Off the Record

• Here’s some behind-the-scenes information on the Earl Whitley story: I shot his BB gun at a cardboard target after the interview. Why does he have a BB gun on the front porch? Here’s a better question: Why not?

• Earl says he doesn’t follow politics very closely. I suspect that’s one of the reasons he’s been able to live to 93.

• A peer-reviewed study from New York University and a French university that I can’t pronounce found that “news publishers known for putting out misinformation got six times the amount of likes, shares, and interactions on the platform as did trustworthy news sources.”

• I’m very good about writing myself handwritten reminders. The problem I have is remembering where I place the notes. Reminder: don’t believe everything you read on Facebook.

• I know there are a lot of East Carolina University alumni out there on the lake. I see your car and mailbox decals, and flags, all over the place. Some of you yell “Go Pirates” when you see my ECU license plate. Thursday’s football loss to Appalachian State was one of the most disappointing outcomes I can recall. Yes, App. State is good. But App. State having a better program than ECU - and it clearly does right now - should not be acceptable given the proud history of ECU football. The Pirates left the Southern Conference for greener pastures in 1976. App. State left in 2014.

• It wasn’t that long ago, under head coach Ruffin McNeill and offensive coordinator/Boy Wonder Lincoln Riley, that ECU arguably had the best college football team in the state. The Pirates trounced UNC in consecutive meetings and also defeated N.C. State in back-to-back contests. Those days are long gone, despite the Wolfpack’s apparent dedication each week to wearing the most unappealing uniforms they can get their hands on.

• NC town name of the week: Scotch Meadows. There’s less than a thousand people here, but that’s not what is important. Scotland County, on the South Carolina border, is one of the only places I’ve been in the state where a collection of communities’ lineage is unmistakable. Everything seems to have a Scottish tie down there. Scotland High School’s nickname is the Fighting Scots - and high school football is a very big deal in that part of the state. The private college in the county seat of Laurinburg is called St. Andrews, named after the university in Scotland. Laurinburg, which hosts a Highland Games each year, was named after the McLaurin family. And the newspaper there used to - and maybe still does - boast an image of a bagpiper at the top of its front page.

• This is my final edition of “Off the Record” although I will have a few leftover bylines in upcoming Gazette-Observer publications. Feel free to drop me a line at if you’re curious about my next adventure. Lake Gaston is a special place and I’m grateful to have experienced it for a short while. Please continue to read the newspaper. The Lake Gaston Gazette and Littleton Observer were cornerstones of the lake area long before I arrived, and the Gazette-Observer will continue to be going forward.

“When nothing is owed or deserved or expected

And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected

If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected

Decide what to be and go be it”

- The Avett Brothers, “Head full of doubt/Road full of promise”