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Ain’t Doin’ Nothin’ but Thinkin’ of You

Yo what up, it's 5 in the morning here, snowy. I'm down in the basement working on the 2nd FOUND book and listening to the 2nd 8 Mile soundtrack (More Music from 8 Mile). Just to explain real quick, FOUND is a collection of notes and letters and shit that folks have found on the ground, on the sidewalk, the street, the floor of the city bus, the bowling alley parking lot, prison yards, beaches, etc., and sent in to me and my friend Jason. I'm pleased with the page I just put together. A guy named Mike Smith walked a few thousand miles on a charity hike and found lots of incredible stuff and sent it to me — this is maybe my favorite, this '60s or '70s-lookin' greeting card he found in an abandoned house in Alabama. On the outside it's printed, AIN'T DOIN' NOTHIN'... and then on the inside — ...BUT THINKIN' OF YOU. Then the message written inside is this:

Hi Kids, I am always thinking of you and praying for you. Mommy will certainly have to account to Jehovah for not taking you to the meetings. There is no excuse. Also if you stay there and do not go to meetings or out in service you will surely lose your lives at Armageddon. I love you and want you to live. Do not listen to excuses. They are from Satan. I am anxious to see you. It won't be long now. Love always, Daddy (your only)

Hahahaha, funny shit, huh? Apparently, the old, broken-down house where Mike Smith found this card was totally ripped apart — there were stuffed animals with their innards strewn all over the floor, food mashed into the carpet, a real mess. Mike thought maybe this Jehovah's Witness dad had come and done a number on his family. Or maybe it was merely Satan's work.

Last week, I was in Kansas City, visiting my friend Byron. Byron is a voracious reader. The three magazines he subscribes to at Crossroads Correctional Facility are the New Yorker, Wired, and Juxtapoz. It got me thinking about which three magazines I would subscribe to if I were locked up. Probably the New Yorker, SLAM, and the Sun, same ones I subscribe to now. Byron and I also got to talking about our favorite books. He's about the most well-read guy I know. He's exhausted the library at his prison the same way I always seem to exhaust the artsy/indie video store in any city I live in. Byron's always looking for suggestions for new books he hasn't read and I came up with five for him. I thought this week, on this Powell's blog, I'd mention one each day.

There's a guy named Dean Bakopoulos who wrote an amazing novel called Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, it just came out this year, and the New York Times called it one of the Best 100 Books of the Year. It's actually the best book of the year. It's about Detroit, it's about fathers and sons, it's about growing up, all that shit. It's really beautiful. Dean also just wrote a great article for the L.A. Times trying to wake people up to the dire straits that Michigan is in right now with all the auto plants closing down. Anyway, if you are from Michigan, or have any family that's worked in an auto plant, or hell, if you've ever even driven a car, you should check out this book. The prison won't allow anyone to send Byron any full-on books, but I can send him up to ten photocopied pages at a time, so I'm going to send this book to him in little increments. If you are reading this and you are not in prison, you're lucky, you can just get the whole actual book from Powell's.

Okay, I better get back to work. I have four weeks to finish this FOUND book. If you are sitting on any fantastic finds, send them to me immediately!

FOUND Magazine
attn: Davy Rothbart / Urgent last-minute submissions
3455 Charing Cross Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48108-1911

Peace out for now y'all.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and... Used Trade Paper $6.95
  2. Please Don't Come Back from the Moon Used Hardcover $10.95
  3. Found II: More of the Best Lost,... Used Trade Paper $6.50

Davy Rothbart is the author of Found II: More of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World

6 Responses to "Ain’t Doin’ Nothin’ but Thinkin’ of You"

    Venkman December 12th, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    Welcome, Davy!

    Thanks for the info about Byron. I hadn't even heard of his case until your post, and now, as I read more about it, I find it fascinating and horrifying. I suppose I'm not the only one who lives in fear that someone will mistakenly (or, worse, intentionally) mis-identify me as the culprit in some crime — and even if there's no physical evidence to prove my guilt, there may be no compelling evidence to disprove it in the eyes of a sufficiently prejudiced jury.

    Byron's case puts me in mind of the brilliant/queasy documentary Paradise Lost, in which the wrong people are clearly being held for murder, based on their "Goth" lifestyle and the bias of their "peers." I can only imagine how a nineteen-year-old carrying on a relationship with a fourteen-year-old might play to a certain kind of jury.

    Perhaps I'm identifying too closely with the Twilight Zone nature of the case, but is there anything the average person can do to help Byron get a (hopefully fair) retrial?

    Georgie December 12th, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    I agree -- what an awful situation! It reminds me of something from Kafka. But also, in the truth is scarier than fiction realm, of this documentary series I just watched called The Staircase. It was filmed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade who did another jaw-droppinly shocking doco called Murder on a Sunday Morning.

    Davy December 12th, 2005 at 11:27 pm

    Hi Venkman--

    You asked: is there anything the average person can do to help Byron get a (hopefully fair) retrial?

    That's a great question. I should know the answer, but will have to check with Byron and his mother, Evelyn, a great woman who is working fiercely to free her son.

    The main thing I can think of is to help spread word about Byron's situation in any way you can. The more folks who know about his case, the better, I'm sure. It's possible to read a lot of stuff online about this case and not be convinced of Byron's innocence, but after reading the trial transcripts and discovery papers, it seems clear to me that he got a raw deal.

    Another thing folks can do is to write to Byron. He is a cool, smart, funny guy who is in a nightmarish situation. Even a short note of support is a big boost to Byron.

    Byron Case #328416
    Crossroads Correctional Facility
    1115 East Pence Road
    Cameron, MO 64429

    Don't send any books or magazines or anything else remotely objectionable; only personal correspondence will get through to him.

    Thanks Venkman, say hi to Winston, Egon, and Ray.

    Georgie -- I've been wanting to see The Staircase, i'll have to check it out. Paradise Lost is great, too. In fact, Damien Echols just wrote a book recently, after being locked up for something like 10 years. I just ordered it. Thanks Georgie.

    Samps December 12th, 2005 at 11:29 pm

    Hey Davy--
    Good to see you on here. That whole thing about Byron is crazy. Maybe *he* should guest blog! Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    What's up with the Pistons? (just kidding--I know they're looking good).

    What are your favorite sports books?

    Davy December 13th, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Samp!

    My favorite sports books:

    The Fab Five by Mitch Albom
    If I Don't Six by Elwood Reid
    The Last Shot by Darcy Frey
    Dynasty by Peter Golenbock
    and anything by Al Slote

    What are your favorites?

    Dave Weich just mentioned to me how much he liked Stefan Fatsis' Wild and Outside about minor league baseball — I'll have to check it out.

    The Pistons are unstoppable.

    TARA November 29th, 2006 at 6:31 pm


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