BROOKE GLADSTONE: Welcome back to On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. Sometimes you just find things. My daughter once found a shopping list in the aisle of a Sports Authority. It was a to do list for a coming vacation: "snorkeling, golf, tennis, make love to Jennifer, spear-fishing," quite a busy itinerary that raised a million questions, not the least of which was: did poor Jennifer write this herself?
BROOKE GLADSTONE:[LAUGHS] Found objects can be curious!-- even titillating as a group of Chicagoans have discovered. They have published in an extremely limited edition the first issue of Found -- a magazine that displays fascinating found notes and objects. Davy Rothbart is the publisher. Bob spoke to him recently and found something wholly unexpected himself.
BOB GARFIELD: Davy, welcome to On the Media!
DAVY ROTHBART: Good to be here.
BOB GARFIELD: What's the most disturbing that you've uncovered?
DAVY ROTHBART:A lot of notes have, you know, they're, they're disturbing because somebody wants something so badly and they're not going to get it. There's a lot of notes from girls to boys, and what they say ultimately is, you know, I love you -- why haven't I heard from you? And there's, I don't know, there's something kind of real sad about it, but beautiful. It's a little disturbing. [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD: Now there was one you found on a windshield.
DAVY ROTHBART:Yeah. That was actually on the windshield of my own car, and I, I pulled it open, it said: Mario! Mario, why is your car parked here in front of her house?! I hate you! I hate you, I hate you! You're a big liar. You said you had to work, but your car is here. I hate you! Amber. P.S. Page me later. [LAUGHTER] Yeah. Yeah. You know I -- that's what I like about found stuff is just -- it kind of gives you a window right into someone's innermost fears and desires, and I don't feel like it's-- to voyeuristic because it's anonymous also. You know? They're not going to be exposed. [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD:However for someone who happens upon his or her angry note or yearning note or what have you, it -- you would forgive them for feeling a major invasion of privacy.
DAVY ROTHBART: Well, sure. But you know once an item is left on the bus or otherwise lost, I kind of believe that it belongs to the world. I mean if people don't want their embarrassing love letters published or their secret thoughts or nude pictures of their lovers, they -- hold on to 'em! I mean it's crazy the stuff people find. I, I don't know why they can't keep them in a safe place in their room [...?...]. [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD:Now one of the most fascinating things in your magazine is a short short story about a man who makes a fateful decision to walk to work and crosses the Golden Gate Bridge and there finds someone who was about to leap to his death -- [LAUGHTER] just a, just a godawful piece of writing. What makes it interesting however is that - is its provenance! Where did it come from?
DAVY ROTHBART: Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson, Michigan. It was found by -- another inmate found it in the classroom there.
BOB GARFIELD: And you printed it! Did you make any attempt to find out actually who the author was?
DAVY ROTHBART: No, but the friend of mine who's in that prison -- he was, kind of thought he might know who it is cause it says "by D. Smith."
BOB GARFIELD: So you haven't gotten any permission from D. Smith to print his short story in Found.
DAVY ROTHBART: Right. I didn't really get permission to print too much of the stuff that's in the magazine, and-- I don't think that'll be a problem. There was one thing that's already caused a little bit of a stir. One secretary's going away on a trip or something and she wants to leave instructions for her replacement how to coddle the boss while she's gone. She says give him crushed ice, not cubes, for his Cokes. Always a cup; never a straw - and all these other kind of tiny words of wisdom. I left the names on there who it was from, who it was to and-- I guess it was on the web site too. The woman called me, kind of frantic, afraid that she might lose her job because of it. You know, I don't know -- I'd say we didn't necessarily do anything wrong, but if that was the outcome, that's not what we would want to happen.
BOB GARFIELD:Is it possible that you're going to somehow be a prisoner of your success -- that you're going to sell more and more and that -- and all of a sudden lawyers are going to start knocking on your door talking about their clients' rights and how you violated them?
DAVY ROTHBART: I guess I'm not too worried about being sued only because, I, I don't know! [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD: You have no money.
DAVY ROTHBART: Yeah. I have no money. [LAUGHTER] And I'm not making any money [LAUGHS] on this.
BOB GARFIELD: I'm doing the arithmetic here. 800 copies. 5 dollars apiece. That's 4,000 dollars. It's not going to be a cash cow for you is it Davy?
DAVY ROTHBART: No, not at all. It's just a hobby. I love found things. I love these notes. I don't know - I - it's m-- I guess I feel most alive when I'm glimpsing other people's lives.
BOB GARFIELD: How do you make a living?
DAVY ROTHBART: Mostly what I've been doing the last few years is scalping tickets. You could pretty much do that anywhere so-- [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD: So you're a criminal.
DAVY ROTHBART:A real low grade one, and, and really I think ticket scalpers are doing a community service. I like to think of it that way -- not so much as a criminal.
BOB GARFIELD: Well you - what's your friend in-- in prison for? What did he do?
DAVY ROTHBART: He-- Drugs. You know, Michigan's pretty conservative. [...?...].
BOB GARFIELD:You wouldn't by any chance supplement your [LAUGHS] -- I mean it's not drug money that's, that's-- behind the-- this-- enterprise is it? [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
DAVY ROTHBART: Well-- You know a little bit - a little bit of everything. Why don't I just [LAUGHS] say that? You know. Whatever, whatever-- [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD: You're an entrepreneur is what you're telling me.
DAVY ROTHBART: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly.
BOB GARFIELD: [LAUGHS] Davy Rothbart is the publisher though he calls himself the "point guard" of Found Magazine.