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The NYLON Guide To Scottsdale, Arizona

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What to do, where to eat, where to shop

When thinking of the wonders of the United States, some people think of the skyscrapers in New York City or Chicago. Others think of the picture-perfect beaches of Florida, or the lush vineyards of northern California. Not me. Before moving to the U.S. 11 years ago, I romanticized the American Southwest—the mountain ranges dotting the desert terrain, cacti the size of single-story houses, and the hazy landscapes depicted in Georgia O'Keeffe paintings. It was, of course, a simplistic vision of an entire region, whose history of hardships I knew nothing about yet.

But the allure of the area is one understood by many. When I told my American friends that I was going to Scottsdale, Arizona, a few months ago, I was met with, "I've been wanting to go there for so long," proving that it wasn't just my foreignness that led me to glamorize states like Arizona and New Mexico. Credit millennials' current obsession with O'Keeffe, succulents (and all other houseplants), and the Southwestern-hacienda and Art Deco décor, and it's easy to see why places like Sedona, Palm Springs, Marfa, and Santa Fe are suddenly seeing a rise of visitors from that demographic.

Having made my way to Scottsdale in November, I can say that this dreamy desert destination exceeded all expectations I had previously conjured up. You can't help but feel small and insignificant in contrast to the expansive sands, towering mountains, and the wild and rugged desert landscaping untamed by the man; it's humbling and freeing. 

Should you make your way to this oasis, one that also managed to seduce the great Frank Lloyd Wright, here's where you should stay, eat, drink, and shop, and what you should do.

Photograph courtesy of Mountain Shadows.

Where to Stay
Mountain Shadows: One of the newest (and most stunning) accommodations in Scottsdale, Mountain Shadows, which derives its name from the shadows cast by the breathtaking Camelback Mountain (it serves as the property's backdrop), is where Hollywood royalty like John Wayne and Elizabeth Taylor stayed in the '60s. Having reopened just last year after a 13-year hiatus and a giant renovation, this Paradise Valley property is a minimalist's dream with exquisite rooms that boasts see-through showers, free-standing bathtubs that overlook the impressive landscape, individual balconies and private patios, and stylish furnishings. If your trip extends to the end of the weekend, check out Hearth '61, the property restaurant that one Sunday a month features a guest chef, a local supplier, and a winery or a distillery coming together to create a paired four-course dinner and conversation. I caught the Mumm vs. Mumm Napa one, and it was something special.

The Scott Resort & Spa: Fact: You will want to photograph every single corner of the perfect lobby and outdoor area of this recently renovated desert sanctuary that combines the colors and feel of old Havana with Southwestern decor and New Orleans' knack for flair. From the wood, leather, and wicker detailing and furniture to the lush indoor plants, Bauhaus-inspired bar, palm print bathroom wallpaper, and lagoon-like pool, The Scott is what I imagine Cuba looked like during its heyday—that is, if you added lots of millennial touches. Make sure to spend at least one dinner at The Canal Club, the onsite restaurant that specializes in traditional American cuisine with a contemporary Cuban twist, where I had the best El Floridita outside of Havana

Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa: The fashion-forward types should check out this sophisticated property, known for its Instagrammable main pool and surrounding cabanas. If you can get away from your stylish bungalow-style rooms, check out the spa that offers ingredients from a local botanist in its natural healing treatments.


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She considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth"

Dani Okon, NYLON's associate creative director of video, sat down with her great-aunt, May Okon, to talk about their shared experiences—despite vastly different time frames—living as queer women in New York City. Prior to retirement, May was a journalist for the New York Daily News, having first entered the male-dominated workforce when "the boys were all at war." And, of course, she absolutely killed it. Her only regret? "Retiring at 55," she tells Dani, joking, "Who the hell knew I was gonna live to 100?"

Upon retiring, she moved out to the Hamptons with her partner and bought a home. If she had to do it all over, May says "there are a lot of things I wouldn't do," but she still considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth." Get to know May in the video, above.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Marlene Colburn and Naima Green
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by: Alexandra Hsie
Camera: Gretta Wilson + Katie Sadler
Edited by: Madeline Stedman

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB

Here's how they're making sure it doesn't happen

Lauren Morelli, the showrunner and executive producer for the new Netflix show Tales of the City, is fostering a space where multiple queer realities can be shown on-screen. She spoke with one of the cast members, trans actor Garcia (who plays Jake Rodriguez on the show), and, in the video above, they explore why it's wrong to treat queer stories as representative of the entire community. Tokenization is something that they both want to avoid at all costs, and they're on the right track.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Naima Green and Marlene Colburn
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Gretta Wilson + Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson

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"Nothing is truly a binary"

We put non-binary activist Eddie Jarrel Jones and The Phluid Project founder Rob Smith in conversation with each other, and the two spoke some powerful truths about the continued gendering of products like makeup and clothing. Smith recalls that 30 years ago, the only way that he was able to experience the joys of playing with makeup was to work at a beauty counter. Even today, Jones notes that it's hard for non-binary femmes like them, or even trans women, to get that experience in stores.

In the video above, get a sense of why Smith created a genderless store, and see how important it is for people like Jones to have a space where they don't feel criticized for dressing like they want.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Naima Green and Marlene Colburn
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Charlotte Prager + Dani Okon
Edited by Gretta Wilson

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We put the two activists in conversation

Marlene Colburn, one of the founders of the Dyke March, and Naima Green, an artist currently working on a project and archive called Pur·suit, which will document queer people of all identities, agree that it's really hard to find lesbian spaces that aren't bars. Just as hard, it seems, is to find lesbian representation that isn't white. In the video above, the two talk about how they are creating space for queer people and what that looks like within two different generations.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Dani Okon + Charlotte Prager
Edited by Charlotte Prager

Illustrated by Sarah Lutkenhaus

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