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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Pasta La Vista Baby

Five hundred pounds of uncooked pasta may not be the worst things authorities have found dumped down by the river in New Jersey, but the mysterious mound of spaghetti has brought international attention to the township of Old Bridge, previously known as the home of the world’s fattest mother, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Was Chef Boyardee taking his revenge against vegans? Did a wizard transform a bear into elbow pasta? And what did all these carbohydrates do to piss off the mob in the first place? This week we received an answer, and it turns out that somebody’s parents were hoarders and, in cleaning out their home following their deaths, a military veteran simply took matters into his own hands, bringing attention in the process to the plight of the Sixth Ward, which residents say is routinely ignored by the mayor’s office when it comes to waste management (New Jersey also happens to be home to a new rash of wildfires, which have scorched 3,859 acres already this season). Hopefully, the incident will see the state government finally making good on their campaign promise to legalize marinara.


Good Grief

Kouri Richins, the Utah mother of three and author of Are You With Me?, a grief book for children written after the death of her husband, has been charged with his murder. Suspicious from the start and well aware that Richins’s husband believed his wife was trying to poison him, authorities concluded that she laced his evening Moscow Mule with five times the lethal dosage of Fentanyl. The widow’s book had been on sale for two months and was the subject of local television appearances by Richins prior to her arrest. Seriously, this is no way to cope with writer’s block.


Wham Bam Thank You, Spam

Proving that the makers of prepared foods are the real heroes of the college campus, the University of Minnesota passed over a crop of qualified candidates to appoint Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of Hormel Foods, the makers of Spam, as their new president, despite the SPAMlord’s only having taught a single class as an adjunct. Both Nikita Khrushchev and Dwight Eisenhower credited Spam with sustaining soldiers during World War II, and any college student can attest to its crucial influence as half of the undergrad food pyramid (the other half being ramen), but this is hardly the criterion of excellence we’ve come to expect from the university that produced Garrison Keilor and Walter Mondale. 



Big business took a drubbing elsewhere in the news this week: the Texas Observer reported on the death by hyperthermia of a construction worker at a Tesla factory, while the company denied culpability and failed to report the on-site fatality, and a Wall Street Journal report found some two thousand six hundred federal officials trade lucrative stocks in companies their agencies oversee. Not that the varsity side of things isn’t leaving its own trail of slime, as the Financial Times reported that displaced Manhattanites who relocated to Miami during the pandemic brought along their cutthroat tactics for getting their kids into prep schools, along with massive donations and hedge fund machinations. All in all, the country continues to institutionalize its citizens young and old, and all we wanted was a Pepsi.


Two in the Bush

The heart of a country may well be the thing with feathers, as the Audubon Society profiled Ukranian birder Oleksandr Nastachenko, who has ventured into avian hotspots adjacent to active war zones in his besieged nation. Ukraine’s most prolific logger of species on eBird, Nastachenko has spotted the Mustached Warbler, a dozen Bearded Reedlings, and a Great Black-backed Gull even as his neighborhood is routinely targeted by rocket attacks. Coming as Putin faces rare criticism from his own commanders, news of the active life of Eastern Europe’s bird enthusiasts is a reminder that a bird on a branch does not trust in the breaking of the reeds, but in the power of its own wings. Now if only the Russian military would learn from the dodo and vacate the premises that has so soundly rejected them.