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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Two-Thirds Water, One-Third Hate

Water, water everywhere—but not a drop for workers to drink. Last month, Texas governor Gregg Abbott signed into law an ordinance banning water breaks; now the state is suffering from a historic heat waves in Houston and San Antonio that have led to the deaths of eleven people, including inmates in prisons without air-conditioning, a post-office worker, two construction workers, and one utility lineman. Mandatory water breaks had caused a 78 percent drop in heat-related illnesses since 2011, but with these laws now overwritten, outdoor workers are as endangered as the planet. Proving that the United States hardly has a premium on institutional cruelty, the UK’s immigration minister has ordered that a Kent asylum reception center paint over the cartoons and animals that had festooned its walls in hopes of providing a welcoming atmosphere for children fleeing overseas violence. There is no joy here. 


Photo Finish

The prop comedy of New York mayor Eric Adams has come under fire from his critics at the New York Times, which has alleged that the photo of a police officer killed in the line of duty in 1987 that Adams has long claimed to keep in his pocket is in fact a fugazi. According to City Hall aides, they were hastily assigned the task of producing the photo, which was printed out from the internet, creased, and splashed with coffee to give it the appearance of wear and tear after the mayor first made the claim and realized he needed to produce the mendacious photograph, which has been a staple of photo ops and numerous speeches Adams has given in support of the NYPD and stringent laws to tighten the iron grip of the police. Further reporting uncovered that the photograph isn’t the only counterfeit he carries in his pocket: his Dunkin’ Rewards card is an obvious forgery, he’s been redeeming Quiznos subs with phony freebie points for decades on end, and records reveal that he never even had a real membership at Blockbuster. For shame.


All Thumbs

A Canadian court has ruled that the thumbs-up emoji is a legally binding digital signature after a grain buyer in Saskatchewan sued a farmer who reneged on a contract that he maintains he never signed—but he did give it a thumbs-up, which turned out to be his first mistake. This is not the first time Canada has endorsed the primacy of the gesture: courts ruled in March that the middle finger is protected free expression after a neighbor claimed criminal harassment from a rude neighbor who treated him to the salute in the midst of a quarrel. Full legal protection is pending for the remaining emojis: the eggplant emoji will no longer count as gross indecency, those two identical dancers in Mouseketeer hats have been granted restraining orders, and the poop emoji has received a stay of execution.


Judge Not

It turns out TikTok star “Sal Torotella” is actually a New Jersey judge named Gary Wilcox. Indeed, the Superior Court judge uploaded dozens of videos of himself lip-synching to Busta Rhymes and Rhianna songs, sometimes in his robes, sometimes in a state of undress, sometimes wearing a Beavis and Butthead shirt. The Harvard-educated public servant is due for a public hearing where he will be asked to explain channeling such lyrics as “Go ahead, baby. You hittin’ them corners too god damn fast. You gotta slow this motherfucker down. You understand? I almost spilled my Cognac on this $200 suit.” The idea of a rap-loving judge is frankly a win for the justice system after years of tone-deaf attempts to reach the youth by lip-syncing to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Squirrel Nut Zippers, and if the Honorable Wilcox is indeed bounced from the bench, he at least has the prospect of becoming a judge on The X Factor to look forward to.  


Guild Wars

Celebrities: they’re just like us. They also take up arms against the malfeasance of their corporate overlords and vow to undo the mysterious power behind the throne, only to find their own familiar visage staring back at them. Deadline reports that three hundred actors have written to SAG-AFTRA leadership preparing to strike, and the signatures include that of Fran Drescher—who is actually the president of SAG-AFTRA. That’s right, The Nanny is playing both sides of the board. More sneakiness abounds in the entertainment sector: the GQ editor who pulled a story critical of Warner Brothers leadership has been revealed to have a movie in production with them, and, most bafflingly, vaunted humor-ish performer and star of Chairman of the Board Carrot Top has confirmed that he was aboard a flight that had to make an emergency landing after a hysterical passenger demanded to be let off since she claimed that one of the flight attendants “was not real.” But who’s surprised? It’s right there in the slogan: We love to ruminate over Cartesian doubt, and it shows.