Sometimes you come across an idea that's such a natural, you're amazed no one's thought of it before. Such is the common response to Found Magazine, which takes letters, poems, doodles, and photos discovered on America's back lots and gives them a place in the sun. Flipping through its scrapbooklike pages, which are filled with ephemera submitted by readers, can be a bracingly voyeuristic experience.
Happy Father's Day to you, even though you told me I can't cook and the pie I made sucked.-- Found by Danny, Delton, Wis.
"One of the reasons that these notes are so fascinating," says Found co-founder Jason Bitner, "is knowing that they weren't made for public consumption. Most writing we see is created by professional writers and artists who consider their medium and write for a particular audience. We [at Found] get to read things that are much less crafted and much more immediate. It's reality played out on lined paper."
Bitner's odd vocation began at age 16, when he worked at a recycling center near Chicago. He fought off boredom by rescuing notes from the scrap-paper piles.
LOCK THIS DOOR. It will prevent unauthorized people from entering the building and defecating in the washing machine. -- Found by Popcorn Pete, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Davy Rothbart, the magazine's other co-founder, is heading up a 50-state, eight-month tour for Found's first book-length collection. Expect to see him reading some of the weirdest finds -- plus his little brother, Peter, performing songs on the guitar based on Found notes and audience members sharing their own discoveries -- when the tour lands in San Francisco this week. Dumpster divers and sidewalk scavengers: Keep your eyes open.