Friday, February 25, 2011

Found humanity

Totally unplanned, I went to the Davy Rothbart event at the CAC when I visited Cincinnati. Davy is the creator of
FOUND Magazine, a yearly publication that collects discarded notes, letters, memos, written chats, doodles, etc. At the CAC, Davy hit the audience with one after another funny notes picked up from various cities, seasoning them with his energy and extraordinary reading skills. The event turned out to be two sweet, hilarious, and amazing hours well spent between some art and a fancy dinner.

It all started after one snowy winter night in 1999 when Davy went to his car and found a note on his windshield. It was addressed to another guy named Mario:

Davy was fascinated by this mixture of hate and love. There was clearly a love triangle but Amber was still somehow hopeful at the end. With this passion, he set out to collect more found stuff and made it into a magazine. Then the readers started to send in their finds as well. After a decade, FOUND has become almost like a cult that worships little scraps of paper.

Here's one that seems to be a monthly budget typed up by a neat person. The list starts with rent 600, cell phone 50... food 500, liquor 600 (!), and... crack 600 (!!)... Another one is a comparison made by a woman trying to decide between two men. Andrew or Paul?

After a good laugh, I realized it was more than just something funny. We humans have all sorts of emotions, sometimes conflicting ones (like Amber). It's interesting to see how people would/could think and how they decide. These found notes give glimpses into other people's personal and intimate moments. As Davy's mom puts it, it's like "people watching on paper." The notes were written without any self-consciousness or pretense, since they were not meant to be public. So they reveal humanity in a rather raw and unfiltered manner. Through these notes, we can get a sense of all the kinds of lives being led around us, even if we don't necessarily connect with each other on a daily basis or in meaningful ways.

Davy saved his all-time favorite find to the end. I think it's about friendship. (Video found online, taken from another event.)


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