Art for Fresh Hell.
Jason Arias
The Baffler,  July 10

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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The Undergraduates

In concert with the president’s demand that “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!,” continuation of mass death be damned, ICE announced this week that international students here on student visas and currently enrolled in university must depart our failed state if they are unable to attend at least one in-person class this fall. This move, already under fire in the courts, further imperils the already deeply distressed funding model for higher education, in which unjustifiably lavish administrative salaries, solar-powered gyms, rooftop pools, lazy rivers, luxury student housing, and pleasure domes housing various bloated sports programs are all financed largely on the backs of foreign students who almost always pay full tuition in addition to exorbitant immigration fees. Thankfully, many forward-thinking, brave institutions are undertaking a coordinated effort to ensure the pandemic does not prevent in-person instruction and thus does little to ruffle the bottom line. Take, for instance, Purdue University, whose president assures that Covid-19 poses “zero lethal threat” to the vast majority of the student body: they have supplied professors with attractive plexiglass virus shields to wheel around campus. 

 

Queen Bee

With gender reveal parties increasingly untenable during the pandemic, one expectant mother, purportedly with her doctor’s approval, decided to liven up her maternity photoshoot by covering her belly in a swarm of some ten thousand bees. Mom, as you can imagine, was quite nervous—not about bringing a child into the world at this particularly unpleasant juncture, no: she is allergic to bees.

 

Panic in the Open Sky

After extorting $5.8 billion in handouts from the American public in the form of grants and loans, then announcing plans to apply for another $4.8 billion, American Airlines continues its parasitic relationship to said public unchecked. On a June 30  flight to Newark, for instance, passengers who sought to properly social distance by moving to empty seats in an exit row were ordered back to their original, crowded rows because they had not paid the fee for the additional legroom/decreased likelihood of death. Things would get even worse the following day, when the airline once again began booking flights to full capacity, abandoning any pretense whatsoever of giving a single flying fuck about whether their customers die while clutching a crumbling Biscoff cookie and a pamphlet toting the fifty thousand Bonus Miles you get when signing up for an AAdvantage® Platinum Select® card with 24.99 percent APR after the first year.

 

Prayers for Bobby

In other news, celebrities—not unlike the theater chains suing for the right to kill moviegoers—are struggling. Robert De Niro, appearing in court via Skype this week to contest his ex-wife’s demand that her monthly credit limit be raised to $100,000, would “be lucky if he makes $7.5 million this year,” according to his lawyers. The seventy-six year-old star of Little Fockers, whose expected income breaks down to over $20,000 a day, couldn’t retire “even if he wanted to because he can’t afford to keep up with his lifestyle expense.” 

 

Stiff Upper Lip 

Across the pond, an inspiring story that proves the United States is not entirely unmatched in its unwavering indifference toward the health of its citizenry: the wages of frontline workers in the United Kingdom will be diminished via a special income tax every time their employer provides them with a coronavirus test to ensure it’s safe for them to continue putting their life on the line for the sake of others. 

 

Life is a Roller Coaster

Theme parks in Japan, hoping to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, have banned screaming on roller coasters. “Please scream inside your heart,” the chief executive of Fuji-Q Highland urges. Many Americans, however, have found life in the midst of a decaying social compact to be such a rip-roaring ride as to render roller coasters obsolete. Exhibit one: the story of one Passaic, New Jersey, Doordash driver who, while forced to deliver food in the midst of a flash flood, was sucked into the city’s underground storm drainage system and taken on a mile-long ride ending in the Passaic River. She survived, and Doordash, in an apparent first, will offer Bruno occupational insurance as well as financial assistance to help pay her medical bills.

 

The Hap-Hap-Happiest Place on The Whole God Damn Planet

For those who just cannot wait to get back into an amusement park even if it kills them, Disney World will begin its phased reopening on Saturday in Florida, despite the fact that, as of Friday, the state had over 230,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and over 4,000 dead. Sure, the seven-day rolling average of cases has grown 1,393 percent since the state began reopening on May 4, but some people really fucking need to ride the spinning tea cups and spend $17 on some Mickey Mouse-shaped chicken nuggets. Some may think this callous cash-grab may, in fact, be extremely dangerous, but one rich man at Disney whose continued class position now requires ritual human sacrifice has said “we strongly believe that we can open safely and responsibly.” For those still not convinced, here is a heartwarming video of underpaid park employees gushing (almost certainly of their own accord and with no pressure whatsoever from the management who gave them no choice about returning to work) about how happy they are to be back at The Happiest Place on Earth in the midst of the mass death event

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