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

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.

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.

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.

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 Story of O

Never mind that he got kicked out of St. Mark’s and dropped out of UT, or that his line readings seem a little . . . off. Somehow, Owen Wilson is the kind of guy who gets movies made. And he gets $10 million a pop, dude.

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.

Oh, the Horror!

Another installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise?

Hooked

Why have Americans fallen for Longhorns hoof, line, and sinker?

Sand Trap

John Spong surveys the remaking—or is it the unmaking?—of Lajitas.

I, the Juror

As a "recovering" attorney with a mixed record at picking juries, I always wondered what made them tick. After receiving a summons this year, I'm still deliberating.

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.

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