't find it much anymore.

Maybe there's crazy cool stuff happening indoors or online, but who cares if a visitor can't access it?

Sorry if I'm burned up about this but over the last few years I have found world travel to be much less interesting than it used to be. Especially in big cities. You have to really work hard to find spots that are different. They're out there for sure, but the trend is going in the wrong direction.

Cities exist to meet the needs of their residents, not to be theme parks for tourists with an exoticism fetish. Sometimes designs converge on what's most practical, in the same way that nearly all cars nowadays have a very similar look for aerodynamic reasons.

And to the extent that cities do cater to visitors, they prioritize the big-spender elite who've seen it all before and value predictability and navigability as they go about their business and shopping without necessarily caring exactly which city they are in today. Not crowds of walkers and gawkers.

Maybe augmented reality or high-resolution immersive virtual reality will eventually deliver what you're craving. In the meantime, maybe try something like Skyrim.

Also a bad comparison because London is a national capital and NYC is not.

I find European students studying in useless majors like public policy....just like in the US....

I side with Markle with in the narrow confines she sets - western, places with tourism, as compared to 30 years ago. More globally I Side with Tyler. For instance I can pick a non-European city where I actually know some locals (in my case, say, any of several Taiwanese cities with a million+) and Tyler point about the similarities only extending to a few restaurants and coffee places and utilities like running water (but would we want to change that?) largely hold true - and even then the Pizza Hut menu options are going to be quite a bit different. With local assistance my experience is going to be very different than what I’d do in a western city.

“Larger cities are the big winners. If you visit them, I assure you: You will find that the world has never been more interesting, or more diverse.” this comment baffles me. Outside of famous buildings and museums what is there to do in London that I can’t do in Tokyo, Chicago, Madrid, etc? The restaurants are all very similar, as is the fashion you see on the street. Major cities are less unique than ever before. I’d love to hear some particular examples to what TC is referring to because I’m not seeing it.

Interesting cities I can think of are the centro historico in Mexico City (but not Polanco or condesa), the hutongs in Beijing and some of the narrow alleys in Tokyo (yokochos). But these are all old parts of town that may not even exist in the future. The trend is clearly moving towards greater homogenization.

"To be blunt, if the two cities are so similar, why do I much prefer spending time in London?"

Because you can afford it?

Because his navel-gazing is more appreciated there?

I've traveled to over 30 countries and lived in four countries for more than one year, and I can say not all countries are the same, like TC says, but one constant is demographics. Old countries like Greece, like Thailand, like the USA (like Russia, like Italy) have a certain tradition, conservatism, and stability. Young countries like Guatemala, like the Philippines, somewhat like Mexico, and I think (though have never been to) Africa, have a certain dynamism, a certain desperation, a certain --what is the phrase?--joie de vivre -- that comes with immaturity. For one thing, sexy is back. Non-sensible colors. T-shirts. Lots of stupid T-shirts that have like a entire field trip written on them, with dates, with names of the school, or a concert played in a certain provincial town, with the names of the bands. Non-PC stupid "Hitler as a cartoon" T-shirts. Also corporate T-shirts from used clothing sent to the Third World to be reused and worn by grandmas and pretty much everybody. And the youngsters ape the West with "as seen on MTV" block parties that have boom boxes that shake the entire neighborhood. Here in the USA where is the last block party you've been too? Last one for me was sometime in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Over there it's every few months, as each neighborhood in PH celebrates a "fiesta day" (literally every neighborhood has an annual official party date). Flip-flops. Tattoos. In SE Asia these last two were "invented there" but I think they became popular because some kids saw a bunch of Youtube music videos of people wearing these things. I won't mention my hot gf half my age since I think some of her friends or haters follow me here and don't want to tip my hand, but she's a good proxy for what's hot. Me? I just chill, read my books, play chess, and stuff like that, and don't mind too much but I appreciate the differences between countries. But, the mass media does tend to spread US culture worldwide.

Reader, tell me, since I've been outside the USA for over 10 years until recently (I'm in DC now): super hot short cutoff shorts, with the girls pocket liners hanging below the cutoff shorts, flip-flops, and where you can see the girls butt, is that US culture or Filipino culture? I tried Google Images but could not tell. Around here in DC all the women are professionally dressed with sensible heels so I can't tell if this fashion statement is popular in the USA or not. I've seen it on Spring Break in various US resort town photos but in the Philippines, especially Manila, the hot girls walk around malls (still popular over there) with such provocative (un)dress all year round and it's really sexy.

you don't hang out after midnight with the black kids in the district, I assume.

" Still, it is hard to argue they are converging on some common set of experiences or cultural memes."

Why? Doesn't converging only mean that they are getting more and more similar? The fact that they are still different means nothing. The original argument is only that the big cities are more similar now than they once were. Which they are.

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