Milan Burnett: A Gift From The Universe

Text by Milan Burnett, Copyright 2022


Photographs by Tony Ward.  All Rights Reserved.


A Gift From The Universe


As a spiritualist, I am not someone who necessarily believes in coincidences. Every person we interact with, major event, or circumstance finds its way into our lives for a reason, whether we understand that reasoning at the time, or not. Throughout my childhood, my mother struggled to keep a roof over our heads, causing us to relocate often, sometimes multiple times in a year. At the time, I deemed the instability and hardship as a misfortune, but I always had a knack for making friends and adapting to new environments with ease. Being exposed to all cultures and walks of life made it easy for me to understand others. I could relate to anybody in a room full of strangers. People have always naturally gravitated towards me, which I assumed to be simply because I was a nice person. Little did I know, the universe was only setting the stage for a greater purpose much larger than my circumstances, destined to be fulfilled.

It wasn’t until within the last couple of years that I realized why the Universe has put me on the journey I’ve experienced so far. My humanitarian nature of giving back and helping others has gradually intertwined itself with my spiritual practices, and my love for the psychology of humans. This, along with being easily relatable, has allowed me to explore and expand on my purpose of healing others around me. Whether it be through my tarot reading, spiritual guidance, or simple positive reinforcement, inner healing and balance is extremely important in the midst of this chaotic 3D reality. No amount of value could ever be placed on the genuine satisfaction it gives me to be able to guide others in their healing to become a better version of themselves. Past experiences I once saw as a burden, I now consider a blessing in disguise. A gift from the universe, if you will. A gift that has molded me into someone who is compassionate, empathetic, logical and raw, wrapped in high frequency vibrations meant to enlighten those I encounter.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Milan is originally from New York, now residing in Philadelphia. Aspiring model and real estate broker. Free thinker. Humanitarian by nature. Spiritual revolutionary in the making. To access previous articles by Milan Burnett, click here:

Bob Shell: Gun Control

Angry woman carrying large pistol with black leather boots
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

Text by Bob Shell,  Copyright 2022


Gun Control: My Personal Experience


Now that everyone is talking about guns and gun control, I figured ‘What the hell, I’ll throw out my thoughts and see what happens.’
I’ve lost my gun rights once, got them back, then lost them again. I lost them the first time in 1969 when I was convicted of possession of marijuana, a felony at that time carrying a possible thirty year sentence. I got ‘lucky’ and only got three years, suspended. I later petitioned the Governor of Virginia and had all of my rights restored.

Segue to 2007, when I was convicted of the charges that put me where I am now, when I lost my gun rights all over again.  My first question in 1969 and again now is this, how can a state take away a constitutionally guaranteed right? I did not believe the State of Virginia had that right then, and I continue to believe that today. States simply have no right to infringe on any federal constitutional right. Why the US Supreme Court has never categorically stated that is a mystery to me.

That being said, I have owned only three guns in my life, a single-shot bolt-action .22 Remington rifle, a single-shot breach loaded .410 shotgun (I don’t remember the maker), and a semiautomatic 9 mm Beretta pistol. The rifle was a gift from my father at around age 16. We used to go squirrel hunting together, but mostly we did target shooting. He was a deadeye shot with no scope, and could knock a squirrel I could barely see out of a tree, something he said he learned in the army.

My grandfather gave me the shotgun, that he used to use for dove hunting, until he decided a Methodist minister shouldn’t hunt. All I ever shot with it were tossed tin cans, which I hit most of the time.  I only fired the pistol, another gift from my father, a few times at targets. I did pretty well with it, but short barreled pistols tend to not be very accurate.

The first guns I’m aware of that could be fired relatively quickly without reloading were the ‘pepperbox’ pistols, that had multiple barrels on a manually rotated turret. I am not a firearm historian, so bear with me if my history is pretty general. The Bob Shell who writes the gun books you see on Amazon, etc., is someone else.  I believe the first real fully automatic rifle was the Gatling Gun, which had multiple rotating barrels automatically reloaded from a magazine. Gatlings were used in the American ‘Civil War,’ but were very big and heavy and mounted on a carriage that could not be repositioned quickly.  Modern Gatling Guns are like the one you see Jesse Ventura using in the movie ‘Predator’. Having multiple barrels keeps them from overheating and damaging themselves. Do I believe anyone with the money should be able to buy a modern Gatling? No, I do not.

I’m more conflicted about modern ‘assault rifles,’ which are descended from the automatic military rifles for which Adolf Hitler coined the term ‘Sturmgewehr’ — ‘storm weapon.’  The first other iteration was the Russian AK-47, named for Antonin Kalashnikov, its designer. Americans countered with the AR-15, used by American troops in Vietnam.
I believe there are rational reasons for keeping some military weapons out of the hands of those who might misuse them.

But, wait a minute. Isn’t the purpose of the Second Amendment to arm the populace and prevent an overreaching government from holding power over us? Yes, it is, and I’m conflicted.

Look at Ukraine, where poorly armed civilians have gone up against Russian soldiers equipped with modern weapons of war to defend their freedom. What if Russia, or some other autocracy tried to overrun and subdue the USA, or our own government ran amok? If the citizenry had only guns like I had, they’d stand no chance.

So what is the solution to gun violence, or is there one? Gun massacres have occurred in countries with strict gun control. Make guns illegal, and only the criminals will have them.  I offer no solution to the problem, just hope to stimulate some thought about a difficult, polarizing problem to which neither side seems to have any answers.

 About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here:


Studio News: Harvey Finkle – Under One Sky

poor black immigrant using old mattress as a trampolene
Photo: Harvey Finkle, Copyright 2022
Dear Friends:
Under One Sky: Documenting Immigrant Communities in Philadelphia The Photography of Harvey Finkle is an exhibition being planned for October of this year. We are raising much needed funds to assist with the matting, framing and mounting of 43 photographs out of the 83 that will be in the show and any amount donated will help us get closer to achieving our goal of being able to show these amazing photographs. Below please find a little more about Harvey’s work and this exhibition.
For five decades Harvey Finkle has documented immigrant communities, as well as social and political activism in Philadelphia and other US cities. He photographed and documented the Sanctuary Movement in the early 1980s and in 2003 his exhibition Philadelphia Mosaic: New Immigrants in America was held at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
 Under One Sky: Reflecting Immigrant Communities Through Photography 1982-2018 will present thirty-six years of Harvey Finkle’s photographs documenting the many immigrant communities that call Philadelphia home and is the biggest retrospective of his immigrant photographs to date. 
The proposed exhibition also comes at an important time when immigrant communities in the USA are experiencing backlash, and in the case of Asian and Pacific Islandercommunities, a rise in attacks and violence in the form of anti-Asian hate. It is also an important exhibition as Harvey is no longer able to photograph due to the onset of rapid macular degeneration, which forced him to give up the camera, despite this challenge, Harvey continues to work by organizing, distributing, printing, editing and showing his work while continuing to make photos with a digital printer. 
The exhibition will present over 80 photographs showcasing 17 immigrant communities living in North, South and West Philadelphia. The groups represented in the exhibition include Indonesians, Vietnamese, Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian, Indian, People from Burma, Bhutanese (Nepal), Mexican, Peruvian, Guatemalan, Liberians, Afghans, Lebanese, Ethiopians, people from Sierra Leone and Jamaicans. 

Below please find a link to our indieGoGo fundraiser. Your generous contribution no matter how small will assist us in readying the work for exhibition. Thank you in advance for your consideration. 
Sincerely yours,
David Acosta & Harvey Finkle.