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

The End of The Affair

Everyone was shocked when San Angelo’s hugely popular mayor suddenly left town with his gay lover. Everyone, that is, except the citizens of San Angelo.

From the Hip

Fun Fun Fun Fest and its post-punk indie sound.

Step Right Up

Press your jeans, pull on your boots, shine up your buckle, and come along on this two-stepping tour of classic country dance halls, from Tom Sefcik Hall, in Seaton, to Club Westerner, in Victoria.

Hook’d

The Longhorns may have lost the BCS National Championship on the hallowed field of the Rose Bowl, but they gained something almost as important: a long-lost fan.

True West

Twenty-five years ago, Larry McMurtry published a novel called Lonesome Dove—and Texas hasn’t looked the same since. Listen in as more than thirty writers, critics, producers, and actors, from Peter Bogdonavich and Dave Hickey to Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, and Anjelica Huston, tell the stories behind the book (and the miniseries) that changed the way we see the West.

On the Road—Westbound and Down

Most vacations in Texas mean filling up the gas tank and logging long hours on the highway. Yet whether it’s a classic buddy trip or a full-blown family vacation, the charms of the open road remain. May it always be so.

Big State, Small Screen

Is Friday Night Lights the best TV show ever made about Texas? Or just the first one (sorry, J.R.! Sorry, Hank!) that’s tried so hard to get the details right?

Just Dance

As we mourn the passing of Club 21, one of the state's most beloved dance halls, remember to scoot across one of the many other historic, century-old two-stepping floors.

Schoolhouse Rocked

How an angry parent’s e-mail turned an elite Houston private school into a political battleground.

Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?

As a kid I was the pickiest eater you have ever seen, and family meals gave new meaning to the words “food fight.” But I gritted my teeth and overcame it—one disgusting tomato at a time.

Giving a Tour of the Capitol

Richard Poland on giving tours of the Capitol.

Karen Wagner’s Life

She lived outside the spotlight, quietly serving her country as most members of the military do, until one terrible day.

Come and Take a Look at Me Now

Against all odds, Phil Collins has turned himself into a world-class Alamo buff who will happily talk your ear off about Santa Anna and Davy Crockett. Can you feel it coming in the Bexar tonight?

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