Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (3 of 3)

Here’s Part 3 of my interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine. In Part 1 Davy talks about the cover of his new book, being on the road, and what happens at a normal Found show. In Part 2 we cover how Davy gets into performance mode, passion, Rise Against, and his new book, Requiem for a Paper Bag. Today, we FINALLY get to the Isiah Thomas part of the interview. These are the hard hitting questions you people are looking for. The Boston area Found show is Saturday, May 9 in Union Square, Somerville at Precinct. If you find something and want to send it to Davy, check out Foundmagazine.com.

You were saying just a second ago how the glimpse you get is incomplete and I feel like wondering about the rest of the story would just kill me over and over, but it sounds like you maybe have used your imagination to counter that.

I think it is intriguing, endlessly fascinating to take whatever clues are there and try to piece the clues together. We’re all surrounded by strangers everyday, walking down the street, sitting on the bus. When you look at these notes, it gives you these clues into what the lives of the people we share with – it gives you a little glimpse into their life. I like watching people and kind of in the same way you wonder ‘what’s that guy sitting alone at the bar, what’s he thinking about’ and it’s the same thing when you read these notes. You’re sense of wonder is titillated. You wonder, ‘what is the story here’.

You lover your job, I can tell. Is there anything you don’t like about what you’re doing?

I think one thing I struggle with, I have a lot of different interests and I struggle with figuring out which – I don’t know if this is the right answer to the question you asked – you know I love writing and I haven’t done that much writing the last few years because Found has been so wonderful. I plan on writing a book of personal essays this coming year and I’m excited to give more time to writing. I also like film making. So sometimes I feel like I’m stealing time from one project and putting it into another and I wonder which thing I should be working on.

That’s an answer.

Here’s another answer for you, too. I like making art. Whatever, writing, or film stuff, or radio, or Found, putting the magazine together, I consider art. There are some aspects of Found Magazine that are more like a small business, you know? I do love talking to all the bookstores that stock Found, stores will call me on my cell phone, the relationships you create with the people that work at these indie record stores or book stores that call me, ‘Hey man, I need 5 more issues of #5.” You know, I like getting those calls. But then there’s some parts of it that are less fun. But I’ve have some friends that have helped transition some of the less fun stuff off of me in the last year or two, so that’s been cool.

I don’t want to take up your entire day, but I do have one last question and I hope it doesn’t end the interview on a sour note. Isiah Thomas and the Knick’s. Does that debacle change the way you feel about him, or do you look past that and only think about the short-short era Zeke?

It’s been… It’s been tough. I always played point guard, I always loved point guards, Isiah Thomas was my hero growing up. The career he’s had since he retired from the court has been one sort of colossal blunder after another. The CBA, he tanked this poor fledgling basketball league. He just bought and tanked it. As a Piston’s fan I didn’t really mind him decimating the Knick’s organization. But I also felt bad that he’s the object of so much scorn. There’s now talk of him going to the Clippers which would just be, I don’t know, bad. I still like him, I still love the guy. There’s this moment in ‘Hoop Dreams’, it’s one of my favorite movies, where the young Arthur Agee and William Gates, they’re 9th graders and they get to meet Isiah Thomas for the first time. And he’s so sweet with them. To me, I’ll always remember him as the guy with dazzling charm and kindness and not as the maybe, poor businessman and [under his breath] sexual harasser.

But my other favorite players have done well, like Jalen Rose has done a lot better after his basketball career. And some of my other favorite point guards are doing well.

And CWebb’s doing well on TNT.

Yeah! CWebb’s a great guy, awesome to see how he’s doing. It’s weird though. It’s strange thinking about when people make these career transitions. Everything they’ve done… I’m about the age, I’m 33, so I’m about the age a lot of NBA players are when they retire. They’ve been incredibly successful and they’ve put everything they had into one thing their whole life, so how weird would it be to suddenly be gone from it and leave it behind. I love stories like The Wrestler, that was a fucking awesome movie. That struggle people have, ‘When are you too old to do something?’ A lot of touring musicians that question arises, too.

When do you stop and what do you do then?

Exactly. I think that is a really interesting question to explore. I’m writing something about a story that takes place in 1987 and I thought of that White Lion song ‘Wait’ because I wanted to use it in this screenplay I’m writing. So I decided to look it up and it turns out the singer for White Lion he has resurrected White Lion and some people, they can’t ever give it up. He’s almost like The Wrestler, he’s playing these county fairs in Des Moines, Iowa. And in fact, his bandmate sued him because he didn’t want him out there, so now they have to call it ‘Mike Tramp’s White Lion’ or something, he can’t even use the name White Lion. And yet there’s something beautiful about people still trying to do what it is they love to do. But sometimes you feel like it’s the only world they know and they don’t know what to do with themselves after that. And maybe that’s what Isiah has struggled with.

It sounds like you’ll be OK because you have several different projects so you won’t get burned out.

I like to think I’ll be able to transition, but it is strange sometimes being home, you get used to a different kind of lifestyle on the road. It’s changed me. I’m sure it will be a transition regardless, but I think it will be a good transition. I look forward to having time. One day when I hang up the Found road show, when I’m in my 60s or 70s, I look forward to having time to try to make movies, or writing, or playing ball. I still hve my college eligibility, I can still play ball.

[Laughter] That’s true, and you could ruin a basketball league or two.

Hopefully. Yes. I do think if I went to some tiny-ass liberal arts college for grad school maybe could I make their varsity team. Like Reed or something. [Laughter]

I’ve heard you can’t go left, but that probably wouldn’t matter in Division III.

I’m thinking if you can rain threes like I can’t, but hope to one day then I could make the team. ‘Put me in coach.’

[Laughter]There’s a Scott Bakula movie about that, right?

Yes. There’s got to be. [Laughter]

Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (3 of 3)

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