I like to file Freedom of Information requests. Often they’re meant to hold the government accountable. But sometimes, they’re just nerd requests to help me learn more about pop culture. Here are a few of my favorites.
Watch Dogs 2 Litigation
In February 2017, I filed a series of public records requests with the San Francisco Police Department and the Oakland Police Department to learn whether the cops had ever communicated with the creators of my favorite video game, Watch Dogs 2.
SFPD responded quickly and revealed that Ubisoft documentary filmmakers had in fact reached out—and been rejected by the brass. Meanwhile, after a year passed without records from OPD, I filed a lawsuit against the City of Oakland.
And I won.
Mark Hamill Drive
After the City of San Diego named a street after Mark Hamill, of Jedi and Joker fame, I filed a public records request to find out how it all came together. In the documents, I discovered an amusing political epic, including Twitter DMs from Hamill himself. (Also, the city accidentally gave me Hamill’s personal cell phone number.)
Viking Funeral at San Diego Comic-Con
To promote the TV show Vikings during San Diego Comic-Con 2017, the History Channel used pyrotechnics to simulate a Viking Funeral on the bay. I wondered: how was this possible with the all the environmental protections in place.
I got similar records for Castle Rock/Hulu at Comic Con a year or so later.