Art for Fresh Hell.
Jason Arias
The Baffler,  November 5

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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I’ve Had the Time of My Life

World leaders descended on Glasgow this week to assure the masses that they ab-so-lutely understand the severity of the climate crisis. Boris Johnson, taking the stage, adopted an appropriately grim tone: “Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change,” he said, adding that “it’s one minute to midnight on that Doomsday Clock, and we need to act now.” Johnson was referring to the metaphorical clock created by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in 1947 that represents the imminence of utter global catastrophe wrought by any number of man-made delights. But as commentators were quick to point out, Johnson had the wrong time. The Doomsday Clock is not one minute to midnight—it’s really only one hundred seconds to midnight. While this may be the closest the clock has ever been to midnight since its invention, those forty seconds? They matter. Certainly, things aren’t as bad as we thought. Nevertheless, in between the preening and the gladhanding, world leaders promised that they really, honestly, certainly plan—for real this time—to do something about our heretofore unchecked descent into hell. Look, here is a helpful list of the underwhelming and non-binding commitments in no way commensurate with the scale of the crisis that various nations issued at COP26 but almost certainly do not intend to follow through on. President Biden, for what it’s worth, found himself so moved, so inspired by the gravity of the situation and our collective reluctance to respond in kind, that he fell asleep.

 

The Air We Breathe

While we’re on the subject of our planet’s increasing hostility to human life, ProPublica has published what it’s calling “the most detailed map of cancer-causing industrial pollution in the United States.” Click here to find out whether or not you’re live-laugh-loving in an area rife with cancer-causing chemicals!

 

Visiting Hours

Regardless of where you live, though, a toxic work environment can follow—thanks to exciting advances in worker surveillance and suppression technology. But while the internet can certainly evoke stirrings of existential dread, sometimes you need your boss there in the room with you. That’s why the toy manufacturer Mattel indicates in a posting for a remote job that the boss can and will make “periodic unplanned visits” to the employee’s place of residence. If the thought of your boss showing up out of the blue to critique your sweatpants isn’t enticing enough, you’ll also be expected to supply high-speed internet and miscellaneous office supplies, all at your own expense. Additionally, you’ll need to be free from “all other responsibilities,” including taking care of “children, elderly, pets, etc.”

 

Salt Bae in the Wound

Perhaps you might consider another, more gratifying line of immiseration. The London restaurant of living meme “Salt Bae” is now looking for a chef to whip up the gold-leafed steaks and desserts that diners like Leonardo DiCaprio, star of Critters 3, have come to love paying inordinately large sums of money to photograph and then half-heartedly consume. The pay is $16 an hour, meaning it would take nearly 124 hours of work to be able to afford the restaurant’s famed Golden Giant Tomahawk steak—and that’s before tip.

 

Sweet Dreams

Our universities, those shining beacons of edification and innovation, should be a continual source of pride for each and every American, a clear sign of our collective commitment to human flourishing. That’s why it’s so exciting to learn about the new “Safe Parking Program” at California’s Long Beach City College, through which homeless students are now allowed to sleep in their cars—on campus! In a secure parking facility! As of today, only seventy students are participating, but the way things are going, that number is sure to climb!

 

Out of the Bee Swarm and into the . . . 

To Brazil now, where one man, in fleeing a swarm of bees, jumped into a lake—only to be eaten by piranhas. While craven and tasteless to utilize this man’s tragic death as clickbait, as hundreds of news outlets of varying degrees of respectability have done, it nevertheless seems an apt metaphor for the dreadful trajectory of our collective existence, pinballing as we do from one ludicrous disaster to the next, ending in death.

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