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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Junior Flints

America has a long history of following up national tragedies with the marketing of questionable products, since grief and outrage are mere market demographics in the eyes of the corporate bounder: KFC’s pink buckets for cancer, O.J. Simpson pogs, the LEGO grassy knoll/book depository playset. Now, in the aftermath of a six-year-old’s shooting of his first-grade teacher and a failed GOP candidate in New Mexico’s organization of gun attacks on the homes of Democrats, WEE1 is hawking the JR-15, a child-sized AR-15 assault rifle that “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun.” Protesters, including at least one survivor of a school shooting, flocked to the Las Vegas gun show, where the death-dealing device for children was being promoted at the Venetian Expo and Caesars Forum. And before you say that Julius Caesar might have been able to enjoy a peaceable reign had he been able to protect himself, consider that the Roman proconsul would never have stooped to such a tasteless display. Look what he can do to salad with just a little dressing. The fault is not in the stars, but in ourselves.


Tip Your Hater

The New York Times reports that ServSafe—a company that teaches a required and perfunctory class for cooks, waiters, and bartenders where they learn that food goes bad and you should wash your hands—is, in reality, an arm of the largest lobbying group for the restaurant industry and has been funneling the fee paid by workers into union-busting tactics, keeping the minimum wage down, and limiting health care benefits. Part of the reason that ServSafe has been allowed to consistently oppose the interests of its putative clients is their dominance of the food lobbyist market, which a competitor compared to Kleenex. He presumably meant that they are a monopoly verging on synecdoche, but the incidental comparison to a serviette that absorbs the sticky refuse of a nasal blockage is not inapt. 


Up Against the Wall Friar Tucker

Robinhood, the makers of a stock market app that facilitates trades in cryptocurrency once targeted by a class-action lawsuit for market manipulation, is launching a media wing called Sherwood to do damage control, festoon inboxes with newsletters, and “cover the culture of money,” which is like snails producing a magazine to cover the culture of slime. Sherwood will be led by former The Verge editor and 1990s trance DJ Joshua Topolsky, who has stressed the venture’s independence from its parent company, which paid 65 million to settle an SEC probe in 2020 and is frequently awarded one-star ratings on Google Play following their restriction of trades unfavorable to their clearinghouse. None of this obviously resembles the trajectory of Robin of Locksley, whose extra-legal activities were hardly undertaken to swell the coffers of his Merry Men, but rather to combat the misrule of the usurper Prince John on behalf of a disenfranchised underclass. If anything, it’s more like the Castillian legend of El Cid, whose corpse was said to have been fitted with armor and strapped to his horse in order to strike fear in the hearts of his enemies despite his moribundity. That doesn’t mean it’s time to sell, but it may be a good idea to wonder if you’re depending on advice from the living dead. 


Tractor and Field

A roving scofflaw led authorities on a low-speed chase in bucolic Boone, North Carolina, after pushing a dumpster into a church and assaulting passersby and attempting to flee in a John Deere tractor, which reached speeds of twenty mph as the perp made his gradual getaway through oncoming traffic before finally being apprehended when the police shot out a tire. This is the latest in a small crimewave for Boone, as authorities in November investigated a spray painting incident at the Snow Masonic Lodge. The county seat is of course named for Daniel Boone, who famously claimed he was never lost but was once bewildered for three days. Imagine how that dumpster felt, and it was just one day short of retirement.


Wet and Styled

In a heartwarming story from last December, we learned of a Cornwall mother-of-three who has capitalized on her lifelong incontinence by selling her soiled panties to aficionados on OnlyFans. Having sustained kidney disease and near-constant bullying, the secondhand market in underthings has now made Candie Dixon into an entrepreneur who is able to support her family thanks to the unsung heroes of the internet fetish community. Try as we might, there does not appear to be a single unsavory or dismaying angle to this tale of bold micturition, the rare piece of good news that one hopes sets a trend for the new year. When it rains, it pours. When the dam bursts, find a weirdo who likes it that way.