Hurts So Good

While screaming through your July issue, I slammed head-on into Steve Friedman's deeply engrossing, passionate look at the horrendous Hardrock 100, "It's Gonna Suck To Be You." I laughed, I cried, I grimaced in pain—but most of all I was in awe of the athletes and their stories. Kudos to Mr. Friedman for a wonderfully written article and to Outside for continually rising above the magazine dreck in this world. I am eager not only to read more of Mr. Friedman's articles, but also to go through my back issues and search out his work. You rock.
Jeff Matlow
Santa Monica, California

Peace in the Valley

As landowning residents of western Montana's Swan Valley, we identified completely with Bill Vaughn's perspective in "Won'tcha Be My Neighbor?". Our feud with our neighbor over his incessantly howling and occasionally marauding sled dogs (our stud llama was emasculated) was headed for court until Missoula County steered us into mediation, a process that gave both sides the opportunity to tell their tales in a calm atmosphere of respect and dignity. Now relocated to a more secluded piece of the property, the dogs, though not silent, are much more tolerable and there have been no more attacks. Without the feud we wouldn't have wound up in mediation, and without the mediation we wouldn't now have the peaceful relationship we currently do. People who live in this part of the world (including us) seem by nature to be oftentimes hotheaded, stubborn, and unyielding. Our new motto is "kill 'em with kindness." It beats the hell out of anger, ulcers, and sleepless nights.
Mike and Katie McGrew
Condon, Montana

True Grits

I just read Burkhard Bilger's story about weird southern food and loved it ("Bear's Grease, Bullfrog Legs, Back Strap of Wild Hog, Armadillo Cheeks, Roasted Coot, Fried Mink, Turtle Claws . . .And Did We Mention, for the Main Course, a Nice Braised Shank of Free-Range Possum?"). I've always seen those cans of opossum, bags of armadillo jerky, and, of course, pickled pigs' lips in truck stops, but I've never been gutsy enough to partake. I tried fried blacksnake once, and at a county fair in southern Louisiana I nibbled a crispy hunk of alligator-on-a-stick, but those seem pretty tame compared to coot and back strap. Mr. Bilger portrayed southern folks quite sincerely and truthfully—and I, a Mississippian, appreciated it. It's rare to read an article about the South in which the natives (as strange as their eating habits may be) are described as anything but barefoot hicks.
Sally Cassady
Oxford, Mississippi

De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum

About Jose Bove, "The Roquefort Files", and France's obsession with cuisine: Any country that believes food is "a love story" and has a Museum of Vegetable Culture deserves a McDonald's.
Bren Corwyn Postma
Salt Lake City, Utah

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