Between the Lines

Oct 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

The O Team, clockwise from left: Mary Turner, Jay Stowe, Chris Keyes, and Grant Davis

John Huba

THE LAST TIME Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appeared in these pages, he was braving hordes of mosquitoes while protesting against multinational oil companies that want to drill in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ("The Slippery North Slope," November 2000). This month, Kennedy goes up against an even bigger adversary: the U.S. Navy, whose bombing range on Vieques, the ecologically fragile Puerto Rican island, has become a public-relations disaster for the American military. After trying to sue the Navy for violating the Endangered Species Act, Kennedy gathered a few pals, including actor Edward James Olmos, and joined protesters during an illegal infiltration of the island's "live impact area"—a stunt that cost him 30 days in jail and provides the narrative frame for "Why Are We in Vieques?" which starts on page 78.

So did a month in a Puerto Rican slammer cool Kennedy's passion about Vieques? Apparently not. "This island has a rich ecosystem that is being destroyed and a human community that is being poisoned," he declares. "The Navy should find another site where they can give our troops adequate training without abusing American citizens."

THERE'S NO getting around it: If you want to embrace the good life, you gotta know what's best. And after 24 years of exploring every corner of the world, from the forbidden grandeur of the Himalayas to the glorious miasma of the Moscow sewer system, we've learned a thing or two about where to go, what to do, what to eat, what to work up a sweat about—and generally how to grab the good, better, and best of what the outdoors has to offer. This month, we finally gathered all that critical insight and loaded it into one handy, you-can't-live-without-it compendium: "The O List," the very best of everything from wool socks and digital sports watches to round-the-world sailboats.

Admittedly, the notion of what's "best" can be both glaringly obvious (it's hard to argue with a mention of Lance Armstrong, who bagged his third Tour de France in July) and wildly subjective (we're convinced cookies and cream is the most delectable energy-bar flavor; you may prefer the taste of wet cardboard). But with 120 items filtered by more than 30 editors and writers who are experts in travel, gear, sports, fitness, nutrition, and the finer and grosser points of backcountry fun, there's something for everybody. "It's a resource bible for nearly anything you could want or dream about in the world Outside," says Deputy Editor Mary Turner, who spearheaded the project. The gospel begins on page 43.

"I've jokingly called it 'Eleven Great Ways to Die,'" says Peter Stark of his new book, Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance, in which he explores death in the wild by folding physiology and science into hypothetical dramatizations of how it feels to perish from dehydration in the Sahara, succumb to cerebral edema atop Annapurna, and swim into the embrace of a box jellyfish, the deadliest creature on earth, off the coast of Australia. For an exclusive excerpt from his book, turn to page 86.

Pablo Raimondi realized early on that if he tried to chase his dream of writing comic books in his native Argentina, he'd probably starve. So he moved to New York, where he pays his grocery bills by working on Batman and Superman. Raimondi's flair for capturing near-death capers of superheroes made him the perfect choice to illustrate Peter Stark's excerpt about one especially ghastly way to perish. "It's fun drawing this stuff," says Raimondi. "It's gross, but it's also amusing."

John Huba photographs fashion and high society for magazines like Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, and he can often be found shooting super-models or creating portraits of celebrities such as Dame Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe. To give him a change of pace, we sent Huba onto—and off of—the back roads of New Mexico to photograph the toughest SUVs (page 68), an assignment he thoroughly enjoyed. "It was pretty exciting for me," he says. "After all, you can't drive a Dior dress through the mud at 45 miles an hour."

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