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.


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The Bandwidth of Culture

The Bandwidth of Culture

“I need more bandwidth!” After hours of being so deeply engrossed in his Minecraft dominion that he had barely acknowledged anyone else in the room, my brilliant nine-year-old nephew stomped his feet on the floor and shouted this demand at his parents, smiling but serious. To him, it was an entirely reasonable request. But I couldn’t help but regard it as a wry commentary on our cultural moment. More»

Polis Brutality

Polis Brutality

These are uncertain times in the US. Although the economy has been doing better, most people still seem to feel that it isn’t doing better for them. A state of half-war continues to prevail internationally. And reports of brutality by both local police forces and the CIA have many Americans wondering where their country went. More»

Back to Berkeley

Back to Berkeley

When word of the protests in Berkeley came in a few days ago, my heart started beating faster. I had been following the recent demonstrations against police brutality with a mixture of despair and rage. But I had been too far from the action, both physically and geographically, to feel like a participant. Now, even though I was 1000 miles from the Bay Area, I suddenly did. . More»

When Every Flag Seems False

When Every Flag Seems False

If director Laura Poitras’s new film Citizenfour doesn’t make you paranoid, nothing will. By the time she has finished telling the story of Edward Snowden, how he meticulously plans to reveal the extremity of the post-9/11 surveillance state and then suffers the consequences once he sets the wheels in motion, you may be wondering whether privacy is even possible More»

The Whole World Is Watching

The Whole World Is Watching

After watching hours of CNN’s coverage of the unrest in Ferguson, I felt a desperate need to protest against the St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Mike Brown. But because there were no protests taking place nearby, I headed to a suburban theater to watch the latest installment in the Hunger Games franchise instead More»

Orientalism For Dummies

Orientalism For Dummies

Most of the time, the point of education is to help us to distinguish between things, figuring out what does and doesn’t belong together. But there are times when it pays to remember what ignorance once conflated and confused. Prejudice may derive from misunderstanding, but that doesn’t make it any less real. And prejudice, more often than not, comes from a failure to recognize and respect distinctions. More»

No Insurance

No Insurance

It took us a few seconds to figure out what was happening. One minute my host brothers had been hurling snowballs towards the roof of an apartment building, and the next we were being assaulted by a blur of a man, shirtless but a little sweaty despite the fierce cold. He landed one punch, missed another, then turned to charge at me. “I don’t have insurance,” I shouted in German, More»

Head in Ass

Head in Ass

Like millions of other Americans who made the decision — or mistake, depending on your point of view — to donate money to Democratic Party candidates in the past, my inbox was filled with messages for months warning me that only the generosity of ordinary citizens like myself could prevent a Republican landslide in the midterm elections. Sometimes these requests bore an air of reasonability. But most sounded desperate. More»

Post-Passion Europe

Post-Passion Europe

Heroes are hard to come by in Europe. Even as the nightmare of two world wars recedes farther into the distance, the sense that they were the product of excessive belief persists. Had there been less passion to mobilize, the reasoning goes, the flames of nationalism would have petered out a lot sooner. But it is proving increasingly difficult to keep the continent bound together with “post-passion.” More»

Masque of the Reds' Death

Masque of the Reds’ Death

If you live in what Americans’ obnoxiously refer to as the Heartland or those places, as I do, where residents more obnoxiously claim the title despite their geographical and cultural liminality, you have been hearing an awful lot in the past week about how the President has failed to protect his charges. The beheadings were bad enough, but now there’s the Ebola virus to inspire panic. More»

Devil May Dare

Devil May Dare

“Daredevil” is not a word that many people associate with Germany these days; certainly not the nation’s military. And that’s probably a blessing, even if its allies long for less hesitant support. The history of Germans acting boldly took a wrong turn shortly after Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door. Does anybody want to risk urging them to act now and think later? More»

McDonald's Takes Europe

McDonald’s Takes Europe

There are reasons for Europeans to feel antipathy towards the United States, just as there were in previous decades. But expressing these sentiments is not as easy as it used to be. The bait-and-switch move that reliably substituted cultural targets for political ones is becoming harder to pull off. More»

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