Behind the Scenes: Shifter Media

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“So what do you do for Blurb?”

I get this question a few times a week. I have yet to figure out an easy answer. I do many things, and what I do changes on a monthly basis. Lectures, workshops, educational outreach, special projects, etc, but I also do a campaign called “Dispatches” which started about eight months ago. It is because of Dispatches that Shifter exists. Well, Shifter also exists because of Coffee and Magic.

In some odd way I’ve returned to journalism, which is where this life journey began for me. I’ve never really been a journalist. I was a photojournalist for the first two or three years of my career, but I never considered myself a journalist. I still don’t, but Shifter and Dispatches have at least allowed me to think along those lines. Interviews, portraits and story. Long-form. This is what it looks like behind the scenes. These moments are thrilling. Meeting people like Edouard Duval-Carrie´and getting a few moments to ask them about life is an experience more than anything else. The goal is to allow them to speak about creativity in their own words, as long as those words may be.

This work lives on the website, but will also live in print form as well as, rumor has it, an exhibition. We’ll see. All these things take time and money, not to mention sustained focus and energy. It’s hard enough getting this work done.

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Hey, look at me!!

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This is a stupid action pose I’ve been doing since 1999. It means “Ce lo fata,” in Italian which stands for “I’ve done it.” It’s an inside joke. And yes I’m holding a f%$%$## mobile phone….BUSTED.

For a guy who has been a photographer for a lot of years it is remarkable how few images I have of myself. I use an avatar photo that is at least 14-years-old. No joke. It’s really the only portrait I have. I’ve got some photos I could never show you, but who doesn’t. I’ve done some horrible things and luckily there are some photos that exist of such things.

In fact, I just ran into two people I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and the first thing they said to me was “Hey, remember such and such night?” I cringed, but part of me was grinning and savoring the details of the illicit events that transpired those moons ago.
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Just as I prefer to be, out of focus.

But hey, in keeping with the modern “Look at me!” culture I thought I would post a few images of ME just for the Hell of it and because someone sent them to me. I cropped them into squares for no apparent reason.

This is me. If you feel queasy just aim for the bushes. Photos courtesy of AK FOTO.

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I love this because it makes me look like I have a huge gut. I’ve always wanted a gut but have never been able to build one no matter what I eat. Damnit. That’s not product on my hair, it’s dirt.

Five Minutes in Miami

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This is the kind of shit I take when I don’t have enough time. Random. It’s fun. What else is there to do anyway when all you are doing is driving around thinking about Miami Vice. Legba was on these streets man until Crockett put a slug in his ass. Crockett killed almost everyone in the city, but new people, bad people, kept showing up and now we have this. Abandoned arts complexes and lost dreams. Shattered like glass during the World Trade party that happens once a year. All I could think about was the black Daytona and the chrome plated .45. Two extra clips in the shoulder holster. F%$# backup.
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Sick as a dog. Barely able to keep my eyes open, my lungs working yet there is a pull to make sense of it all. Where did they film here? Who died on this corner? Was it Tubbs with the sawed off shotgun under his silk jacket? You never saw Tubb’s crib because the guy was slaying a different woman each night. Ricardo.
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These things don’t add up to anything concrete, but over time, if you do enough of them they oddly do have value. Like Castillo. A man of few words but when he spoke you better polish your buckle or he will go Golden Triangle on you. The scene in the Speedo is like a scar on my optic nerve. Wander, wander, keep wandering. Thank God it’s cloudy or we would all be dead. Fizzle and smoke outlines on the sidewalk. Overlapping all the chalk outlines of the past. We almost lost this place once. For realzy. That’s why it’s interesting.
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You could come here and disappear. As they say “If Miami doesn’t have it, they haven’t invented it yet.” True. Maybe. Or not. You come here to be somebody else, or to make that ONE score that will set you up. Smugglers Blues. Miami-Bogota-Miami. Dade County lockup or Scarab and honeys. It happens all the time. I look for it but only a little. I keep my eyes just above the horizon line. Palm Trees through dark tint. Ceviche. Spanish feels like a chore. Just keep the blood flowing.
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Looking up, always up. The lazy way. Or maybe down too. It’s the middle part where we find the gray and the difficulties. Complicado. Back pain. Head pain. Sunglasses inside and it’s still too light. Voices, I hear voices. Man, if Calderon was here I’d totally go out on his yacht. He seemed like a good guy. Till, ya, you got it, Crockett smoked him in his own house. What happened to the boat? Is it still tied up in some harbor growing mold and waiting for someone to inflate the dingy? We never looked for it. Even after Cuban coffee. Throat like needles. Glass. Did I eat a lightbulb? I’ve threatened to.
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Do these parts connect? Probably. But it really doesn’t matter. That little rectangle. So silly. Is it time for a show? Just kidding. Talk about head pain. And besides, you are SUPPOSED to shoot color here right? I mean that’s what the tour guide says. I never saw a sign for scenic view. “Hey, you can’t take pictures here.” “What?” “Says who?” Where do these people get it? Is there a memo circulating around? Am I under surveillance? The bug van? Man, I’d kill to have Switek’s white pants. Is it too late?