I had to run into town this morning for a bathroom emergency…it was like: I got to get this rig to town faster than a Nascar driver on Viagra, or else it’s going to be a shit storm! For some reason I thought it was Sunday, and I was afraid the little supermarket wasn’t going to be open at 7am this morning. Lucky for me, it’s actually Saturday, and they were already in business.
Once my emergency was taken care of, I was able to walk through the supermarket feeling like a new man, and being a new man on a quest to discover the world and all it’s inhabitants, and now with empty bowels as well as an empty stomach, I decided to buy myself one avocado, some local beef jerky and a couple of pink ladies—the small delicious apples—which I’m eating right now back at camp Spider Johnson while writing this masterpiece.
By the way, Spider is an artist from Lubbock, Texas, who grew up and toured with some incredible West Texas musicians, and ended up settling in Mason in 1986 where he’s been making a living as an artist since. He’s been letting me park my rig on his property these last couple of days.
I’ve had such an incredible time already. Much of it thanks to Tony Plutino who organized my whole visit. Yesterday, I parked my rig on town square, and Tony took me and Brutus all over Mason county and beyond. First we ran some errands, and we drove all over while he talked to me about his beloved town. He loves his town, and he passed on that love to me.
But let me start at the beginning, more or less. Tony organized a radio interview at 8:30am on Friday—which is why I left Austin on Thursday rather than Friday afternoon—at Lone Star KHBL 102.5 FM radio with Charley on his morning show. Tony’s sister Suzanne is the morning co-host, and this amazing! I love me some radio, and apparently, radio loves me right back. After the show, Suzanne had to leave to go to her next job: Post Master; and I needed a cup of coffee, so Charley invited me for a pastry & cup of hot joe at Topaz Coffee shop on the square.
We walked, and on the way there, he opened a door—seems like most doors are kept unlocked around here—giving to a staircase, and yelled upward: “Kyle! You got any clothes on? I got somebody I want you to meet.” Thirty seconds later, Kyle yells back down that he’s already dressed. He joins us for coffee. Rachel, Kyle’s girlfriend is the young woman behind the counter at Topaz. We sat with a couple of old timers having their morning coffee and reading the newspapers. What can I say, I was loving this to no end…all of it! It’s like the small town America where I’ve always wanted to live, the small town America I’ve been told about in the movies, but never really believed existed.
And this is Mason, Texas, in a nutshell; however Mason is so much more than the perfect small American town. One of those two old timers, I was told afterwards, had been a bonds trader on Wall Street in New York City for twenty five years before retiring in Mason. Kyle Martin is from North Texas, and was living in San Antonio for several years. Every time he drove back north to visit his folks, he would go through Mason; one day he decided to rent a small apartment here to concentrate on his art for a month or so, and seven years later, he’s still here.
I kept hearing a version of those stories throughout the day yesterday. Mason is that magical small town America where yes, people can be incredibly conservative, but where all are welcome, more or less, and if you decide to settle here, and you take part in the community, and you give back to the community, well, then you are part of the community. Sure, there’s drama, there’s some usual small town stuff—everybody knows everybody, and everybody’s inside everybody else’s business—but what I’m trying to say, is that somehow they have found that balance that makes life good. Artist, rancher, hippy, church-goer, artisan all living together and somehow it all works.
And I grew up in a small Texas town. Several years ago, I bought property in another small Texas town. I’ve driven through and stopped at tons of small Texas town. I wasn’t always made to feel welcome in too many of them. In Mason, I felt right at home, the minute I stopped and parked my rig right in front of Sandstone Cellars Winery, and entered their wine bar and saw the bartender behind the bar, and five guys sitting or standing, all watching Jeopardy on TV and laughing about it.
When I walked in they’d never seen me, didn’t know I was coming, and had no clue who the hell I was, yet they kept on keeping on, opening their circle to me as if it was all just normal. I though: if I sit down on one of them stools, I’ll still be there in twenty years…I knew it. This was confirmed to me time and time again as I spent most of the day ridding around Mason in Tony’s truck with my dog Brutus in the back seat.
Thank you Mason for being such a good place. You make me believe in America, you are one facet of America that is good, and I like that, and I know that as I continue down the road, I will continue to see and interact with countless other facets of America that are also good. This was the perfect first stop.
Love & Peace.
And don’t forget the buy my books, and tell all your friends about them. That’s what keeps gas in the tank & food in my belly–as well as food in my dog Brutus’s belly!
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