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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality
Art for Fresh Hell.
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Early next year, Republicans will take control of the state legislature in Virginia. Democrats, biding their time during these final few moments in power, have expressed concern that—what with the Supreme Court all but certain to curtail or outright overturn Roe v. Wade at some point next year—Virginia could join at least twenty-two other states in moving to severely restrict or ban abortions. Perhaps, as some in the party have suggested, something ought to be done. Perhaps abortion rights might be codified into state law before Republicans assume power. But guaranteeing women access to abortion would prove a great inconvenience to those elected to protect the rights of said women: you see, they would all need to be present in Richmond, interrupting the vacation plans of many state senators. One is currently in Africa. Several are in Europe. They’re not going to be able to get back; flights are booked this time of year,” the majority leader said in an interview from California, where he was himself about to board a flight for Hawaii. Abortion access is important—but first, mai tais!

 

Build Back Later

It’s been a great week for Democrats in Congress, too! On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to come out in defense of allowing members of congress to buy and sell stock while in office, despite bipartisan support for a bill that would ban the practice. “We’re a free market economy,” Pelosi gushed. “They should be able to participate in that.” Though Pelosi herself owns oodles of stocks, it seems odd for her to defend the practice so aggressively when she seems happy to let her husband make the big trades: Paul Pelosi made $5.3 million earlier this year after buying shares in Google’s parent company Alphabet, just ahead of a vote on an antitrust bill meant to curb their power. A coincidence, surely! Democrats aren’t here to get rich—they’re here to govern, to improve the lives of working Americans! That’s precisely why they shelved the Build Back Better bill, allowed the child tax credit to expire, and backed Biden’s decision to allow student loan payments to resume in the new year—just in time for the Omicron variant to overwhelm the country.

 

McRidiculous

In September, McDonald’s announced the return—for a limited-time only—of the McRib, that gelatinous simulation of actual food. What’s in a McRib? Don’t ask! What you should be asking is: What’s in the McRib NFT? As it turns out, racial slurs! Indeed, the fast food outlet unveiled ten NFTs of the fan-favorite “sandwich” in November—and an early transaction to what appeared to be the Ethereum address associated with the “official McRib NFT” collection contained a racial slur, inscribed on the Ethereum blockchain, which, when decoded, reads “ay yo n***a gibsme sum of dat mcrib.” Are you confused? So are we. The baroque machinations of both food science and the blockchain appear beyond the remit of normal human consciousness.

 

Happy Little Digital Trees

And yet, it’s assured we’ll be spending the foreseeable future inelegantly decoding news from the bleak sphere of NFTs, such as this: the deceased painter of happy little trees, Bob Ross, has been turned into a “Funko Pop” NFT that will go on sale December 21—just in time for Christmas! Ross may have been explicitly opposed to individuals profiting off his likeness and in fact made significant changes to his will to prevent this, but who gives a shit when there’s digital currency to be made selling digital representations of a doll modeled after a dead man!

 

Hunger Games

Meanwhile, schools in South Dakota are doing so well that some teachers in Sioux Falls were willing to debase themselves during halftime at a hockey game to scramble for $5,000 worth of dollar bills laid out in the center of the rink, stuffing them into their shirts and tiny little bags. 

 

Here’s a Tip!

And if the thought of public school teachers fighting each other for a few hundred dollars to buy colored pencils doesn’t warm your heart, your faith in society will certainly be restored when you hear about the Arkansas waitress who was tipped thousands of dollars—only to be fired! The incident took place earlier this month, when a group of diners pooled together funds to tip two servers $4,400 at the Oven and Tap in Bentonville, Arkansas. Things went south, though, when one of those servers, Ryan Brandt, informed the generous diners the manager would be splitting the fat tip among the entire staff, with the manager taking his own cut of the tip that was explicitly intended for the two servers, despite the fact that pooling tips had never been the restaurant’s policy. Then, management decided the best course of action would actually be to just fire Brandt, who, as per tipped minimum wage law in Arkansas, was only getting paid around $2.63 an hour. Heartwarming, right?