Best Used-CD Store 2001 | Uncle Sam's Music | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
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.
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.

As any serious bibliophile will tell you, the first mark of a good used bookstore is the presence of dust: The more you feel like running home for a shower after digging through its stacks, the greater your chances of scoring a true find there. So try not to hold Eutopia's well-lit and neatly scrubbed interior against it -- plenty of out-of-print titles abound, from K.S. Karol's still-unmatched field study of Castro's Cuba, Guerrillas in Power, to a wall's worth of collectible photography tomes. Although shop hours are slightly truncated (2:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday) and there are other formidable used bookstores around South Florida (Kendall Bookshelf continues to impress and Robert A. Hittel, Bookseller is well worth the schlep up to Fort Lauderdale), there's still something delightfully perverse about this oh-so-idiosyncratic tribute to the literary world being located just off the now-defunkified Lincoln Road, within spitting distance of the Gap and Williams-Sonoma.
There is a school of thought that it's cruel to keep a dog in the city where it will be locked up during the day in a small apartment or house. If Fido has too much energy and the twice-daily walk is not doing the job, finally there is an answer. You can send the little hound to day camp! Better yet, the camp counselors will pick the pooch up in the morning in a school bus and return in the afternoon a happy and exercised canine. Totally Dog is located in the Redland and can only be visited by appointment. It sits on more than two acres of land and features a four-foot-deep bone-shape pool, an obstacle course, beach sand, and doggy toys galore. Each day your animal will get chewy pig ear as a snack and even take a group nap to break up all that joyful running around. Campers usually number about 30 a day and must be neutered, housebroken, at least four months old, have all their shots, be flea-and-tick protected, and know how to play well with others. All the dogs are screened. Every dog goes through a $200 four-day training during which they learn the rules: how to get into the pool, voice response, and how to ride on the bus. Each day of camp after that costs $35. Call in advance because slots fill up quickly.

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!"

The weekend bazaar at the Flagler Dog Track features the same sprawling grid of junk and gems that could be found at most other flea markets. But no other pulguero in town has the sonic boom of the jetliners that land at the airport nearby. And the rows of goods are treasure troves of the cheap and cheesy. To be found in its ample aisles of vendors: five-dollar shoes, kung fu sabers, roosters, fruit stands, bongs, computers, polyester lingerie, baptismal gowns, corn dogs, snow cones. An eclectic mélange set to the beat of hip-hop, bachata, and merengue emanates from the myriad music stands. Fifty cents gets you in the door; parking is free. Bring dollar bills to haggle. Go home with accouterments for the new you.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®