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Jack Skelley has over 25 years of experience at publications ranging from Harper’s magazine to the Los Angeles Times. He specializes in issues surrounding urban design, including architecture, real estate and urban planning. A senior partner at Paolucci Communication Arts, Skelley edits the firm’s “marketeering and urbaneering” e-newsletter and blog, The Hot Sheet. He serves on the Executive Committee of Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles and writes frequently for FORM, Urban Land and Riviera magazine, where he is a Contributing Writer. Other publications include Los Angeles magazine, LAist.com, Angeleno, Riviera Interiors, L.A. Weekly, Wired, Salon, Buzz, PlanNetizen.com, California Homes and California magazine. He is an active blogger on Politico, Curbed L.A., and Huffington Post.

Skelley recently co-edited a book, Los Angeles, Building the Polycentric City, for Congress for the New Urbanism. At Los Angeles Downtown News he served in a series of top positions, including Executive Editor and Associate Publisher.

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Monday
Nov082010

Urbanists Notice That Arcade Fire Rocks 'The Suburbs'

The hot-selling new album by Arcade Fire, The Suburbs, has caught the attention of the urban-design community. (The title song is the video above.) It’s a series of anthemic explorations of the complications suburbs are for most of us: not just a near-universal living experience, but a state of mind: nostalgia and freedom mixed with paralysis and decay. On the negative side, songs such as “Wasted Hours” explain: “First they built the road, then they built the town / That’s why we’re all driving around and around.” Or even more frighteningly, in “City With No Children,” singer Win Butler despairs of privatization: “I feel like I’ve been living in / a city with no children in it, / a garden left for ruin by a millionaire inside a private prison.”

But this isn’t a smug mocking of suburbia, as is found in Hollywood movies such as American Beauty. Urbanist Scott Doyon, in the Placeshakers and Newsmakers blog, detects Arcade Fire’s sadness for a childhood paradise lost, writing, “This conflict… is more than just the anxiety that accompanies change. It’s that the changes, almost universally, have been for the worse.” Colleen McHugh at SPUR tracks themes of sprawl and urban planning among other pop and rock artists. And Arcade Fire itself launched The Suburbs with an innovative, interactive video that incorporates Google Earth and Street View images of one’s own hometown.

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