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.

When I first heard Park Hye Jin’s I Don’t Care, I was intrigued. I’d been listening distractedly on my new Bluetooth headphones as I performed household chores. I like sampling new music that way. Most tracks don’t interest me enough to pull my phone from my pocket. But this one made me think. (More…)

Even more than previous years in what has been a consistently stressful decade for me, 2018 was defined by the divide between what I absolutely had to do and what I felt I didn’t have time for. As a result – and I think this applies to a great many people, even ones who had relatively good years – I ended up prioritizing experiences over the pursuit of novelty. (More…)

You’re sitting in a suburban Starbucks, sipping a flat white, as you look at photos of refugees from Honduras fleeing from the teargas American forces fired over the Mexican border. A nearby conversation starts to interest you. Someone is declaring that we need to “stop defaming immigrants, stop insulting them and blaming them for our mistakes”. Is he talking about the same news story you’ve been following? (More…)

Natural disasters, mass shootings, constant political turmoil, and the sense that long-standing alliances might be irreparably damaged: 1968 was the year when everything seemed to be falling apart. And the eponymous double album The Beatles released near its end was the perfect mirror, a testament to the centrifugal forces that could break even the strongest bonds of fellowship. How fitting that it should be reissued now, (More…)

You and your sometime girlfriend are driving home to the city from a weekend at the estate of your wealthy new friend. She falls asleep between you in the back seat, still hungover from the previous night. You stop for a drink along the way while she rests. Your outdoor table is surrounded by locals enjoying the beautiful weather. The pastoral scene makes a pleasing backdrop for your conversation. (More…)

After my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly earlier this month, I tried to console myself with the idea that her suffering had ended. But the more I thought about what her life had been like, the more confused I became. She had spent so many years coping with pain, that it was impossible for me to imagine her being free of it. It had fused with her identity (More…)

While the death of Arizona Senator John McCain has inspired heartfelt tributes from mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike, his long-time detractors have shown little reluctance to call his legacy into question. Here in Arizona, where he was regularly criticized for his tendency to seek positive coverage in the national media instead of the legislative results his constituents were hoping for, many conservatives expressed relief that he was finally out of the way. (More…)

Shortly after I moved to the Sonoran desert, I developed a standard response for friends and family who wondered how I was holding up. “Yes,” I’d say, “it’s hot as hell in summer. And, yes, the landscape is full of danger. But that’s what makes it exciting. I mean, in half a day I can make it from a trailhead minutes from my house into extreme wilderness.” (More…)

Like last summer’s widely lauded Get Out, Sorry To Bother You, the first film by hip-hop activist Boots Riley, is a rollicking bad time, every bit as fun as it is disturbing. And that’s surely the main reason that, like Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, it is doing well with audiences that don’t generally seek out left-wing multicultural art. Although less narratively “tight” than Get Out, (More…)

I’m standing outside in the rain. Not the savage sort we usually see during our summer Monsoon season here in the Sonoran Desert, but an impossible soft mist. There’s just enough of a breeze to set our wind chimes in motion, creating a soundscape that implores me to be completely in the moment. I hear myself saying, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighbourhood.” (More…)

As I stood there in the brutal midday sun, I had a decision to make. Should I go back inside and leave the man trying to repair our air conditioning unit to do his work in silence? Or would it be more respectful to stand there and suffer with him? In the end, I stayed. He seemed happy to have the company. And I was, too. (More…)

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…)