Skip to content

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Scientific Progress Goes Boink

If a rocket explodes in the wilderness, does it make a sound? The answer is yes, and it is harming all of the birds. The week got off to a bang with the detonation of a SpaceX rocket intended to bring mankind one giant leap closer to filling Mars with discarded Capri Sun pouches and making theme parks out of mud volcanoes. The Elon Musk-led company’s first attempt at going orbital went out of control after about twenty miles above Boca Chica and exploded, raining debris down on the surrounding wildlife sanctuary and scattering flocks of birds to the alarm of Audubon Texas and the American Bird Conservancy. Musk retained his defiant, I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-doing aplomb, with SpaceX optimistically labeling the explosion of their spacecraft a “successful failure.” The thing is, there’s only so much failure on the part of the human race that endangered species can survive, and the bizarre double-talk on the part of private companies that make mutilations out of molehills and raze nests in their quest for relevance is strictly for the birds.


Dear John

In a new stat sure to disenfranchise the once-ascendent minority of dudes named John, a new report confirms that, for the first time, female CEOs outnumber companies headed by men named John, Jon, or Jonathan. The original disharmony in John/female relations was first noted by the New York Times in 2015 and later expanded to government and academic circles, where the John demographic was similarly overrepresented. But now is not the time to cower, Johns and John-curious types: we see you talking your John lingo with your John friends, trying to score some John-juice outside your John bars in time for the John parade. The vaguest hint of sexual equality in sectors once dominated by Johnists cannot be allowed to overshadow our heroes, like Johns Legend, Rotten, and Cena. Next they’ll come for David, or Robert, and, oh good lord, what about Phil? Can someone check on Phil? This is how the male empire crumbles, but we will remember that the Johns were the Jonathans in the Jon Jon.


Training Day

The Indiana town of Hammond is divided, not by race or class—though make no mistake, it is divided by those things too—but by gigantic trains that lie between the homes and schools, forcing children to squeeze through the rusty hulks of indolent American industrialism to reach their elementary school four blocks away. Parents help their kids scramble over the tracks, knowing they can lurch into motion at any moment without warning, having purportedly claimed, for starters, the leg of a Pennsylvania teenager en route to prom and the skin of an Iowa woman dragged beneath the locomotive. Part of the problem is that Hammond is largely a parking lot for Chicago-bound trains; also there is no limit to the sprawling length of trains—but perhaps the main issue is that nothing in this country fucking works. How come we can kill the Kennedys but we can’t regulate the railroads so that they spare the lives of schoolchildren?


A Meth Made in Heaven

Riverside County sheriff’s deputies donated sixty pounds of methamphetamine to the California economy this week, when they attempted a sting operation but forgot the part where you take the drugs and arrest the criminal. Instead, the trafficker in question outsmarted the wily undercover officers on the case by getting into their car and driving away with the drugs they just bought. Good work, men. If Michael Winslow were here, he’d make the sound of a sad trombone. In other tales of police cops getting their man, Wizards of the Coast, who publish Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering sent a private security force after leaker Oldschoolmtg after he acquired a new Magic set ahead of schedule and began dishing on its grimoire of secrets. The real news here, however, is that Pinkertons still exist and they are in league with wizards. Against such an unholy union, our Shivan dragons and Urzan Automatons don’t stand a chance. Still, we’d tap that.


Swan Song

The senseless slaughter of innocent animals with outdated weaponry does not go unmourned in Coggeshall, Essex, where a bench was dedicated to the memory of a group of swans assassinated by catapult in January. Sadly this late attempt at reparation does nothing to avenge all the squirrels killed by arquebuses, the pigeons who have fallen before trebuchets, or the naked mole rats done in by battering ram. The plunder of picturesque Englishness doesn’t stop there, however, as it was reported this week that, with A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books having entered the public domain, an edgy Christopher Robin series will enter production, described as the story of “a disillusioned New Yorker navigating his quarter-life crisis with the help of the weird talking animals who live beyond a drug-induced portal outside his derelict apartment complex, the Hundred Acres.” While we’re Robin the cradle, how about subplots where Christopher has to discover whether he likes heffalumps or woozles, takes out his Pooh stick in public, and drinks to numb his grief after Tigger overdoses? “Me mate, Tig, that was the wonderful thing about him. He was the only one.”