FOUND Magazine, the voyeur's treasure-trove of love letters, shopping lists, Polaroids, sketches, and anything else found on the street, is on tour. Publisher Davy Rothbart and his brother Peter were in Providence, Rhode Island, at the end of April, and in December will end their 50-state Slapdance Across America Tour on the West Coast, after hitting a different city almost every night.
Their Rochester stop was at the very apt Bullwinkle Café (622 Lake Avenue), itself an homage to the once-discarded. Davy reads some of his favorite finds for the audience with a beer bottle held under one arm and a funny insight into the people behind the finds. We caught up with him after the show.
What gave you the idea for a magazine of found stuff?
I always loved finding stuff. When I was a kid I used to walk across this field and just pick things up. I was always amazed how powerfully I could connect to someone through what I found. I started collecting stuff, and eventually friends started giving me stuff. As I traveled people would have one prize find hanging on their fridge. And I always thought it was sad that only the people who trooped through their kitchen got to see it.
Many of the "FOUND" items are funny. Do any of them make you sad?
Many of them. There's such a mix of emotion. A lot of them are sad, just crushing. I'm always surprised by the economy of language. So many finds come in. Sometimes I just start crying, from the accumulated weight. All those people who aren't going to get what they want so badly.
How many people recognize their own lost items in the magazine?
It's happened a few times. I didn't know if they'd be freaked out or not. Most of the time they're honored or more often just completely mystified --- they're like, why would you be interested in my little love letter?
Do people think you are more approachable because you take such care of these little lost scraps?
I want to be approachable. I'm just a regular guy. This project belongs to everybody.
Do you publish everything you get?
Just a tiny percentage. We publish our favorites, whatever seems most interesting to me, what makes me laugh out loud.
--- Erica Curtis