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

Phantom of the Opry House

Sixteen photographs of some of the cooler moments of Austin history, as taken by Scott Newton, the longtime official photographer of “Austin City Limits.”

On Tour With the Sex Pistols

In 1978 Punk magazine sent photographer Roberta Bayley to Texas to chronicle the band’s tour through the South. Her photos of the two Texas shows capture the surreal collision of two radically different cultures.

He Ain't Going Nowhere

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

A Season in Hell

You know, when you’re surveying the struggles of Longhorn nation from Joe Jamail’s skybox, things don’t look so bad.

The Long Return

After more than a decade of combat, Texas soldiers are finally coming back for good. But the real journey home still lies ahead.

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?

RIP, Larry L. King

The writer who was known for writing the book for the Broadway musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas died Thursday at 83. Read three of senior editor John Spong's favorite stories by the giant of Texas letters. 

A Q&A With Jan Reid

Senior editor John Spong talked with Jan Reid about his new Ann Richards biography, Let the People In. 

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.

Happy Birthday, Willie!

Four videos celebrating the Red Headed Stranger, who turns 79 today.

A Lifetime of Achievement for Gary Cartwright

The beloved Texas writer recently received the Texas Institute of Letters' Lon Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. In his acceptance speech, he offered up a bit of advice for budding writers. 

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?

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