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

Dude!

Yes, yes, new baby and new movie— but what Matthew McConaughey really wants to talk about is the cushion of the flip-flop, the skooching of hoodie sleeves, the proper thickness of koozies, and his coming career as the arbiter of redneck-Buddha chic.

You’re Rick Noriega. Do You Approve This Message?

Since the Republicans took over Texas, every plausible Democratic candidate for high statewide office has been the subject of an obligatory profile in Texas Monthly. Here’s yours—only it’s a bit different. It’s a memo containing loads of free advice—the kind you can afford—on how you can beat John Cornyn.

Untitled Mike Flynt Project

A veteran Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have come up with a better narrative arc: Seeking redemption, 59-year-old reenrolls at university he was once asked to leave, tries out for football team, makes it, becomes one of oldest-ever players in NCAA history. Or at least that’s how the hero wants it to be told. The full story may not be quite so neat and tidy, but . . . aw, hell, roll cameras anyway!

The Last Resort

After telecommunications tycoon Steve Smith bought the Big Bend town of Lajitas on a whim for $4.25 million, he spent perhaps $100 million more developing what was going to be a five-star, world-class getaway. The desert, however, had other ideas.

Rodney Schott

Taxidermist.

Number One With a Bullet

Miranda Lambert likes guns, but there’s more to her than that, just as the sultry pouts on her album covers don’t tell the whole story of an East Texas girl who always wanted to be Merle Haggard.

It Ain’t No Picnic

Willie’s picnic goes AWOL.

Carlos Brown Is a Hero (No Matter What He Says)

My best friend from high school is no longer the uncool, baseball-card-collecting goofball he once was. He’s a Navy surgeon and commander, and for two horrific weeks I got to watch him calmly and bravely save lives in wartime—not just Americans’ and not just soldiers’—in one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq.

Photographing A War

Lucian Read on photographing a war.

Passing Grades

Grading the quarterbacks.

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

My Friend Willie

Writer Larry L. King talks about his new book, In Search of Willie Morris.

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