The Things We Carry

As a private investigator who does criminal defense and ends up going to rough parts of town to conduct surveillance, undercover work or field interviews, it’s advisable to have a LTC/CHL (License to Carry/Concealed Handgun License). I carry a Ruger SR9c loaded with Barnes TAC-XPD 9mm Luger +P Hollow Point ammo, and a pocket knife with a glass breaker tip on the handle and seat belt cutter.

I prefer this type of pistol because it’s light overall and has a light trigger pull. The frame is also relatively thinner than a Glock 22 and other similar models, so there’s minimal to no printing when it’s holstered. I prefer to use an IWB (Inside the Waistband) holster for extra concealment, tucked in my jeans usually at the 1 o’clock or 4 o’clock positions.

I also prefer to use hollow points for self-defense and exclusively use full metal jackets for the shooting range. Law enforcement agents will agree with me on this one, because hollow points have more stopping power than a FMJ, especially if you’re shooting a 9mm.

This means I can stop a bad guy with a single shot at center mass (torso) because the expanding bullet will tear up his vital organs pretty badly. A full metal jacket could go through his body, leave a narrow hole through him, and probably won’t kill him or even stop him immediately. In that case you will have to keep firing, which could escalate the situation and the last thing you want is a full-blown shootout. You want to stop your target ASAP and secure the scene until the police arrive.

Additionally, if you’re shooting indoors, a full metal jacket could theoretically go through the bad guy’s body and through the thin walls of a home, and potentially hurt innocent people behind those walls. So hollow points are recommended for self-defense.

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It’s rare that you’ll find yourself in a life-threatening situation on this job, but it never hurts to always be prepared, because life can come at you fast like a bullet.

Micro Notes

Invest in a dependable and durable GPS tracking device. Remember, it’s a federal crime to place one on a car other than your own unless you have the owner’s consent. You would think that it’s dumb for an owner/suspect to consent to that and you’re right, but if you’re a parent and you want to track your druggie son or Cash Me Ousside How Bow Dat-type daughter using the car that you own, it makes total sense. Also, if you want to track your cheating spouse’s movements, you legally have the right to place it underneath the car without their knowledge because it’s shared property.

Be sure to get the waterproof magnetic case to house your unit. The magnet is very strong and can easily be applied underneath the vehicle, usually the bottom of the spare tire compartment near the rear bumper.

When you’re doing a “hard tail” on a subject through the city–the GPS tracker planted underneath their car like a leach–you realize how much of a badass driver you really are. Bonus Points: Track them during the late afternoon traffic jam and try not to lose them to see what you’re made of.

P.S.

Don’t fuck with my fridge. Don’t touch my food.

Micro Notes

1. To apartment security: don’t allow a large gap underneath your gate. Even a sexy stud with enormous muscles like myself (that was sarcasm) was able to slip under the gate as if I was playing Metal Gear Solid in real life.

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2. If you can’t post up long-term to wait for someone to drive away, you can put ketchup packets underneath their tires. Come back later on and see if the packets burst or if they’re still intact. Shout-out to McDonald’s for always giving me extra condiments.

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3. There are new cases waiting to be solved everywhere. One of my favorite channels is the Justice Network. During commercial breaks, they post missing persons and wanted criminals in the local area. It reminds me of Big Shot show in Cowboy Bebop, minus the goofy Western theme and barely-dressed blonde.

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4. I convinced my boss to give me the serial killer case. This subject is almost a carbon copy of Aileen Wuornos. That stack in the middle of my desk is only 1/5th of the research files on her.

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No Church in the Wild

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I found an old abandoned African American church in North Carolina that’s been on the market for a while now. A state preservation organization is the current keeper.

I did my research and found out that a group of white teenagers and young adults vandalized the church in 2003. They even etched or tagged racial slurs inside.

I want to buy it, renovate it, and then establish a relationship with an African American congregation in the area and donate it to them.

If the surrounding land, which is all woodland, is also for sale, I’ll buy as many acres as I can. I want to develop tech parks in the area–whilst still maintaining and incorporating the natural environment–and encourage black tech entrepreneurs to set up shop there. I want to create a Silicon Valley of the South that not only encourages minorities to create tech start-ups, but educate (free coding schools) and incubate (venture capital) as well.

If it’s successful, I’ll employ the same thing in Detroit, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and Cleveland. Who knows, the next tech/business revolution could be born in that humble battered church in the woods.

Close Encounters

Doing sniper surveillance (camping in the back of a surveillance vehicle with a DSLR or camcorder) is the most effective way to get the money shot. You’re supposed to be a ghost. No one should even notice you, much less see you, but I’ve always preferred engaging the subject face-to-face. Come up with a cover story (Jehovah’s Witness, landscaper handing out flyers, asking for directions, etc.) and then talk to the subject with your phone in your shirt pocket recording the whole thing. I want my subject to remember the face that betrays his trust.

Pill Nation

I did an undercover operation on an unlicensed doctor earlier and it was such a piece of cake getting the pills that I wanted.

I actually felt bad for the doctor. He was a young, nice guy, seems smart as heck, who was just helping a poor immigrant community–but I did what I was assigned to do. The law is the law: you cannot practice as a physician if you’re not licensed with the state. But it showed me how easy it is for pill addicts to get prescriptions from these types of clinics. No wonder opioid addiction is on the rise.

TempHQ

Personally, I like to have a “temporary HQ” when I’m getting ready to do street work. It’s a place that you go to for respite, or to develop strategies, or to park your car and do quick research on your phone.

A temporary HQ such as a parking lot allows you to quickly mobilize when your target is on the move.

Private Investigation teaches you to be patient, methodical, and precise with your actions & decisions. It’s similar to chess or hunting.

Prowling across Houston and throughout Southeast Texas, you end up loving and hating your region more.

Film Notes: Violette (2013)

Violette (2013), a beautifully shot biopic on French novelist and memoirist, Violette Leduc.

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The writer’s life.

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Violette Field

Emmanuelle Devos was great playing Leduc in this movie. She portrayed Leduc’s neurotic/histrionic tendencies with realism. Devos is someone I’d tell acting students to study when working on facial expressions. I can mute the movie and cover the subtitles, and still know what’s going on in the scenes just by watching the emotions (or lack thereof) in her face.

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I thought this overhead shot of her and her mother is a great example of using subtle symbolism in film. Leduc’s mother had always been an integral part of her writing and this film shows their complex relationship. They clearly love each other and her mom is depicted as sweet and (for the most part) supportive. However, there is tension between them from time to time, mostly stemming from Leduc.

In this scene her mom comes over her apartment and she’s sleeping in Leduc’s bed. It’s a simple, common gesture to let your visiting parents (and the elderly in general) to sleep in your bed whilst you opt for the floor, but I feel like it shows Leduc’s tenderness towards her mother despite their occasional friction.

The side by side view shows that they’re inseparable, both in person and in the pages of her books. I also like the fact that Leduc is sleeping in a fetal position, symbolizing that she will always be her mother’s child no matter how hard she may try to distance herself.

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This scene reminded me of when I was writing a draft for a novel on a water-damaged notebook in the White Mountains (New Hampshire). Writing outdoors is actually great–granted there aren’t mosquitoes fucking you up–because the fresh oxygen and sunlight boosts your mental processing. Being in solitude and away from the maddening crowd helps as well.

Violette - I was in love with Sandrine Kiberlain, who played Simone de Beauvoir, throughout this movie

I was in love with Sandrine Kiberlain, who played Simone de Beauvoir, throughout this movie.

Violette - Yves Cape does a great job here turning a beautiful but cliche and dull shot into something interesting - the snow covered car resembles a phatom floating up the screen

Yves Cape does a great job here turning a beautiful but cliche and dull shot into something interesting. The snow covered car resembles a phantom floating up the screen.

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Yves Cape is a bit underrated as a cinematographer. He also did Holy Motors and Humanite. Observe where the actors are in the frame. As a photographer, that is my idea of a perfect composition.

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This scene reminded me of The Others, when the daughter was playing in the wedding dress, and she transforms into the blind psychic – that’s another film with haunting (pun intended) cinematography.

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This scene reminded me of when Hurricane Ike swept through Houston, and we were out of power for about a week. I sat in the dining room with just one candle, writing essays and poems.

Violette - the set and costume designers did an amazing job by the way - also, shout-out to the location scout team

The set and costume designers did an amazing job. Also, shout-out to the location scouts. Perfect choices.

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Street View: Visual Survey of Economic Gaps

Houston. Homelessness along Main. It’s an issue that Houston officials rarely address publicly. There were even rumors that the government transported them to other cities.

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It feels voyeuristic to look at these people on Google Street View. It’s as if an affluent, hand sanitizer-carrying tourist going on a poverty safari in their Land Rover. You can “see” the opposite side of the socioeconomic spectrum without having to actually go there. But I’ve been there. I’ve talked to the people out on the streets. For a brief period of time, I was even one of the people out on the streets. Using these digital tools are a good way to collect visual data in a short span of time, across different parts of the globe.

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Pasay, Manila.

In the “squatter” houses along the river and around wealthy, glitzy Makati, you will see many makeshift abodes.

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W. Cary Street Murals / Richmond, Virgina.

While I applaud residents and artists in beautifying the abandoned buildings, and low-income neighborhoods, I wish city officials “beautified” the school systems and economic opportunities as well. Instead of simply gentrifying neighborhoods–which increases economic vitality, but also increases real estate prices as well, and causes long-time residents to be pushed out, whether intended or not–real estate developers who partner with city officials should rebuild neighborhoods where there is more inclusion.

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7th Avenue. Borough of Manhattan, New York City.

The “other” side.