July 14, 2022
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The energy on the board reflects that of the shop’s owners, Charlie and Rachelle (aka “Analog LUST”) Luster. Direct interaction with the couple is unavoidable, considering the cozy size of Analog Dope. But it’s also a pleasure that repeat visitors will look forward to, given the Lusters’ kind, inquisitive attitude.
“Analog Dope the brand began as an independent music label,” Rachelle says. “We're both musicians, and it was a medium for us to release our music and create events on that sort of platform and it grew from there.”
The couple began their retail journey online, selling Analog Dope merchandise and then books. Their continued growth throughout the pandemic led them to do pop-ups. As interest from customers increased, the Lusters found a way to include their love for music.
“We wanted to sell vinyl to add to the things that we offer,” Charlie says. “The opportunity to sell it made itself presentable, and she (Rachelle) knows how to just make something out of nothing. Who would think of being a vinyl distributor?”
Flipping through their modest, yet impressive, vinyl collection, I found myself wanting most of everything I came across. Etta James, Otis Redding, Al Green, Thundercat, Zapp & Roger, Solange, and more. I eventually landed on John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, a jazz lover’s staple.
Being musicians themselves — Charlie a singer and Rachelle a producer — it was important for the two to incorporate the genres they loved as children and as adults. “I noticed when going to other record stores, it's hard to find the type of music that I liked,” Rachelle says. “It takes a lot of digging. So, we wanted to create something that's curated towards people who love soul, hip hop, rock, and jazz music — those deep cuts that aren’t found at other record stores.”
When it came to their book selection, the couple began by simply recalling the works that impacted them at each stage of their lives. Since then, they’ve incorporated customer recommendations. Through their curation of both books and music, they’ve created a space to emphasize and celebrate Black voices. One corner of the store is designed to highlight the biographies of influential Black women writers, such as Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Lorraine Hansberry, and Alice Walker.
The comfort and curiosity I felt stepping inside for the first time is exactly what the Lusters are going for. “It's a safe space for people to ask questions,” Rachelle says. “We get all kinds of people, and they feel comfortable to ask questions and be directed towards certain literature.” Charlie adds, “It's been super diverse. We're in the Arts District, and this is like an art collective, so there’s people of all kinds. People who know us from the music scene come down too, and that itself is diverse.”
The couple sees the connections that the store invites as a vital part of the human experience, something that was put on hold during the COVID pandemic. With its emphasis on the familiarity of material objects, Analog Dope exists, in part, to help revive those feelings.
“To be able to touch and feel, it's part of our senses as human beings,” Charlie says. “Being able to have this space where people can do that and the energy in here … It's like (visitors’) favorite place immediately.”
Charlie and Rachelle plan to use the space in a variety of ways, showcasing the talents they’ve come to know and love over the years. They hosted m1lowdub for a concert during July’s First Friday, and late May saw a talk with C. Imani Williams, author of Rootwork: Triumph Over Trauma. With the shop having officially opened a few weeks before that, Analog Dope is just getting started.
205 E. Colorado Ave, Las Vegas, 702-483-1567, analogdope.com
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Thus began our masochistic love affair with lip-puckering, eye-watering fried chicken, which is now ubiquitous on menus across the country (hello, KFC) and even abroad. Whether you’re seeking heat or comfort, the city’s bird-on-a-bun game is strong. There’s a sandwich out there with your name on it and, if you’re feeling especially plucky, maybe even a waiver to sign. Here are my top three favorite hot chicken spots for feeling the burn. (For the full list, see the June-July issue of Desert Companion.)
Houston's Hot Chicken
When I walk into Houston’s Hot Chicken, on the counter is a signed waiver from a previous customer. The guy behind the counter explains it’s required for patrons who order Houston’s highest level of spice — ominously called Houston, We Have a Problem! This particular sandwich clocks in at 2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU), a measure of the level of capsaicin, the active component in peppers that causes that burning sensation on the tongue. (For comparison, the original Tabasco sauce has a rating of 2,500 to 5,000 SHU.) How many people order their sandwich at that level? Not many, he says; and hardly anyone ever eats more than a couple bites. Judging from the waiver, this bird is more pain than pleasure, the kind of shock-factor item one orders on a dare among friends with a wicked streak.
I have no such appetite for punishment, so I order the Mild — a modest 2,000 SHU. It offers plenty of spice for my apparently capsaicin-shy palate. Housed in a brioche bun and topped with house-made slaw, pickles, and house sauce, the breaded chicken breast is flavorful and tender, though somewhat on the smaller side of the chicken-to-bun ratio, resulting in an overly carb-y sandwich. But this isn’t such a bad thing for those ordering the spicier iterations — the sweetness of the brioche is certainly a good foil for the heat.
1500 N. Green Valley Parkway #110, houstonshotchicken.com
Flippin' Good Chicken, Burgers, Beer
When Flippin’ Good opened way back in 2014, it brought something new to the Downtown food scene: elevated fast food that could compete with the eateries popping up on Fremont Street, offering grass-fed burgers, hand-cut fries and onion rings, frozen custard — just mere months before New York City’s Shake Shack descended on the valley. The chicken sandwiches are notable not only for the birds’ provenance — all are raised and hatched domestically, free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics, which make for a satisfying sandwich every time. There are several iterations of the sandwich, but this is the place to get a no-fuss version of the Nashville Hot Chicken (left): It’s simply a chicken breast, hot sauce, lettuce, and pickles. It’s the perfect amount of spice, and the size, which some might say is on the small side when ordered by itself, is just right when paired with fries. Also a good accompaniment? An ice-cold brew from the tap. Fast food should all be this good.
Dave's Hot Chicken
Dave’s Hot Chicken is coming in hot, with a success story for the ages: It began in 2017 as a late-night chicken stand in east Hollywood and is now in the midst of an aggressive nationwide expansion. The heat level on Dave’s birds goes from No Spice to the seventh circle of hell, not-so-subtly dubbed the Reaper. Your only salvation here is a side of kale slaw, a semi-
virtuous concoction meant to cool the tongue. While you’re at it, order a side of crinkle- cut fries. And don’t skip the cheese in the sliders — you’ll need every heat-dousing element as you go up the spice chain. Slather on Dave’s Sauce generously, especially if you order the tenders; it makes for a good fry dip, too.
9040 W. Sahara Ave., daveshotchicken.com
Blue Hen Chicken Co.
Just two blocks down from Burning Mouth on Charleston is Blue Hen Chicken Co., a welcome respite from Nashville’s heat (though you can certainly opt for the spice, which ranges from Mild to, gulp, Death Wish.) But if you want just a chill bird, the Blue Hen (right) fits the bill: hand-breaded chicken thigh, bread and butter pickles, aioli, and buttermilk chive on Larder Baking Co. brioche bun. A menu item I’ll be revisiting is the refreshing Night Fowl sandwich, with pickled chilies, peanut sauce, cabbage, Thai basil, cilantro, toasted sesame seeds, and house sauce. The chicken thigh is juicy and carries the Asian-inspired flavor profile beautifully.
6250 W. Charleston Blvd. #120, bluehenco.com
WITH THE CHILDCARE SYSTEM in crisis, Nevada has become the latest state in the Mountain West to try to reduce the cost of care for low-income families. Using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, Nevada is investing $50 million to help cover families’ copays for state-subsidized child care programs, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced.
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Nevada is also expanding eligibility for childcare assistance. Previously, only families making up to 130% of the federal poverty level could qualify for subsidies. Now, families making up to 200% of the poverty level can qualify.
“Our state median income for a family of four is $70,000 on average," says Karissa Loper Machado, manager of the state health department’s Child Care and Development Program. "If you are on that higher end and make, say, $6,000 per month, you are being charged the full seven percent of your monthly income for a co-pay, so that's running about $80, and now the childcare fund will cover that.”
Machado adds that families who previously could not qualify should reapply as income qualifications have been expanded.
Maria Mendoza, subsidy coordinator at the Children’s Cabinet, a Nevada non-profit that provides childcare subsidy assistance, says the new funding and eligibility threshold will not only help families but also providers.
“Sometimes parents don’t pay or can’t afford” childcare costs, Mendoza says. “So, it’ll guarantee more funding for providers, allowing them to hire more staff with that security that they will get the funds.”
Other states in the region are also increasing access to care. In the spring, New Mexico announced that families earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — $111,000 for a family of four — can qualify for free child care. Previously, cost-free care was available to families at 200 percent or below.
Colorado, meanwhile, started a grant program in March to supply nearly $23 million to child care providers to help lower costs for families.
Montana allocated $61 million in federal pandemic aid to a grant program to boost the state's child care sector — and demand is so high that the grants are less than half the amount the state health department originally projected, as Montana Public Radio reported on Thursday.
KNPR Reporter Yvette Fernandez contributed reporting to this story.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Copyright 2022 KUNR Public Radio. To see more, visit KUNR Public Radio.
Photos and art: Analog Dope: Facebook; chicken sandwich by Sabin Orr; childcare: Shutterstock (headline), Kaleb Roedel (body)
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