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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Change Comes At You Fast

Subjected as we are to an unending barrage of bad news (Kyrsten Sinema’s latest vote) and vapid content-trash (Charlie Puth’s latest single), it can be difficult to locate, let alone seek solace in, the rare indication that the arc of human history might, actually, bend toward a “more dynamic, progressive world,” which is what Mars, Incorporated, hopes to aid and abet by, uh, redesigning the M&M characters. Indeed, to show the importance of “self-expression and [the] power of community,” the conglomerate has announced that the green M&M will soon ditch her white-heeled go-go boots for “cool, laid-back sneakers to reflect her effortless confidence” and will henceforth be a better friend to the brown M&M, showcasing a “force supporting women.” Together, this dynamic duo of candy-coated chocolate—produced in part by child slaves—will throw “shine and not shade.” As for the orange M&M, he will, as the most relatable character to Gen Z, “the most anxious generation,” finally “embrace his true self, worries and all,” and accept his certain annihilation on a planet increasingly hostile to chocolate confections with aplomb.


Road to Nowhere

As for the turbo-woke teens to whom these talking M&M’s are meant to relate, they will soon be allowed, as if by the grace of God, to partake in the unrivaled exhilaration of steering tons of cargo across the decrepit landscapes of America so that our sacred shelves can be fully stocked with butter lettuce and electric wine bottle openers and capers and digital barbecue forks and frozen bags of macaroni and cheese for one and sand-blasted glass ultrasonic aromatherapy diffusers. Thanks to Biden’s infrastructure bill, people as young as eighteen will soon be allowed to drive fourteen-wheelers under an “apprenticeship” pilot program! Certainly this is all about creating opportunity for young people and is in no way a deregulation campaign, long underway, to undermine unions, increase the size of the labor pool, and suppress wages, finally coming to fruition at the precise moment when it’s become difficult to just spontaneously wander into a Sharper Image and expect that you’ll be able to pick up a ten-in-one flip pillow without delay! 


“Payback’s a bitch.” —The Commonwealth of Massachusetts 

To Massachusetts now, where the state’s Department of Unemployment Assistance, recognizing that the economic fallout from the pandemic has totally, completely, and utterly passed, has begun pursuing repayment on some $2.7 billion worth of benefits it erroneously paid out to several hundred thousand people. People like Matt Goncalves, who was furloughed at the start of the pandemic from the part-time job at Best Buy he held while working a full-time job as a school paraprofessional. Urged by Best Buy to apply for unemployment, he was approved and received a weekly check for several months until he found a new full-time job. Now, Massachusetts has determined he was ineligible—and will force him to pay $200 a month for five years. That’s justice for taxpayers in action!


The $800,000 Question

Certainly, someone like Goncalves can afford to pay the state of Massachusetts back for a mistake it made—at least according to students at the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania who one professor recently surveyed. According to a great number of them, the average American worker is pulling down over six figures a year. One even thought the average worker was making $800,000 a year. Students were shocked—shocked!—to learn the average annual income is actually a paltry $45,000 a year before those vexsome taxes poor people seem so ill-equipped to avoid.


Don’t Call Your Girlfriend

And now let us peer into the tumultuous cauldron of technological innovation, where all signs indicate that we—as a society, as a species—are in great shape, have never been better, and are continuing to become kinder and gentler, which certainly explains why some men, absent other hobbies or perhaps bored by their siliconed sex dolls, are creating AI chatbot girlfriends, verbally abusing them, and then bragging about it.


It’s Five O’Clock Now, Then, and Forevermore

As we alight upon yet another dreary weekend, let us take a word of advice from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who recognizes that people may be “frustrated, sad, angry, [or] pissed off” that the Democrats failed to advance voting rights protections this week: “Feel those emotions, go to a kickboxing class, have a margarita,” she urged the American people. Getting absolutely schlockered right this very minute is actually the patriotic thing to do, according to the New York Post. Dry January is a scourge that must end! It’s killing bars! It’s “pure evil!”