Skip to content

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Where’s the Keefe?

The fallout from the heady days when you could defraud liberal nonprofits while dressed as a pimp and squander funds from gullible donors on sailing trips and bottled water went unabated this week, as the Washington Post reports that right-wing undercover scallywag James O’Keefe is facing accusations of improper spending from auditors of Project Veritas, the once-ascendant company he founded, now reduced to a “skeleton crew” following O’Keefe’s ouster as CEO. Perhaps the saddest detail to emerge from the fallen cadre of sneaky petes, who in their heyday applied Michael Moore or square Nathan for You tactics to catch news organizations and labor leaders on film in heavily edited gaffes, is that O’Keefe spent $2,500 of Veritas’s funding on DJ equipment in a failed bid to perform at Coachella. Other O’Keefe follies include the time he left staffers to drown in Hurricane Ida so he could make the curtain call for his role in the musical Oklahoma!, as well as the time he hired a former MI6 agent to teach his operatives the finer points of espionage and staged elaborate musical routines while flanked by backup dancers. Elsewhere in the denigrated annals of twenty-first-century Republicana, it was business-as-usual: Mitch McConnell froze during a Kentucky news conference, Florida school boards under Ron DeSantis curtailed AP curriculums on slavery as they “may only present one side of this issue,” and oil and gas companies paid influencers to rehabilitate their image as wildfires raged across the globe and the world recorded the hottest day in history three times in the course of a single week. Change is coming, but only for the climate, as the right is sticking to the same script that got us in this mess, giving us “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” in the bargain.


This Wheel’s on Fire

A Florida Man who tried to cross the Atlantic Ocean to London in a makeshift, inflatable hamster wheel was apprehended by the Coast Guard for the fourth time and barricaded himself inside the contraption for four days while threatening suicide and claiming to be in possession of a bomb, like an unhinged American Gladiator set to self-destruct. Meanwhile, a catamaran off Cairns was attacked by the toothy cookiecutter shark which, given their small size, aren’t fatal to humans, just really bitey. Coupled with the mysterious golden orb salvaged from the ocean floor off the coast of Alaska, this bodes ill for Sebastian the singing crab’s promise of an undersea paradise free from mainland impediments: “There will be no exploitation / Say goodbye to vaccinations / Just friendly crustaceans / Under the sea.” 


Loch to the Hand

Cryptid hunters in Loch Ness briefly believed they’d found proof of the storied monster, first sighted in the sixth century, before the telltale glubbing turned out to be unplugged recording equipment. Elsewhere in the highlands of Scotland, the self-styled Lady Samantha Kane bought the one-time Castle of Spite, said to be haunted by the ghost of a duchess, with the goal of rehabilitating the fortress to attract paranormal enthusiasts, and a ritual mass murder reported in Lincolnshire turned out to be just a really chilled-out yoga class. To reiterate, nothing happened because Nessie is a hoax, there’s no such thing as ghosts, and the greatest risk run by yogis and yoginis remains trying not to fart while doing the downward-facing dog.


Hot Chip

Fourteen-year-old Harris Wolobah of Worcester, Massachusetts, died this week after eating a spicy tortilla chip sold in a coffin-shaped box as part of the “One Chip Challenge” popularized by TikTok. The deadly chip, which is manufactured by a subsidiary of Hershey with a melange of peppers like the Carolina Reaper, Scorpion Pepper, and the Naga Viper, is more than a million times hotter than the jalapeño and was quickly pulled from stores following the eater’s expiration. Consuming fatal substances for clicks, posing for selfies atop perilous cliff faces, indulging in sketchy fruitarian diets . . . it’s almost as though nature is trying to tell us something is wrong with our way of life, risking life and limb for the appeasement of very-online strangers.


Toilet It Be

Generation Z has been consigned to cringe status after finding itself bewildered by a meme beloved by Generation Alpha—those born in the 2010s—called “Skibidi Toilet,” in which scatting computer-animated heads emerge from commodes and urinals. Though geriatric twentysomethings may be grappling with the grim specter of cultural irrelevance, the offending meme is at least hygienic and virtual, which is more than can be said of our airways, where feces and vomit are on parade in the meatspace. A Delta flight recently had to make a U-turn after a passenger experienced explosive diarrhea—which you still can’t bring on planes following draconian 9/11 crackdowns—and Air Canada travelers were removed from a flight after refusing to sit in vomit-coated seats in late August. This is the unvarnished reality behind armchair defecators with social media accounts: it’s all shit. Still, one cannot help but wonder why all that poop had to get to Barcelona in such a hurry in the first place.