Art for Fresh Hell.
Jason Arias
The Baffler,  August 27

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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Blair Bitch Project

As the United States’ bungled withdrawal from its bungled twenty-year, multi-trillion-dollar exercise in “nation-building” nears its inevitably violent conclusion, many of the politicians who so gleefully rallied to the cause back in the day have what might generously be described as “thoughts on the matter.” The UK’s former prime minister Tony Blair, writing from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, of which he, Tony Blair, is the executive director, called President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan “imbecilic.” “We didn’t need to do it,” says Tony Blair, “We chose to do it. We did it in obedience to an imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars,’ as if our engagement in 2021 was remotely comparable to our commitment 20 or even ten years ago.” To Tony Blair, it’s of urgent importance that we “rediscover” the fact that “we in the West represent values and interests worth being proud of and defending.” What those “interests” are, exactly, Tony Blair does not say, but were one to experience prolonged exposure to CNN’s proprietary poison gas, you might start to get all kinds of high-minded ideas about “women’s rights” and “humility.” When asked to respond to Blair’s bitching, the White House press secretary noted that Biden was in touch directly with the “current leader of the UK,” Boris Johnson. Poor Tony Blair: looks like his Third Way led right to irrelevancy. 

 

Working Nine to Five—and Then Some 

A ghastly specter is haunting the global workforce: an “ugly mediocrity” bred by those hopeless, misdirected fools covetous of a “work/life balance.” Establishing a firewall between the hours of exploitation and leisure might work for a mere “job,” “but for a career? It simply won’t fly.” In fact, the notion of a “work/life balance” is only a recent invention; back in the salad days of industrialization, there was simply no “life” to be had when you were working ten, sixteen, eighteen hours a day! And while we shouldn’t embrace a “toxic productivity,” according to Fortune magazine, it’s high time we dissolve this arbitrary, polarizing boundary between “life” and “work.” If you want to get “ahead,” which is to say “almost certainly die without ever once achieving financial stability,” you’re sure as shit going to need to work on Saturday, respond to emails at three in the morning, and banish happy hour.

 

Flaming Hot Rot

Thankfully, there is an ever-expanding array of culinary innovations to enjoy while working yourself to death, and indeed, may even hasten death’s arrival. This week, PepsiCo unveiled Flamin’ Hot Mountain Dew, an ungodly confluence of “sweet” and “spicy” that no one needs or wants, in much the same way that no one needs Eva Longoria to direct a film about the invention of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but here we are

 

The Five Cube Meal

While we’re on the subject of the suicidal American palate, might we introduce you to SquarEat, the start-up that would like to feed you “gourmet” cubes? Consider the appetizing possibilities: you’ll start off with an “exquisite” and “delicate” Asparagus square, followed by Basmati Rice and Sweet Potato squares. As for the main course? Why, you can select between the Seabass and Vegetal Burger squares, but be sure to polish it all off with a Choco Pancake square!

 

Kicking and Screaming

To Colorado now, where late last week police officers—eight of them—rushed to the scene of a dastardly crime in no fewer than three cop cars. The crime-in-progress? A game of kickball. More specifically, a game of kickball occurring in the street without a permit. Though a series of verbal warnings have been issued, the weekly game—enjoyed by a group of children, teens, and adults—persists. Worry not, the police commander has a solution up his sleeve: if the parent’s won’t quit letting their kids frolic about, he’ll press felony charges against them for child abuse.

 

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch 

Meanwhile, actual child abuse is underway in Wisconsin, where the Waukesha School District has become the first school district to voluntarily opt out of a federally funded program giving free meals to all students regardless of their family’s income. You see, certain parties were worried that giving no-strings-attached food to children, especially during a prolonged crisis such as the one we call “American life,” might enable said children and their families to become “spoiled.” Indeed, there could be a “slow addiction” to the program, which provides food, which is a prerequisite for life. But if we’ve done anything as a nation, we’ve proven that we don’t give one solitary fuck about that.

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