Actually Weird

While some civic leaders have proudly declared Louisville to be a city filled with unusual and exotic people, ideas and attractions, the idea of “weird” is a very subjective one. In that spirit, we sought out two young businessmen with their minds on their money and just a pinch of that “weird” spirit we all love so much!

Jim Marlowe of Astro Black Records and Jeff Komara of Fat Rabbit Thrift & Vintage share a storefront at 1000 E. Oak Street. The former focuses on interesting music recordings, while the latter sells an eclectic assortment of clothes, home goods and knick-knacks.

AB_1How is your store keeping Louisville weird?
Jeff Komara: Fat Rabbit is a pretty weird mix of stuff. Anything from velvet white lion paintings, Super Nintendo games, Children of Bodom t-shirts, coffee tables, first edition Virginia Woolf books to knives. I’ll pretty much buy and sell anything that I think people would want. The nature of my store is just inherently weird and doesn’t take itself very seriously. Meaning: I’m not trying to be a sexy NuLu-type curated specialty shop. There’s enough of that in this town already.
Jim Marlowe: The life-size wax replica of John Cage that dispenses mosquitoes from his mouth has been unpopular…I’m desperately trying to rebrand in a hail of tears. Please send ideas.

Do you wish ear X-tacy Records and Wild & Woolly Video were still around? Or do people not enjoy music or movies any more?
JM: I don’t think people ever really liked music or movies. Now that they’re gone, people can go back to listening to stones, birds and their own blood pump.
JK: ear X-tacy has been replaced five times over already in this town. It was a cool place, but there are smaller, more intimate places now. I moved here 10 years ago, so I don’t have the obsession or nostalgia that other people developed for ear X-tacy over the years. I miss Wild & Woolly very much. It was great. I also understand that times change and businesses move on. It’s just the nature of things.
People still enjoy music and movies now, but this is the first era where you don’t need an actual physical copy of something to hear it or see it. You just need a machine that translates zeros and ones into something that you can see and/or hear. Sure, it’s a bummer that less and less people can make a living off of selling physical copies of media objects, but I also grow very tired of people’s romantic nostalgia for “the good old days.” You know – where they had to use a rotary telephone in an ice storm to see if the record store had something they saw in a distribution catalog that washed up to the muddy entranceway of their kerosene-powered forest-hogan.
Things are easier to access and hear now. I’m fine with that. You can get digital music for free now in seconds. It’s amazing! If there is something I really want to have on a record – a physical copy – I will go buy a record. I might order it right from the label or the band! If I download it and it sucks, I won’t buy it!
Sorry, I think you hit a sore spot with me here.

I heard vinyl made a comeback around a decade ago. What’s next to return to mainstream American homes?
JM: Ice delivery, DDT, Asbestos.
JK: Wood Paneling, Master P.

What are your customers like?
JK: Every type of character/human that I can think of comes into the store. It’s great 98 percent of the time. Totally non-pretentious humans.

What other stores, or artists, do you think are also keeping Louisville actually weird these days?
JM: Zan Hoffman’s Hórreo Depot.
JK: Well, Astro Black Records, Modern Cult Records, and Guestroom Records are the places I frequent for music – aside from my computer. Other than that, I really only shop at thrift stores and sidewalks because that is my life now. It’s great. Ryan Davis’ Sophomore Lounge is always putting out records by interesting musicians. Insect Policy is the best band in Louisville. Everyone should hang out at the American Turners Club, home of Cropped Out, more often. That place is weird in the best way. VT