We had always planned to feature Willie Nelson in one of our issues because he personally supports so many aspects of our mission at AFM, namely to help people be healthy and fit. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. At 79 “The Red Headed Stranger” is still touring all over the country to rave reviews. That is hard work and requires extraordinary endurance. Furthermore, Willie is “green” all over—organic food, bio-diesel fuel, supporting the small farmer—and he and his wife, Annie, walk the talk when it comes to health and fitness.
So it was a particular delight when Paul Carrozza called me back in September and asked, “When are you going to put Willie in Austin Fit?” I said “It’s in our editorial plan for 2013” and he came back with “How about this year?” After a quick review with our AFM team, serendipity struck as we realized that our November “Food Issue” would be perfect for one of “Occupy Food’s” strongest supporters and Austin’s own music icon. Two days later, just before he left for his Farm Aid gig in Hershey, PA, my team and I arrived on the movie set of the “the Red Headed Stranger” on Willie’s Ranch in Luck, Texas.
Even though this was not my first time to visit Willie in this venue, I have to say that I was again overwhelmed at the gracious welcome from Willie and Annie as we trooped through the double doors at the entrance to the saloon which serves as Willie’s World Headquarters. They greeted our team like we were family and thanked us for coming out to see them and spending part of our day with them. No fancy stuff or gate keepers, just two solid folks telling their story with passion and honesty. And what a story!
While we focused on Willie’s support of food initiatives and the plight of the small farmer in this country, we chatted like relatives about all aspects of healthy living in our country. The conversation was candid and casual and breathtakingly honest and direct. I won’t spoil the fun, since you can read it all in our feature article, but not only was the conversation enlightening, it was pleasant in a way that only comes from having a dialogue with really friendly people. At one point, I asked Willie what he did to stay fit and he calmly mentioned that he practiced kung fu and that he had received his second degree black belt in tae kwon do. Figuring this achievement must have been some time ago, I asked him, “When did you accomplish that?” With a smile and a twinkle in his eye, he softly replied, “I received it last week.” And with that, I watched incredulously as he erupted from a sitting position with a brisk kick over my head. How cool is that?
Sadly, our time with these two good folks ended all too soon and as we said our goodbyes, Willie turned to me as he has in the past when I have visited him and said, “Now you come on back and see us.” And you know, I know he really meant it. That’s just the kind of guy he is and that is a true icon.
Keep Austin Fit,