Bateman: You couldn’t live up to the past if you tried

By Oliver Bateman

In honor of The Pitt News’ 100th anniversary, we are turning our attention from pop culture… In honor of The Pitt News’ 100th anniversary, we are turning our attention from pop culture and practical advice to provide you with the straight dope about the past. Most of you probably haven’t given the past too much thought. If we asked you to describe those good old days, you would doubtlessly respond, “Oh, that happened back when, what with the Founding Fathers, the moon landing, ‘talkie’ motion pictures and so forth.”

Well, friends, there’s a lot more to the past than the Founding Fathers and the moon landing. For our purposes, the past began with the discovery and settlement of America by people from the nation of England. The English came to this great land to form a more perfect union, which they did by means of the Constitution.

The writing of the Constitution is one of the most memorable events that occurred in the past. Several of the biggest brains who ever lived decided to pool their knowledge and write a how-to guide for the country. Their guide wasn’t ever meant to be changed, although we fallible human beings have changed it, or “amended” it, a couple of times. Did you know that there is now an income tax in the Constitution? That’s crazy! You can bet your bottom dollar that our Founding Fathers never wanted anyone to tax their slave plantations and powdered-wig shops.

After the Constitution came some of the famous wars. There were two World Wars, but the second one was more patriotic and has inspired many gripping movies.  Throughout these wars, the nation demonstrated its tremendous ability to achieve success. Historians call this ability “manifest destiny” and it is still with us today, especially when it comes to winning gold medals in track and field events at the Summer Olympic Games.

After the last war ended, there followed a lengthy golden period where everything was copacetic. If you watch the sitcoms of that time, you will learn that a majority of men had crew cuts and all children grew up in stable, two-parent families where cracking gentle wisecracks was a requirement.

This was when most of the finest athletes plied their craft. Well-conditioned, physically imposing specimens like Babe Ruth and Lou “The Toe” Groza performed feats of strength that today’s lazy, overpaid players could never hope to equal. Do you remember how sloppy, overweight Albert Haynesworth — who earns a cool billion a year playing for the Redskins — struggled to finish his running test?

Things have gotten much worse since the days of the past.  Al Gore invented the popular network that most of us call the Internet — a tool that we now use for procrastination, uploading cool profile photos, LOLcatting and bullying. The weather has started to get much hotter, with summer temperatures soaring above water’s boiling point and causing the extinction of vital species such as the penguin, panda bear, werewolf and gryphon.

Instead of toughing it out like Lou “The Toe” Groza did during his 19 seasons in the NFL, people go on the Oprah show and share their saddest sob stories with the entire world. The Constitution has become so riddled with amendments that it’s almost impossible to lock up a dangerous child murderer or purchase an M80 rocket launcher. Almost everyone is getting some form of handout because taxes are so high that nobody can pay them. In a given day, the government incurs nearly one trillion dollars in new debt, mostly due to pork-barrel spending. There is so much debt that nobody knows how to pay it, and it’s a shame that the Founding Fathers aren’t around because they surely would have extricated us from this mess.

If you examine the past, you will learn a lot about different lifestyles, lifeways and ways of living. You will also become disenchanted with our subpar status quo. During our nation’s salad days, its politicians and sports stars exercised godlike powers. Regardless of whether it was Paul Bunyan’s lumberjacking or your hometown Steelers’ “Steel Curtain” defense, everything had reached its apogee long before you were born. Nothing today can possibly be as good as it once was, except perhaps for money.

Whereas The Pitt News has been around for only 100 years of the past, its many contributing writers have witnessed the beginning of a period of unimaginable declension and ruin. The best we at The Moustache Column can hope for is that most of you will eventually forget how wonderful the past was, a kind of forgetting that will be aided by your immersion in top-flight casual games like Farmville, Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football and Mafia Wars.

Oliver Bateman is the curator of The Moustache History Club of America. You can visit the Club at