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

Pit Stops

Where are the best places to eat barbecue in Texas? Six years ago we published a highly subjective—and hotly debated— list of our fifty favorite joints, and now we’ve gone back for seconds. Ten intrepid souls drove more than 21,000 miles in search of 2003’s worthiest ‘cue. Here’s what they came back with: the top 5 and the next 45, plus honorable mentions, great chains, and meat by mail.

Chasing Shadows

Why is James Evans so good at photographing the mavericks and renegades who make Big Bend one of the most interesting places on earth? Because he is one himself.

My Short, Unhappy Life as a Rodeo Clown

Once upon a time I thought I wanted to be a bullfighter (and not the kind that wears sequined tights). A legendary cowboy named Leon Coffee—and an animal named Pretty Boy—changed my mind.

Old-Fashioned Texas

Texas is changing before our eyes, but fried pies, drive-in movie theaters, and other vestiges of earlier days are all around. To find these treasures, we risked life, limb, and cholesterol count-and had a blast from the past.

History in the Making

Austin's new Bob Bullock museum sports six bas-reliefs that tell the story of Texas. Here's how a sculptor and a team of artisans made them, like the museum's namesake, larger than life.

Tomorrow People

Meet the senior class of what might be called Texas Music U. — four up-and-coming acts that should graduate to the big time.

Musical Marginalia

The places, people and stories behind Texas music.

Television • Stone Cold Steve Austin

Lord of the ring.

The Best Worst Legislators 1997

From Bush’s good try on property taxes to Bullock’s grand finale, from savvy Sadler to weaselly Wohlgemuth, from Duncan’s beginning to Howard’s end: Our sorting of the session’s standouts—best, worst, and in between.

SPONG

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