South Florida has long been known as the capital of plastic surgery, but last year, the title took an ugly turn when a Broward woman seeking silicone injections died after she was injected with a fatal mixture of chemicals. The death called attention to a ring of illegal underground "at-home enhancement" scams. Call it the Valley of the Dolls or Tupperware parties of the new century: a 29-year-old transsexual named Viva admitted injecting a woman whom authorities found with 36 puncture wounds oozing industrial-grade silicone. Let that be a warning. See only people with that all-important American Medical Association seal of approval. We recommend the Aesthetics Institute, which offers a wide range of nipping and tucking -- everything from lipo to forehead lifts. Led by Dr. Paul Wigoda, the clinic thoroughly interviews patients to determine if they're mentally and physically ready to undergo surgery. And Wigoda is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Check out his credentials at www.drwigoda.com

Bedessee East-West Indian Foods
Company's coming, and you simply must have some authentic South Florida culinary weirdness. Bedessee's well-stocked, cramped, and claustrophobic aisles have plenty of what you're hankering for. Bedessee is a strange, schizophrenic marketplace, because half the store's goods (and customer base) is Jamaican, and half hales from the Indian subcontinent. Thus, shoppers can feel like globetrotting travelers, sampling wares from far and near. There's cricket gear; sugar-cane stalks taller than a toddler; Solo soda from Trinidad; cases of Jamaican Ting; tins of Madras curry powder; Kingston newspapers; tamarind candy; pure coconut oil; tubs of ghee, plantain, cassava, and yam flour; Nigerian palm juice; cock-flavored soup; odd varieties of root vegetables (like eddeo from Brazil and yampi from Jamaica); and strange fruit like Costa Rican cho-cho. Plus, you've got your pork ear, snout, or a whole burnt goat's head. And there's a notary public here too. Bedessee's one-stop shopping is an experience like no other.
The trend these days in health-food stores is big. They look like supermarkets and have prices to match. And health is relative: Some of the chains sell more meat than a butcher shop. It may be free range, but it'll clog your arteries just as quick as the stationary type. Nutrition Depot isn't completely animal-free and the place isn't nearly as big as Whole Foods, but it has prices that won't make tofu stir-fry cost more than prime rib. And the aisles and freezer cases are filled with whole grains and soy products. You'll find traditional health-food-store favorites like wheat-free sprouted bread, soy cheese, and brown rice. The most amusing thing about the place is the soy milk next to the organic half-and-half. The best thing is the chocolate Tofutti Cuties. Hey, imitation ice cream bars are sold at supermarkets and other health-food stores, but Nutrition Depot is one of the few places in town to stock them in chocolate. The Pompano store has the biggest food selection; the other four stores, which are scattered from Boca to Plantation, have less food and a lot of vitamins and fitness supplements.
Sweeney's 23 Hour Package Store and Liquor Lounge
Not only can you pick up bikes by every manufacturer from Schwinn to Diamond Back to GT to Redline and a dozen more at this superstore; you can also get just about every kind of bicycle, from BMX to 24-speed mountain bike. Prices start at $109 for a 12-inch girls bike and go as high as $3600 for a Klein Quantum Pro, a road model with handmade frame and full Dura-ace components. Aside from all the two-wheeled suckers, there are trikes, skateboards, Rollerblades, exercise machines, and more, making Big Wheel Cycles a one-stop shop for just about every man-powered vehicle and piece of exercise equipment in existence. And for those of us too lazy to use our own muscles to move from place to place, the store also carries Go-Peds and hybrids. If you want to move faster than a walk but don't want all the expense and trouble of a car, this is your place. The store is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. It's closed Sunday.
For the snowbirds fleeing New York or Montreal, South Florida's sand, palms, and thongs are a different world. But if that's not enough for them, Leaping Minds offers the opportunity to step off the sunny streets and onto a different planet. It's spiced with 75 kinds of incense; soothing New Age music floats above mounds of crystals and far-out knickknacks. A selection of religious statuary from Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist traditions looks out on a spacious store arranged in accordance with feng shui principles, from the varicolored walls to the central fountain. Owner Greg Macneir, formerly a personal trainer, started the shop two years ago intending to be as ecumenical as possible. "We carry everything from angels to Zen," Macneir says as his friendly sheepdog, Sheba, mingles with regular customers, some of whom browse the 2000-title book selection that ranges from astrology to George Bernard Shaw's Vegetarian Cookbook. Nor are books and baubles the only draw. A Zen fountain with chimes goes for $115, and incense sells for 13 cents a stick. A gent named Reverend Bill offers "intuitive" (psychic) readings. And healing sessions are conducted by a man Macneir touts as a genuine Peruvian shaman. The shop's most recent addition, classes in four styles of yoga, have attracted more than 1000 sign-ups since February. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Of course, this is a New Age store, so you never really know.
Vehicles are like human beings. Some live a long life, married to two, three different owners. As the years pass, the fuel and exhaust systems tend to constipate, endurance diminishes, and the sheet metal buckles and sags. Other cars and trucks, however, pass on well before their time from rollovers, broadsides, and other highway mayhem. Old or young, they all end up in salvage yards. The elderly are crushed. From the young, though, come a harvest of parts: alternators, carburetors, radiators, air conditioners. From its 800 dead vehicles, Millions of Parts will pull what you need, or, if you want to trade your sweat for cash, unbolt it yourself for an even lower price. For example, strip an alternator off a '95 Whatever and pay only $20; take the radiator, $40. Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Purely and simply, Rothe's takes the fear out of getting your car fixed. Two financial concerns loom every time the old Olds craps out: How much will the repair itself actually cost, and how much in addition to that will you get ripped off? With Rothe's, the latter is of zero concern, because Rothe's is one of those Mayberry, RFD kinda places that puts the lie to honest mechanic being an oxymoron. Sure, the tab for the repair itself is unavoidable, but here, it's always reasonable. Most important, with Rothe's, you won't also get bamboozled into replacing your shocks and your belts and that other thingamajig. When you take your rattletrap in thinking you need new brakes for 200 bucks, how many other places will tell you that you just needed an adjustment for 20 bucks? Rothe's will. When's the last time you've been pleasantly surprised by a car repair bill? With Rothe's, it can happen. No fear, indeed.
No sports nut is as gadget-happy as an angler. At Outdoor World, there are thousands of rods, tens of thousands of reels, hundreds of thousands of sinkers, millions of bobbers, and zillions of jigs. Lures? They number in the gazillions. But forget the mind-boggling numbers. Since the Missouri-based Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World set up shop in Dania Beach, South Florida anglers have been able to find innumerable gadgets under one 160,000-square-foot roof. This store, just off I-95 at Griffin Road, is no ordinary bait-and-tackle shop. This is quite simply an angler's ultimate -- sorry about this -- wet dream. If you buy more than will comfortably fit in your tackle box, don't worry. Just purchase a boat and trailer and drive your haul out of the parking lot. But there is one drawback. Between the giant aquarium, the stuff, the regularly held workshops, the stuff, the casting clinics, and, oh yeah, all that stuff, some anglers find no need ever to go out on the water again. When they talk about the big one that got away, they're discussing the killer rod-and-reel combo on the clearance rack that someone else snagged before they could even get their feet, well, wet.

Get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Get fired, divorced, or just step in something smelly? Head over to AA Lock and Gun and take out your aggressions by paying $75 annual membership to rent a Ruger (after taking a safety course), entering the indoor range, and knocking off a few rounds. Where else can you do all that? AA Lock and Gun is an institution, arming South Florida since 1963. The appraiser and gunsmith have about 80 years of experience between them. The shop carries Browning, Ruger, Colt, Remington, Smith and Wesson... basically, any maker you might want. And any ammunition as well, from .22 to the massive .454 Casull, which makes Dirty Harry's .44 magnum bullets look like pop-gun fare. The place is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Whatever the problem, you'll feel better after you've put some big holes in that human-shaped paper target. Just leave it at that.

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