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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Meaty, Beaty, Big & Bouncy

In a week that saw the historic indictment of a former president, the Senate overturning the Covid-19 emergency order, and a federal judge block coverage for preventative care and cancer screenings, the people can be forgiven for longing to return to a simpler time. Faced with the near-constant perturbations of the present, the hour is ripe to return paradoxically to the segment of time that was previously understood to be in front of us. Well, an Australian cultured meat start-up has used DNA sequencing to bring the ancient past to us, in meatball form, by engineering a big beefy sphere of lab-grown wooly mammoth protein. But this latest preference for nostalgic food balls is in truth a lazy deferral of the planet’s most endangered delicacies; why go back seven hundred thousand years when there are so many outlandish species going widely untasted right here in 2023? Sea turtles continue to swim around the oceans like they own the place, taunting us with their deliciousness, the flavor of pangolin remains an enigma to the world at large, and Panda Express is sadly lacking in the gristle of actual bear parts. Asked about the odor of the mammoth morsel in question, locals compared it to that of alligator, which is not nearly enough ambition. What we really want to know is, when somebody finally gets a bite, how does it compare to bald eagle?


Send Me a Kiss by Wire(less Internet)

In the tragic actualization of a tender notion into a creepy plastic doodad, one Chinese company has invented a long-distance kissing machine that transmits the user’s “kiss data” to their long-distance sweetheart via a pair of haunting silicon lips. Thing is, it’s actually the third such abomination on the market. As long as people have had kisses, they’ve looked for ways to give them away. Made with the supposedly pure intention of bridging the confines of quarantine, reviewers have noted that the product has its charms “even if you are single” and the inventor himself admits that “there’s little we can do for how people use the device,” which bodes ill for the future of smooching, at least when the black market in stolen kisses begins its inevitable conquest of our pecks and hickeys. Once they have your “kiss data,” who knows who may be making out with you unawares? You might be necking with Xi Jinping right now.


Treedom Caucus

Boy, we’ve really gotten fatalistic about this whole climate change thing. In anticipation of the coming blight, Serbian scientists have unveiled “liquid trees,” nanotech tanks of water and micro-algae that mimic the composition of the unwieldy chestnut, the sycophantic cedar, the mooching maple. While a boon to the construction, energy, and agriculture sectors, Loraxes across the planet have condemned the new technology, noting that they speak for the trees, not for the sludgy simulacra of what once was tranquil and smooth to the touch.


The Nudie Foodie

In a scenario sure to haunt the dreams of the American red state omnivore class, naked vegans are cavorting in New York thanks to The Füde Dinner Experience, the brainchild of model and artist Charlie Ann Max, in which strangers pay $88 to feast on carrots and quinoa au naturel. A recent dinner focused around reconnecting diners to their menstrual cycles and Max cites body positivity and a greater connection to the human form free of patriarchal perversion and an unsavory emphasis on sexuality as her inspiration. The sight of numerous body types congregated along a rectangular table bedecked with candles does look like a step toward greater peace and intimacy. They also look like witches. That’s not a criticism, of course, but it’s all free bosoms and cacao raspberry avocado mousse until someone breaks out the toil and trouble. In a way, it’s sad to see casual nudity burdened with such momentous purpose. Naked people should be their own reward. 


The Clown That Dreaded Sundown

Everything can be a little worse, so let’s add to the regressive politics, sweltering heat, and carnivorous wildlife of Florida’s rich cultural gumbo with a liberal sprinkling of horrifying clowns. A cavalcade of the monstrous jackanapes descended on Orlando this week for the fortieth annual World Clown Association convention, littering the hotel bar with a sinister trail of red noses and floppy shoes. Their white-face ringleader, Pinkie Bee, was unrepentant about the squirting-flower-menace haunting children’s hospitals under the guise of spreading levity and joy, but actually acting as grim specters of death, every balloon dog a Cereberus hastening souls to the ticker-tape gates of hell. It’s been said that if the country needed an enema, Florida is where you’d stick the hose, but now we have an even more evil substance poised to blacken the Sunshine State’s festive netherworld. Just send in the clowns.