Culture Notebook: "What We Did This Summer" Edition

The books, movies, music, podcasts, and other happenings on our radar

Sep 2, 2016
Outside Magazine
Culture Notebook: "What We Did This Summer" Edition

What We Did This Summer: A selection from the Instagrams of Outside editors.    Photo: From left: @wesjudd, @ngkelley, @axie2020

Here at Outside HQ, we're not rolling up our hammocks or quitting the play-all-day summer mindset until we start losing feeling in our extremities. However, since Labor Day weekend marks some technical last gasp of summer, it seemed like the right time to turn in our "What We Did This Summer" reports. 

You'll notice that (gasp) our editors don't only consume media about trail running, climbing, surfing, and general adventure. Maybe it's because we were busy doing all of those things, and we have other interests during our free time, you know. But maybe it's also because we're suckers for the shows that everyone else talks about at the water cooler and that involve dimension-jumping, slimy monsters. Either way, we're coming at you with the best of our summer entertainment... and a few things that we definitely meant to get to. Maybe in the fall. 


"Discovered these guys, The Record Company, and have listened to their album way too much. I love their sound, and they're the best new riding music I've had in a long time."

—Bryan Rogala, video editor

"There was so much good music this summer! Whitney's Light Upon the Lake definitely wins best summer vibes. It was on repeat during my California-to-New Mexico road trip. Radiolab's podcast about the intelligence of forests was awesome, too."

—Luke Whelan, assistant editor

"More Perfect from Radiolab. The Supreme Court has never been so sexy."

—Nick Kelley, online photo editor

"I know I'm biased, but the Outside Podcast is great. I'm a sucker for anything that explains the science of things for the laymen. It allows me to go out in the world sounding smarter than I really am."

—Wes Judd, online fitness editor

Printed Word

"James Baldwin's Another Country. It's raw, totally riveting, and the characters are all messy, real humans."

—Axie Navas, gear senior editor

"The best thing I read was Bike Batman ["The Real-Life Superhero Who Beats the Cops to Bike Thieves"], because Chris Solomon's writing and reporting rocked."

—Scott Rosenfield, online editor

"The Atavist's book Love and Ruin has some of the best nonfiction longform I've ever read. I don't know how Evan Ratliff and co. do it, but they attract the best writers with the most insane stories. Love and Ruin is just them flexing, and I gotta say, it's pretty nice to look at."

—Wes Judd

"Malcolm Gladwell's new podcast, Revisionist History, is blowing my mind. I actually cried listening to one on the drive this morning ('Generous Orthodoxy'). I've always had problems with him because I think he chooses these theories and uses them to explain the entire world based on one theory, while ignoring every other theory out there....but maybe I've mellowed in my old age and come around to his way of thinking. It's great storytelling, fantastic reporting, and Gladwell is fun to listen to on the radio. The 'My Little Hundred Million' episode is also great."

—Jakob Schiller, online gear editor

Moving Pictures

"Stranger Things! [Ed. note: Spoiler approaching!] They should have paid me for how much I was advertising that to friends and family. R.I.P. Barb." 

—Wes Judd

"I was so late to the game watching The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young, which came out in the winter. Honestly, it's because I'm bored by the idea of most running movies (shame on me), and because I've already read everything ever written about the 'world's most insane race.' But the characters in this documentary are so compelling off the page, and the last 20 minutes so emotional, that it ended up being the most surprisingly good thing I watched all summer."

—Erin Berger, online culture editor

Public Shaming: Stuff We Never Got Around To

"The Revenant. I started watching it on an international flight, then figured that was disrespectful to Iñárritu's masterpiece. Fall movie party, anyone?" [Ed. note: Some of us who will remain unnamed did watch the entire thing during a flight, and while we'd like to think the bear scenes were just as stressful on a tiny screen... yeah, we'll take you up on that proper screening offer.]

—Axie Navas

"I have a few piles of magazines on my coffee table (GQ, Wired, Trail Runner, every issue of Vanity Fair since Amy Schumer was on the cover...) that, if stacked on top of each other, would probably come up to my hip. Training for my first ultra took over my usual Saturday and Sunday morning reading time, and created a hole that I still haven't been able to dig myself out of."

—Wes Judd

"The last three Outside Interview podcasts. Don't tell Chris Keyes." [Ed note: Whoops.]

—Bryan Rogala​

"I have The Gene: And Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee sitting on my bookshelf, which I will read...someday. (It's 600 pages!)"

—Luke Whelan

"I borrowed John McPhee's geology magnum opus, Annals of the Former World, from the library in June. I now receive weekly late notices and I'm only five pages in, but I swear I have every intention of learning about tectonic plates. Eventually."

—Erin Berger

"I've been trying to read Dave Egger's new Heroes of the Frontier. I had every intention of reading it on the plane to Chile, but on the way down I was too distracted by movies, and on the way up I was so tired and hungover I just slept the whole way." [Ed. note: It's okay, Jakob, you can start with this much shorter excerpt we helpfully published.]

—Jakob Schiller

"'Hiroshima' [by John Hersey, 1946] in The New Yorker."

—Scott Rosenfield

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