Author: Charlie Bertsch

Charlie Bertsch is a teacher and writer living in Tucson, Arizona. A founding editor and regular contributor to one of the world’s first online magazines, Bad Subjects, his work has appeared in numerous publications including The Oxford American, Punk Planet, Tucson Sentinel, Phoenix New Times, Cleveland Scene, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

He has served as the Music Editor for Tikkun and Zeek. His essays have appeared in Let Fury Have The Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer, The Anti-Capitalism Reader: Imagining a Geography of Opposition, and both Bad Subjects collections, Collective Action and Political Education for Everyday Life.

Charlie is currently at work on a book about memoir in the age of New Media.

By contemporary standards, the red banner at the top of the CNN home page advertising its live coverage is completely normal. Every news organization wants visitors to watch video content. Ads sell for a lot more than print. And live video is better still, ensuring a captive audience. But yesterday, its message seemed wrong to me: “Wildfires burn near Los Angeles. Watch now.” (More…)

The revelations of sexual misconduct by men dominating American media are having a profound impact on how people feel about their world. Last week, I stopped by the home of a senior citizen who needed help with something and heard, the second I opened the door, that M*A*S*H was playing on her television. But in place of nostalgia, I felt a surprising revulsion. (More…)

The crowd at Club Congress is sparse. A few true believers and some people who are only here because they happened to be here already. My friend and I don’t fall into either category. I told him we had to see this show because it’s important, because I respect tradition, because it’s Dead Moon. They’re setting up right in front of us, out on the floor. (More…)

When the second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things went live on October 27th, millions of people rushed to finish the whole season. Some just wanted to avoid spoilers. But for others, this mode of consumption was necessitated by their desire to participate fully in conversations about the show. (More…)

Like most Americans, I witnessed the scenes from the right-wing march on Charlottesville, Virginia with horror and dread and was delighted to see the President’s response to the violence excoriated by Republican leaders. But the more denunciations I saw, the more I worried. (More…)

Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake is a searing indictment of the 21st UK, which has been subcontracting many traditional functions of the state to private corporations. But the film also asks probing questions about the direction in which every society in the developed world is headed. What will happen to our humanity as more and more decisions are made by computers or people who act like them? (More…)

How do you register the passage of time? It’s a question that dominates the new season of Twin Peaks. This was probably inevitable, once Mark Frost and David Lynch decided to bring back members of the original cast over twenty-five years later. But their decision to confront the strangeness of this return head-on has made it resonate with a bracing profundity. (More…)

“Is it me or are a lot of people struggling with depression and insomnia right now?” When a friend in the United Kingdom posted this question a while back, most commenters focused on the winter weather there. I didn’t have that excuse. It’s almost always sunny in the Arizona desert. But that isn’t helping me this year, I responded, because “Trump creates his own weather.” (More…)

In the United States right now, little has been able to compete with Donald Trump for headlines. Police killings, mostly of black men, and the protests against them have managed. So have mass shootings, particularly when they could be connected to “radical Islam.” Besides those obvious above-the-fold stories, though, perhaps the most durable subject in the news has been the nation’s epidemic of overdoses. (More…)

Once you’ve seen the original photograph, this exercise in “Photoshopping” is understandable. But my first-year university students, trying to make sense of Claudia Rankine’s brilliant book Citizen have not. To them, it’s just a perplexing image of white people from long ago, turning around to look at the camera in front of the dark shape of a tree looming against an even darker sky. (More…)

When conservative American pundits berated black gymnast Gabby Douglas for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem during her team’s medal ceremony at this summer’s Olympics, the subsequent furor recalled the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the meaning of patriotism was called radically into question by the counterculture and Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” answered back harshly. (More…)

In some ways, Americans have never felt closer to Europe than they do today. Social media collapse our sense of distance, so that people who live thousands of miles away can seem as proximate as our own neighbors. All it takes is knowing a few people who have recently spent time somewhere between Iceland and Turkey to appreciate the significance of today’s vote in the United Kingdom. (More…)