FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Economy of Dead Sperm

by CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM

My grandfather knew about bankers. With his father, my great-grandfather, he built a machine-shop business in Cleveland, Ohio, based on the idea that you offered a product in the free market – machined ball-bearings and such – and if there was a demand, you succeeded. My grandfather paid for his house in one of the outlier suburbs of Cleveland, what was then countryside, with cash from his wallet. No mortgage on the house. I’d like to imagine my grandfather – who drank too much, he was a happy drunk and had to be chased out of bars with a feather, and raced cars in his off-time – telling the banker: ‘I have just enough money here for this house to pay everyone but you.’ The middleman parasite is the heart of economics in the US today, so my grandfather wouldn’t have come off well.

He had a barn where he hid Ferraris – he was an amateur race car driver – and it was the same house that I loved as a child, visiting from New York City every summer. He had a wild old unshaven Model T Ford that he raced around the two-acre property under the cawing of the crows in the big trees, with us kids, the cousins, hanging like pubic hair for dear life and wanting the thing to topple. And ol grandpa would bash the machine into first gear from third and rage the engine and we slivered to right and left on the knoll of his property, the grass getting torn and the neighbors wondering. When I was five years old, a moment I’ll never forget, my grandfather had me in the passenger seat of his Ferrari, which he had bought and rebuilt – engineer and entrepreneur that he was – from someone who couldn’t love Ferraris.

So there were we. Blasting. The old man shifting through the gears, the car shivering, the engine screaming. No seatbelts, no cops. The six-year-old kid in love with the old man behind the wheel. A motorcycle gang pulls past us on the vast avenue. The old man, now young as night and the car at his beck, tells me, “How much you bet we race ‘em?” I said, “Urkay.” And so grandpa mashed the car into the wind and it was that first moment of speed in my little life, the car showering its sparks of scream, my grandpa with madman grin grabbing the road, the car shaking, true, beautiful, all love and compassion and light weighted on his face, the darkness of his love of speed, his eyes like sun. “There,” he said, and the motorcycle gang faded like dead sperm.

I’m thinking of my grandfather these past few days, thinking of the trauma to be visited on the American taxpayer in the proposed bail-out which is said to save the United States from itself. I’m thinking of that simple radiance of the fact that he refused to take a debt on his house. Cash up, cash forward. Nothing for the bankers. Fuck the bankers, fuck the loan-artists, fuck those who will tell you there’s a deal on the horizon as long as you sleep. I think of my friends in Utah, living on their own wits, mostly off the grid, in the bygone idea that American values are built not of government telling you how or where to build your house or sustenance or solitude. I think of my friends Kiley and John, who are as old as my grandfather and as young as America, eking out their existence as carpenters. They have built a home apart from the grid, high atop the desert, where the canyons answer their need with sun and rainwater in monsoon they collect off the roof. More power to them. Kiley and John will answer, in the end, to the sun, and to the water. They have gotten almost nothing from debt. Their product, their home, is the work of muscle, waiting, accident, honesty. Which makes them anti-American, in the current configuration. They believe in the dream: Why should they answer one penny of their tax-dollars to the greed-fuckering on Wall Street?

The bigger picture is this: There is no real economy beyond people llike Kiley and John. No real economy beyond the shaping of the bottom-line of the quotidian from one’s hands. I think of my grandfather, whose machine shop made a thing that could be felt, palpated, held in the hand. The future of America is not in the degenerate United States where nothing of worth is offered. The future is our return to the machine shop of our forebears, to the light of the eyes of men who made things worth holding.

CHRISTOPHER KETCHAM writes for Vanity Fair, GQ, Harper’s, and many other magazines. You can contact him at cketcham99@mindspring.com

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Christopher Ketcham is a freelance writer.  You can write him at cketcham99@mindspring.com or see more of his work at christopherketcham.com.

November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman
Stephen Corry
OECD Fails to Recognize WWF Conservation Abuses
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail