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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.

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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.

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