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.

Usually, if I walk in on a concert in progress, it takes me a while to pay full attention. I’ll go buy a drink, look for people I know, size up the crowd. This past Monday was different. Although I’d never heard of the band Lié before that moment, I knew I’d never stop wanting to hear them. (More…)

It’s no secret that Kanye West has been stirring up controversy again. Pushing buttons with the aplomb of Donald Trump – with whom he remains friendly –West has given every indication that he is positioning himself for future punditry in the right-wing media, if not a political career. (More…)

You can sense them building up, like storm runoff at a dam. It’s possible that the worst won’t happen this time. But one day they will become impossible to contain. The excuses, I mean. Although Donald Trump may wildly overstate his prowess in many areas, there is no doubt that he makes them with the aplomb of a world-class con artist and, more importantly, also makes them stick. (More…)

Like many people I know, I spend much of my time on social media avoiding information. There are days when, to invoke the long-running memes, I simply “can’t even”. Maybe it’s bad news about the economy or opioid addiction or climate change; or maybe I just can’t stand to hear about  Trump’s latest outrage. But I also expend a lot of energy avoiding potentially good news. (More…)

Like a whole lot of people around the world, I went to see Black Panther during its four-day opening “weekend”. Although I am not usually that keen on superhero comic books or the movies made from them, I absolutely loved the experience of watching the film. But it wasn’t just for the admittedly awesome hand-to-hand combat scenes. From the opening minutes, I wanted desperately to debate it. (More…)

The first time I saw The Fall live was also the last. I was under tremendous pressure, both at work and at home. The band was late. The club was hot. I tried to distract myself by drinking, but that only made matters worse. I wanted to leave, but knew I couldn’t drive home. It was my birthday. I was depressed. Conditions were perfect. (More…)

At the beginning of his book Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher reads Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film Children of Men as an allegory for our geopolitical predicament. In depicting a world much like our own, except for the fact that children are no longer being born there, it literalizes the experience of living through an era when the future no longer seems meaningfully different from the present. (More…)

Right now, the American media is dominated by discussion of Michael Wolff’s forthcoming book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Towards the end of the incendiary excerpt published in New York Magazine, Katie Walsh, Deputy Chief Staff until March, 2017, is quoted saying that working with the president was “‘like trying to figure out what a child wants.’” (More…)

When I walked into the Giant Sand show on Boxing Day, midway into the band’s first number, I was taken aback. Howe Gelb, the group’s sole permanent member, is a man of many moods, with performances that vary accordingly. But this time he seemed more interested in playing guitar than in playing himself. The music was still languid, but ferociously so. (More…)

As I was returning to my rental car last week after yet another trip to the massive Wegmans supermarket across the street from our hotel, I was delighted to see that the snow that had started falling a half hour earlier was really piling up, even on the well-salted asphalt of the parking lot. Although I may be closer to 50 than 5, my internal programming remains the same. (More…)

By contemporary standards, the red banner at the top of the CNN home page advertising its live coverage is completely normal. Every news organization wants visitors to watch video content. Ads sell for a lot more than print. And live video is better still, ensuring a captive audience. But yesterday, its message seemed wrong to me: “Wildfires burn near Los Angeles. Watch now.” (More…)

The revelations of sexual misconduct by men dominating American media are having a profound impact on how people feel about their world. Last week, I stopped by the home of a senior citizen who needed help with something and heard, the second I opened the door, that M*A*S*H was playing on her television. But in place of nostalgia, I felt a surprising revulsion. (More…)