Your granite horse fountain no longer reaches toward the heavens, but your obelisk with a capital D beckons huddling masses to spend, spend, spend. You put Kendall on the map when you first opened more than 40 years ago and set the standard for frivolous buying sprees long before ATMs and credit cards made spending convenient. You survived recessions, a gas crisis, inflation, and cocaine-cowboy shootouts in your parking lot, and still you look well. The booming economy of the Clinton years has been good to you. Your promenade, tiled in cool blues and whites, features kiosks of the finest coffees, sunglasses, and caviar. But looking to the future, your prosperity once again is challenged. As consumer confidence wanes and the bubble of the new economy bursts, competition raises its ugly head. The supersize Dolphin Mall, a tract of discount outlets that opened in March, seeks to tap into your well. Next year the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables will do the same. But you've seen other malls, full of shine and fury, come and go. You've beat out the Bakery Center and its new incarnation, Sunset Place. You thrived while the once praised Omni declined into downtown decay. Even with your double cinema gone, you make the once-hip CocoWalk look like just another mob scene with bad parking. You continue to lure and lull the people with your ever-expanding free parking lots and your own entrances and off-ramps from the Palmetto. You're going to make it, after all. You're Dadeland, the granddaddy of Miami malls.
Why does the miracle of new life have to leave you feeling like you won the egg-eating contest in Cool Hand Luke? Take comfort in sheathing your gravid form in snappy capri pants in any shade you like. Shirts, skirts, and dress styles in this spacious Miracle Mile shop run the gamut from fun, flowery, and slightly retro-Sixties to understated and elegant. There's an old-fashioned standing scale on which you can confirm your worst fears, and a small box of children's toys placed strategically near the dressing rooms. Plus Mimi and her crew offer helpful appraisals and advice on everything from bras to cocktail dresses.
In his book La Ciudad Mercado, Mexican anthropologist Alejandro Morroquín proposes specific elements that define the authentic mercados of his native country. The author's Mexican markets of wooden stalls, Indian campesinos carrying heavy loads on their backs, merchants peddling medicines and magical charms, and prostitutes working the throngs of buyers is not exactly what you'll experience at Bargain Town. This flea market's Mexican roots, however, are distinct and recognizable. From live mariachi music to a wide variety of goods, you can stock up on all your household needs and personal wants in one place. Have a cold Corona and hot steaming tacos at the cantinas and even pick up a religious icon or two: We highly recommend a portrait of La Virgen de Guadalupe.
"Friend or Home Depot spy?" joked the young man behind the counter when he thought we were being a little too inquisitive about Paradise Hardware's holdings. The hardware-store wars must be more intense than anyone has imagined. In any event this neighborhood do-it-yourself fix-it shop need not fear the corporate giant. There are bigger stores for hard-core building projects, but Paradise carries everything the average home-improvement job might require: nuts, bolts, screws, assorted tools, faucets, toilets, and paint. And the large staff of helpful employees, all of whom speak both English and Spanish, won't make you feel like an idiot for not knowing what you call that little doohickey that holds the whatchamacallit together.

Everything's on the Internet now, you say. No reason to go digging for obscure magazines in something as old-fashioned as a newsstand. You'll just read it all online, right? Wrong. Take a stroll up and down Worldwide's browser-friendly aisles, and you'll find title after title that has declined to join the, ahem, new-media revolution. How about everyone's favorite chronicler of ecoterrorism and environmental monkeywrenching, Earth First! ("No compromise in defense of Mother Earth!"), or the recent issue of Fishwrap, devoted to the legendary "lost" 1967 Beach Boys album Smile. Even die-hard computer phreaks have to leave their basements and sully their hands with fusty ol' stapled-together paper if they want to keep up on all the latest code-breaking info and juicy hacking gossip. The shadowy staff behind 2600 -- The Hacker Quarterly (which was being sued in federal court by the Motion Picture Association of America for figuring out how to crack a DVD's copy protection at the time this was written) may have a Website, but they save the "good stuff" for their print edition. True, in addition to these curios, Worldwide has Vanity Fair and Der Spiegel, but why waste your money on fluff when you can buy UFO Magazine and discover "the truth!"

With more than 2000 products in stock, Chung Hing Oriental Mart boasts everything imaginable from the East. The store's owner, Chung Peng, a native of Hong Kong, even supplies local Thai, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants. The impressive inventory includes live tilapia and eels crammed together in a fish tank; hefty pork thighs hanging from steel hooks; and a range of herbal tonics such as Wuchaseng extract (dark ginseng in a honey base), Ancient Han Health-Keeping extract (the result of nearly ten years of research conducted by traditional Chinese herb experts who based their studies on ancient records from the Han Dynasty), and a bronchial comforter called Chi Ye Long. Aisles are full of products from every Eastern nation you can think of. Chung Hing offers the widest variety of Chinese noodles we've ever seen in one place. The flavoring essences from Thailand and a number of instant soups -- wakame, tofu misu, and osuimono -- are available for a quick fix. Five-pound bags of dried mushrooms are stacked against a wall near the live fish. Large glass jars of bamboo shoots; all kinds of oils for stir-fries; and green bean, sesame, and soybean powders also are for sale. Want to make sushi? At Chung Hing you can find everything you'll need.
The man locked safely in his cage of yellow metal bars has to press the buzzer to open the first layer of metal bars to let you in. This time it's two young men, who carry a thirteen-inch television set to the pawning counter for quick cash. A family slumped in plastic chairs in the corner waits for the more complex loan negotiations of the group's patriarch to conclude. A teenage girl considers a dozen gold chains laid out in the case next to the handguns. Scores of rings with stories to tell twinkle up from another case. "We've got a sale on: 50 percent off all the gold," the salesman croons. He slips a gold band studded with green and white stones on her finger. "You see this ring?" he asks. "This is real emeralds. JC Penney gonna charge you $700." He flips over the price tag triumphantly -- $255, before the discount. "We buy low and sell low, so the customer gets a good value," he explains. A man steps up to the counter to inquire about buying a TV. The salesman has just the one for him. Another customer slips out the door at the next buzz. "Okay, I see you tomorrow," the salesman calls out, disappointed for the briefest moment. He knows it's just the middle of the 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily shift. There'll be other sales.

Yesterday and Today is showing definite signs of achieving institution status. In a music scene where the beats from the early Nineties now qualify as old-school, some of the grooves contained in this shop are practically stone age. There are other joints around town that stock the latest club hits (both Grooveman and Uncle Sam's have more than respectable selections), but they just don't convey the historical sweep accomplished by literally strolling from one end of Yesterday and Today to the other. Start on your far right and begin wading through heaps of vintage disco platters from the likes of Chic and Loretta Holloway. Pause in the CD section to snag a guilty New Wave pleasure (Heaven 17! Blancmange!) or perhaps Manuel Göttsching's prototechno stunner E2-E4 (perfect headphones-listening for those preclubbing beach sessions). Finish your lil' walk in the aisles full at the far wall showcasing this week's new trance and house twelve-inches. True the techno and experimental pickings could be a bit stronger, but much the same critique could be leveled at Miami's clubland in toto -- and if you want to get a feel for this city's unique take on DJ culture (warts and all), Yesterday and Today is an excellent starting point, whichever side of the turntables you find yourself on.

John Diaz takes incredible pride in the roast pig his supermarket provides on special order. Each one is fresh. Each is seasoned in bitter orange and garlic and then cooked for about five hours. Diaz charges by the pound for the pig and $35 to cook it. A 60-pound pig will run you about $125. If you are throwing a party, there is no better guarantee of guest happiness (next to the booze). After Diaz is finished roasting, the meat is so succulent and tender it practically melts in your mouth. Best to give him a couple of days notice though. If not he might have to use a frozen pig, and it's clear, perfectionist that he is, it breaks his heart to do so.

Best Place To Buy Latin Music, Videos, Relics, Whathaveyou

Marakka 2000

Waldo Fernandez is a man of many missions. Nearly all of them have to do with rescuing Cuban music, television, and film from the ravages of censorship and decay. In his office he proudly displays an original still from the 1949 movie Sandra, The Woman of Fire, starring Rosa Carmen, but he needs more than a sheet of glass to save the film stock itself. Fernandez buys 16mm footage of the movies, musicians, and variety shows of his homeland wherever he can, transfers the material to video, repairs damaged images frame by frame, then lovingly edits together music videos and full-length documentaries (such as this year's History of the [Cuban Television Network] CMQ, complete with commercials from the Fifties). Beginning this spring, his work can be seen on the program Longing for My Cuba on WLRN, Sundays at 10:00 p.m. If you like what you see and hear there, stop by Marakka 2000 on the east side of the Palmetto and pick up a copy of the video or a related CD. Or request a rare title by your favorite obscure artist. Fernandez's motto: If it exists, I can find it.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®