Two exceptional newsstands exist in Broward County: Bob's News & Book Store and Clark's Out of Town News. Bob's is the more interesting of the two, a combination head shop, newsstand, and sex-toy emporium. Bob's has bongs, edible panties, the latest edition of the Death Investigator's Handbook, and a Wal-Mart-size selection of pornography. But when we're looking for serious news, we head to the slightly less eccentric Clark's, tucked beneath the Andrews Avenue bridge in the Riverwalk area. The folks manning the cash registers at Clark's have fewer piercings than those at Bob's and far less attitude. Plenty of copies of Spin and Cosmo are available, as are less grocery-store-friendly titles. The store has newspapers from every corner of the country and beyond. The Sunday Missoulian? The Sydney Herald? Both are in stock. We can't figure out exactly who would want to read a week-old copy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, but it's there if you're interested. As is the metro edition of the Sunday New York Times, complete with classified ads, just like you would find it at a bodega in Brooklyn. And yes, Clark's has plenty of pornography as well.
Palm Beach Life. Palm Beach Society. Ocean Drive's Palm Beach. Palm Beach Times. Apparently the other half's appetite for glossy, navel-gazing magazines is not easily satiated. If those four titles available at Main Street News don't provide your fill of gala fundraisers and wrinkled, third-generation socialites, there's also the Manhattan society magazine Quest, which in one recent issue promised a look "inside the family dynasties of New York and Palm Beach." And then there's our favorite local paper, the Palm Beach Daily News -- a.k.a. "the shiny sheet" -- with its travel articles penned by baronesses and its disdain for that oh-so-proletarian curse, newsprint. For those willing to dirty their fingers with black ink and check out how those without seven-figure bank accounts make do, Main Street News always has a several-feet-high stack of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Not to mention a plethora of foreign papers such as the Irish Times and Le Monde. We like to stop by on a Sunday morning, pick up the Times, and then proceed down the block to Testa's for brunch and a prime seat from which to observe the hung-over island sugar daddies and their tummy-tucked sweethearts staring down bloody marys and plates of eggs Benedict.
Since surfer Kirk Cottrell founded the Island chain (five other shops are located along Florida's east coast) 20 years ago, local surfers have made the Deerfield Beach store their supply headquarters. Name-brand boards by Rusty, Local Motion, Natural Art, and other manufacturers line the walls and railing of the upstairs loft. And those are just the short boards; seven or eight brands of long boards, including Hobie and Stewart, are here, too. Also in the lineup are boards by carver-shaper Mike Pechonis, a local whose work is sold under the Byrne name. Of course a surf shop doesn't live by boards alone, and Island offers a full lineup of wet suits, ankle leashes, and shorts. Even surfboard manufacturers have expanded their sales bases, offering clothing, sunglasses, hats, and watches. Island carries the latest lines, and for surfer wannabes the shop offers board rentals and free surf lessons.
At first glance Pet World looks like your everyday pet store, and indeed it has all you need for little Fluffy or Cujo: brand-name cat and dog foods, as well as organic "pet-safe" treats and toys. But once inside you'll notice that the store resembles a petting zoo. If you feel the need to cuddle something cute and furry, ferrets and guinea pigs are available for hugging. Ask one of the employees how much that doggy in the window is, and he or she will bring it out for you. But not everything in the store is cute and furry. Glowing under a black light are an armadillo lizard and an African emperor scorpion. Pet World also has some of the most exotic fish we've ever seen outside of Sea World, like miniature sharks, Red Sea angelfish, South American pacu (a cousin of the piranha), and sea horses. We're not sure that management would agree, but Pet World is a great place to kill some time, especially on a rainy day.
Sure it's great that you can visit one store or Website and pretty much be assured that the book you want -- say, Jimmy Buffett's A Pirate Looks at Fifty or Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter -- is available. But atmosphere counts too. We'd rather not spend all our book-shopping time in a crowded, noisy, book-lined version of Wal-Mart; and unfortunately the librarylike Books & Books is located in Coral Gables. The next best thing is Liberties: The selection is damn good (we saw two poet laureates, Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky, on the shelves); the layout provides enough nooks and crannies for quiet browsing; the help is friendly; and the wood-paneled café is set behind glass, so as not to disturb hard-core browsers. Admittedly the place gets crazy with Boca types on the weekend (a smaller version of the store just opened on Las Olas); but we understand that, even before Barnes & Noble and Borders came along, bookstores catered to all types: the Jackie Collins and Cormac McCarthy lovers alike. At Liberties they live in peace and harmony.

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