As long as people keep writing down doing embarrassing/confrontational/illiterate/pathetic/sad/snotty things, there will be Foundmagazine. Davy and Peter Rothbart started Found 10 years ago, and they're celebrating by hitting the road with all kinds of found goodies taking them to 37 states and 75 cities. Peter will sing songs based on found items and Davy will read from his new book of essays, My Heart Is An Idiot.
LA WEEKLY: Did you ever think you'd still be doing Found after 10 years?
DAVY ROTHBART: From the beginning, I had no grand ambitions for FoundMagazine -- I thought it would be a fun little 'zine that I'd make 50 copies of to share some of the cool stuff I'd found with my friends. I never dreamed that so many other people shared my fascination with these little found scraps of paper -- these glimpses into other people's lives. It has become a community art project in the truest sense of the word: We now receive 10 to 20 finds every day from all over the world. We now print 50,000 copies of each issue -- and yet, to this day, I think of it as a little 'zine, since it's still pieced together in my apartment with scissors and tape.
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Is there anyone in your life who would prefer you stop finding things?
Well, all the folks I've lived with the past 10 years in Michigan and now in L.A. have been pretty generous and patient with me about the mounds of odd love letters, to-do lists, and journal entries and stacks of salacious found Polaroids and kids' drawings all over the apartment.
Have you ever found anything that was just too emotional or difficult to share?
Honestly, the found letters that are the most raw, personal, and intimate are precisely the ones that I feel most drawn to share in the magazine. The authors of these notes are baring themselves completely to a friend or loved one -- or sometimes only to themselves, in a journal -- and it is this emotional nakedness and intense, fully un-self-conscious honesty that is so deeply fascinating and meaningful. Because we can connect with this stranger so powerfully, and seeing that someone else is going through something difficult -- maybe something we've gone through ourselves -- makes us feel more connected to everyone we share the world with.
Which do you prefer -- a find that makes you cry or makes you laugh?
Well, I really love both. In the magazine, I like to include a lot of the more soulful and sadder finds. I think they can be really powerful and relateable -- someone who wants something so badly that they pretty clearly are not going to get. But in our live show, I like to mostly share the ones that are really hilariously weird, cryptic and almost unbelievably wild.
Tell us about the Largo show.
At our live Foundshows, my brother Peter plays guitar and sings songs based on some of our favorite finds. There's one he's been playing this year that provokes more emotion than any song I've ever seen anyone play. It's based on a beautiful note found in the burned-out shell of a car on a roadside in Hawaii: a woman who has just had her second miscarriage writing a letter to God, questioning her faith and whether or not she has the will to try again to have a child. We featured this find in Found Magazine #6 and Peter wrote a song from the perspective of the woman's husband, who wants to offer support but is grieving himself. The song is called "A Child To Call Our Own" and every time he plays it, I see people in the audience sobbing -- it is that beautiful and haunting. Yep, Peter brings the tears, I bring the laughs; that's basically how we chop it up on the road. A few years ago, on the side of the road in rural West Virginia, Peter and I met a young sword-swallower named Brett Loudermilk, barely 18 years old. He was such a funny, engaging kid and already a talented performer, so we asked him to open for us that night at our show, and then took him on the road with us for a couple of weeks, and the next year even brought him on tour to Europe to perform with us. He's become a dear friend, and he is one of the most astounding performers you'll ever see -- we are bringing him with us to Largo to entertain all of our friends and do crazy shit onstage that your eyes won't believe.
Largo at the Coronet, 366 N. La Cienega Blvd.; Wed., Oct. 17, 8 p.m.; $25, proceeds benefit 826 LA. (310) 855-0350.
Wed., Oct. 17, 2012