Collecting other people’s garbage has proven to be a fruitful hobby for Found magazine creator Davy Rothbart. Found has brought together a nationwide community of people who find inspiration in the discarded and lost possessions of strangers. Rothbart and his brother Peter are on a 55-city tour and collecting-blitz to promote their newest book Requiem for a Paper Bag. The brothers perform their spoken-word and musical show Tuesday, June 30, at Brewvies (677 S. 200 West).
Is there a regional quality to the items you find?
To me, the similarities are more striking. Definitely in different parts of the country, they may use different ways to express themselves, but I find the underlying emotions and, basically, what’s been going on in people’s lives are remarkably similar.
Is that what attracts people to the magazine?
I think so. It is that flicker of recognition when you’re going through something difficult in life, and you feel totally isolated. To read the note of a stranger and see that somebody else is going through such similar things, it does make you feel less alone.
How do you feel about publishing people’s extremely private material?
As long as there’s a respectful tone, and you’re not mocking people, that would be the simplest way to look at the stuff. But if you look at it with some respect and complexity, ultimately, these people are ourselves. It is absolutely voyeuristic. But I believe that a certain degree of voyeurism is healthy because we’re surrounded by strangers all the time, and it’s natural to be curious about what other people’s experience of being human is like.
How is doing the show with your brother?
We’ve been traveling for years. I just get up onstage with a stack of my favorite found notes and letters that people have sent in over the years. I try to read them with the energy and emotion they were written with and bring them to life in that way. Peter plays songs based on some of those found notes. Some of them are amazingly hilarious, and some are completely crushing and beautiful.
Do you get a lot of submissions from Utah?
I can’t think of any particulars off the top of my head, but we have gotten good stuff from there. I’m trying to figure out if Salt Lake is fertile territory for stuff or there’s just more awareness of us there. Maybe there’s just more people looking for stuff.