Found magazine founder Davy Rothbart found a second career in a misplaced note on his car windshield one night—"I HATE YOU I FUCKING HATE YOU—AMBER P.S. PAGE ME LATER," basically, and there was such irresistible honest humanity there he started collecting more and more bits of foundness: lost photos, lost notes, lost cell-phone text messages, the contents of people's pockets, eventually cataloged for your voyeuristic perusement as Found magazine. But some things were too human even for Found—too naked-boobie human, too drawing-of-a-horse-wiener human, if you register our drift, so Davy started sideline adults-only Dirty Found—currently on spectacular issue No. 2—for everyone who ever discovered a blurry ass poking out of the fax machine and wondered who and why and where's the Windex? His reading at Koo's is co-sponsored by bookstore-and-more Open, which once found a blowjob photo in a book called America Speaks, which explains everything perfectly.
OC Weekly:Have you found anything too hot even forDirty Found?
Davy Rothbart: I can't imagine what it could be—I don't think it could exist.
Has finding all these things changed the way you look at your fellow humans?
Definitely. I take more time to look at strangers' faces when I'm sitting on the bus, or I just try to talk to people—I knew intellectually that any one of these strangers could have written these notes, but I never really felt it. But everyone is leading these rich emotional lives filled with joy, sorrow, triumph—every person I cross paths with for an instant, I'm more curious to know their story.
Are you happier or sadder now that you know this?
Both. It makes me sad to see so much heartbreak and disappointment—so many people want things so badly that they're never gonna get, and though you can tell by reading the notes, they haven't figured it out yet. I sometimes actually start crying—it's not one particular note that's so sad, but it accumulates after like 50. Finally one just breaks you. But at the same time, it's a really good feeling to feel connected to strangers—to discover that somebody who is very different from me is feeling many of the same things. That actually makes me feel less alone. Especially in Dirty Found. So often I recognize myself—I've written that same pitiful love note a hundred times before.
It doesn't get realer than some pitiful lost love note.
A friend said it's like reality TV, but real. Another said it's like people watching on paper. There's this truthfulness—these notes aren't written for any audience, so people reveal themselves in these really personal ways. You're seeing them at their most naked.
Who was the hottest girl inDirty Found?
I just got my hands on Dirty Found No. 2, and there were some cuter girls in that issue, but in the first one, there was one lying on the bed, real pretty, kind of skinny, wearing a sort of see-through negligee. Like a centerfold. I don't know, I'd have to look through it a second time.
You ever lost any of your own dirty photos?
The weirdest thing happened a couple of years ago: I was opening all this mail, found stuff people sent in, and I opened one and saw my own handwriting—it's weird how instantly recognizable handwriting is. I couldn't remember what it was about, but I knew I'd written it. It was some notes for a reading I'd done, and people had found it and sent it in as kind of a joke, but there was still that stunned feeling. So weird.
Do you think the archaeologists of the future will be happy you collected these things?
Yeah, a guy from CBC radio wanted to put some into a time capsule for the year 2050.
Congratulations on defining our society for all time.
Maybe people will look back and get a sense of what we were really like.
DAVY ROTHBART READS FROM FOUND AND DIRTY FOUND AND HIS BOOK OF SHORT STORIES, THE LONE SURFER OF MONTANA, KANSAS, AT KOO'S, 530 E. BROADWAY, LONG BEACH, (562) 491-7584; WWW.KOOS.ORG. SAT., 8 P.M. $5. ROTHBART'S BROTHER PETER WILL PROVIDE MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.FOUNDMAGAZINE.COM.