Anxious base campers and Internet alpinists who were following the attempt breathed easier when the news broke that Babu had descended safely to Camp IV. Several days later a grinning Babu responded to concern about his near 20-hour disappearance: "You shouldn't have worried about me. I had beer waiting for me down here. I had to get back."
Stew or Be Stewed
The grudgingly teetotaling Yankee Stadium Bleacher Creatures who are upset over the stadium's new selective beer ban (enacted last week, but only in the bleachers) need look no further than section 607, row A, seat 2, in the upper deck for a reason to grumble about being singled out. In the bottom of the third inning of the Yanks' 4-1 win over the Red Sox last Friday, Steve Laurenzi, 27, plummeted from that lofty perch into the protective netting directly behind home plate—after, according to eyewitnesses, heavily imbibing a mixture of Bacardi 151 rum and Coke. Apparently unknown to Laurenzi as he idiotically frolicked in the net was that two years ago, his antics probably would have gotten him killed.
"We didn't have the net in the early '90s because it obstructed some fans' views, but after the '98 season we decided our screen was too low to protect against the foul balls flying directly back," says Yankees spokesman Rick Cerrone. "So our operations guys found a top-of-the-line net." Luckily for all involved—especially Laurenzi, who was charged with reckless endangerment—the guys found a net that protects against foul falls as well.
No Singlet Required
If Olympic medals were awarded for audacity, the Australians would already be up to their (bare) behinds in gold. In the summer of 1994 came heptathlete Jane Flemming's calendar of scantily clad members of the women's track and field team. Last November the women's soccer team bared all for a wall adornment of their own. This month 29 male and female members of the Aussie Olympic team are de-briefed in a special issue of Black+White, a glossy magazine with what its editors call "an artistic bent."
Black+White editor Marcello Grand waxes heroic about the 236-page special issue, which he says harks back to the days when Olympic athletes ran, wrestled and tumbled in nary a singlet. "Through the compelling medium of artistic nude photography we have captured the strength, speed and symmetry of these extraordinary Australians," says Grand. "These highly developed bodies, in rest and motion, draw us back to the fountainhead of the Olympic idea—faster, higher, stronger."
The athletes themselves, hailing from a country whose shores boast 24 legal nude beaches, offer less Olympian motives for modeling nude. "I can express myself freely. I decide whether I want to look like an angel or a devil," says pole vaulter Tatiana Grigorieva, the only athlete who agreed to an unobstructed full-frontal photo. "On the track I look like a horse, with a ponytail at the back of my head [and] no makeup." Weightlifter Damian Brown bared his posterior for posterity: "If I have kids, I'll be able to show them what I used to look like."
At the bottom of it all, the attention-grabbing photographs are free publicity for low-profile athletes. Apart from top 1,500-meter swimmer Grant Hackett, who skinny-dipped in a custom-built fish tank for his nude debut, and a few others, most of the athletes in Black+White have yet to become Australian household names. Says water polo player Thomas Whalan, whose pictorial features a cheeky shot of himself and three of his teammates, "I'm happy to do this to promote my sport."