I hate you! You said you had to work. Then why is your car here at her place? You're a liar.
I hate you. I hate you!
PS: Page me later
Pictured above, holding one of his countless finds, a photo/painting collage, is FOUND magazine co-founder Davy Rothbart and to the right is a transcription of the infamous, short, passionately scribbled note that he found on his car windshield one snowy morning in Chicago six years ago -- the very note that inspired him to initiate what would become a popular magazine (Found), a couple of books culled from the magazines, a popular website, a spinoff magazine (Dirty Found), and an excuse to tour the USA making connections with a whole subculture of people addicted to digging in the garbage or looking down on the sidewalk to find discarded or lost items (letters, to-do lists, photos, kids' paintings, napkin doodles, birthday cards, printed emails, etc, etc) to submit for publication in Found.
At the moment, Davy, who runs the popular and unique magazine with his brother/business partner Peter and a host of others, is currently in the midst of one of his "tours." The current Found Tour is a sixty five city trek across the USA and Canada during which he and his brother converge with fans at independent bookstores, libraries, community halls, bars, and small clubs. There they display "found" items, read aloud found letters, and with guitar and other accompaniment, perform musical interpretations of their finds, and, most importantly, meet other fans of found items who always bring along stuff that they've found -- much of which finds its way either into an issue of Found or on the Found Website where the Find of the Day is posted daily. I recently caught up with Davy, who was in the SoCal area last week for a series of Found shows in San Diego, Long Beach, and Los Angeles, to ask him about his magazine and in particular that note from Amber to Mario that started the whole thing.
DAVY: Yeah, what really sparked this whole thing was this note that was left on my car windshield one day. It was a note to Mario. Now, my name is Davy, but the note that was on my car was addressed to Mario. So I open it and it read: "I hate you! You said you had to work! Then why is your car here at her place? You're a liar. I hate you. I hate you! Amber PS: Page me later." And there was something I loved about that note's complicated emotions. She's so angry and upset with him but also still hopeful and a bit in love. And I started showing that to my friends and then they started showing me stuff they had found. And I had noticed as I roamed around the country people would always have their prized finds hanging on their fridge like a polaroid that they found in the gutter or some kid's drawing or funny lost love letter. And it seemed like a shame to me that only the people who trooped through their kitchen would get to see their stuff. So making Found magazine seemed like a natural way for everyone to share what they're finding with everyone else.
AMOEBLOG: That fascination we all share, I guess. It is just the voyeur in all of us, huh?
DAVY: Yes, and I believe a that a certain degree of voyeurism is healthy. But before all this I hadn't realized just how many other people shared my fascination with looking into other peoples' lives ... We are surrounded by strangers every day as we sit on the bus or train in public places and it's natural to wonder what other peoples' experience of being human is like. Hence the magazine.
AMOEBLOG: Over the years/issues you have printed a lot of personal stuff including lots of broken-hearted love letters and other embarrassing personal stuff. Do people whose private letter or photo or diary excerpt have been featured in the pages of Found ever discover it and contact you and curse you out?
DAVY: Yeah, it happens a lot more often than you would imagine, but usually they are not mad. Their reaction is usually, "'Hey that's mine!" They've all been cool about it. Maybe a bit honored, or more often just totally mystified, like, "First of all; how did you get that?" and secondly they generally wonder why would anyone even care about these little details of their love life.
AMOEBLOG: I am always running into people who are fans of Found. When you started out, did you expect it to take off like this?
DAVY: No, not at all. I always love finding this kind of stuff so I started the magazine as just a simple zine. It was in June 2001 when we started out as a little zine and I made 50 copies at Kinko's but the guy who was working behind the counter said to me, "Dude this is cool! Let's make 800." So I had boxes and boxes -- hundreds -- more than I could ever get rid of. And then I went away traveling for a while leaving boxes and boxes of zines behind with my roommates. And word got out around town and people started coming over and buying one, two, three copies of Found and soon all 800 sold out. In fact, so many people were coming by the house at all hours of the day and night that the neighbors thought my roommates were selling drugs.
The current "Crime" issue of Found (see cover above) is out now and can be found in cool (independent!) bookstores around the country. Meanwhile the Found tour is scheduled to be in Lexington, KY tonight (Weds 11/14). For more info on the tour, the mag, its risque spin-off Dirty Found, the Found books, and all of the above, best go to the Found Website.