Davy Rothbart found an angry girlfriend’s note to her boyfriend mistakenly placed on his car windshield. It was this entertaining note that inspired the creation of FOUND Magazine.
Rothbart put together the first issue of FOUND in 2001 with a pair of scissors and some tape. Since then, he published three more issues and a fifth is set for release this month.
“The magazine is just a collection of anything found,” Rothbart said. “It’s about getting a glimpse into other people’s lives, being able to relate to other people’s lives and better understanding our own lives in the process.”
Rothbart initially made 800 copies of his first issue and hosted a party for more than 50 guests to get it off the ground. Throughout the first week, word spread of the $5 issue as party guests showed off the publication to friends. By the end of the week, the box of 800 magazines was empty.
Rothbart constructed the magazines in the same simple method, but now he has plenty more finds to choose from – hundreds of new finds every week. Rothbart’s basement still serves as the company headquarters.
Items sent in include notes, letters, postcards, interesting photos and ticket stubs. Most of the finds are funny or entertaining in some way.
“I probably have a new favorite every three days or so,” Rothbart said.
But not every favorite of Rothbart’s is necessarily funny. He described one particularly moving note that was discovered in a cemetery – a letter written by a young boy to his deceased mother.
Some of the magazines have a specific theme. The upcoming issue, dubbed “The Crime Issue,” will feature all items related to law-breaking.
To celebrate the release of this new issue, Rothbart and other editors at FOUND have set out on a three-month tour of the U.S. The “There Goes the Neighborhood Tour” will make stops in 65 cities, including Philly. FOUND will be at the First Unitarian Church on Sunday, Sept. 23.
During the shows, Rothbart shows off his favorite new finds as Peter plays acoustic guitar and sings about them. The performances last for about an hour and admission is $5.
“FOUND is basically a gigantic, collaborative art project and people of all ages send things in to us every week,” Rothbart said. “It really allows you to connect with people in a deep, intimate way and makes you feel more connected with the community and everyone around you.”
Kevin Brosky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.