Jason Arias
The Baffler,  April 27

Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Jason Arias
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The Expert Vanishes

Student debt sage Drew Cloud—alleged founder of the website The Student Loan Report and fixture in the bleak environs of the peonage blogosphere—has been unmasked as the fictitious persona of the for-profit student loan refinancing company LendEDU. Known for tossing off the occasional op-ed (“Free Tuition is not the Answer”) and elucidating the extreme lengths to which surveyed debt slaves would go to be free of their burden (sixty-two percent would star in a porno, twenty-seven percent would be willing to contract the Zika virus, etc.), Mr. Cloud also just so happened to mention that debtors consider refinancing and perhaps doing so through LendEDU! Imagine that!

 

Uncanny Valley Girl

In other human imposter news, Highsnobiety—the blog and magazine tracking with great care the bullshit machinations of the sneaker and garment industries—announced the irrelevance of garbage humans this week by naming @lilmiquela, a woke CGI influencer, their latest covergirl. Since signing on to Instagram two years ago, @lilmiquela has amassed over one million pairs of eyeballs to ogle her glamorous life: attending Milan fashion week via drone and jet setting to #Beychella with other CGI pals. While she may have no pores, she’s not without depth; @lilmiquela recently waxed existential when she was made aware that she is, in fact, not a real person but an ad-revenue-generating amalgamation of beauty tropes. 

 

Kill the living room!

After irrevocably wounding the napkin, fast casual dining, cereal, bar soap, diamonds, fabric softener, and oil industries, millennials may soon set their sights on the last refuge of the old order: living rooms. Millennials—loath as they are to laze about at home when they could be at a 24/7 WeWork networking their way up the corporate ladder—really just don’t need living rooms any more, according to Patrick Schumacher, the new head of Zaha Hadid Architects (the firm that’s wrought egalitarian delights like a fifty million dollar penthouse overlooking the High Line in Manhattan). Schumacher really knows what the people want: and they certainly don’t want spacious living spaces or public housing, god no.

 

All Lies on the Western Front

While the Twittersphere deliberated the implications of Kanye West’s MAGA dragon energy, over fifty thousand teachers, on the first day of a state-wide walkout, stormed the Arizona legislature to demand a modest boost to their starvation wages. Or, wait. Perhaps, according to some on the right,  they’re Bernie Sanders foot soldiers endeavoring to overthrow capitalism? Or maybe they’re advancing a cover ploy to relegalize cannabis, public education be damned?

 

Style is over! If you want it!

Natural tastethat great, unknowable yet deeply felt impulse toward Beautyis headed for the dustbin of history, to be replaced at last by its true heir: algorithmic fashion advice as dispensed by a camera-toting Amazon automaton, writes Kyle Chayka, dutiful chronicler of our declining quality of life under consumer capitalism. In the banal Land of You Might Like, we increasingly rely not on marginally autonomous inclinations of taste but on a “taste vernacular built not on an individual brand identity or a human curator but a freeform mass of associations meant to draw the viewer in by any means necessary.” Which is to say, damn straight Alexa thinks you look like shit, but You Might Look Better in these chic, distressed jeans (on sale now!).

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