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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality


In a hell week that was particularly dystopic, even for 2023, Tennessee banned drag shows, Florida mulled requiring bloggers who want to critique the governor to register with the state, and the New York Times profiled a man who doesn’t wear shoes as though he were Harriet Tubman or something. But at least we still have the 1980s; or rather, we have the agreed-upon, phony-baloney cultural memory of Aqua Net, Nintendo, synthesizers, and DuckTales, to gloss over the realities of the Cold War, AIDS, or Reaganomics. Because convincing the masses that something used to be good is a public work, Northampton, MA, is spending a portion of the four million they received in pandemic relief funds to design four novelty manhole covers featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But even this utopian dream of an annihilating nostalgia elides the devastating reality we overlooked as children; namely that Raphael is a tragic case of identity misshapen by the whims of nature like something out of Ovid. What once passed for being cool but rude was only a cry for help from the most sexually-frustrated Ninja Turtle; unable to lose himself in the roles of leadership, the machine, or the life of the party like his brothers, and stuck with the shittiest weapon, Raphael cursed the half-shell that was his lot and wished only for the humanity that would allow April O’Neil to recognize his show of blithe indifference for the foiled longing it was because he could not trust her to love a monster imprisoned by existential doubt. But even a mutant would recognize a gross misuse of public funds when they saw it; in a world bereft of secrets, we have become the ooze.


Moby-Dick Move

More aquatic angst befell the gentle humpback whale community this week, as the New York Times reports that the thirteenth whale in three months got killed by ten million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey (actually the culprit was likely cargo ships and offshore wind farms). All in all, twenty-three dead whales have washed up on the East Coast shore since December, resulting in mass graves designed to bury the smell of man’s own rapaciousness in warping the seascape to suit his profits, and occasioning choice commentary from the chief of the Unkechaug Nation, who said “It’s our responsibility to recognize and remind that all living things have a spirit,” and crusty old sea captain Timothy J. Ferrie, who croaked prophetically, “If the bait is there, the whales are there,” adding “Fairly warned be ye, says I. Arr!” 


Days of Swine and Roses

The hot potato of which world superpower will ultimately be responsible for the perversion of science that ends in apocalypse has been duly passed from America to China, then back to Russia in the public eye—but with 20/20 hindsight, we can, at last, recognize that it was Canada the whole time. A genetically-engineered species of superpig, capable of burrowing under snow and capable of spreading “a novel influenza virus,” is charging into U.S. borders and devouring all in its path. And lest you think these unstoppable superpigs are some variance of Mother Nature’s prelapsarian vengeance, no, they were partially bred to be hunted by superrich hunters looking for a challenge. That’s right, we did this too. In some ways, the swine-led extinction of the human race can’t come fast enough. That’ll do, pig. 


I Am Become Debt, Destroyer of Woke

If you rattled the couch cushions in search of spare change to afford a cup of coffee this morning, spare a prayer for the new owners of a trailer park home in Montauk, who netted the shabby-chic property for $3.75 million. This bold expenditure comes the same week as the Flyfish Club in New York hooked $14 million worth of private diners through NFT sales and opened its plush new affront to the public-dinning hoi polloi on the unquiet grave of the long-shuttered Sunshine Cinema, and we learned that a sect in Bengaluru, India, literally worships Elon Musk as a god, calling him the destroyer of woke and evictor of feminists. When one of the last surviving execs of old-guard Twitter is unceremoniously let go and the rich landlords of TikTok compare themselves to Mother Theresa (that scamp) and Gandhi (noted libertine), one wonders how the 1% sleep at night (on top of a pile of money, with many beautiful women). 


Blitzkrieg Bop

Music fans this week mourned the vanished melodies of Übermensch and Das Luftwaffenmusikkorps 3, as Spotify finally cracked down on the far-right musicians who, up till now, were available to stream on their site. Gone are the days of pulling the blankets over your head with your laptop huddled close to catch the latest Fashwave track from the likes of IronMensch. “Hate music,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “has also been a way for millions of dollars to flow into the global white-supremacist movement and related movements and music scenes. Sometimes this money has flowed directly into the hands of terrorist organizations and networks.” Rather than responding by removing tracks like “Aryan Fury” and the “SS Adolf Hitler Radio” playlist from its service, perhaps this is an opportunity for Spotify to abolish war as we know it. Let our battles be henceforth fought by the bands. Let loose the dogs of WAR! Unsheathe the Swords of Shania! Draft Bono to lead the rebellion! And somebody wake up the KISS Army, there’s merch to plunder!