All He Wrote

All He Wrote
Gary Cartwright
Photograph by Wyatt McSpadden

He’s been here from the very beginning. In February 1973 readers of the first issue of a brand-new magazine called TEXAS MONTHLY were treated to, among other stories, a strange but fascinating piece by a strange but fascinating writer named Gary Cartwright. Gary was already familiar to many Texans for his legendary work—and play—in the sports departments of the Fort Worth Press, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Dallas Morning News and for his gonzo contributions to various national magazines, including Harper’s, Life, Rolling Stone, and Sports Illustrated. His piece for the inaugural issue of this magazine was a profile of South Dallas native and ex—Dallas Cowboys star Duane Thomas, the moody but brilliant running back who’d been traded to the San Diego Chargers in 1972 before drifting away from football altogether. Thomas had a frosty relationship with the media, but Gary, being Gary, had found a way to get him to talk—and talk and talk.

The first time I met Duane Thomas he told me about The Great Cosmos,” the story began. “The Great Cosmos was Duane’s attempt to express the inexpressible, and he used the term like a new toy. It was an interchangeable expression of faith and fear, of love and loneliness, of infinite acceptance and eternal rejection, a gussied-up extraterrestrial slang that still hovered painfully near his South Dallas streets.” By the

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