Section Header Background: Desert Companion Nov 2022
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Welcome to the new KNPR.org!

If you have questions, feedback, or encounter issues as you explore, please fill out our Feedback Form.

Tatooine chic

Andrew Kiraly

I enjoy a good sci-fi flick as much as the next closet nerd in denial, but I’ve found that I’m much more into the aesthetics than the explosions. The desert societies in sci-fi films always have the coolest homes, clothes and vehicles — practical, rugged, but always undeniably stylish. Consider the Skywalker clan’s sandcastle-modern moisture farm on Tatooine, or the impeccable slim-fit stillsuits of the inhabitants of Dune, or the whole industrial Cirque-du-leatherbear dirthead-chic vibe of Fury Road — I mean, we live in a desert, right, so how come we can’t live like that? I hereby publicly vow that I will someday crush into the parking lot of Whole Foods in one of those sweet Jawa transport humvees. (Also, random: Moisture Farm is the name of my next band.)

Well, maybe we’re inching our way to some measure of futureworld desert desperado couture. For this year’s home design feature “ Inside out” (p. 53), we sought out houses that — in glaring contrast to the typically placeless air-conditioned stucco box motif that has reigned here for far too long — converse with the outside world. Take, for instance, Blue Heron Design Build’s Marquis Showhome in Henderson, a palatial mothership whose strong modern lines and mechanized walls point to a fresh, desert-conscious design aesthetic. More down to earth but no less desert-aware is Doug Towner and Steve Mergenmeier’s Downtown home. They revived a decrepit backyard, transforming it into a Mediterranean getaway that doubles as a pool-party destination for friends and family — in other words, home design that fosters community. Whether it’s a soulful lakeside retreat in Boulder City or a starchitectural stronghold in Blue Diamond, each featured home is a true original, and yet they all partake of a distinctly Southern Nevada spirit. (McMansion developers with dollar-sign eyes drooling over the recovering housing market, take note.) Oh, and bonus: Our fashion spread “ Spring forward” (p. 64), featuring floral styles (what, no Jawa cloaks?), was photographed at the Springs Preserve, our community’s supercool living sense-of-place edutainment terrarium.

When it comes to making anywhere home, sense of place means very little if other fundamentals are missing. You know, like chill, live-and-let-live human decency. In an excerpt from his new book, Out of the Neon Closet: Queer Community in the Silver State (p. 34), author and historian Dennis McBride recounts a painful chapter in ... well, I was about to write “the history of the gay community.” But, really, it’s a painful chapter in everyone’s history: The 2000-2002 campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in Nevada. In light of a new legislative bill that would essentially override the state constitution’s same-sex marriage ban, McBride revisits the episode, shedding new light on how religious fundamentalism, politics and money cynically converged to divide a community. Fifteen years later, it’s tempting to say we’ve come a long way — and, to be sure, we have. So why dredge up the painful past? It’s what you do when you live in your dream home: Maintenance is a labor of love.

As a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada, native Las Vegan Andrew Kiraly has served as a reporter covering topics as diverse as health, sports, politics, the gaming industry and conservation. He joined Desert Companion in 2010, where he has helped steward the magazine to become a vibrant monthly publication that has won numerous honors for its journalism, photography and design, including several Maggie Awards.