Best Display of Wealth 2005 | Design Center of the Americas | Goods & Services | South Florida
You find yourself picking dimes off the ground, borrowing DVDs from the library because of your Blockbuster late fees, and ruing the waste of the last few drops of gasoline dripping from the nozzle. You are, face facts, a schlub. But, good Lord willing, one day -- one day -- you will join the pampered upper-crusties who can projectile-vomit cash for Italian leather love seats and goatskin tables and Myanmar walnut hardwood floors. You will have a 12-nozzle programmable shower in your guesthouse bedroom. You will spend $1,300 on a rocking chair without even furrowing your Botoxed brow. Your living space will look like the inside of the Design Center of the Americas, that gleaming, hotel-sized snob hive between Boomers! and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport along I-95. It's a world-class collection of 150 studios and 775,000 square feet of answers to the question: What the hell is inside all those South Florida mansions and yachts? Oriental rugs that cost as much as a new hatchback, it turns out.
Hair is no trivial thing in South Florida. Keeping it trimmed, hedged, plucked, or sculpted is an ongoing battle for the better-body set. Front and center in the hirsute battlefield are those pesky eyebrows, some of which Mother Nature has chosen to fashion after the full-bodied caterpillar. While many choose to keep the brow shapely by waxing, there's a much better, older method of hair removal called threading, practiced by Kitu, the owner of Mona's Fashions. It takes only a couple of minutes. Kitu wraps two threads around her fingers and thumbs, then whisks them smartly around the eyebrow, plucking the hairs between the strands. The method has long been preferred by Indians and Middle Easterners, who also use it for removing other facial hair. Kitu argues that waxing eyebrows causes wrinkles and saggy eyelids because of all the tugging -- a claim you can take or leave. What's not debatable, however, is that there's not a cheaper, less painful way of clearing the eye brush than a $10 threading by Kitu.
Ahh, that awkward age: too young to be an antique, too old for the shelves of Target or Kmart. But for lovers of the late vintage years -- roughly beginning in the 1950s and running somewhere to the early 1970s -- this is the primo epoch for furniture, appliances, clothes, and knickknacks. If you number among its aficionados, check out the plentiful but by no means cheap items at Recollections. During a recent visit, a ten-inch Philco solid-state TV, complete with '60s plastic knobs and molding, could be had for $50. Then there's the cream-colored, toaster-sized Telefunken radio for $150. For $65, round out your media set with one of those 45 rpm portable record players that were popular about the time the Beatles first toured America. For the more domestic-minded, how about a '50s-style pink bathroom sink for $125? And you wouldn't want to take a cruise through the post-JFK years without something in the ubiquitous color of the 1960s: turquoise. In this case, a hand-held Sunbeam mixmaster for $55.
Happy hour at Cathode Ray, you say? Costs money. Two-for-one drinks at Shizen after midnight? Costs money. Egg breakfast at the Floridian? Costs money. What does not cost any money along the choicest stretch of restaurants, shops, and galleries in Broward County, dear reader? The stack of old ice cream buckets in the back of the chocolate boudoir that is Kilwin's. Past the $4 chocolate-covered Twinkies, the $7 pouches of chocolate-covered espresso beans, the $8-a-pound gummi bears, the no-really $23-a-pound chocolate-covered orange slices... there. Stacked dozens high. "Free Buckets. Great for Storage!" Spent tubs of Rum Raisin and Butter Pecan. Eff-Are-Ee-Ee Free. Oh, and: lids. Contain yourself, bargain-hunter.
The Gulf Stream rushes across South Florida like a river beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. It acts as nature's very own pressure cleaner, pushing away the dirt and debris from the reefs and wildlife in the waters off Broward and Palm Beach counties. That makes South Florida, despite its overdevelopment, one of the world's most fabulous dive spots. Divers from all over travel here to see the life-cradling coral reefs that rest just below the water's surface. You can see it all for yourself with the help of the folks at Lauderdale Diver. This spacious dive shop, only minutes from Fort Lauderdale Beach, offers everything a beginning or experienced diver could need -- from bathing suits and Freestyle underwater watches to Aqua Lung regulators and Body Glove wet suits. What's more, Lauderdale Diver's PADI certification courses cater to the needs of busy Floridians. In addition to a traditional two-week diving certification class ($275), Lauderdale Diver offers a flexible nights-and-weekends class ($325) and a name-any-time-you-want private class ($395). Ask for Judith or Shelly, who can tell you about the magnificent underwater world you've been missing.
If Matisse, Lichtenstein, Monet, Stuart Davis, and any other artist you can think of who liked to recklessly splash color around decided to make women's shoes instead of painting canvases, their work would end up at Ermare. You've got your goldfish pumps, your garter snake open-toed slippers, your shin-high Wonder Woman boots, and a pair of shoes so thick with silk flowers that, as one browser put it, "You'll have bumblebees chasing you." You've got your rainbows, your pastels, your Crayola brights. You've got Jimmy Choos, Gianmarco Lorenzis, Ombelines, Sergio Rossis, and, yes, even some brands that you and I might have heard of before, like Yves Saint Laurent and Giorgio Armani. The shoes don't come cheap; the least expensive ones we saw in the Galleria store went for about $100, and those were on sale. But you don't need money. Just wander through, like you're looking at pictures at an exhibition.
All right, here's how to get to the apartment. Real easy. Drive down I-95 until you get to exit 29, which is Sunrise Boulevard. OK. Now, head east. You'll pass... well, a bunch of stuff. What kind of stuff? Shops, mostly. Fast-food joints. Check-cashing places. Gas stations. No landmarks? Not yet. Keep going, past the car dealerships, past the laundromat. Try not to hit the kids who ride their bikes across the middle of the street. After about two miles, you'll see a huge vertical sign that says "Hustler." It's all red letters with pink-and-purple neon trim. Just opened last year. You absolutely cannot miss it. Take a right at the sign, go two blocks, the apartment is right there. Hustler store. Got it. Sounds easy enough. It is. It's also a decent place to get XXX videos, funny lingerie, blow-up sex dolls, cockrings ($10 each average), and dildos ($20 each average), and once in a while you'll even catch a glimpse of Hustler's frog-faced mogul Larry Flynt crouched behind the counter. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing. But the words cockrings and dildos are funny. Go ahead, say 'em. No. C'mon. Diiiildohhhhs. You know, Mom's in the car with me. Never mind.
Cigars are more than a tobacco product. They're a lifestyle and a fashion statement. Cigar Outlet, a spacious, one-stop shop for anything and everything related to rolled tobacco leaves, knows that well. For eight years, this little cigar store on Commercial Boulevard has been selling everything from top-of-the-line stogies and $1 cigars to humidors and attire. A shopping excursion here can quickly transport you to another place and state of mind. Grab an Arturo Fuente and a fancy butane lighter, then shop the clothes rack for a crisp guayabera. Once you're home in your backyard, the guayabera buttoned up and the stogie burning red, you'll swear that you're relaxing on the beach in Havana. Heck, you might even swear the I-95 traffic noise sounds like the gentle, rolling waves of the Caribbean.
Containing less than half the starched-shirt stuffiness of its Las Olas counterpart, Macabi in Plantation is also one of only two bars in the entire suburb. Concealed in an out-of-the-way corner of the vacancy-prone Fountains Mall, Macabi can't afford to traffic in such snootiness. Friendly faces behind the bar are legitimately glad to see you; the folks enjoying stogies around the rail are more likely to wear baseball caps turned backward and sneakers than Brooks Brothers and penny loafers. TVs will be tuned to sports, not the stock exchange. (If you want to check how your mutual fund's doing, use the room's wireless Internet connection.) The Wall of Cigars, though, hits the high notes more often than not, as does the drink selection. A seriously substantial array of (but of course) single malts makes up a strong backbone, but Macabi is one of only a few places in the area to serve German beer (Spaten) on tap. If you really want to be pampered, go for a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet ($115), or if you're strolling in after dinner, uncork a Porto Barros 40 ($38 a glass). Yeah, you'll look like a snob... and that's not easy to do in Plantation.
On vacation in New York City's East Village, a local record geek wastes no time finding a music store, hoping to spend the last of his travel money on records he assumes can't be found in South Florida. After perusing the store's decent-but-not-great assortment of old power-pop records, he selects a small handful and heads to the counter, hoping the owner will cut him a deal. But the owner is a haughty prick, and the geek leaves the store too irate to spend even 50 cents on a Clash button. Back home in Broward County, the geek happens by the CD Collector of Pompano and finds exactly the same records he almost bought in NYC (the A's, the Quick, the Motors, Mink DeVille). And they're loads cheaper too, averaging from about $4 to no more than ten bucks. For the few albums the geek isn't sure about, owner Ritchie Siegrist lets him have a trial spin. Of course, by then the geek has been bitten by the must-have bug, eagerly prepared to splurge on anything in the store, be it an Iron Maiden DVD ($19.95), a Misfits T-shirt ($15), or any of the bundles of new and used CDs (rock, hip-hop, country, jazz, etc.). But that's OK, because Siegrist cuts his new customer a deal, leaving him a little money left over and ensuring that he'll return for more come next week's paycheck.

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