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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Écarté Derrière

This week Germany continued to lead the world in modeling how an empire engages in civilized discourse when Marco Goecke, the director of the Hanover State Opera’s ballet company, smeared dog feces in the face of his critic, who had written of his production of In the Dutch Mountains, “One alternates between a state of feeling insane and being killed by boredom.” The author of the feculence in question was Goecke’s dachshund, Gustav, himself a paragon of high culture who has notably dined with Princess Caroline of Monaco, so, as befits an exchange between such vaunted cultural commissars, this isn’t just any everyday hoi polloi turd we’re talking about—it’s the good shit. The episode invokes the history of artists who responded in kind to their naysayers, such as the time Joan Didion lit a bag of ordure outside Pauline Kael’s brownstone, rang the doorbell, and ran away cackling; Stephen King’s habit of prank calling Harold Bloom; and when Stanley Kubrick force-fed Gene Shalit his own pet lobster, David Pincher.


Dancing with the Starves

The poor and underserved have been put on notice after hoarding such precious resources as food and sleep: the Wall Street Journal has advised struggling consumers to skip breakfast, which is a perfectly reasonable response to the inflation of egg products; and New York mayor Eric Adams stood by his directive that homeless and runaway teens be forbidden to snooze at drop-in centers that provide them with much-needed shelter—which is surely the next basic need to be targeted by the powerful elites who, in their wisdom, continue to show us how little we need to survive. And what about water? Why should the crisp runoff of our nation’s streams be relegated to the gutsacks of the indolent instead of bottled and sold at a markup, as nature intended? Sleep, sustenance, safe haven—soon you’ll be expecting modest health care, then working plumbing, then a simple haircut; it’s a slippery slope, you see, and hair is not a right, it is a privilege.


The Air Up There

The U.S. military’s war on unidentified balloons joy-riding in the planet’s atmosphere—an action with the potential to unleash a War of the Worlds scenario, not to mention a slap in the face to fans of inflatables in general—may have claimed an innocent dirigible, as the Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade (NIBBB), a hobby club that also deals in amateur ham radio, has reported one of their beloved pico balloons missing in action over Alaska. The truant balloon is feared exploded, which is much too logical an explanation for the balloon mania that has seized the easily distracted imagination of the country. So it’s not aliens after all? Alas, perhaps it is time to face that, in the intergalactic spaceways between dimensions, the planet Earth may be little more than a turnoff, less appetizing than a Howard Johnson without an adjacent Wendy’s and minus the hotel chain’s famous Game Gear promotional tie-in.


Gin and Jouissance

The legitimate art form of blockchain-based digital pap-smear-looking blipblops received a boost this week after the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was gifted twenty-two NFTS from a mysterious benefactor operating under the alias Cozomo de’ Medici, widely suspected of being Snoop Dogg, the noted rapper/patron of the arts who once fantasized about having his face on a Mount Rushmore of weed smokers beside Bob Marley and Willie Nelson and openly dreams of opening an ice cream parlor called Scoop Dogg. For those critical of the rising profile of NFTs in the art world, may this serve as a reminder that critics once said the same thing about hip hop’s status in the world of popular music. Not that the Doggfather has ever been shy about honoring his forebears, memorably describing himself as the “Miles Davis of gangbangin.’” Now Snoop may be on his way to becoming the Hans Ulrich Obrist of getting blissed.


Life in Mars

It’s funny until it happens to you: two contractors at a Pennsylvania Mars Wrigley factory were endangered, and the company fined, after they fell into a vat of chocolate and necessitated rescue, presumably with a rope made of saltwater taffy. This delicious instance of shoddy workplace safety not only brings to light the conditions endured by part-time employees under a conglomerate but causes one to pause and wonder how many Snickers bars and Dove chocolates have we devoured unaware that they contained the remains of hapless laborers awash in nougat. Cannibalism, of course, is always a possibility when it comes to sweets, except in the case of York Peppermint Patties, which are, and have always been, people.