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Ready to expand your knowledge? Get to Bob's. The store with the mundane name has plenty of the standard, benign fare like TV Guide, Time, and the world's newspapers along with the best-selling, schlocky books like The Celestine Prophecy. It also has trade books on everything from architecture to rare German coins. It's the other stuff, though, that makes Bob's a great place to go, the exotic items that are usually caught and disposed of by mass-marketeers. After all, who wants to read some self-serving crap about a rich and famous celebrity when you can check out The Big Book of Losers, which contains the "pathetic but true tales of the world's most titanic failures"? They have Playboy, but doesn't The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Women sound a little more interesting? For do-it-yourself drug users, there are books on cultivating marijuana, making amphetamines, and an opus on mushrooms titled Psilocybin Production. For all you wacky neo-Nazis, there's Mein Kampf. And for the serious aspiring terrorist, there's Sniper Training. Fetishists also have a wide selection from which to choose, including a collection of pictures of nude women holding baguettes. You get the picture.

The draw is the price: $3. The last time we saw a haircut that cheap was way back in our childhood days when we'd pass a hand-painted sign on the side of some dirt road advertising a crew cut for a couple of Washingtons. If you're really feeling the need to be pampered, settle in for an old-fashioned hot shave. The extravagant price: $5. Granted, the Florida Barber Academy is not for the faint of hair. You're rolling the dice with a student barber who may have about as much experience cutting hair as your mother did when she sat you down in front of a mirror as a kid and butchered your golden tresses. There are bound to be a few sliced ears and crooked bangs. The students are closely supervised, though, by experienced barbers, and the old hands don't hesitate to step in when things get, well, hairy. Another nice perk is that the student shop is open every weekday until 10 p.m. Still not convinced that the Florida Barber Academy is for you? Try this: All of the (admittedly meager) profits go to programs that help feed the homeless.
How many heads of hair has Joseph Dixey, proprietor of Gateway Barber and Stylist, cut? By his own estimate, more than 200,000. When he started out in New York City more than 40 years ago, barbers still dressed all in white and would give you a trim for under a buck, with enough change left for a draft on your way home. Barbers still used hand clippers and believed singeing hair was a smart idea. For the last six years, Dixey has plied his trade in the Gateway Shopping Center, where, at $15 a haircut, his services are a little more expensive than those at the average barbershop. But the extra coinage is justified by the reassurance that you'll never walk out wondering if you can show your face at work the next day. If you feel the need for additional pampering, try the $25 hand shave. It's a meticulous, old-school process that involves three razors, numerous hot towels, cocoa butter or lemon cream, and too many other steps to name. Dixey is one of the few in town who bother anymore. Still not convinced? Take a gander at the silver medal that sits on a shelf. It's from the 1979 "Coupe du Monde de la Coiffure," which apparently is the World Cup of hair-cutting. Dixey, representing the United States in the 33-country competition, placed second in men's hairstyling.
It seems odd that such a cozy oasis could sit just a few yards from Federal Highway's constant truck-rumbling and horn-wailing. Leave the concrete carnival behind, scoot up a pebbled sidewalk, and enter Massage Therapeutics Spa. Water pings along the plateaus of a tabletop stone fountain, and flowers, terra-cotta pots, and a mammoth brass sun welcome visitors seeking refuge from workday deadlines and office schmoozing. This full-service spa offers everything from algae and mud body wraps to aromatherapy and facials. But the sweetest deals here are the spa's massage specials. Sixty bucks buys you a brief but fortifying eucalyptus steam bath and an hour's worth of a full body massage, complete with dim lights, scented oils, and New-Age flutes cooing from hidden speakers. Get ready to float out the front door afterward.
Looking for good prices on your favorite CDs? Look elsewhere. The DJ Store is a one-stop shop for devoted turntablists. Here they can find the latest dance mixes on vinyl and CD, plus mix tapes and CDs by upcoming local jocks. And the shop offers just about anything else a DJ might need to ply his or her craft: entire setups of turntables, mixers, and microphones, as well as accessories such as replacement needles, headphones, and DJ bags for carrying plastic and gear. Demonstrations and impromptu jam sessions are commonplace, creating both a party atmosphere and good networking opportunities for local mix-masters. No need to put a spin on this place -- it speaks for itself.
CDs, being the semi-indestructible medium that they are, have a lot more cachet as recycled music than records or tapes ever did. Plenty of savvy entrepreneurs out there have picked up on this fact and are now wheeling and dealing in preowned CDs. And while CD Warehouse has a misleading name (its locations are actually rather small, individually owned retail outlets), what sets it apart from the other shops is its great system for putting music lovers together with long-lost discs. Need a copy of that old Ted Nugent or Prince favorite but don't want to shell out for a brand-new copy? Ask nicely and a CD Warehouse staffer will plug your name into its computer database along with your wish list. When a copy of the album in question is brought in for trade by another customer and the title is entered into the computer, someone from the store will actually call you and tell you it's there if you're next on the list. You then have two days to pick it up before it goes out onto the shelves. The only problem is that the computer systems at the various stores -- in Fort Lauderdale, Davie, Pembroke Pines, and West Palm Beach -- aren't networked, so you have to request a title at each one to increase your odds.
The digital age has brought the hottest gaming technology right into our homes, so who needs an arcade these days? The truth is, some technology is still just too expensive for Joe Consumer. That's what gives the Escape an edge. The 132,000-square-foot fun zone boasts a megaplex cinema, four theme bars, a restaurant, billiards, and shuffleboard. Old standbys such as air hockey and pinball are in the lineup alongside racing and fighting video games. But virtual-reality rides set the place apart. Beneath the escalators sit the two Max Flight simulators, which for $5 a pop let riders buckle in and create their own virtual roller coaster ride, complete with 360-degree turns delivered with stomach-churning reality through the magic of hydraulics and computer simulation. Across the way in the Star Theater, roller coasters are also popular. Viewers strap into seats in a darkened room in front of a full-size movie screen and enjoy a haunted roller coaster ride in Superstition, with Elvira hosting while computer graphics whip your mind through hairpin turns and over precarious ledges and motorized seats make your body believe it. Similar scenarios play out in Kid Coaster and Smash Factory, and in Speedway viewers find themselves at the wheel of a racecar. The movies, $5 each, run throughout the day. Watching all of them can get expensive, so opt for the wristband -- $6 to $12, depending upon day and time -- which allows you unlimited rides and shows.

Fernanda's International Market
Tabatha Mudra
John Weber is a man who takes his wine and his words seriously. He's found his dream job at Fernanda's, running the international-food store's winery. There he oversees a good-sized collection of wines from all over the world and writes down his recommendations for customers. And he buys the rare stuff, like a case of Nuit St. George's La Perriere, a wine that comes from a red pinot grape that has mutated over the decades to produce a white wine. In South Florida you can buy it only at Fernanda's, and a bottle goes for $79.99. But Weber is no wine snob. He keeps plenty of good but cheap wines in stock, including a plethora of fine Spanish reds that start at $6.99. But what we like about Weber is that he writes accurate descriptions about many of the bottles. A wine dummy feels right at home there and learns a lot in the process. A Buena Vista sauvignon blanc, he writes, is "bursting with youthful, clean taste suitable for a picnic or a cocktail party." That's practical information. Our favorite description was of an Italian red called Bindella. Weber first tells us that the bottle retails for $24.99 but was now going for $17.99. Good so far. It has an "interesting 'berryish' quality," he wrote. "Ripe and plummy nuances of red and black fruits gently waft up from the glass." That sounded wonderful, so we bought a bottle. And damn if it wasn't berryish. There was definite wafting going on, too.
Best Buy
Specialty record-and-CD shops typically stock cutting-edge titles and know the needs of customers, but they can't compete on price with large chains that buy bulk -- albeit bulk of the mainstream variety. Enter behemoth Best Buy, which may lack the cozy feel of the corner record store but is nonetheless a music buyers' dreamland, offering premium prices and selection. Aisle after aisle of CDs stretches out before eyes wet with tears of joy, eyes that can lead their owner to sections for any taste: country, jazz, classical, rock, rap, electronica. Rows are also devoted to movie soundtracks and compilations. And no matter what your music of choice, you'll find the latest releases on special at $12.99; that's $2 cheaper than Best Buy's regular-price discs, which in turn are a couple bucks cheaper than the competition.
If you're going to be ostentatious, you should go for it and do it in real class. Which is why we like this place -- they'll rent you a 1952 Rolls Royce, one of the oldest for-hire limos in Broward County and one of the quietest cars ever made, too. This Rolls jumps off the company lot like a princess off a pea-bump mattress. The car is white with a burgundy interior and air-conditioned. It's a lovely, long-bodied thing with a square roof and a grill that looks regal. The company offers soda and ice, a "Just Married" sign, a bottle of complimentary champagne with glasses, and a tuxedoed chauffeur to ferry the marrying kind, all at no extra cost. If you have to, you can also rent the newer, bigger stretch limos -- eight-seat or ten-seat Lincolns -- here. But nothing beats a Rolls.

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