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.
If you're serious about movies, there're really only two choices in town for renting a video. Coral Gablers head for Lion Video, while South Beach-ites opting for a night spent curled in front of the VCR swing by New Concept Video. Both feature a wide array of foreign flicks and indie offerings (many notably absent from your local Blockbuster), but for the geographically ambivalent pondering which way to turn, New Concept gets the nod if only for its sprawling selection of gay cinema. Therein you'll find just about everything, from the original British version of Queer as Folk (decidedly racier -- and wittier -- than the Americanized remake presented by Showtime) to Cruising, the 1979 cult classic featuring an oh-so-butch Al Pacino as an undercover cop making the NYC leather scene. Hoo-ah!
So you're in the mood for a pair of stacked heels from the Fifties. A gold brocade dress from the Sixties. A paisley velvet coat from the Seventies. And you'd like to complete the ensemble with some rhinestone jewelry from the early Eighties. Relax -- C. Madeleine's is the place for one-stop, all-decade vintage shopping. Open only a few months, the store carries antiquated housewares, appliances, and other objets d'art. The place also rents itself out as a unique venue for weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinces, and other celebrations. But the price tags are the best part: C. Madeleine's does not, unlike other vintage shops, charge a fortune for articles that look as though they came from a thrift store. Instead you'll shop wisely, pay fairly, and wear one-of-a-kind pieces of aged designer clothing wonderfully, knowing you're the only one in the room who'll be doing so.
The small towns dotting the Tuscan countryside are renowned for many reasons: their medieval cityscapes framed by hilly terrain; the Renaissance art found in their churches; their truffles and olives; and last but not least, their wines. The vintages from Montereggiano differ from those of Montepulciano, not to mention those of San Gimignano, make no mistake. But enough geography -- what does this matter to you? Next time you're heading to a dinner party and want to pick up some good vino, no need to track down a specialty store. Walk into this Amoco on Biscayne (no, really) and walk out with a full-bodied red from San Gimignano or a chilled white from Montepulciano, bottles you often can't find in a wine store, much less a convenience store. So Tuscan is not your style? There also are good quality but affordable vintages from Chile, France, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and, of course, California. Why such fruitfulness here, you ask, on this unassuming stretch of one of Miami's less attractive boulevards? Who knows ... but who cares? Just as long as they keep stocking great wines from the best regions in the world.
"I swear sometimes I come here just for the scenery," says a man to his blissed-out friend as they exit the Brickell Village Publix. Anyone who's shopped at this particular grocery store on a weeknight knows what he's talking about: The aisles are clogged with more quaffed heads and tight outfits than an entire season of Sex and the City. It's not the South Beach modeling crowd dressed down in shabby chic but professional men and women bling-blinging in Hugo Boss sweaters and Louis Vuitton totes as they search for tuna and toiletries. The pressure to fit in with this upscale crowd can be intimidating. Our friend Cindy, who lives in the Roads, calls her neighborhood market the Gucci Publix. "I feel like I need to blow out my hair and put on Prada whenever I shop there," she sighs.
So you're in the mood for a pair of stacked heels from the Fifties. A gold brocade dress from the Sixties. A paisley velvet coat from the Seventies. And you'd like to complete the ensemble with some rhinestone jewelry from the early Eighties. Relax -- C. Madeleine's is the place for one-stop, all-decade vintage shopping. Open only a few months, the store carries antiquated housewares, appliances, and other objets d'art. The place also rents itself out as a unique venue for weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinces, and other celebrations. But the price tags are the best part: C. Madeleine's does not, unlike other vintage shops, charge a fortune for articles that look as though they came from a thrift store. Instead you'll shop wisely, pay fairly, and wear one-of-a-kind pieces of aged designer clothing wonderfully, knowing you're the only one in the room who'll be doing so.
Whatever Tio's lacks in selection, it makes up for with a knowledgeable staff. Walk in and ask for a moderately priced champagne, and they'll direct you to the Domaine St. Michelle, on sale for seven bucks. Sure they've got all your old favorites -- Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, and Stoli. The wine and beer choices are decent, and there are even kegs for sale. But it's the imported hard stuff that sets Tio's apart. We're talking several types of Russian potato vodka, including a triple-distilled, wild-berry variety made by Luksusowa, plus more than 50 types of tequila, gin, and liqueur from around the world. Best of all, if you happen to be flush, plunk down cold hard cash on the counter for a ten-percent discount. Not in such a hurry to leave? Spend the afternoon watching TV with the proprietors and supping on sandwiches at the in-house deli, which stocks Boar's Head cold cuts.
Standing in the midst of Elva's Nursery, the plants seem to go on forever. Both inside and outside, the rows stretch from bougainvillea to bonsai to baby roses to staghorn ferns and coffee trees. Well over 100 species can be found on about twenty acres of land. The selection also extends to garden accessories, the tremendous assortment of which is testimony to Miami's multiculturalism. In addition to the benches and tables that come in metal, wood, and stone, there is a little something for every race, culture, and ethnicity. Statues of the Virgin Mary standing both free and encased are prominently displayed in front. Inside, stone black angels face Buddhas and miniature statues of Confucius. Dignified native Americans are not far from Aztec sun calendars. For those who are just thankful to celebrate the good fortune of all this natural greenery and sunshine, there are stone manatees, giant sea horses, and ceramic farm animals.
Stone Age Antiques
Photo by Lou Hammond
In the midst of the marine industries on the Miami River lies the junker's mother lode. Weird and unusual salvage from the land and sea is stuffed, stacked, and crammed into every nook, shelf, and cranny of Stone Age Antiques. What didn't fit there is hung from rafters and walls. Among the booty: rusty cannons that date from the 1700s; deep-sea-diving suits with copper and brass bubble helmets; a harvest of huge green glass floats that marked fishing nets in Asia; enough portholes to outfit a cruise ship; and spooky reproductions of sailing ship figureheads. The difference between Stone and someone who can't throw away cardboard toilet-paper tubes is that Stone has an eye. He has culled through the flotsam and jetsam that have floated his way over the past 30 years. In addition to the nautical artifacts, there are stacks of fancy rusting metal bed heads; stuffed llamas; an 1899 bell from a church in Troy, New York; reproductions of African masks; old metal store signs; B-movie posters; and much, much, much more. Because there is so much, this is a place that will make you slow down and open your eyes. Just be careful not to break anything as your jaw drops.

The small towns dotting the Tuscan countryside are renowned for many reasons: their medieval cityscapes framed by hilly terrain; the Renaissance art found in their churches; their truffles and olives; and last but not least, their wines. The vintages from Montereggiano differ from those of Montepulciano, not to mention those of San Gimignano, make no mistake. But enough geography -- what does this matter to you? Next time you're heading to a dinner party and want to pick up some good vino, no need to track down a specialty store. Walk into this Amoco on Biscayne (no, really) and walk out with a full-bodied red from San Gimignano or a chilled white from Montepulciano, bottles you often can't find in a wine store, much less a convenience store. So Tuscan is not your style? There also are good quality but affordable vintages from Chile, France, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and, of course, California. Why such fruitfulness here, you ask, on this unassuming stretch of one of Miami's less attractive boulevards? Who knows ... but who cares? Just as long as they keep stocking great wines from the best regions in the world.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®