I was blocks away from my house before my parents realized I was gone. It took less than half an hour for them to find me in a cul-de-sac carrying a backpack filled with cans of SpaghettiO’s and a Swiss Army knife. When you are 7 life is confusing. Sometimes you gotta take to the open road even if you only make it within earshot of home. The young guys from Stoked and Broke seemed to be going through the same motions. However there are a few major differences – Cyrus Sutton and Ryan Burch don’t believe that they are setting out on a journey that will last years, involving multiple pirate battles and concluding with the rescue of Kathy Ireland. But these differences are the aim of Stoked and Broke. The young gents of “Stoked and Broke” are being raised in the Red Bull generation where everything is FUCKING INTENSE!!!!!!; where bigger, faster, louder and richer are most desirable. This type of thinking is now part of the fabric of our society; so, unlike my younger, more imaginative self, Cyrus’ and Ryan’s concerns are legit.
Herein lies a horrible problem, which I believe, Cyrus and Ryan are trying to cope with: what if you don’t want Vin Diesel to punch you in the face with a fist full of twenties, downing a Four Loko while being scored by the Harlem Shake? What does a 20-something (hell, a 30-something, 40-something…) do when he or she just wants to surf? Spend time with loved ones? Enjoy this fleck of time we call “existence”? Stoked and Broke looks at this question from multiple angles while under the guise of a tongue in cheek surf flick.
In La Jolla beach the boys meet Steve Ferguson, a knee boarder living in a rust eaten VW van. I am aware that that last sentence sounds adventurous and cool… and I am sure it is… until it isn’t. Mr. Ferguson seems to be on hard times – a cautionary tale to the stoked and broke. I am sure that thirty years ago Steve must have looked a lot like Ryan: blonde hair and blue eyes – a kid with a lot of promise. But somewhere in the miles on his VW’s odometer there was a disconnect, a reason for what he calls “not a good situation”. Perhaps he didn’t know how to balance his societal roles with his want of surfing and freedom, much like the Stoked and Broke bros. Of course life isn’t simple enough to link specific causes to specific life events, such as Ferguson’s hardships and his prior decisions, but it is difficult not to think that something similar might be in the future of all of us who would rather ditch our responsibilities and go to the beach.
So where does a free spirited surfer find his or her place in this fickle world? A heartfelt interview with Richard, a legendary surfer and friend of Ryan and Cyrus, gives us some insight. Richard stresses responsibility and dedication as being the source of happiness and freedom: “Responsibility really gives you freedom in
the end. Irresponsibility puts you in a prison.” A life centered around surfing and happiness is possible as long as you have attainable and fulfilling goals that are achieved through dedication and work. Richard doesn’t seem to measure wealth in dollars but in family, relationships and surfing – a middle ground to the societal
highs and lows Cyrus and Ryan are trying to navigate. I think Richard’s argument is summed up in a quote from Dostoevsky’s Poor Folk: “What good is honor, my dear, if you have nothing to eat?” I believe Richard would say: “What good is freedom, my friend, if you have nothing to surf?“
These two detailed scenes from Stoked and Broke are just small portions of the film. There is some great surfing, some gnarly foam boards and hand planes but I found these scenes and themes to more thought provoking. I could easily have said “cool flick, great surfing” but isn’t our goal to act as a community of surfers? To look after each other and to aid one another in our journey? This is what Cyrus and Ryan are doing with Stoked and Broke – presenting their views of surfing and life to the world, offering their understanding to others. Think of it this way: would we have the thruster without the fish? The fish without the log? The log without the alaia? The knowledge of the old timers has been passed down through generations and then added to and reworked. This knowledge is not just about board shapes, it also includes surfing philosophy and ideology, surfing principles and ethics. Cyrus and Ryan are contributing to this tradition with Stoked and Broke.
O.k., Yankees game is on. Later.