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Age is but a number

Understanding the mind of a teenager, stat by stat

Illustration Jeff Quinn

In the run-up to the Teen Choice Awards in L.A. on August 11, more than 100 million adolescents will cast votes for their favorite actors, musicians, athletes and sundry “hotties,” allowing us a glimpse into the hearts and minds of an otherwise unfathomable sector of society. But there’s only so much a democratically elected teen idol can tell us. To better understand the mind of Gen Z, we’ve compiled a few numbers of our own.

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Lock of love – Sealing the deal at the Moscow River

It’s Saturday afternoon, and a line of newlyweds snakes along the Moscow River. The couples are giddy with passion, but also with vodka, procured from nearby kiosks, which are also doing a brisk trade in padlocks.

This weekly matrimonial gathering sprung up about seven years ago,  when couples started to appear and declare the permanence of their love by clamping brightly painted padlocks to a cluster of metal trees, then tossing the keys into the river. The steel forest, says Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, now rivals the Kremlin as a local attraction.

These affairs end up with almost as many empty bottles soaring into the river as keys. According to a local named Natalya, the bottle-throwing is part of the ritual. “The women are the ones who smash them into the river,” she says, “so when the men try to retrieve the keys to leave us, they get cut!”
–James Michael Dorsey

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