When Eddie Trotta was at home recovering from cancer in 1991, he used his free time to build himself a motorcycle. The thing turned out so well, he decided to start building them for others, and before he knew it, Trotta became one of the country's premier bike builders. Since those humble beginnings, Trotta is now in his fourth location, a 30,000-square-foot shop that includes a bike-building area the size of an airplane hangar. Trotta and his team have also appeared twice now on Discovery Channel's Biker Build Off, a show that required them to crank out a chopper in just ten days. Typically, it takes six months or more to produce custom bikes, which can cost in the six figures. The company makes about ten to 15 of them a year, but Trotta has plans to significantly increase that number. Just recently, Thunder bought two new fabricating machines -- at $100,000 each -- which stamp out the uniquely shaped metal needed for custom bikes. Thunder also recently started selling Big Dog bikes that go for about $30,000 each, much less than the custom ones built by Thunder. The bike that helped Trotta win the first Biker Build Off, a silver chopper with purple and blue flames, costs a cool $85,000. It comes with a six-speed tranny, diamond-cut cylinders, a 131-cubic-inch engine that puts out 140 horses, and a double-shot of testosterone. It's not a bad way to beat cancer, or whatever's ailing you.
Cleaning out the closet can be a surprisingly emotional experience. Worse yet is figuring out what to do with all the sartorial memories, since every outdated suit and Technicolor tie is sewn up with nostalgia you can't ignore. The best solution: Donate your goods to a place you have a connection with. When the grandfather of a friend of ours passed away last year, the family decided the best thing to do would be to give his clothes -- a closet full of salmon-colored sports coats, wing-collared dress shirts, and silky cashmere sweaters (some pretty nice stuff, in the right guy's wardrobe) -- back to the community he wore them in. The JCC Thrift Store accepts donations on site, during business hours, which are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Make sure you ask for a receipt when you make your donation; the dollar value can be deducted from your income taxes.
You've not had a true subtropical experience until you've straddled the nine-horsepower Derbi GP1 scooter while zooming down A1A. You can feel the humid air shimmering past your skin and see the bugs splattering on the little windshield. You can stop on a dime and park just about anywhere you like. In fact, you can rule the road knowing that you're riding one of the most energy-efficient vehicles on asphalt. But where do you find such an experience? Start at this scooter emporium, just south of I-595 in Davie. You can put down several grand on a speed-demon Derbi, or you can go with the more conservative Qingqi QM50QT-6. Best yet, at Scooters Mania, you can give the two-wheeled life a test run. Scooter rentals are $75 to $95 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or $105 to $125 for 24 hours. All rentals include helmets.
Funny thing about tattoos is that times and trends tend to change. The tribals, Chinese letters, and that delightful little butterfly right below the waistline may all be cute and trendy right now, but imagine what it's going to be like in 50 years, when today's young adults become tomorrow's senior citizens. Everyone's grandfather is going to be sporting sweet tribal armbands while the butterfly that Grandma thought was a bitchin' idea back in spring break '99 is going to resemble a pterodactyl. Lower-back tattoos will become as common among the elderly as the name Gertrude is today. Picking a tattoo isn't like picking a career or a spouse -- it's a lifelong commitment. So where to have the work done is just as important as what you're getting. There are literally hundreds of places to get ink down here, but with competitively priced tattoos starting at $50, an ultraclean studio open seven days a week, and, most important, two very good artists with nearly 20 years' experience between them, Electrik Krayon is the perfect place to get that ultra-original, barbed-wire tattoo you'll be showing the grandkids... poseur.
The Elite Group
Do you want to eat, or do you want to get your hair done? Either way, you're in the right place. The Elite Group will hook you up with wine, soda, coffee, bagels, and -- oh yeah! -- a haircut! Or color! Or highlights! Or makeup from its cosmetic line. Both the stylists and clients range from chi-chi Las Olas grand dames to punk-chic, high-fashion, alternative mamas. A cut for chicks is $50, and one for guys is $30. Oh you want your hair dry? Another 30 beans, please. Tell 'em we sent you, and make sure to get one of those orgasmic head massages from Krystal.
Whether it's the basics you need or to cut corners on household expenses, Just 99 carries an impressive supply of groceries, cleaning products, knickknacks, and useful life accessories all for the slightest expenditure of the green. Taking the kids to the beach? This store has plastic shovels, goggles and snorkels, and paddle games to make the day. The grocery aisles offer juice, canned goods, and an array of spices, all for the most attainable level of greenbacks. In addition, it's a good place to save on those little extras that you need around the house, like night-lights, bungee cords, fabric softener, hangers, and picture frames. Sometimes you just don't need to spend more. There's even one 99-cent investment that will help pass on the penny-pinching ethic to the next generation: big plastic piggy banks that end up paying for themselves.
In 1994, Carl "Marty" Gouveia suffered the loss of three fingers on his dominant right hand to a car accident. How did he channel his frustration? By swinging a chain saw around. A 1985 graduate of the Fort Lauderdale Institute of Art and a third-generation sign-painting artist, "Mad Marty" shifted his focus. Sure, he kept on painting billboards, motorcycles, and surfboards, but he discovered a knack for sculpting tiki-style totem poles. Carved out of palm wood and sealed for protection against the elements, the tikis come in three-foot to six-foot sizes. Eyes? Choose "squint" or "alien" style. Teeth? Choose "fang" or "square." As Marty is fond of saying, "Art is not a thing. It is a way... I hope you enjoy, and God bless."
This place is so big that it should have its own mayor (think about it, Sheriff Ken). The place has a 90,000-square-foot showroom on two levels. It also has a huge, 540,000-square-foot warehouse that serves as a distribution center for the other 16 stores in this local chain, all of them between Homestead and West Palm Beach. And yes, located on the edge of the Everglades right off the Sawgrass Expressway, it's a monument to out-of-control sprawl. But damn, man, there are deals to be made. Getting to them, however, can be a bit daunting without the help of, say, a tall, well-manicured, and quite gorgeous saleswoman. But she passed us at the door in favor of a more monied-looking fellow in a suit, so we were left alone to sort out the place on our own. First, we followed our noses, which led us to the free fresh-baked cookies and coffee. Nice. Then we found our way to the back, where thousands of pieces of furniture sat in a warehouse waiting to be plucked up by a smart buyer. People, it's called "Clearance," and at City Furniture, there's 20,000 square feet of bargains. If you can stand a flaw or two, you can get a hellacious deal. Ten-foot long, four-seat, Natuzzi leather couch with a built-in ottoman on one end: $750. A nice wooden TV stand: $250. Delivery charge: $55. Classing up the family room and freeing up some couch space for the kids: priceless.
What makes a pawn shop the best pawn shop? Its proximity to you when you need cash, quick. And that means that Ready Cash I's location -- smack in the middle of downtown Hollywood, where money seems to evaporate from your wallet -- is ideal. Between wining and dining your date at Mama Mia's Italian Grille and stumbling your way to Club M, you can unload one of your gold chains or turn in your moped at Ready Cash to pay for the evening's adventures. The place even buys broken jewelry! Buyers in need of a $100 surfboard, a selection of Snap-On tools, or $8 VHS tapes could comparison-shop at the owners' two other pawn shops on Hollywood Boulevard -- but they're way the hell down the street.
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.

Best Of Broward-Palm Beach®

Best Of