John Spong

Senior editor John Spong holds a bachelor’ degree in history and a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. In 1997, after a brief yet dramatically unfulfilling stint as a civil litigator in Austin, he joined Texas Monthly as a fact-checker. He became a staff writer in 2002. Spong was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2010 for his story celebrating 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 (University of Texas Press, 2012), and his stories have been collected in Best Food Writing 2012 (Da Capo Press, 2012), the Best American Sportswriting 2009 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), Literary Austin (TCU Press, 2007), and Rio Grande (University of Texas Press, 2004). In 2005 the City and Regional Magazine Association named Spong its national writer of the year. He has served on the board of the Texas Book Festival since 2008 and lived in Austin since 1971.

Stories

State Bar

If Texas politics is your thing and you live in Austin, sometimes you want to go where every lobbyist knows your name. And they're always glad you came.

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.

King's Ransom

At UT's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, extraordinary cultural treasures are available for your inspection—if you know the magic word.

Talk To Me

Associate editor John Spong talks about Hollywood types, drinking beer, and a typical high school scene.

Dream for Sale

Who wants to own a West Texas town? At least two eBay bidders have offered the asking price—but it could still be yours.

Off the Wall

Call it "Glove Story": Being the president of the international Michael Jackson Fan Club means never having to say you're sorry—even now.

Road Warrior

"There were a lot of wild nights, people taking us in and offering us whatever they had. There were a lot of those 'offerings.'"

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Strangers on a Train

There was something irresistibly romantic about the gutter punk’s description of stowing away in freight cars. No wonder I wanted to try it—even if, at 38, I probably should have thought to myself, “You’re too old for this.”

A Sell of a Town

Catching up with characters from our pages—A new owner for Cornudas.

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