Friday, August 01, 2014

Newsweek cover and a regeneration supernova



Here's my Newsweek cover story on the Spanish ghost town of Valdeluz - and why their extraordinary mayor is determined that it shake off its ghosts.

The web version of the story above is slightly truncated, but to be honest there was always going to be more to say. There was a multitude of layers to this story that I could only touch on: including the reluctant bankruptcy proceedings undertaken by Reyal Urbis, the construction giant whose extravagant Madrid offices I discovered bore little hallmark of the misery they have inflicted on others.

Then there was the remarkable discovery that the town was - unbeknownst to almost everyone there - home to the Saldon Posición, a huge, hugely significant Spanish Civil War bunker, where the leader of Republican Spain, Juan Negrín, spent the last year of the war, trying desperately to hold up the country's fading resistance to the fascist coup. The mayor of Valdeluz kindly took me to see it, through a copse of blossoming trees, down a dirt path, on the grounds owned by a local golf course. You could walk by and never give it a second look - it wasn't even locked. Such is the commemorative attention given to so much of Spain's painful 20th century history:

 

Of course, the Spanish 'brick crisis' is not about one small exceptional town, it's about an entire country - as I found out in the nearby city of Guadalajara:
 
Of the various other things I've been working on recently, I'd like to point you to this long, long-researched piece for VICE on Newham's Regeneration Supernova, the aesthetics of the gentrification industry, and the Asian Business Port that will soon become Britain's "third financial centre", on the prime site of the Royal Docks.

Also, The Village Against The World is now out in paperback - only £5.99 here. And later this year, also in Japanese! More soon...

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