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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

The Fire This Time

Ah, summer: that glorious season when Americans of means jettison their normal patterns of over-consumption, turn on their “out of office” responses, cash in their airline miles, and ship their bloated carcasses to exotic ports to partake in a bit of leisure, which, for most, usually involves berating waitstaff, overeating, littering, and getting ripped off, pickpocketed, or otherwise disencumbered of their oh-so hard-earned money. But this year, such boorish choreography was interrupted; vacationers in Sicily, Greece, and Hawaii found themselves encircled by flames, brought face-to-face with the hell our benighted way of life has wrought. Aperitivo hours were smoked out; five-star resorts evacuated; flights canceled. Horror, all around. Whereas it once seemed reasonable to assume that, sure, we might lose Venice and New Orleans to rising sea levels, but at least we’d always have Taormina and Maui, that may no longer be the case. As the livable biosphere continues to degrade apace, it’s clear that no vacation itinerary is safe. 


Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

If, however, you happen to be a Supreme Court justice, your vacation will probably be fine. For those vaunted few, it’s a relatively easy matter to call up a billionaire bud, borrow their private jet, and zip-zoom somewhere untainted by disaster. One suspects Clarence Thomas will be doing just that in the years to come; as ProPublica reports, in the three decades he’s been on the Court, he’s already gone on some three dozen destination vacations, taken twenty-six private jet flights, and stayed at two luxury resorts—all on the dime of his ultra-wealthy patrons, er, pals. Speaking of individuals who should be forcibly expelled from the beltway, ninety-year-old senator Dianne Feinstein, who has surrendered power of attorney over her legal affairs to her daughter, was briefly hospitalized this week after she tripped over a chair in her kitchen, which comes less than a month after eighty-one-year-old Mitch McConnell, the minority leader of the Senate, froze midsentence while speaking at a news conference last month and just stood there like the soulless and sagging suit of skin that he is. Perhaps—and this is just an idea, a little something we’ve been throwing around—they should fucking retire!


Uncut Gems

Elected officials, boy, are they great! Just look at New York City’s nominally Democratic mayor Eric Adams, whose amply documented self-regard and stupidity reach dizzying new heights of absurdity in this New Yorker profile. Yes, he’s encouraged aides to sleep with tape over their mouths to “help” their breathing. Yes, he claims that the reason he hasn’t paid taxes on income from a rental property he owns is because his accountant is homeless. Yes, he’s compared his campaign to clear homeless encampments to the work of Jesus. And, yes, he’s lied, repeatedly, about being born in Alabama, attending Malcolm X rallies, leading protest marches, playing football in high school, living in Brooklyn, as well as at what point, exactly, he became an evangelist on behalf of kale. One detail left out, however, is Adams’s bedrock belief that the city he presides over has such a “special energy” because of its location on a store of rare gems


Baby, You’re a Firework

To Hollywood now, where Katy Perry is again indulging her habit of instigating legal battles over real estate held by the elderly. Indeed, Perry and her fiancé, Orlando Bloom, have been in a three-year-legal fight with a dying veteran, who agreed to sell the couple his Montecito mansion while he “lacked the mental capacity to understand the nature and probable consequences of the contract” due to a major six-hour surgery he’d undergone less than a week earlier. The Grammy-nominated pop star behind “Ur So Gay” does not give a shit; she claims he’s legally obligated to complete the sale. He would prefer to die in the home first. But as the Styles desk at the Times has it, Montecito is the place to be for super rich and fabulous people, which does not include veterans dying of obscure brain diseases! This imbroglio comes only a few years after Perry spent untold sums trying to evict nuns from a mansion in Los Feliz she really wanted to buy. In 2016, a judge ruled against the servants of God, but they appealed and the battle continued until it finally came to a halt after one of the nuns, Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, collapsed and died in the courtroom. She was eighty-nine, only five years older than the veteran. Will Perry and Bloom wait it out, or will they set their sights on kicking some other weak and frail and woefully non-famous person to the curb?


School Supplies

We may have weeks of summer left, but many are already steeling themselves for the return to campus, which, in addition to taking out tens of thousands in loans, might also involve applying for food stamps. At least, that’s what Harvard—the wealthiest academic institution in the world—is encouraging graduate students to do. Last spring, they sent out a helpful flier letting them know that, due to the fact that they are paid poverty wages by a university with an approximately $53 billion endowment, many will actually qualify for government assistance! Why buy an apple for your professor when Uncle Sam can?