John Spong

Senior Editor John Spong holds a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Texas. In 1997, after working two years as a civil litigator, he joined Texas Monthly as a fact-checker, then moved into a staff writing position in 2002. He was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2010 for his story on Texas dance halls, “Step Right Up” and has twice won the Texas Institute of Letters’ O. Henry Award for Magazine Journalism—for “The Good Book and the Bad Book,” about a censorship battle at a private school in Austin, and for “Holding Garmsir,” about a month he spent with a platoon of U.S. Marines fighting in Afghanistan. He is the author of A Book on the Making of Lonesome Dove, and his stories have appeared in numerous collections, including Best Food Writing 2012 (Da Capo Press, 2012) and The Best American Sports Writing 2009 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). Inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2013, Spong also sits on the advisory council of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. He lives in Austin, his home since 1971, with his wife Julie Blakeslee and their son, Willie Mo.

Stories

Ron White Gets the Last Laugh

Thanks to the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, he’s richer than all get-out, and you’re not.

The Good Book and the Bad Book

When parents at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, in Austin—where the Capital City’s moneyed elite have educated their kids for more than fifty years—rebelled against the teaching of Brokeback Mountain, it was, you might say, a learning experience for everyone involved.

Light in the Darkness

The title of James Evans’s new series of Big Bend photographs is “The Camera Never Sleeps.” It doesn’t matter, apparently, that the photographer does.

My Life As an Illegal

You’ve heard enough from the politicians and the activists, the demagogues and the bleeding hearts. Here’s my story. I only wish I could put my name on it. By Immigrant X

Would You Buy What This Man Is Selling?

With the military stretched thinner than ever, Staff Sergeant Christopher Schwope’s skill as an Army recruiter is undeniably important. And it’s a thing to behold.

Embarrassment of Riches

At Westlake, even if your parents wouldn’t spring for Ralph Lauren, you could still work your way into the in crowd.

Dome Away From Home

Inside the Eighth Wonder of the World—the largest shelter ever organized by the American Red Cross—faith, hope, and charity helped the survivors of Hurricane Katrina begin the process of rebuilding their lives.

Six Brothers

The tragedy of the Von Erichs—the state’s first family of pro wrestling—is well known not just to fans of the sport but to the many groupies who oohed and aahed at the matinee-idol athletes over the years. Still, you haven’t really heard the story until it’s told by the sole surviving sibling, whose eldest son may be the next one to step into the ring.

Pug

He asked me if I was going to be white my whole life. I was, of course. But because of our friendship, I’m no longer the clueless upper-middle-class kid I once was.

L. on Wheels

Eight days in a rental car with Larry L. King, the crotchety West Texan who has written some of the greatest magazine stories of all time, would be enough to drive anyone crazy. Except his biggest fan.

The Shot Not Heard Round the World

Elmo Henderson’s entire life story can be summed up in a single moment: when he stepped into the ring in San Antonio one night in 1972 and knocked out Muhammad Ali. At least that’s the way he tells it. And tells it.

Wheels of Fortune

For automakers in the U.S. and overseas, Texas is the very best market for the pickup truck. And for Texans, the pickup truck is the very best vehicle—if only for what it says about who we are. Or who we’d like to be.

The Rehabilitation of Charlie Wilson

It happened in twelve steps, which is not surprising, given the legendary Lufkin lawmaker’s history with booze, broads, and bad behavior. For now, at least, it’s taking.

Spoon at a Fork

According to Time, the Austin rock-pop trio Spoon “just might be your next favorite band.” But Britt Daniel and the boys have been burned by such pronouncements before, so this time they’re carefully considering their options—and, as always, putting their music first.

The Spirit of '76

How Matthew McConaughey got discovered, why Renée Zellweger’s part is so small, why some of the actresses can’t eat ketchup to this day, and everything else you didn’t know about the making of the classic high school flick Dazed and Confused.

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