John Spong

Senior Editor John Spong holds a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Texas. In 1997, after working two years as a civil litigator, he joined Texas Monthly as a fact-checker, then moved into a staff writing position in 2002. He was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2010 for his story on 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, and his stories have appeared in numerous collections, including Best Food Writing 2012 (Da Capo Press, 2012) and The Best American Sports Writing 2009 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). Inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters in 2013, Spong also sits on the advisory council of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. He lives in Austin, his home since 1971, with his wife Julie Blakeslee and their son, Willie Mo.

Stories

The Greatest Lawyer Who Ever Lived

He’s the brashest, most generous, most foul-mouthed trial attorney in the country. And at 89, Joe Jamail can still command a courtroom, mother%*!$#@.

Bottle Rocket

Lone Star was just a brew for dads and cowboys, until Jerry Retzloff helped turn it into the coolest beer in the country.

All George Strait's No. 1's

Listen to all of King George’s greatest hits.

The Last Ride of King George

After a career that’s spanned more than thirty years, George Strait is wrapping up his 48-stop farewell tour this month. For those of us whose lives he has captured so inimitably in song, country music will never be the same.

He Ain't Going Nowhere

How did Guy Clark become the most revered songwriter in Nashville? One hard-won tune at a time.

Chicks in the Wilderness

Ten years after their remarkable fall from grace, no one is quite sure why the onetime Nashville darlings tumbled so far—and never got back up.

All Grown Up

Austin is booming with jobs, condos, festivals, traffic, hipsters, joggers, and high-concept dive bars (anyone for Lone Star and seared foie gras?). Does that mean it’s no longer Austin?

Confessions of a Seventh-Grade Texas History Teacher

Bobby Jackson has taught students in the Aransas County school district about the Plains Indians, the Battle of San Jacinto, and Spindletop since the state celebrated its sesquicentennial. How he does it bears no resemblance to the class I took when I was stuck in middle school.

That 70’s Show

Forty years ago, Willie, Waylon, Jerry Jeff, and a whole host of Texas misfits grew their hair long, snubbed Nashville, and brought the hippies and rednecks together. The birth of outlaw country changed country music forever.

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?

Sketchy Characters

Before cameras were allowed in courtrooms, artist Gary Myrick and his assortment of colored pencils provided Texas television audiences with a vivid look at the state’s high-profile legal proceedings against figures like T. Cullen Davis, Henry Lee Lucas, and Charles Harrelson.

Karen Wagner’s Life

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

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.

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?

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