Skip to content

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

The Importance of Being Concise

After another cruel turn of the old Gregorian, we once again find ourselves stranded in the month of February, which is the official month of grapefruits, bird feeding, hot breakfast, snack foods, children’s dental health, embroidery, and canned food. More importantly, of course, it is Black History Month, which, in these benighted states, we tend to commemorate with perfunctory gestures, “inclusive” brand partnerships, and the willful misuse of the words of Martin Luther King Jr. This year, it seemed the American people were ready to get in on the fun early. On Tuesday, Jennifer Tejada, the CEO of PagerDuty (which apparently specializes in SaaS incident response, whatever the hell that is), apologized for quoting the leader of the civil rights movement at the end of an email announcing the company was terminating about 7 percent of its workforce. “I am reminded in moments like this, of something Martin Luther King said, that ‘the ultimate measure of a [leader] is not where [they] stand in the moments of comfort and convenience, but where [they] stand in times of challenge and controversy,’” Tejada wrote. But upon further reflection, she realized this was not only “inappropriate” but also “insensitive”; it would have been wise to be “more concise” when firing scads of people. The following day, the College Board, bowing to pressure from the medium-rare ribeye steak in the Florida governor’s mansion, announced they would be purging purportedly “offensive” material from the curriculum of their new AP African American Studies course, including the names of Black writers and scholars associated with critical race theory, the queer experience, and Black feminism. Meanwhile, in Miami, the police celebrated Black history by unveiling a special cruiser plastered with images of Africa. The arc of history may be long, but it will eventually plow into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters.


Birds of a Gender Flock Together

In keeping with our longstanding quest to keep our readers apprised of the latest developments—every twist, turn, and severed limb—in our nation’s enduring obsession with gender reveal parties, we bring word that a pink-plumaged pigeon was found wandering around Madison Square Park in Manhattan on Monday, unable to fend for itself and suffering from long-term malnutrition. It was almost certainly dyed pink to inform partygoers at a renovated nineteenth-century farmhouse along the Hudson River that its loathsome proprietors will soon be in possession of a child—a girl, or so they’d like to presume. According to the Wild Bird Fund, the domestic King Pigeon “has it bad enough as a domestic bird unable to find food in the wild, fly well or escape predators, but being a bright, unusual color makes him even more of a target.”


Where the Vile Things Are

Elsewhere in our fraying relationship with the animal kingdom: the Guardian reports that the former director of a zoo in southern Mexico ordered four pygmy goats in the zoo’s possession to be slaughtered, cooked, and served at the annual Christmas party. “This put the health of the people who ate them at risk,” according to one official, “because these animals were not fit for human consumption.” This is not the first time this has happened: an investigation has revealed quite a few of the zoo’s animals had previously been sold or eaten—including a zebra that was traded for some tools. Stateside, two emperor tamarin monkeys missing since Monday from the Dallas Zoo were found alive in the closet of a nearby home—the latest in a string of bizarre incidents at the zoo, including the “unusual” death of a vulture last week. Perhaps all this amounts to a sign that zoos are maybe a bad idea? Has anyone considered this?


High School 4 Ever

Aside from the systemic infantilization of the American consumer, autonepiophilia, and the fascinating career of Frédéric Bourdin, it seems we’re getting fewer and fewer stories of adults masquerading as children. Once upon a time, hardly a week would go by without the local news reporting on a suspiciously baby-faced thirty-three-year-old man enrolling himself in a middle school, or a forty-five-year-old mother pretending to be her daughter. The dry spell appears to have broken: the New York Times reports that a twenty-nine-year-old woman successfully managed to enroll herself in a New Jersey high school, where she attended class for four days, visited the guidance counselor, and collected phone numbers from a handful of her momentary peers


Justice: Not for You!

Speaking of imposters, the Eleventh Circuit has ruled that the Constitution provides no remedy in the event you are jailed on a decades-old warrant from another state for a person who is not you but just so happens to have your name. The United States may have the greatest justice system in the world, but that doesn’t mean officials—police, especially—should have to bother with checking for obvious differences between you and your wanted homonym. Indeed, it’s been a banner week for justice: the Fifth Circuit also just decided that the Second Amendment protects your right to own a firearm even if you’re under a restraining order for domestic violence.


Hotter than Ever

And, finally, we conclude with further confirmation—should you find yourself in doubt—that we are, as a society of consumer-citizens, doomed. BP announced this week that it plans to “dial back” its meek push into clean energy amid a booming demand for fossil fuels. “Societally, people are now more focused on the question of energy security,” one investor reports of BP’s commitment to our collective immiseration. “You can’t run down the old system too aggressively.” And you know what, he’s right: “run down the old system too aggressively,” and we might see a perilous rise in human flourishing but an untenable dip in Q1 revenue. (And, wait, did you hear that the wispy-haired French novelist Michel Houellebecq is starring in a porno coming out this March? Here’s hoping we don’t even make it to the end of Q1, lest that horror show see the light of day.)