When it comes to addictive time sucks, Found Magazine ranks right up there with Twitter and a “Real Housewives” marathon. Now celebrating its 10th year, Found is packed with hundreds of discarded lists, fliers, notes, photographs and doodles. One minute you’re crying over a child’s letter to God (“I am realy sorry for all of my bad behaver on the bus. I need help God. Can you help me pleace.”). Three hours later, you’re laughing at a flier for a lost fish (“Please call if you see him but don’t try to catch him yourself. He is not good with strangers.”).
But the best way to experience Found is live. On Tuesday, Found founders Davy and Peter Rothbart return to St. Louis to introduce the eighth edition of their magazine. Watching one guy read another guy’s trash may seem like a snooze. But Davy Rothbart is a master at conjuring the strangers behind these letters.
“I do like to read a lot of the funny ones, but I also like the really personal, intimate letters,” said Davy Rothbart, who recently moved to Los Angeles from Michigan. “My heart goes out to them, and I feel moved by them. You see people who want things so badly that they’re probably not going to get.”
After tens of thousands of reader submissions, Davy Rothbart has learned some universal truths, namely that we hate bad drivers. Found has published dozens of notes damning drivers who took two spaces or blocked a driveway. Still, he is constantly surprised by the daily mail.
“We get 10 or 20 letters a day and you never know what’s going to be in that envelope,” Davy Rothbart said. “There is an endless combination of story and emotion.”
During this tour he also will read from his new collection of essays, “My Heart Is an Idiot.” Rothbart is a regular contributor to the radio program “This American Life” and has written for GQ and The New Yorker. These essays, however, feel more like Found letters — achingly funny and painfully raw.
“After publishing people’s most private thoughts, it’s only fair to be just as open myself,” he said. “Many of the stories are about the adventures I’ve had just meeting people and getting to know their stories, sort of Found notes come to life. Other stories were about painful things that happened to me but, looking back now, I can see the humor. There’s this weird line between over-confessional TMI and the storytelling I like which is personal, but relatable.”
Davy Rothbart hopes to meet fans here who have created their own projects using found items. The Rothbarts aren’t the first to transform found objects into a sort of art, but they certainly have inspired countless writers and artists to take a second look at trash.
“There is always room for more cool projects that share this tone of discovery and curiosity,” he said. “All of these projects see the beauty in life’s castaways whether it’s a found note that gives a hint of someone’s life story and you have to fill in the rest or something that has a tarnished visual beauty.”
Found Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Tour
When • 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where • Mad Art Gallery, 2727 South 12th Street
How much • $5
More info • madart.com