Author: Charlie Bertsch
Charlie Bertsch lives in Tucson, Arizona. A founding editor and regular contributor to one of the world's first online magazines, Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life, his work has appeared in numerous publications since including The Oxford American, Punk Planet, Phoenix New Times, Cleveland Scene, Tucson Sentinel, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

While the death of Arizona Senator John McCain has inspired heartfelt tributes from mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike, his long-time detractors have shown little reluctance to call his legacy into question. Here in Arizona, where he was regularly criticized for his tendency to seek positive coverage in the national media instead of the legislative results his constituents were hoping for, many conservatives expressed relief that he was finally out of the way. (More…)

Shortly after I moved to the Sonoran desert, I developed a standard response for friends and family who wondered how I was holding up. “Yes,” I’d say, “it’s hot as hell in summer. And, yes, the landscape is full of danger. But that’s what makes it exciting. I mean, in half a day I can make it from a trailhead minutes from my house into extreme wilderness.” (More…)

Like last summer’s widely lauded Get Out, Sorry To Bother You, the first film by hip-hop activist Boots Riley, is a rollicking bad time, every bit as fun as it is disturbing. And that’s surely the main reason that, like Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, it is doing well with audiences that don’t generally seek out left-wing multicultural art. Although less narratively “tight” than Get Out, (More…)

I’m standing outside in the rain. Not the savage sort we usually see during our summer Monsoon season here in the Sonoran Desert, but an impossible soft mist. There’s just enough of a breeze to set our wind chimes in motion, creating a soundscape that implores me to be completely in the moment. I hear myself saying, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood.” (More…)

As I stood there in the brutal midday sun, I had a decision to make. Should I go back inside and leave the man trying to repair our air conditioning unit to do his work in silence? Or would it be more respectful to stand there and suffer with him? In the end, I stayed. He seemed happy to have the company. And I was, too. (More…)

Usually, if I walk in on a concert in progress, it takes me a while to pay full attention. I’ll go buy a drink, look for people I know, size up the crowd. This past Monday was different. Although I’d never heard of the band Lié before that moment, I knew I’d never stop wanting to hear them. (More…)

It’s no secret that Kanye West has been stirring up controversy again. Pushing buttons with the aplomb of Donald Trump – with whom he remains friendly –West has given every indication that he is positioning himself for future punditry in the right-wing media, if not a political career. (More…)

You can sense them building up, like storm runoff at a dam. It’s possible that the worst won’t happen this time. But one day they will become impossible to contain. The excuses, I mean. Although Donald Trump may wildly overstate his prowess in many areas, there is no doubt that he makes them with the aplomb of a world-class con artist and, more importantly, also makes them stick. (More…)

Like many people I know, I spend much of my time on social media avoiding information. There are days when, to invoke the long-running memes, I simply “can’t even”. Maybe it’s bad news about the economy or opioid addiction or climate change; or maybe I just can’t stand to hear about  Trump’s latest outrage. But I also expend a lot of energy avoiding potentially good news. (More…)

Like a whole lot of people around the world, I went to see Black Panther during its four-day opening “weekend”. Although I am not usually that keen on superhero comic books or the movies made from them, I absolutely loved the experience of watching the film. But it wasn’t just for the admittedly awesome hand-to-hand combat scenes. From the opening minutes, I wanted desperately to debate it. (More…)

The first time I saw The Fall live was also the last. I was under tremendous pressure, both at work and at home. The band was late. The club was hot. I tried to distract myself by drinking, but that only made matters worse. I wanted to leave, but knew I couldn’t drive home. It was my birthday. I was depressed. Conditions were perfect. (More…)

At the beginning of his book Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher reads Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film Children of Men as an allegory for our geopolitical predicament. In depicting a world much like our own, except for the fact that children are no longer being born there, it literalizes the experience of living through an era when the future no longer seems meaningfully different from the present. (More…)