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.

“Mushroom soup, bitter greens with tomatoes the size of peas, rare roast beef sliced as thin as paper, noodles in a green sauce, cheese that melts on your tongue served with sweet blue grapes” — Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen’s first meal in the Capitol is not distinguished by arcane preparation but the availability of high-quality ingredients. (More…)

Tucson is waist deep in a Sonoran June, but nobody’s getting wet. The bridges span riverbeds without rivers, their surface clotted with plants that struggle to remember moisture. The heat works its way deeper and deeper into the psyche. Even in the luxury of air-conditioned spaces, the body senses its relentless onslaught. Yet inside this Volkswagen speeding down Oracle Road, life is beautiful. (More…)

I thought my ears were playing tricks on me. The shuffling playlist at my local record store rarely extends beyond rap at one end and hip-hop at the other, the common denominator being diffuse aggression. But I knew this aria, from Alfredo Catalani’s opera La Wally, too well to mistake its delicate notes for long. Rushing to the cashier, I demanded to know what I we were hearing. (More…)

I could smell the alcohol on his breath as he leaned towards me from his window seat. I had hoped to write on my red-eye flight. But something in this soft-featured redhead’s manner suggested that it would be hard for me to stay focused on my essay. Even though it was past midnight, he was eager to talk and a little too intoxicated to feel self-conscious about sharing his thoughts with a stranger. (More…)

It was two in the morning as I made my way up the hill. Halfway through my second listen to Burial’s new Kindred EP, the music had started to saturate me, like rain that has stopped searching for the fastest way to the sea. But the sounds were still new too new for me to trust my ears. Was this strange wail I was hearing a part of the recording that I’d missed the first time? (More…)

Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist is a lovely film, beautifully paced and performed. But those who have hailed it as “surprising” haven’t given its place in cinematic history sufficient thought. That Hollywood would be honoring this kind of picture in 2012 makes perfect sense. (More…)

The English debut of Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich is a major literary event, despite the book’s restrained ambitions. Because the author’s posthumous fame shows no sign of abating, this disconcerting tale is bound to reach a much larger audience than the specialized nature of its subject matter would otherwise suggest. And deservedly so, for it provides ample evidence of Bolaño’s brilliance. (More…)

Even when nothing is going on in Film Socialisme, the impulse to cry out, “What’s going on?” can be overwhelming. It’s hard to tell the people on screen apart; it’s harder to determine whether this involuntary sorting exercise matters. We may see the boy who wears the CCCP T-shirt repeatedly during the film’s middle section. We may understand, eventually, that he is the son of the couple that run a filling station. (More…)

It makes sense, I suppose, that the same company that files away paperwork for safekeeping would also be in the business of destroying it safely. But when I found myself in traffic behind a truck touting the firm Recall‘s “Secure Sustainable Destruction,” I was struck by the paradoxical nature of this charge. (More…)

It was finally dark. The days were still hot here in the desert. But once the mountain became a silhouette, the temperature dropped quickly. My daughter and I were delighted by this first hint of winter, the reward that seemed impossibly remote in the middle of another too-hot October. (More…)

The flag should have been the give-away. For the past eleven years, the Stars and Stripes had been flying over the house across the street from dawn till dusk. Sometimes I’d see my neighbor putting it to bed, carefully folding it into the triangular shape they taught us to use in the Cub Scouts. (More…)

When I look back on the material Souciant has published since its March debut, I am awed by its diversity. Considering that we generally restrict ourselves to five pieces per week, it’s remarkable to be doing so many things well. Pride doesn’t come easy for me. But I am deeply honored to be part of a project that values freedom — of subject matter, of style, of sensibility — above policy. (More…)