Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One Man's Trash...

[Lost & Found] When my car was totaled last winter, I soon realized that I was part of pedestrian society. Despite having the occasional insult shouted at me or being stranded on the street on a rainy day, I eventually embraced it. I was getting some much-needed exercise and I came to the conclusion that you see, by far, the most interesting stuff when you slow down a bit.

One day, while walking downtown, I came across an object that made me smile to the car-less heavens: a dead fake-moustache. I did a double-take and, indeed, someone had deemed it necessary to dispose of a fake moustace in the most careless way possible. Had the moustache been cursed because of the blatent disregard? Or did the owner simply move on to a new style? These are the sort of questions that flooded my mind.

Davy Rothbart, co-creator of
Found Magazine has made a living out of these sort of hidden treasures. The magazine is comprised of items people have found (discarded love notes, unusual receipts, pictures, etc.) and sent to Rothbart, who pastes them together for the publication.

Last night, Rothbart was at the Downtown Library in support of Found's "There Goes the Neighborhood Tour," where he read some of his favorite found-items to a nearly-packed theater. The items ranged from hilarious (a reciept that listed: gun, gun, face-mask, and a pack of the candy, Nerds) to heartbreaking (a letter found tied to the end of a balloon that had been caught in a tree growing in the cemetery; a letter to someone's dead mother).

The level of intimacy of each of these was so intense that it was almost hard to take (like reading a diary), but on a social, humanitarian level. It seems like now that anyoone can put themselves out there (YouTubes, blogs), "private" life is becoming more rehearsed than ever. What Rothbart does may be the ultimate look into humans at their most vulnerable--when they think no one is watching/reading.

That said, Rothbart's brother Peter, a singer/songwriter, then performed "The Booty Don't Stop," a cover of a found, homemade demo tape (one of their favorite finds).

What's the best thing you ever found? (Ryan Bradford)


  1. In seventh grade, I found a photo on the sidewalk in the lower avenues. It was blurry, but you could make out a man's mid-section and his erect member. Not sure if he gave it to someone or if someone shot the image while he was sleeping. I'm now inclined to believe he was trying to advance a career in lo-fi porn. At the time, I told myself it was all very harmless.
    Oh, and one time these girls left a nasty note intended for me on my friend's Saab, which looked similar to mine at the time. He was very confused by their accusation "Leave our West boys alone!!" He thought, "I'm no hussy!!" We didn't put two and two together until the end of the year. Then we had a good laugh. And no, I don't know what they were talking about.

    (Jamie Gadette)

  2. The best thing I ever found was a love letter from my then-husband's girlfriend to him. It was folded up and stashed in his jeans pocket. I was doing HIS laundry, loving wife that I was. He had a terrible habit of leaving pens in his pocket that always broke and leaked in the washer/dryer. So yes, I cleaned out his pockets, as always.

    We had moved 1,500 miles away a couple of months earlier and they were still doing their affair long-distance. It was the first inkling I had of their relationship, which was already a couple of years running by the time I found the letter.

    So why was it the best thing I've ever found? It was a turning point for me. It was clear as day that these two suckers were in love, had to have each other, and I was just an afterthought. He and I drifted along for a full year after this (staying together, I guess, for our two young kids' sake), with counseling and all that bullshit. But the marriage was doomed. I don't know how long I would have gone on in ignorance until I found that letter.

    And my life is all the better now because of that discovery.


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