Super Bowl complaints and other off-the-wall records

Public records don’t have to be serious and stuffy. Sometimes, you can find off-the-wall stories by requesting records that others seem to ignore.

That’s what Deadspin editor Barry Petchesky did recently. He submitted a FOIA request to the FCC for viewer complaints about the Super Bowl. The 53 complaints included gripes about the volume of commercials, the cable going out and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ shirtless performance.

“THIS PERSON NAMED ANTHONY KIEDIS WAS NAKED TO THE WASTE, THRUSTING HIS PELVIS …” one viewer wrote.

“I found it indecent that I had to see the nipples of Antony Kiedis and Flea on the halftime show,” another person wrote. (You can read all of the complaints on Deadspin.)

I did an off-the-wall project of my own last week when I requested a list of North Carolina’s rejected license plates. I read through the list of 5,000+ plates and posted 100 of them on WRAL.com, including P0RNSTAR, 0RGASM and P00HAPNS.

Was it hard-hitting investigative journalism? No, but it was nice to take a break from the serious stories I was working on. It’s not every day that you get to write P00HAPNS.

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