Jason Arias
The Baffler,  July 6

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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Great Hotels: Prison Cell Edition

For the cash-bloated leisure seeker fatigued by the thought of wasting yet another summer sequestered in ho-hum five star accomodations, consider booking a night in the prison cell that Nelson Mandela called home for eighteen years and get an Insta-worthy whiff of the rugged life incarcerated. It’ll only set the intrepid vacationer back a paltry $300,000—but the prisoners-for-a-night can rest easy knowing all those unjustly earned dollars will be funneled directly to charity by way of the initiative CEO Sleepout, in which extremely rich people vie for the chance to don poorface and sleep in unusual locales! (Unfortunately, due to some truly inexplicable backlash, the prisoner-to-be may have to wait awhile to snooze in this UNESCO World Heritage site; the sleepover’s been “postponed” until later this year.)

 

We hold these truths to be full of shit

In the run up to our annual orgy of gorging on collagen-encased meat-paste logs and colorful explosives, Facebook’s benevolent algorithm accused a Texas newspaper, the Liberty County Vindicator, of spewing racist hate speech. See, they had posted the text of the Declaration of Independence, which apparently makes some offhand reference to “merciless Indian savages” or whatever. Not that this capitalist utopia was explicitly built on overt, joyous bigotry, no, not at all.

 

Time is fleeting/ Madness takes its toll/ But listen closely . . .

Just outside of Las Vegas, a paranormal researcher claims to have discovered an actual, honest-to-god time warp. Joshua Warren—who has appeared on such esteemed scientific programs as the Travel Channel’s Paranormal Paparazzi—claims to have observed time slow down approximately twenty microseconds, which, according to Warren, is impossible unless a black hole neared Earth or “unknown technology” disrupted the laws of physics. Here’s hoping we can use the anomaly to venture back in time to prevent Biff from ever getting his hands on The Grays Sports Almanac and save the United States from collapse.

 

Trickle-down enlightenment 

Rich people priced out of Burning Man can now conjure that same mystic sewage in the privacy of their own living room, thanks to the grifter, songstress, and self-proclaimed “heartist” Jess Magic, who hosts grueling “Soul Salons,” “emotion-heavy gatherings that combine philosophical rap sessions with improvised music,” for the cosmic-minded elites of tech. Consider it a “playdate for your inner child.” Magic has performed these so-called “songversations” in such casual environs as the Women Economic Forum in New Delhi and at a birthday soirée for Ken Howery, a founder of PayPal. “I don’t know if you’d call this a breakthrough,” she noted of her apparent experiment in trickle-down enlightenment, “but I got Peter Thiel to sing along and Elon Musk to smile.”

 

Help! I’ve fallen but can’t afford to be crippled by medical debt!

This week in our highly functioning society, a forty-five-year-old woman slipped into the gap between the train and the platform during her commute in Boston. While she howled in pain and heroic bystanders rushed to dislodge her mangled leg, she urged them not to call an ambulance, as she simply couldn’t afford such luxurious transportation—the fare for which, in some cases, can blossom north of $8,400. Really, it’s fine, she could have just taken an Uber.

 

Everything the light touches can be your kingdom—please, dear god, take it

And now this: two seemingly unconnected stories indicating, definitively, that the animal kingdom has decided the cruel and unusual twirling of humanity must come to an end, hallelujah. First, a hootch-loving bear seized the means of leisure from a California suburbanite this week, guzzling the homeowner’s margarita and availing himself of the backyard jacuzzi for hours. Elsewhere on this doomed blue marble, three poachers ambling to illegally slaughter rhinos were mercilessly torn to bits by a pride of lions.

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