Art for Fresh Hell.
Jason Arias
The Baffler,  September 4

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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From Bezos with Love

Amazon, as we’ve all come to know, will allow nothing to stand in the way of its tireless effort to reduce the time it takes to get that twelve pack of Bounty Select-a-Size Double Plus Mega Rolls into your greasy hands—regardless of whether the obstacle is a job-killing regulation, some misguided concern about “the collapse of the livable biosphere,” or a noxious human being wailing about labor laws, basic human decency, et al. This week, as the company celebrated formal clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin polluting the skies with its Amazon Prime Air drones, they announced they were looking to hire an “intelligence analyst” to uncover and track “labor organizing threats” at every level of the company, producing “actionable intelligence” for use in court filings, “up to and including orders against activist groups.” (The listing was deleted on Tuesday, and Amazon apologized that the “the job post was not an accurate description of the role” and that they look forward to rewriting it so that it is only implicitly vile.)

 

Labor On, Sucker!

If snitching on collective efforts to improve one’s working conditions isn’t your drift but, like tens of millions of other Americans, you’re looking for work, keep your eyes peeled over the holiday weekend: dozens of brands—from home security outfit ADT to General Mills—have vowed to promote job openings rather than sales on Labor Day, historically a day of heedless, needless consumption. “Together,” the companies have proclaimed, “we can reclaim the true meaning of Labor Day.” The true meaning of this wonderful holiday being, of course, that every American has a right—a duty, in fact—to spend decades of their life producing surplus value for potbellied capitalists while, in exchange, they are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and debt. 

 

Rocking in the Treetops

Elsewhere in the labor market—which is to say, back in the long shadow of Amazon—underpaid contract delivery drivers for Whole Foods are finding evermore innovative ways to beat out their fellow precariats for that sweet, sweet gig. In Chicago, they’ve taken to suspending second phones in trees outside Whole Foods stores and syncing them to their main phones in hopes of cheating the algorithm that selects a delivery driver based on who is physically closest to the store. An Amazon spokesperson assures us, however, that this bleak one-upmanship “isn’t an accurate description of how they work.” Things are, in all likelihood, much worse. 

 

They See Me Rollin’

Recognizing that extremely rich people continue to be extremely rich, and in many cases are getting even more extremely rich regardless of how many people die of Covid-19, are evicted, unemployed, starving, etc., Rolls Royce has unveiled their latest creation, a “seminal moment” in the carmaker’s history: the Rolls-Royce Ghost. It is expected to retail for approximately $330,000—which would only take an American worker earning the national average a mere ten years to buy in full, assuming every penny was put toward acquiring this deliriously luxurious automobile.  

 

Check, Please!

Certainly, though, there remain many, many other completely pointless things on which to blow gobs of cash: paying overtime to police officers, for instance. While New York City alone spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year on overtime, one New Jersey town found a way to offload the exorbitant and unjustifiable cost of police presence onto civilians—like Ms. Emily Gil, age eighteen. She organized a rally for Black lives this summer. The rally was pre-approved by police, lasted approximately ninety minutes, and was entirely peaceful. Weeks later, she got a bill, in accordance with local ordinances, for $2,500 worth of police overtime. (Only after the mayor realized the none-too-good optics of charging a college-bound eighteen-year-old thousands of dollars to enact her First Amendment right did he rescind the bill.)

 

Death Walks on Kitten Heels

President Trump, visiting Kenosha, Wisconsin this week to stoke further political violence, required several human props willing stand next to him on television, to nod and agree with his dark warning that, were Biden to be elected, the country might come to resemble the country as it already is, in other words, as it is under Trump’s watch. Regrettably, casting struggled to locate current business owners in Kenosha who support the president, so they just found a fake one, asking the former owner of a business that burned to the ground to appear mournful about the charred remains of his life’s work before the cameras while Trump pranced about the wreckage in kitten heels

 

Shit-Spangled Banner

With the first day of school pushed back yet again in New York City, the Department of Education has been given a few more weeks to continue its advanced, highly technical testing of the airflow in thousands of classrooms to make sure that children and teachers will be safe. This method, which may prove useful for other cities looking to sacrifice teachers and children alike to Get the Economy Moving, involves holding up a long wooden stick to air vents. On this stick is clipped a long piece of toilet paper, which, in rooms with “adequate” ventilation, flaps happily in the breeze

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