Art for Fresh Hell.
Jason Arias
The Baffler,  September 17

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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Our Shining Future

You might say the general state of things would appear to be undeniably and utterly bleak—some might even venture to say “hopeless”—what with any and all attempts to staunch the resurgence of mass death, hastening climate collapse, expanding wealth inequality, etc. routinely and promptly defeated or otherwise diluted to the point of impotence by our feckless leaders. But what if, instead of forcibly redistributing wealth, building public housing, and/or investing in resilient infrastructure, what if we shifted that focus elsewhere? What if, instead of fighting against “entrenched interests” to reimagine our cities as equitable sites of legitimate human flourishing, we simply accepted that, sooner or later, we’ll all be working in an Amazon warehouse, pissing into water bottles while putting in twelve-hour shifts in a soulless exurb sprawled out alongside a decaying interstate seventy miles away from the nearest actual city, “cities” being places we’ve collectively ceded to the super-rich? Once we accept this, as per the latest hard-hearted excretion from Bloomberg, we can set about making pragmatic and entirely negligible improvements, tinkering around the edges of the dismal fate shipped Prime from the imagination of Jeff Bezos. Maybe this is what the “future of the working class looks like.” 

 

“A Powerful Message” of Gay Nihilism

New York City, itself long ago turned over to the diamond-crusted caprices of the super-rich, hosted the return of the Met Gala this week, an insipid orgy of wealthy and famous people in expensive outfits duly scrutinized and debated on the internet by the embittered but nevertheless enraptured masses. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, making her gala debut, came under considerable fire for wearing a white dress emblazoned with the demand “Tax the Rich” on the same day her colleagues in the House roundly defeated any attempt to usefully tax said rich people. But hers was not the only outfit in exceptionally poor taste. Dan Levy, nepotism beneficiary and CitiBank spokesman, wore an outfit that was, according to Bustle, a “powerful message,” possibly in support of marriage equality, “taken from the work of artist David Wojnarovicz [sic]” and “accessorized with jewels from Cartier.” The inspiration in question, unnamed by Bustle, was the painting Fuck You Faggot Fucker, and though David Wojnarowicz died of government neglect—which is to say of AIDS—in 1992, we can comfortably surmise that, never a friend of the well-heeled, he would have been enraged by this miscarriage of his intent, yet another instance of how queer culture has been tamed and banalized by the steady march of so-called “progress.”

 

Van Gogh, Alive!

In other “culture” news, our collective addiction to photogenic content-trash has given rise to a new atrocity: the “immersive” Van Gogh “experience.” Evocative of a bad LSD trip, this once-in-a-hype-cycle opportunity to experience “art” as the artist never intended has taken the Instagramming public by force, and millions of tickets have been sold to “Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience,” not to be confused with “Immersive Van Gogh,” which is not to be confused with Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition,” or “Van Gogh Alive,” all of them spreading like the plague, from Boston to New York to San Francisco to Seattle. 

 

Inn a Nutshell

But, wait! More Instagram-friendly activities await. No doubt in response to Lyft’s inexplicable decision to ferry select riders around town in Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles last month, Planters Nuts has announced it will select one lucky nut-lover to spend the night in its new Nutmobile, a twenty-six-foot-long peanut on wheels, for $3.59—the price of a jar of Planters peanuts. Enter to win now! Terms and conditions apply!

 

In Grit We Trust, All Others Get Paid Cash

And, finally, as we embark upon the final weekend of a debauched summer, let us consider the advice of another brain-addled opinions-haver ensconced at a pro-capitalist propaganda outlet: stop expecting to get paid for your time! “There are many of us who just can’t separate the idea that if we are working, we should be getting paid. We think that if we are using our time to do something, there should be some form of monetary reward,” but if you’re of that mind, please step aside so those willing to work for free can, through their unrivaled grit and determination, degrade the working conditions for the rest of us!

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