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.

First let's get the semantics out of the way: They haven't called them head shops since the Seventies. The preferred moniker these days is smoke shop, though if all you're after is a good stogie, turn around and head for a cigar store. However, if your smoking urges -- nudge, nudge, wink, wink -- require some preparation, Sativa is the place. Sure you could pick up an oversize bong at any of several garish spots along Washington Avenue on South Beach. And if you're just looking to stay abreast of the latest market trends, the current issue of High Times is available at plenty of newsstands. But at Sativa the friendly staff also has your postsmoking needs in mind: A wide variety of self-detoxification kits is on display here, perfect for those occasions when your employer takes a sudden interest in your urine.

When critics examine the infrastructure of a city's musical "scene," they usually focus on clubs, recording studios, even radio stations. Too often record stores -- the places where folks actually get their hands on a physical slice of all that musical activity -- are ignored. Blue Note Records, however, has never flown under the radar. It has had a lock on this category for eons. Regardless of the offbeat sounds lauded by New Times scribes -- far-out Chicago jazz, underground NYC rock, Bay Area hip-hop, Nigerian Afro-beat, Cuban son, even Miami bass -- you could usually find it amid Blue Note's bulging stacks. And thanks to the knowledgeable staff, chances are you'd also end up leaving with a lot more than you originally set out for: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion fans might be gently led over to a vintage Robert Nighthawk album; D'Angelo devotees might get hep to Bobby Womack. And in a city known for its Balkanization and short historical attention span, that's no small feat. Long-time shoppers therefore were a bit alarmed to see this winning formula tinkered with recently: An economic crunch forced Blue Note's entire jazz section -- once honored with its own (apparently now too expensive to rent) room -- to be carted off to a separate annex. It's nearby but definitely not receiving the stocking attention it once did. Moreover the days of one-stop shopping, not to mention aesthetic cross- pollination ("Hey, if you dig that Tortoise record, how 'bout a little Sun Ra?"), are no more. Fortunately the rest of Blue Note remains unchanged, as do the odds that something funky is going to be playing on the stereo when you step through the front door. Here's hoping it stays that way.
Richard Interian could have become just another lawyer. Instead he went into the family business: flowers. A swell idea. Since he stepped in, the twelve-year-old shop has expanded from 700 to 3500 square feet, taken on a slew of corporate clients, designed blooms for various parties, and offered gourmet gift baskets. Open daily and promising worldwide delivery, their Bird Road store seems small but stocks luxurious bath products, high-end chocolates, and charming stuffed animals. A large refrigerator contains some stunning ready-made arrangements, but the incredible custom work goes on behind the scenes. There designers put together bouquets in any style, in any type of container, with any flower you desire -- from traditional roses to Zen-inspired orchids -- more than living up to the Avant-Gardens' motto: We can arrange that.
Uncle Sam's Music
Long before Napster reared its head, there was a simple way to beat the high price of new CDs: Buy 'em used. And considering the constant stream of folks digging through the mounds of used CDs inside Uncle Sam's, it's a safe bet that regardless of the Internet's future role in how we listen to music, used CD shops aren't about to vanish, at least not the shops with a sprawling inventory. And Uncle Sam's does indeed house a literal mountain of sound, from the latest releases in virtually every genre imaginable (selling at roughly half of what you'd pay several blocks south at Spec's), to a continually changing stock of older titles -- a testament to the flux of Beach residents moving to and then leaving town, and trading in their CD collections somewhere along the way. True, shopping at Uncle Sam's isn't exactly a relaxing experience. Between the teeth-rattling trance blasting out of the store's speakers and the (particularly at peak hours) somewhat tense staff, trying to snag a choice CD here can often resemble placing a drink order inside a sardine-packed bar. Still, considering the finds that lie within -- and not least, CD players on which you can preview them -- Uncle Sam's remains a local fave.
Tucked in a tree-lined corner of Allapattah, this stucco garage painted with frescoes of San Lazaro and Santa Barbara is the real deal. Pigeons, doves, and roosters coo in cages in the back, ready to give it up for the orishas. Antlers hang overhead, and the shelves are stuffed with boxes of twigs, roots, and herbs. Everything you'd ever need to please your santo is here, as well as a plethora of potions, charms, and trinkets. If you don't know what you're doing, the friendly staff is happy to advise you. While you can find many an oddity, the hours are not one of them: Open 9:00 to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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.

Of all the South Florida Super Skates locations, it comes as no surprise that the Beach store is the most fun -- and the most musical. Sales reps Nick, Pedro, and Merly not only skate, they all DJ as well. The turntables come out on the weekends, dropping big beats on the customers as they glide across the store, marking up the black-and-white-tile floor with their prospective K2 or Solomon blades. Super Skates caters to the recreational skater and the aggressive rail and ramp rat alike with a full set of accessories to help you skate like a pro -- or just look like one. Novices can count on special help, such as having their wheels rotated for free the first time. Jaded bladers can branch out, choosing from a full selection of skateboards and snakeboards, those long two-footed contraptions on which you propel yourself by rolling your hips like a serpent.
Books & Books
Courtesy of Books & Books
Mitchell Kaplan has lotsa books. Books and books. He has books on photography, architecture, film, and music. Books of poetry and works of literature. Books by great authors. Books by obscure writers. Books on Cuba. Books on boxing. Books carried by no other bookstore in town. Kaplan has so many books, he moved to a new Coral Gables location this year, across the street from his old one. Much bigger. More room for his books. If you can't make it to Coral Gables, drop by the Lincoln Road store. It, too, is filled with books. Books and books and books.
Leroy Robinson, owner of this Jamaican pulp bar and take-out joint, likes to add ginger to most of his freshly squeezed juices. In his island home the pleasantly pungent spice is used as a remedy for all types of ailments. Try it with tamarind juice to give it a slightly piquant twist or with the sour-tasting sorrel concoction, a good source of fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C. Robinson also packs a powerful peanut punch and serves a damn good ginger beer, if you like the stuff straight up. Even his carrageenan juice, made from a stubby, purplish seaweed more commonly known as Irish moss, goes down smooth. Coconut, pineapple, grape, carrot, melon, strawberry, cane, and mango juices are available, as well, at the low price of one dollar for small drinks, two dollars for medium, and four dollars for large and combinations of liquids. This righteous juice bar even stocks a full line of Caribbean foods, spices, fresh fruit, and Bob Marley paraphernalia. Give thanks and praises.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®