The Ordinary Eye

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Oct 2002 / the ordinary eye :: email this story to a friend

By Andrea Avery

To the ordinary eye, litter is litter. To Davy Rothbart of FOUND Magazine, and countless other voyeuristic packrats, litter is often pure pleasure. Davy launched the magazine to showcase found stuff: love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, photos, poetry on napkins, telephone bills, doodles — anything that gives a glimpse into someone else's life. Here are ten fun FOUND facts I learned from Davy, proving the ordinary is anything but.

  1. The idea for FOUND Magazine actually came to Davy Rothbart while in the parking lot of Boomland Fireworks, in Missouri.

  2. Davy originally published 800 copies of the first issue, but eventually had to print 16,000 copies to meet the demand for the magazine.

  3. Davy financed the first printing from money he had saved from scalping basketball tickets during the Michael Jordan era of the Chicago Bulls.

  4. The LA Times called Found "a trash-picker's and anthropologist's dream come true."

  5. Davy once witnessed a hardcore collector of found objects using a blowtorch to melt ice in order to extract a note frozen into a sidewalk.

  6. An author of a memo that was featured in the first printing of FOUND magazine contacted Davy after someone in the office discovered the lost memo in the magazine and passed it around the office. The author was being teased about the somewhat confidential item.

  7. Davy once found a letter addressed to Mario on his car, in an apparent case of mistaken Toyota Camrys.

  8. The Booty Don't StopSomeone submitted to the magazine a found cassette tape of booty-rap songs, which eventually circulated around the southeast Michigan area for two years, finally finding its way back to someone who actually knew the creators of the tape, which featured such musical gems as Your Booty Don't Stop, Wave Your Booty in the Air, and Yo' Ass is So Fine. (You can hear selected songs or order the complete tape from the Found website.)

  9. There are dozens of websites dedicated to found objects such as Litter, Other People's Memories, and Royal Journal: Found Art.

  10. From October 1 - December 21, Davy will be visiting 48 cities in a cross-country road tour to promote the magazine and share stories. Mad Art Gallery will be hosting the St. Louis FOUND Magazine Party on Tuesday, October 8th, from 7:30-10:30pm. You are invited to bring your own found objects to share at this free event. For more information, contact Mad Art at or visit the FOUND Magazine site. In St. Louis, find your own FOUND Magazine at Left Bank Books, Subterranean Books, or Mad Art Gallery.

Andrea Avery is a St. Louis artist, freelance writer, and admitted packrat.

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