The Objet Trouvé of Writing

Thursday, November 10, 2011

At Stake

Good writers borrow, great writers steal -- so goes the old saw. But the writer toils arduously to mask his thievery in his own invention until the stolen material appears fresh and original. Unless, of course, you’re Davy Rothbart, who had the revelation that if you steal from reality, all you need is the eye for the right material. From right here in Chicago, Davy launched FOUND Magazine, which collects the funniest and most tragic notes, receipts, journals, photographs, and anything else that can be photocopied you can imagine. People all over the world comb the streets and recycling bins for humorous or poignant peeks into the lives of strangers, and Davy and his colleagues sift through the chaff so we can enjoy the wheat.  

This Friday, November 11, 2011, Rothbart will be at the Music Box on Southport to read some of his favorite finds, both new and old. His brother Peter will perform his excellent interpretations of found songs.  If you have never seen a live FOUND show, it is worth the trip. The show is in partnership with the Found Footage Festival, which screens humorous clips from VHS videotapes found in thrift stores, garage sales, and dumpsters.  

And if it seems voyeuristic, just remember, the United States Supreme Court long ago, in the search and seizure context, put Americans on notice that they don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in anything they expose to the public, including their trash.