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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Woking Life

This week, the woke mind virus continued its unchecked rampage throughout the United States, warping the minds of our youth as schools continued to fan the flames of distrust in our sacred institutions and foment anti-American sentiment in the humans we grow to eat our shitty food, consume our cut-rate products, and fight our wars abroad. Oh sorry, wrong publication—let’s start again. This week, The 74 ran a story on how, unwilling to let Florida take the lead in papering over the history of the country for the benefit of gormless political leaders looking to annihilate the germ of progressive thought in teenagers who might come to question the strictures of their local and national government, Texas outlawed civics students from engaging with officials on any level or taking part in action as innocuous as campaigning for stop signs outside their school. Eighteen states since 2021 have turned textbooks into samizdat by restricting any teaching that implies that the country is “inherently sexist, racist or oppressive,” but Texas has gone the furthest by actually keeping high schoolers from volunteering in local campaigns or attending city council hearings as part what the human cowboy hats legislating in the Lone Star State call “woke civics.” Instead, schoolchildren will learn about the world the way they always have: from glitchy filmstrips from the 1950s on the moral corrosion of vegetarianism, nonconformity, and bowling alleys.


Return of the Macron

If we’re talking sex scandals and demonstrations by the left, we must be talking about France, as the right-wing minister of the economy, already under fire from critics for unchecked inflation and his support of President Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular raising of the pension age to sixty-four, is now being ridiculed for a terrible sex scene in his novel Fugue Américaine. Readings of the chapter in question have appeared on late-night television, including the classic line, spoken by one vixen, “I’ve never been this dilated” amid lurid descriptions of her anus. Macron’s minister has defended his right to scribble steamy softcore on the side because, after all, this is France, where being found unsexy will get you sent to the Bastille.


Bopping the Bishop

Prosperity gospel bishop Lamor Whitehead, famous both for his bling and having served time for larceny and identity fraud, is being sued for deed theft after evicting a Glory of God Global Ministry congregation from a Brooklyn building he claimed to own. It would appear as though he used fraudulent documentation to eliminate the competition in God-bothering holy rollers. But that’s business as usual for the American church: deeds, not words. This week also saw Idaho detectives testify in the trial of “cult mom” Lori Vallow Daybell, the messianic leader of a doomsday cult, who is accused of the murder of her two children, whom she claimed had been turned into zombies. It’s a good thing we keep such grandstanding ideologues out of the law in this country, where a woman was recently forced to carry a child without kidneys to term because she was barred from obtaining an abortion that would have spared her from a life-threatening condition. Frankly, the cults might be onto something: the apocalypse can’t come soon enough. 


TikTok Dirty to Me

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words must be carefully monitored by the Chinese government lest we begin to use social media to examine human rights abuses and the unchecked power of the state. Forbes has found that TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance maintains a list of words and phrases that it carefully suppresses if they pertain to criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, Donald Trump, the ongoing persecution of the Uyghur minority, or commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. That our technocrat masters might not have the public’s best interests at heart as they peddle lip-syncing Zoomers and sleight-of-hand illusions by unemployed weekend warlocks comes as a shock to Westerners, who maintain complete faith in our conglomerates, like a McDonald’s where ten-year-old children were found working until 2 a.m.; our government, which employed a rogue agent who urged January 6 rioters to commit murder at the capitol; and our police force, which recently shot an emotional support dog in the face


Bono Shirt, Bono Service

The Atlantic, America’s oldest monthly purveyor of panic porn and fawning celebrity profiles, has boldly tapped U2 frontmanchild Bono to illustrate their June 2023 cover depicting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, something the noted Spider-Man scholar was already doing, since he apparently has a hobby designing Atlantic covers on his iPad. This is just the first of an initiative undertaken by the glossy magazine industry to tap rock stars to draw inoffensive covers using basic handheld technology. Forthcoming are Harper’s new design by Harry Styles, GWAR’s droll new designs for The New Yorker, the NYRB’s contract with Danish shock-rocker-turned-political-cartoonist King Diamond, and—we might as well announce it—The Baffler’s debut of its new cover-artist-for-life, Tiny Tim, and focus-group-approved official slogan, “Come tiptoe through the tulips with us.”