Back to top

Turn Out the Lights

Turn Out the Lights
Chronicles of Texas during the 80s and 90s
Foreword by Robert Draper

This book collects seventeen of Cartwright's best Texas Monthly articles from the 1980s and 1990s, along with a new essay, "My Most Unforgettable Year," about the lasting legacy of the Kennedy assassination.

Series: Southwestern Writers Collection Series, The Wittliff Collections, at Texas State University-San Marcos

November 2000
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
Add to cart
300 pages | 6 x 9 |

Whether the subject is Jack Ruby, Willie Nelson, or his own leukemia-stricken son Mark, when it comes to looking at the world through another person's eyes, nobody does it better than Gary Cartwright. For over twenty-five years, readers of Texas Monthly have relied on Cartwright to tell the stories behind the headlines with pull-no-punches honesty and wry humor. His reporting has told us not just what's happened over three decades in Texas, but, more importantly, what we've become as a result.

This book collects seventeen of Cartwright's best Texas Monthly articles from the 1980s and 1990s, along with a new essay, "My Most Unforgettable Year," about the lasting legacy of the Kennedy assassination. He ranges widely in these pieces, from the reasons for his return to Texas after a New Mexican exile to profiles of Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. Along the way, he strolls through San Antonio's historic King William District; attends a Dallas Cowboys old-timers reunion and the Holyfield vs. Foreman fight; visits the front lines of Texas' new range wars; gets inside the heads of murderers, gamblers, and revolutionaries; and debunks Viagra miracles, psychic surgery, and Kennedy conspiracy theories. In Cartwright's words, these pieces all record "the renewal of my Texas-ness, a rediscovery of Texas after returning home."

  • Foreword by Robert Draper
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. 1963: My Most Unforgettable Year. The gravity of that strangest of years when JFK was assassinated in my neighborhood weighs on everything I've written.
  • 2. Back Home: Why I Had to Leave Texas, and Why I Had to Come Back
  • 3. The Snootiest Neighborhood in Texas. During its heyday, the King William District was full of rich eccentrics, well-bred clubwomen, nosy neighbors, and a few stray chickens. Today it's pretty much the same.
  • 4. Meet the Binions. You won't believe how the children of the notorious Dallas gambler and racketeer Benny Binion made a mess out of his legacy.
  • 5. The Sting. Instead of rooting out corruption at NASA, the FBI exposed its own ruthlessness.
  • 6. Touch Me, Feel Me, Heal Me!: Exposing Psychic Surgery, or the Case of the Smoking Panties
  • 7. The Bad Brother. Matt Johnson and Ernie McMillan were leaders of the old Black Power crowd in Dallas. They preached revolution and went to jail. Fifteen years later, Ernie was wiser and tougher, and Matt was dead.
  • 8. Gila Hell. There we were, deep in the meanest, roughest country in the Southwest, and an 83-year-old fanatic was our leader.
  • 9. The Innocent and the Damned. In 1992 Fran and Dan Keller were sent to prison for sexually abusing a child in their suburban Austin day care center. But parents have convinced themselves that the couple are guilty of much worse. They believe the Kellers belong to a cult that tortured and brainwashed their kids and turned them into Satan's slaves.
  • 10. The Longest Ride of His Life: How the Dallas Police Nearly Murdered Randall Adams
  • 11. Turn Out the Lights: Dallas Cowboys Old-Timers Reunion. I left the Dallas Cowboys old-timers reunion wondering why Don Meredith didn't show up, whether Tom Landry deserved his reputation as a coaching genius, and where America's Team went wrong.
  • 12. "I Was Mandarin . . ." Did Dallas policeman Roscoe White pull the trigger on President Kennedy, or was he pulling our leg?
  • 13. How to Have Great Sex Forever. Viagra may put new life into your old equipment, but it's up to you to keep the romance alive.
  • 14. The Last Roundup. Out in the Trans-Pecos two ranches are fighting a new kind of range war to answer the question: Can a ranch keep its soul and make money too?
  • 15. A Star Is Reborn: Kris Kristofferson. Hollywood was buzzing about Kris Kristofferson's powerful performance in Lone Star. But after two decades of highs and lows the Brownsville native knew better than to let success go to his head—again.
  • 16. The Real Deal Meets the Real Meal: Holyfield vs. Foreman. This match really was a fight for the ages.
  • 17. "Nothing to It": The Life and Death of My Son Mark. That was my son Mark's favorite expression, and it perfectly defined his upbeat, self-assured personality—even in his last days battling leukemia.
  • 18. Willie at 65: Willie Nelson's at the Peak of His Game. What do the years do to a rebel? Sometimes they make him even even wilder. The Red Headed Stranger long ago went gray, but his passion—for music, the road, and life—hasn't gone cold.

Gary Cartwright is a Senior Editor at Texas Monthly in Austin.


“Gary Cartwright has long been an important Texas writer, one of the finest journalists the state has ever produced, and all of his strengths are on vivid display in this collection.”
Stephen Harrigan


Available for Kindle
Available on Google Play
Available on Kobo
Available for Nook
Available on the Apple Store

This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca