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.


Latest
Cultivated Listening

Cultivated Listening

I wasn’t going to write about the debut album from Cults. The very idea of the band annoyed me. I’m tired of male-female duos like the The White Stripes, Fiery Furnaces, and Mates of State. I’m tired of records that sound like they’re being played over an AM radio. And I’m especially tired of bands from Brooklyn, which actually make me long for the days when Seattle was all the rage. More»

Very Late Capitalism

Very Late Capitalism

Making my way through the vastness of my local Costco, trying to avoid the urge to buy large quantities of things for which I have small need, I was surprised to catch a glimpse of huge plastic barrels of flour out of the corner of my eye.

“Wait,” I thought, “Didn’t I just see a row of flour sacks two aisles back?” As I turned my head to ponder this riddle, I saw that the flour was grouped next to huge containers of dried strawberries and, a little farther to the right, such staples as powdered milk and eggs. More»

Decline of the Record Store

Decline of the Record Store

As I was finishing a Hawaiian plate lunch with my daughter and her mother in Encinitas, they announced that they were going to do some “girl” shopping on the main drag. I said I’d come along. But then I was overcome by a familiar urge. More»

Evol Times

Evol Times

I still see a lot of these Ron Paul bumper-stickers on the highway. Introduced prior to the 2008 Presidential election in the United States, they were the most visible manifestation of the grassroots support that garnered him huge campaign contributions in spite of the fact that he never came close to winning the Republican nomination. More»

After the Storm

After the Storm

When my mother’s worsening health recently made it necessary for my parents to relocate from the Washington D.C. area, where they had lived for over three decades, to be near me in Tucson, Arizona, I volunteered to drive both their cars across the country. More»

Heard It All Before?

Heard It All Before?

The day before the official release of the Fleet Foxes’ sophomore album Helplessness Blues, I was intently listening to NPR’s label-sanctioned stream when my twelve-year-old daughter broke in: “I really like this.” More»

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

This poster is currently plastered on roadside rest areas throughout the state of Texas, which is big enough to enclose a good deal of Europe and therefore an object of dread for many long-distance drivers. More»

Turkish Folk Music

Turkish Folk Music

Turkey broke the mold. Whether Germans were questioning the right of Turkish migrants to become citizens, Americans were attacking its leadership’s positions on Israel, or Syrians were complaining that Ankara manages to preserve favored status despite its policies towards the Kurds, Turkey is shorthand for , “Yes, but. . .”, a way for practitioners of Realpolitik both to define a “state of exception”, and assert its value. More»

Fountain of Truth

Fountain of Truth

“Lippy Kids”, the strongest track on Elbow’s latest album Build a Rocket Boys!, takes a while to build up momentum and even longer to ease to a close. Over the sparest possible piano figure, a single note played over and over, simultaneously insistent and muted, a series of tasteful accents is gradually added and then subtracted. Only the carefully spaced intrusion of Guy Garvey’s evocative voice imparts the weight of a full-fledged song. Even then, the music sounds like it’s about to evaporate, making the six-minute running time something of a miracle. More»

The Trysts of Taste

The Trysts of Taste

Considering that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the world’s densest concentrations of Ph.D.s, it shouldn’t be surprising that retailers appeal to the superior knowledge of the customer base they wish to cultivate. In the end, this approach is no different than marketing medicine for male erectile dysfunction to the men who watch sports on television. More»

Across the Great Divide

Across the Great Divide

Ryu Murakami’s Popular Hits of the Showa Era, just released in English translation, has a plot that is both straightforward and surreal. Six single men in their twenties, all social outcasts touched by madness, band together to form a karaoke club. Six single women in their thirties, similarly cut off from society but much less demented, do the same. When one of the men randomly assaults and murders one of the women, a grisly chain reaction ensues, turning these outwardly unassuming ensembles into de facto gangs worthy of the American inner city.
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Out of Joint

Out of Joint

Although studded with moments of hectic musical convergence, Kutmah’s The New Error is bookended by passages in which propulsion takes a back seat. On the opening track, a string motif of Middle Eastern provenance twines amid meandering piano chords as Doom articulates a dream of irony-free positivity. Yet the hiss and crackle that suffuse the proceedings keep them at a distance. More»

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