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Fresh Hell

The best dispatches from our grim new reality

Unchecked Power and Infinite Breadsticks

In a bold stroke for gender parity, Italy elected a woman to the office of despotic, far-right, fascist-by-any-other-name head of government. Prime minister-elect Giorgia Meloni is already a nightmare prospect of a world leader, having declared her opposition to surrogacy and adoption by gay couples on Italian television, threatened to renege on reform agreements with the EU, and rallied against immigration to the point of planning to blockade Italian ports to prevent the docking of humanitarian recuse vessels. But all this may be but the first pepperoni on the pizza pie, as there’s a distinct pasta-bility that Meloni will lead Italy backward to the thyme of World War II and the praise of populist European leaders like Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki and the cohort of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán may be the spiciest meatball of all, leaving the voices of reason and democracy lost in the sauce once again. 


In the Hall of the Mountain King

In a classic case of saying the quiet part loud, the CEO of Iron Mountain—an explicitly sinister data and management company whose clients encompass 95 percent of the Fortune 500—sang the praises of inflation, a blank check for jacked-up prices, while also managing to disparage Indigenous American culture in referring to his prayers for inflation as a “rain dance,” nor is it the first time he’s used the term in an ill-advisedly candid estimation of his company’s margins at the expense of millions who can no longer afford to eat or pay for gas. Despite its frankly charming beginnings as a mushroom farm, Iron Mountain appears to be in the hands of William Meaney, a third-rate Bond villain with bug eyes who could stand to recall that, even bereft of the most basic vestige of humanity, Goldfinger never stooped to cultural stereotyping; he skipped straight to lasers. You wouldn’t catch Blofeld whining that inflation was a “net positive.” Dr. No didn’t half-heartedly add “we feel for folks” before going on to tout the merits of a rapacious business model oiled by the blood of the terminally screwed-over. Get your act together, bad guys.


In the Mouth of McMadness

For a limited time, McDonald’s will be offering Happy Meals for adults in a transparent monetization of the desperate yearning for the innocence of childhood, as adults are urged to purchase plastic toys in exchange for their last shred of dignity. “One day you ordered a Happy Meal for the last time and you didn’t even know it,” was how the restaurant chain boasted of its hold over the human soul on Facebook, further promising to stave off the colorless years that punctuate our grim vigil over a dying world with tiny hamburgers. The toys to be included in the “Catus Plant Flea Market Meal Box,” a meaningless succession of words appended to sub-gruel imitation food, include figures of Grimace, Birdie, the Hamburglar, and Cactus Buddy—and if you noticed that one of those is an unestablished character they just threw in for no reason and didn’t bother to identify with a food product, it is because you have made poor choices in deciding what to pay attention to. All Happy Meals are the same, but every Unhappy Meal is unhappy in its own way.


It’s That Poot from Your Chute

A gas leak of unknown origin has caused two pipelines connecting Russia to Germany to release a massive amount of methane into the atmosphere as the Baltic Sea farted its displeasure in the general direction of Denmark and Sweden. The Nord Stream gas leaks amount to an environmental crime, though the 7.5 million metric tons of air from their derriere emerged in international waters, making it unlikely that those who smelt it will face consequences for having dealt it. While a mere piffle compared to the mighty winds of “fracking, coal mining, and oil extraction,” the climate crisis is now not only a cataclysm on an unprecedented scale, it is a stupidity equivalent to drunk boy scouts setting their farts on fire in the middle of the woods.


Train in Vain

A Utah judge ruled that a scandalized divorcee must surrender an album of sexy photographs to her ex-husband, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Nor was the law’s blatant disregard for human rights confined to the boudoir, as Colorado state troopers are on paid leave after abandoning a handcuffed woman to be hit by a train while detained in the police car, leaving her with massive injuries to her ribs, teeth, and skull. At least we live in a republic where the boy prince who is third in the line of succession cannot threaten schoolyard chums with the wrath of their future king. As a previous pretender to the throne was heard to observe, now is the winter of our discontent, and it is only fall.