Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Paul Revere's Time Capsule Totally Sucked

Officials opened a time capsule in Boston Tuesday, more than 200 years after Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and William Scollay buried it there…. It took more than four hours for officials to loosen the screws on top of a time capsule they were set to open on Tuesday night, said Pam Hatchfield, the museum’s head of objects conservation.  Hatchfield said the tools she was using to remove objects from the time capsule included a porcupine quill, a bamboo tool and her grandfather’s dental tool. Officials removed newspapers, a Massachusetts state seal and at least 24 coins from the time capsule, including half-cent, one-cent, half-dime, 10-cent and 25-cent coins….One question still remains…. Will officials put anything new in the time capsule before they put it back?
--January 6, 2015, CNN Wire

Dear Readers: 

I realize that I’m not one of the officials nominated for the 2215 Time Capsule team.  But that hasn’t stopped me from coming up with my own answer to the ONE REMAINING QUESTION.   Because I think I speak for all Americans when I say that this is big shit.  We can't wait for Massachusetts to get organized.   

The fact is, the Founding Fathers left several important legacies, even before they left the time capsule, and they did so without a standing army, or a national government, or even a single modern dental tool.   For example:

-- They threw off the imperial yoke and helped to reimagine the meaning of freedom for the entire nation of white men, and (work in progress) other people.  
-- With visionary precision and clarity, they created a legal framework for democracy which has kept our republic working smoothly for 200 years, except in the case of about ten key amendments.
--  And nobody gave more to the Revolution than the time capsule guys --Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and William Scollay (whoever that is) -- except for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and John Adams. 

Given these important legacies, I'm still a little surprised that unlike LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL (work in progress), this time capsule totally sucks.  

Look.  I’m the last person who wants to call out these Founding Fathers on their crappy capsule.  If it were up to me, my kids would still observe President’s Day at school.  But -- 24 coins, a state seal, newspapers, and a pine tree shilling?  WTF, Paul Revere?   Did you throw out all the good shit with the tea?  

No, big job, I get it.   Enclosing something really unique would’ve required a huge feat of imagination.  Way bigger than the Founding Fathers of the world’s most famous democracy had at their disposal.   Also, you grew up in colonial America, where people were hung by their fingernails, burned as witches, and enslaved as human chattel.  Nothing interesting to comment on there. I’d have gone with the coins, too.  

Perhaps I’m in no position to comment on this.  Although I have a PhD in 19th century American history, nobody ever asked ME to lead a country.  But in fairness, nobody asked Paul Revere either. 
He's just the guy who made those controversial copper plate engravings of the Boston Massacre.  A lot of those events didn’t even happen, and he knew it, and he hammered them out anyway.   He’s the hot piece on the Samuel Adams beer bottle, his naked chest busting through his buttoned down shirtsleeves.  He’s the guy who, when he wasn’t shouting at Middlesex county from atop a borrowed horse, sired sixteen children with two different wives, and a single bayonet.   Should we really be surprised that Paul Revere didn't put together a better time capsule?  Should we really be surprised that after waiting more than 200 years, and then standing by for four hours while the librarian pried open the top with her grandpa’s gingivitis trimmer, we got coins?  Not to be harsh, Paul, but maybe this is why you’re on a beer bottle, and not currency.  Nothing ignorant I say could possibly make this situation worse.

Being a modern American, admittedly, I was hoping for more smut and sensation.  I mean, c'mon.  Tell us that Brutus, rather than being an anti-Federalist pseudonym, was James Madison’s cross-dressing alter ego.  Send us a dried-out blunt from Thomas Jefferson’s library, used for “strictly medical purposes.”   Dash off a mysteriously-coded note on a scrap of parchment, revealing trashy celebrity scandal at the Continental Congress: OH at signing of the USDOI.  TJ told JH he has a fab signature, then BF called them “gay.” What did he mean?!? CC is no friendapalooza.  More deets later.  BFN.    

Upon further reflection, though, I decided that this time capsule actually taught us the perfect historic lesson.  Exactly the lesson that the Founding Fathers probably wanted us all to learn.   With characteristic foresight, they set the time capsule bar SO LOW, that we are now under NO pressure whatsoever to make the 2215 Time Capsule good.  Like, AT ALL.  True to their overall legacy, they showed us that truly great men can totally fuck shit up for a lot of other people.  And continue disappointing them -- over and over again -- well into the future.  

Personally, although nobody asked me, I think we need to honor that example.  (We basically have to, anyway, because the only thing dumber than refilling a time capsule with lame shit and burying it is not refilling it, and putting it back empty.  Who even came up with that question?) So I hope the officials on the 2215 Time Capsule team will take heed and NOT fill it with relics or mementos related to: climate change, Nigerian schoolgirls, political cartoons, grand juries, missing airplanes, apocalyptic terrorists, the fate or modern universities, or the ongoing constitutional battle over same sex marriage.  

All coins welcome.



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