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.

How do people cope with the sheer amount of information that bombards them every day? So much of the world seems to be in grave peril. Many are depressed to the point of paralysis. How, then, can we still “speak for hope, as long as it doesn’t mean suppressing the nature of the danger? Social media provide some important clues. (More…)

Until Bernie Sanders decided to run for President, Democrats in the United States were resigned to an exceedingly dreary campaign. Without being pressed to articulate a vision for people already inclined to vote for her party, Hillary Clinton would have moved farther and farther to the Right, hoping to win over that small but crucial portion of the electorate classified as “undecided”. (More…)

I’m not sure why I kept watching after Bill Clinton had finished his victory speech back in November, 1992. People don’t usually care what the future Vice President has to say. But something in Al Gore’s manner compelled me. Six minutes in I found out why: “It is, symbolically, an expression of the reality that sectional wounds of the past are finally and irrevocably healed.” (More…)

Today is the 130th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s arrival in New York Harbor. To celebrate, Google has offered up one of its “doodles”, in which a disproportionately huge rendering of the bronze lady dwarfs the ship that is bringing her to the United States. She appears to be tipping over, as if she were about to fall into the sea. It’s a strangely resonant image. (More…)

Like many Americans, I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about David Letterman’s final shows. But it wasn’t until the past few days that I actually watched them “live”. Aside from sporting events, I almost never watch television in a traditional way anymore. So when I finally managed to tune into our local CBS affiliate at 10:30pm, it felt almost like time travel. (More…)

For my birthday last week, I received three T-shirts featuring Walter Benjamin. It’s hard to imagine a better example of “long tail” marketing. I was delighted. But one of them made me uneasy. Playing off the now-ubiquitous religious slogan, it asks, “What would Benjamin do?” The truth, though, is that few thinkers have been less invested in getting things done. (More…)

Sometimes, you can’t tell how much a book has moved you until many years after you first encounter it. This past October, I took a trip Flagstaff, a town I’d somehow managed not to visit in fourteen years of living in Arizona. After a mostly sleepless night of coughing, I forced myself to drive north towards the Grand Canyon. That’s when I remembered Tony Hillerman. (More…)

When my family moved to Maryland in the summer of 1979, I was only eleven years old. Yet I already knew enough American history to be intrigued by the prospect of living south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I had absorbed enough from family vacations to have a pretty clear sense of what that would have meant in a state like Georgia or South Carolina. Maryland, though, confused me. (More…)

Even if you’ve heard nothing about the new Sufjan Stevens album Carrie and Lowell, the cover should make its purpose clear. But I somehow managed to remain willfully ignorant until the moment when I put it on the stereo. It must have been a defense mechanism, because the minute his voice entered the warbling folk of the first track, I was already in tears. (More…)

Climate change is dominating the global news cycle as never before. With every catastrophic storm and highly unusual spate of weather, the possibility that we have irreparably destabilized the Earth’s delicate ecological balance looms larger. Even in the United States, where, despite — or perhaps because of — a comparatively high standard of living and learning, denial of this dire situation has been rampant, the tide is tuning. (More…)

As I was preparing to spend a year abroad in Germany, I agonized over one of the tips my exchange student organization had sent me. It encouraged us to photograph aspects of the United States that wouldn’t be familiar from watching American movies and television. But what came to mind for me were the homeless people I saw on every trip to Washington D.C. (More…)

Sometimes accidents of timing reveal what is no accident. The news media was preoccupied with two stories this past Monday: the letter that 47 Republican senators sent to Iranian leaders warning them that any agreement signed by the President might not outlast his term, and the outrage over footage of an Oklahoma fraternity singing a racist song that invoked lynching. (More…)