Best Of :: Shopping & Services
The Stars and Stripes flaps triumphantly near the entry to a rectangular fortified warehouse near midtown Miami. A sign over the metal front door announces, "Guns for the Good Guys." A year since opening his 4,000-square-foot armory, gun shop owner Dave Johnson has quickly become the go-to guy for folks preparing for the improbable zombie apocalypse or the very real threat of a ghoulish hurricane. Three long glass cabinets are stocked with a stunning inventory of pistols, from Berettas to Glocks to Smith & Wessons to Walthers. Prices for new guns range from $200 to $1,200. "We have more [assault] rifles than any gun store in Florida," Johnson boasts. "We also do a lot of consignment sales, as well as buying and trading used guns." It'll take more than just bullets to survive the walking dead, so Johnson offers end-of-days survivalists all the equipment they can use to stay alive when the electricity goes out. For instance, you can buy a hearty supply of freeze-dried gourmet food with a shelf life of 25 years. Dishes include savory stroganoff, pasta alfredo, cheesy lasagna, and teriyaki chicken and rice. In the event you need to pull off a quick escape from a horde of brain eaters, Johnson's Firearms sells $325 bug-out bags, which contain all the things you would need to survive on the run for 72 hours, such as a small ax to chop tree limbs for a fire, a first-aid kit, a hunting knife, a map of the continental United States, and trail mix. Of course, it helps to know how to defend yourself against different types of threats should all hell break loose. Johnson offers a specialized $90 course led by NRA-certified instructors who teach you how to shoot a gun, properly handle a shotgun or rifle, and defend your family in a home invasion scenario. Johnson also takes great care in helping first-time gun buyers choose the right firearm. "We take the time to sit with our customers to find out why they want a gun, whether it is for home defense or for carrying it concealed," he says. "A new gun user doesn't understand the difference between a concealed .380 and a large-frame .45 for competitive shooting."
READERS' POLL WINNERES
Best Auto Dealership: The Collection
Best Bike Shop: Mack Cycle & Fitness
Best Bookstore: Books & Books
Best Clothing Boutique: Emporium
Best Gym: LA Fitness
Best Hair Salon: Control Salon
Best Hotel: Surfcomber
Best Liquor Store: Total Wine & More
Best Mall: Aventura Mall
Best Mechanic: Abana Auto Parts
Best Spa: The Standard Spa
At the risk of foiling any romantic chemistry between us, dear reader, for the purposes of this item we must describe our body. We are approximately 50 pounds overweight and have flat, wide feet. Imagine if a duck mated with Alfred Hitchcock. Now imagine that auteur paddling bird tried his hand (wing?) at basketball one afternoon and badly turned his ankle. Given the weight on his feet, the lack of supporting arches, and the seriousness of the injury, this would be a job for a masterful foot doctor. Especially if — we admit we're stretching the metaphor a bit here — the filmmaking duck had to catch a plane to the mountains of Utah for a hiking trip in two days hence. Let's tell the rest of the story straight: Dr. Gary Curson advised us against making the trip and offered to write a letter to the airline to assist in having the tickets refunded. When we refused, he prescribed industrial-strength ibuprofen, wrapped our afflicted foot like a mummy, outfitted it in an embarrassing boot, and gave us some ground rules for treating the appendage so it wouldn't be permanently damaged. All the while, he cheered us with some pleasantly corny wisecracks. There were no exorbitant charges on top of our insurance payments, and we enjoyed our trip — although we did much more drinking than hiking. Take it from a fat-ass duck: Whatever the opposite of a quack is, that's Dr. Curson.
Miami has a love/hate relationship with literature. Our beaches are littered with tourists' cast off pulp paperbacks. Our local luminaries are crime reporters cum authors. But that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the written word as much as your average American does. Just check out our libraries. Many of them are packed. And when Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez shut down dozens of them to save money last year, locals were rightly pissed. Luckily, Miami's best library was spared. No, we don't mean that pastel pleasure palace on South Beach. We like that branch, with its coffee shop, interior courtyard, and general law-and-orderliness. But downtown is our definition of a true library: a repository of rare and weird items such as limited editions of Florida authors and rare prints by Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol. It's also where all Miamians — rich or poor, mansion owners or street dwellers — converge from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and, finding a spot near a window, lose themselves in a musty book. So ditch your Kindle. ¡Vamos a la biblioteca!
Ever visit a city where the public transportation actually works? Like Minneapolis, where people take the light rail from the airport? It feels like you've escaped from the hinterlands into the Capital. (Yes, that's a Hunger Games reference.) Miami will probably never have good public transportation, what with our perpetually inept and greasy-palmed collective of politicians. But depending upon your starting point, getting to Miami International Airport by bus is — believe it or not — pretty damn painless. The Airport Flyer, as the express route is called, travels from South Beach to the airport and back with only two stops: one in Mid-Beach and one at the Earlington Heights Metrorail Station. It costs $2.35, a far cheaper option than cabbing it or parking long-term. If you don't live on the Beach, your journey gets more complicated once you transfer at Earlington Heights — but hey, what do you think this is, Seattle?
Best is such a subjective word, especially when it comes to parking. The obvious answer is whatever is cheapest and closest, but no one wants to hear your stories of parking glory. "Oh, you found a metered spot right in front of the restaurant? Great, good for you. Guess what? I just parked in what is quite literally the most buzzed-about and architecturally important parking garages of all time." Yes, we're talking about 1111 Lincoln, the Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking paradise that's been featured in every publication from the New York Times to Vanity Fair. You know you wanna drive up in that thing. You know you wanna glide your car into the clean concrete and wide-open vistas. You know you're gonna take a picture from the edge. You know you're gonna casually mention it once you get to wherever you're going. Is it always the most inexpensive and convenient place to park? Probably not. Could you make a strong case that it's the best? Obviously. Just admit it, you newly minted parking elitist.