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Chairman, clown, PMFL
From the editor
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is somehow still allowed to be managing editor of the Bryan County News. - photo by File photo

Welcome to another installment of the Pembroke Mafia Football League meets local politics.

I know, it’s supposed to be elsewhere in this paper, but sometimes you have to adapt to survive.

And we in the Pembroke Mafia don’t just survive, we thrive. We also like chives, talk jive and arrive alive, without trying to derive, revive or take a dive.

We’re like bipedal newts, playing flutes.

And, I forget where this was going, so just gimme five, Clive.

Before we get to this week’s picks and reintroducing the PMFL to those of you who might be first time readers — like P.G. Wodehouse, I always have a hard time knowing how much time to spend on backstory — I’ve got a few things to get off my chest.

For starters, thanks to those who helped keep Bryan County from getting blown to smithereens by Hurricane Irma, which wasn’t really a hurricane hereabouts but still caused serious problems for many (me included). You can hate government till your eyeballs fall out, but who else is going to get you or your cat out of a tree? Wells Fargo?

But I do have a question: What’s the deal with local officials giving storm updates flanked by men wearing what we used to call BDUs back in the day when I was in the Army (they call them something else now).

Here’s why I’m asking. I saw, on a Bryan County Emergency Services video posted on Facebook, Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger standing between two gentlemen wearing what I think were Army uniforms.

Famous Online Radio King and EMS Director Freddy Howell and Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor were there too, looking appropriately serious and well intentioned, as the occasion demanded.

Yet before watching the video, I had a stray thought.

What if Infinger, who was behind a podium, was fixing to declare martial law, or maybe announce he had organized his own junta and was taking over South Bryan? What if he had nuclear weapons and was about to launch a pre-emptive strike on Chatham County?

Hey, you never know these days.

Note to readers: Phew. As it turns out, Infinger, a native Charlestonian and Gamecocks fan whose favorite words are "Clemson is a cow college, that’s right, that’s right," wasn’t announcing a coup.

He was announcing post-Irma re-entry info for Bryan County, though for some that might amount to basically the same thing, given the massive amount of growth we’ve had hereabouts. What is it this week, 11 new subdivisions? They’re going for a record, I tell you.

Onward: Kudos to Richmond Hill for turning down the LED billboard request, even if it was a church. Driving around here is bad enough day or night without more lights being fired at our retinas.

And, kudos to the Pembroke city council for its move to start enforcing curfews aimed at keeping juveniles from running amok in the middle of the night. Hey, I was a juvenile once and I ran amok, but now that I’m no longer an amok juvenile I don’t want juveniles running amok all over the place.

Onward: Someone called the cops after spotting a clown driving around in South Bryan the other day. When did it turn illegal to be a clown? It’s weird and creepy, sure, but not against the law. Of course, I suspect only in South Bryan would someone A) go driving around dressed as a clown, and B) have someone else call the cops him, or It, or Braxton and Zoe or whatever.

Braxton and Zoe. Hah!

This is why we in the Pembroke Mafia tend to like being in the Pembroke Mafia, which has a strict no-clowns and no Braxton or Zoe allowed rule in place. Except for me. And Alex. And a couple others.

I’ll introduce them to you now.

First, there’s B.J. Clark, who is a retired four-star admiral chief petty officer who is always losing the remote under the couch cushions, then saying to his wonderful wife Marsha, "Hey, honey, look, I found a quarter. And a French fry!"

Marsha’s reply: "Don’t spoil your appetite, supper’s almost ready!"

B.J. is a big deal at Pembroke American Legion Post 164, and so is Ernie Mitchell, who like B.J. is retired Navy. Unlike B.J., who still looks like he could do whatever floating around on ships people in the Navy do, Ernie has a full beard and is starting to look like he escaped from a Panama City nursing home. I don’t think he even wears shoes anymore.

And then there’s District 1 County Commissioner Noah Covington, aka The King of the North. Noah, who has sworn to Make North Bryan Great Again, is reportedly running for governor as soon as someone gives him enough money to fill up an above ground swimming pool. He’ll buy hats with them, since it worked for the president. In the meantime, if you need a ditch cleaned or a cheap satellite dish delivered in the middle of the night, call the King of the North.

And then there’s Pembroke Downtown Development Authority Director Alex Floyd, who, I have come to learn, is not only as old in dog years as he is in people years, which is 144-1/2. Anyway, in his never ending quest to promote downtown Pembroke, Floyd has announced he’s turning himself into a 21st Century version of Floyd the Barber from the Andy Griffith Show. His slogan: "Come to Pembroke to get your ears lowered, or try our tanning beds! Stay and hang out forever! We’ll make you a sandwich!"

And then there’s Development Authority of Bryan County CEO Anna Chafin, who is responsible for developing Bryan County’s authority, or something like that. Actually, Anna’s job is to bring jobs to Bryan County. That’s a good thing, and word is Anna is one of the best in the business at it. I say "word" because those DABC folks like to go into executive session a lot whenever a reporter shows up. It can give you a complex. Anna’s also good at saying to us lowlife reporters, "If I told you, I’d have to kill you. You don’t want me to kill you. It would hurt."

Man, attracting industry is a cutthroat business.

Also in the PMFL is Trey Robertson, who last week was known as Trey Roberts, thanks to an editorial space out. Either way, Roberts or Robertson, Trey is Bryan County Schools’ assistant superintendent for building and operations and helium balloon patrol, or something like that. You know how it is. The bigger the school district gets, the more people and bonds and sales taxes it needs to help it get even bigger. Before you know it, Trey Robertson will have to hire Trey Roberts to go to work for him.

Then there’s Mike Clark, who everybody knows so there’s no sense in saying anything else about him this week; and Mark Rogerson, the only guy in the Pembroke Mafia young enough to be eligible for a curfew. There’s also giraffe-like Ted O’Neil, the Bryan County News assistant editor and a good man even if he is from Michigan; and me, Jeff Whitten, Bryan County News managing editor and the person responsible for taking whatever lemonade B.J. sends me and turning it into lemons in this column.

On to the standings:

B.J., Noah and Ted are tied for first with seven misses to date, though last week was a bye week because of Irma.

Everybody else is behind them. What’s the old saying, "if you ain’t first, you ain’t first?"

That’s the rest of us. Except for me. I’m so far behind I might as well start stockpiling draft choices.

This week’s games and picks, and note that there are bound to be at least 14 mistakes because that’s how the PMFL rolls:

Virginia vs. Boise State: Ted, Noah and Trey take Virginia. The rest go with the Smurfs.

Army vs. Tulane: B.J. takes Tulane, the rest of us take Army. This is an interesting matchup between two former Georgia Southern head coaches, Willie Fritz at Tulane and Jeff Monken at Army. Of the two, Monken, a former assistant for Paul Johnson, is known for running a more traditional "Georgia Southern" option while Fritz uses a souped-up pistol. Me, I’m for Monken’s version. Go Army (even though when I was in the Army I’d pull for Navy, just because).

Mississippi State vs. UGA: Nick Fitzgerald is turning into an SEC star in Starkville. But with Bryan County still holding tenuous roots in Georgia, Bulldog fans still almost outnumber Ohio State fans, so this one has the PMFL split into those who think the Richmond Hill kid will do to UGA what he did to LSU; and those deluded souls who annually expect them Dawgs to take over the world. Me, B.J., Ted and Trey take Mississippi State; the rest go for UGA.

Auburn vs. Missouri: Alex and Mike take Mizzou, everybody else picks Awww-burn.

Duke vs. North Carolina: Me, Ernie, Anna and Trey take the Dukies. The rest go with the Tar Heels. Briskets in the basket, folk, briskets in the basket.

Louisiana Monroe vs. Louisiana Lafayette: Everybody goes for the Ragin’ Cajuns. This is a Sun Belt game, the Sun Belt being also known as Region 5-AA. It’s illegal to gamble on high school football, but we all still take Louisiana Lafayette, probably just because they got the cooler mascot. It’s a hot pepper, or a red pickle, or something.

North Carolina State vs. Florida State: Of the two states, I prefer North Carolina, which has more mountains and fewer sink holes. Plus, even these days most North Carolinians actually sound like they’re from the South. Floridians either talk as if they’re extras in the Hills Have Eyes Invade Walmart or they’re related to Marge Schott.

That said, we all take Burt Reynolds’ favorite team.

Texas Christian vs. Oklahoma State: Floyd the Barber takes the Horned Toads. Us real men pick the Cowboys.

UCLA vs. Stanford: Anna, B.J., Noah and Trey take UCLA, the rest of us pick Stanford.

Cincinnati vs. Navy: Ted picks the Bearkats or whatever they are, the rest of us go with the Midshipmen. By the way, if it wasn’t for spell checker I’d still be trying to misspell Cincinnati, which is Indian for "large hairy earlobes."

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State: Wow do we pick a lot of games. Mike, B.J., Jeff, Noah and Trey take Notre Dame. Everybody else takes Ted’s alma mater. Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. That’s Indian for "Lou Holtz wears funny looking pants."

Southern Cal vs. Cal: Everybody takes the Trojans except Trey Robertson. I think he’s up to something.

Florida vs. Kentucky: Me, Noah, Trey and Ernie take the Wildcats. Everybody else selects the Gators, the favorite team of mullet-wearing condo commandos everywhere.

OK, two more.

Central Florida vs. Maryland: Ernie, Trey and Alex take the Golden Knights. The rest of us go with Maryland. And what’s up with that state flag, anyway? The thing looks like I wish my wife would let me dress.

Oregon vs. Arizona: Everybody takes Oregon. A show of unity from the PMFL, at last. Unless we showed it earlier.

That’s it. My fingers hurt from typing.

Whitten is somehow still allowed to be managing editor of the Bryan County News.

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