The Best I Recall
William Broyles, Jr.:
In the fall of 1972, while Gary was working on a story about the elusive and enigmatic Dallas Cowboys star running back Duane Thomas for our first issue, I went with him up to Dallas. We hadn’t published anything. Nobody had ever heard of Texas Monthly. We were complete unknowns and we were banking on Gary to give us some credibility.
Gary took me by the Dallas Times Herald to see his legendary boss Blackie Sherrod. Blackie was a tough newsroom hidalgo who brooked no mediocrity and suffered no fools. He had been mentor to some the best writers of that generation, among them Bud Shrake, Dan Jenkins and Gary. I had just turned 28 and I was Gary’s new editor. I was doing my best to win his confidence. Blackie looked at me, took a puff of his cigarette, then turned to Gary and said, “Where’d you get the copy boy?”
From the Times Herald, Gary took me on a tour of the underbelly of Dallas. We caught some strippers, I believe Chastity Fox was among them, heard tales of Candy Barr, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby, and did a great deal of mind-altering substances, some of them legal. Everyone greeted Gary like he was the mayor. Those were Gary’s gonzo days with the Mad Dogs and the Flying Punzar Brothers, back when Hunter Thompson used to come to our poker games. Gary was superhuman in his endurance.
I was barely conscious when Gary took me by our digs, which were in Pete Gent’s apartment. Pete was a former Dallas Cowboy tight end. He was finishing up North Dallas Forty, a roman a clef about the underside of his Cowboys career that was made into a remotely recognizable film with Nick Nolte.
I collapsed on the bed. Gary went out. His last words were, “The party’s just getting started.”
The apartment was in the direct flight path of Love Field, then Dallas’s only airport. Every thirty seconds or so a plane would scream over just above the roof. I’d only been back from Vietnam three years, so on every flyby I had to fight the urge to yell “Incoming!” and hit the floor. Finally I went to sleep.
At some indeterminate hour I was shook awake by a huge guy with a Taxi Driver grin on his face. He was pointing a pistol right at me. This was Pete Gent, and apparently Gary hadn’t told him that I was his houseguest.
“Who the hell are you?”
I looked over at Gary, pleading for help.
“I’ve never seen him before,” he said.
Broyles was the founding editor of Texas Monthly and worked at the magazine from 1972 to 1982. He is a writer and a producer.
[There are 22 more stories here.] [*Boldface gossip column style added by me.]
When I was a young man, I entertained fantasies of living life as a writer…and then I would read the next product of Gary Cartwright’s genius and decide I could never live up to that standard.
Cartwright died last Wednesday and Texas Monthly posted a tribute to the greatest writer they ever had. The William Broyles, Jr. story above is from that collection.
23 Writers and Editors Remember Gary Cartwright (Some of these are priceless.)
Texas Monthly archive of over 200 Gary Cartwright articles he wrote from the first issue in February of 1973 until his last 40 years later in January, 2013.
Gary Cartwright books.
There was J. Frank Dobie, T. R. Fehrenbach, Larry McMurtry, Walter Prescott Webb, Horton Foote, but Cartwright, well, Gary told stories of Texas like nobody else could and everyone else was afraid to tell in the first place.