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.

“Epic Salutations,” the seductive opening track on Murs’ new album Love and Rockets, Vol. 1: The Transformation ends with what sounds like a mission statement: “Hard core rap about nothing at all.” But the reality of this fine hip-hop record is far more complex. (More…)

When word began to circulate that Fox Business Network host Eric Bolling had criticized The Muppets for promoting anti-capitalist values, many people were incredulous. Social media sites were soon awash with the type of satire popularized by The Daily Show. But this dismissive response obscured the fact that he was being mocked for doing what many progressives have advocated for decades: taking popular culture seriously. (More…)

When The Coming Insurrection was first made public, it read to me like wishful thinking. Although rooted in Europe’s struggle to cope with the realities of multiculturalism, the uprisings that inspired the book seemed uniquely French. How could they be the model for an international movement? (More…)

Given the number of intellectual heavyweights who have been featured on Charlie Rose over the years, maybe Slavoj Žižek’s October 26th appearance shouldn’t have been a surprise. Yet the timing of his visit made it feel urgent, somehow, as if we were witnessing the repudiation of business as usual. (More…)

When the peripatetic Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek spoke to an appreciative audience at Occupy Wall Street on October 9th, it confirmed what many had already suspected: the protesters are surprisingly open to what graduate students used to call “theory, but with a capital T.” (More…)

Neal Stephenson’s latest book REAMDE is an impressive achievement. He manages to fill it with a wealth of detail without stalling the story’s momentum. And though it is hardly a traditional novel of ideas, it provides the raw material for searching reflections on the role fiction plays in our lives. The fantasies it mobilizes are so artfully presented that they are able to seduce readers deeply troubled by their implications. (More…)

Given the recent glut of books about punk, it’s hard for a new one to stand out. But White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Rage does so with ease. Co-editors Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay have put together a provocative collection that strikes a delicate balance, equally compelling as a classroom text and a call to action. (More…)

As word of Steve Jobs’ death spread, it was apparent that he had entered the pantheon of the Think Different campaign he promoted upon his return to Apple Computer in the late 1990s. Unlike the vast majority of corporate executives, he had become a celebrity that millions of people recognized on sight, someone who had transcended the need for a caption. (More…)

Although it’s been decades since baseball was as popular as football, proponents still insist that it is America’s “national pastime.” At first glance, this may appear to represent wishful thinking. But as the fascinating new film Moneyball implies, this conclusion fails to account for the peculiar connotations of the word “pastime.” (More…)

Twenty minutes into 1991: The Year Punk Broke, Dave Markey’s ragged documentary of a European tour featuring Sonic Youth, Nirvana and assorted other “alternative” acts, Thurston Moore conducts an impromptu interview with a group of fans. They appear to be in the 18-24 range, what Americans call “college age.” (More…)

Because we didn’t want our two-year-old daughter’s head to be filled with disturbing images, we had avoided them ourselves. When I headed out to pick up a video for her to watch, it had been hours since the first attack. Walking into Blockbuster, I expected to see what I always saw, with new movie releases playing on its many television screens. But every single one of them was tuned to CNN. They were showing the footage of the second plane’s strike that had just become available. (More…)

I’ve already listened to all of Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’ new album Mirror Traffic twice, first in the car, on my hundred-minute drive back from Phoenix, and again on my home stereo, before my thinking about it starts to find traction. Part of me is glad that the songs are shorter and less solo-inclined than was the case on Mirror Traffic’s predecessors. But even the gravel strewn across their surface — a missed beat here, a splash of distortion there — doesn’t diminish their slipperiness. I have to proceed with care. (More…)