Thursday, October 4
For a literary figure, Davy Rothbart behaves more like a punk act than>"/>
Thursday, October 4 Town Hall
FOUND Magazine's 10th Anniversary Tour
Thursday, October 4
For a literary figure, Davy Rothbart behaves more like a punk act than a This American Life contributor. The author and FOUND magazine founder appeared at Town Hall on Thursday along with his musician brother Peter, who also works on the magazine, and the pair read, played music and engaged in their usual shenanigans in celebration of 10 years of FOUND (and Davy's new book My Heart Is An Idiot), but it was far from your average literary event.
If you're not familiar with the magazine - which has also been turned into a series of books - FOUND is comprised of notes and photos mostly, found left behind in restaurants, on schoolyards, in the pages of used books or simply discarded on the street, which are sent in by f0lks around the country to the Rothbarts' childhood home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which serves as the magazine's home base. The end result is a voyeuristic bonanza, an indelible snapshot of humanity that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. The finds are ephemeral, which is part of the charm, and the magazine is put together like a punk rock fanzine, with Xeroxed pages, scotch tape and notes penciled in the margins. Also in the spirit of punk rock, the pair are in the midst of a 79-city tour in 99 days, which may actually qualify as the most aggressive literary tour of all-time.
After sharing a few of their new finds, Davy read a story from his latest book, which, like the magazine, was both touching and terrifying. "This story is kind of fucked up," he said before diving in. "Don't hate me after I read it to you." The story involved the ways in which he and his brothers would mess with their deaf mother, like by inviting a group of neighborhood kids over after school to scream, "Fuck you, bitch!" at the back of their mother's head at point blank range while she washed dishes completely unaware. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. After the story, momma Rothbart stood up and spoke for a few minutes. It turns out she was in town for work and it was a sweet moment to see Davy on stage with his mom.
Peter, a musician who now lives in Seattle, performed several songs on acoustic guitar, sort of James Taylor lite, with lyrics inspired by some of his favorite found notes. The pair have built a cottage industry, which includes books, magazines and DVDs, which they promoted aggressively like a touring band, though they stopped short of asking if they could crash on anyone's floor.
Unlike previous FOUND magazine shows, the focus last night was less on the magazine itself and more on the Rothbart brand and their various projects. But the brothers are incredibly likable and are always engaging and funny on stage. They come off like regular dudes from the Midwest without any pretension. Davy drank beers during the entirety of the event, even during his reading, and it'd be hard not to have a good time at one of their shows. To complete the night, Davy brought up a volunteer from the audience who had no idea she was subjecting herself to an impromptu interview, which included responding to questions posed by the audience on little pieces of paper before the show that presumably folks thought would be answered by the Rothbarts. "Who are you, really?" Davy asked the pretty writer who had volunteered herself. And later, "How big is your dick?"
FOUND magazine is a great project, and the Rothbarts' passion for their work is evident. If you missed their show last night, it's worth checking out -- and you still can. It plays again Saturday night with an early show at the Crocodile, and it's only $5 if you buy your ticket in advance.