A fable by MAGNET’s Mitch Myers
“May there only be peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life.” —John McConnell, 1971
Some said the ceremony was a spin-off of Earth Day, a naïve ritual fallen from favor long ago. Some elders recalled an Earth Day when the town sponsored the burial of a Buick LeSabre automobile. The old-timers claimed those quaint ecological ideals had evolved into the current Time Capsule Coronation. Others maintained the ceremony’s origins went further back in time.
Their Time Capsule Coronation was the big spring celebration—that was for sure. The Coronation didn’t land on a specific date; it simply followed the Vernal Equinox and usually took place just before Arbor Day (the last Friday in April). Some planted trees in memory of loved ones for the occasion.
Every year, disagreements ensued over what items were to be placed within the time capsule. Digital sources were included, but the emphasis was on physical objects to capture a tangible essence of time and place, distinct from conventional museums and historical record keeping.
Another annual concern was the crowning of the King, and how commercial interests were distorting the ceremony’s original design. The event’s reliance on town resources and other financial underwriting was also a source of debate.
Essentially, a fusion of private industry and civic altruism had transformed the commemorative gesture into a thriving popular event—driven by mainstream media and corporate sponsorship as well as government incentives. Moreover, the Time Capsule Coronation remained the only affair of its kind.
When Tom Tutt pulled into the Stop & Shop for gas and coffee, he bought a newspaper. He was still sitting there in his truck when he noticed the front-page story about how his identical twin brother, Tim, had decided to run for the honor of being the new Time Capsule King.
The Tutt twins were close growing up, but had drifted apart. Their parents were deceased and although the brothers still lived in the same town, they hardly saw each other, save the occasional holiday dinner. Their paths had diverged sharply, and with that split went the affection the two once shared.
Tom lived by himself in a small apartment on the west side; he got by doing carpentry and odd jobs for cash. Tim was a corporate man, married with two kids, and a homeowner active in his community.
Tom drove over to his brother’s house. His sister-in-law Sandy looked apprehensive as she sent him around back. Tim was in the garage cleaning an old barbeque grill and nodded indifferently to his brother, “Haven’t seen you in a while Tom, what’s up?”
“What’s up?” Tom was shouting, “The newspaper says you’re campaigning for the Time Capsule Coronation. Are you kidding? Why would you want to be part of something like that?”
“It’s not so ridiculous,” Tim said. “There’s $300,000 in savings bonds, complete relief from our property taxes and 10 years health insurance for the family—as well as reality show money and some endorsements. I think it’s worth a shot.”
Tom insisted that his brother withdraw from the contest but Tim was adamant about pursuing the crown. Finally, Tim admitted that he’d been laid off of his job 18 months earlier. Undeterred, Tom began another harangue and Tim got more defensive. Old resentments and rivalries were invoked. Tom kept up his berating until Tim finally told him to leave.
The following week, Tim was in front of Whole Foods passing out fliers promoting his campaign for the Time Capsule Coronation. He’d only been there for 20 minutes when someone casually informed him that there was a new contender for the crown—namely, his brother Tom.