Row C, Table 12


Mobile Flea Market on Schillinger Road, Mobile, Alabama

From Oxford American:

Joe sells records at the Mobile Flea Market on Schillinger Road.  Row C, table 12; Saturdays and Sundays (but not before noon).

Psychedelic” Joe as most people know him. An increasingly squiggly Moby Grape tattoo on his arm, 8 x 10 glossy of his late ’70s cover band (aptly named Hurricane) framed at the back of his stall, groovy airbrushed sign announcing the nature of his trade as well as the name of his establishment (Kul-Ture Kollectibles), ebullient, if topically-confined personality that one comes to expect from career vinyl fingerers. Oh, and lots of glory-days stories of scores and records he used to own (ask him about the time he snuck backstage to give a copy of Skip Spence’s Oar to the Doobie Brothers).

As an early convert to the school of private press and regional lysergic ’60s archaeology, Joe spent his Reagan-era apprenticeship cold-calling up the ex-girlfriends, the ex-road managers, and even the widows of bands like the C.A. Quintet, New Tweedy Brothers, and Little Phil & The Nightshadows. These calls often resulted in more information—and, more importantly, more vinyl.

Since then, not a lot has changed.

Joe roams the Earth as an almost entirely pre-digital beast. He doesn’t have a computer, doesn’t have e-mail, has never used eBay, and consigns larger hauls to his more tech-savvy pals and stall-mates. Experience and hustle are how Joe makes his ends meet, and, even though he seems to be down on his luck as much as he’s up, Joe likely would not fit into any other niche. Add that he’s an instantly likeable guy, and you probably have half the explanation for his longevity.

“Not Mold Away: Tony Lane & His Fabulous Spades”, Collin Makamson, Oxford American