This Guy Wants Your Trash

A lecture outline annotated with love notes. “I hate this place” scribbled on an index card in Cabot. Melancholy love

A lecture outline annotated with love notes. “I hate this place” scribbled on an index card in Cabot. Melancholy love musings on the back of photographs. Random stuff is everywhere—on a person’s shoes, in dorm stairwells and tucked in tattered textbooks.

Taking the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” to a new level, Davy Rothbart has capitalized on this idea, creating Found, a magazine that is composed solely of, well, things one might find on the ground. These “finds” include old photos, scrawled love notes, and even discarded recordings and high school yearbooks.

He and his brother, 24-year-old Peter Rothbart, are currently on a 50 state tour of the U.S. performing “Found” shows—‘readings’ of some of their more choice finds—to promote their new treasury of found stuff.

“We used to go to the middle school in our town and raid the dumpster,” says Peter Rothbart, relaxing at a Daedalus afterparty for the Harvard Bookstore Found show last Thursday. Ironically enough, Davy himself is unable to be found at the Found show due to a conflict in scheduling. “My brother is really dedicated. He put himself in debt for the magazine,” Peter says, clad in a kelly green T-shirt emblazoned with the words “SUPER DAD.”

One of Peter’s personal favorites is a note the brothers found on Davy’s windshield. “Mario, I hate you, I fucking hate you, so why is your car at her place? I fucking hate you. –Amber. P.S. page me later.”

Since its inception in May of 2001, Found has garnered somewhat of a cult following. Most of the magazine’s content comes from its readers. “We get stuff from Europe, South America, all over the world,” says Peter.

Readers form “street-teams” to spread Found’s message. Kari Patch of the Harvard Bookstore finds the show inspiring. “It’s a lot of fun,” Patch says. “You always learn something new about the randomness of the human thought process.”

Jason W. Ravin of the Harvard Bookstore says the show “did make me want to read the magazine.” During the show, Peter, of the one-man band Poem Adept, plays several songs he had composed by putting the words of his finds to music, including one entitled “The Booty Don’t Stop,” adapted from a cassette tape of homespun rap tunes found by a reader.

At the end of the show, members of the audience flock around Peter, eagerly presenting him their most sincere found offerings.

What kind of stuff would Found like to find in Harvard Square? “The stuff that you can think of is so much less interesting than the stuff you can actually find,” says Peter. “It’s easy once you start noticing it.”

Start looking. You can start by looking for Davy Rothbert.