pen and paper stories

Too Talented


There is absolutely no amount of talent that excuses a human being for lacking morality and we as a society must come to demand more from our idols. We have created a culture that values a person's abilities more than their character, we sacrifice integrity for entertainment, and choose to justify condemnable actions by the appraisal of their art. We have deified those who have shown a propensity for greatness but have not proven to be good people, and by raising and praising these false idols we forfeit the prerogative to hold individuals accountable for their conduct because our societal rules and expectations do not apply to those we hold in the highest regard. It can be understood that with genius in any field there comes a certain level of creative obsession that impacts "normal" behaviors and thought processes, but what also should be understood is precedent, consequences, and that what someone can do is not the same as who they are as a person. 

In today's current sociopolitical atmosphere we are witnessing the beginning of a dramatic meteor shower, except our "stars" are shooting back down to earth, plummeting from grace in a spiral of allegations, assaults, and felonies. We gave platform and power to people who lacked a noble purpose, who rose to fame with too many blessings and not having learned enough lessons. Talent has been dangerously blinding, but the filters are slowly being removed. We are seeing our gods as humans once more because we are paying attention to their subtleties that no longer seem so subtle. We enabled this entirely, we built our houses in sand and now we are watching the rain wipe them away across our newspapers and television screens. 

It is time to reprioritize,  to reflect on who and what we respect, and then to give the stages to those who deserve the influence. We, the masses, dictate the terms, we are the ones watching, we are the ones listening, we are the gatekeepers and we must be more responsible with who we let in and who we allow to stay. We control who is relevant by deciding who we pay attention to, and we must decide what we value more, innate goodness or superficial greatness. There is no shortage of gifted humans in our wide world that are both talented and decent that deserve our recognition and there never has been. We must do better, we must hold higher standards in politics, in sports, in art, and in entertainment, we must stop accepting talent as a permissible excuse.

-Ryan Anthony Dube    



Vintage is a vibe,

Its not old, its original, 

Its an era of authentic,

An epoch of cool before cliché,

Its fashion for expression, not attention, 

Rebelling against popularity, not for it, 

Vintage is that recess all day feeling, 

25 cent gumballs,

Blowing bubbles bigger than your attitude, 

Skipping school with nothing better to do, 

Melted ice cream and brainfreeze,

Fast food on slow days,

Cold cola and sun rays,

Diner dates and jukebox plays, 

Sneaking out, sleeping in,

Vintage is what you make it,

And that is all it will ever be. 


-Ryan Anthony Dube

(All Photos by Ryan Anthony Dube)

My Yacht Week Movie


Life is a balance of storyliving and storytelling, creating moments and then capturing them, searching for and sharing memories. Sometimes you need to live a great story in order to tell a great story, and when I found myself sailing around the Croatian coast filming a movie on a yacht I knew I had been handed my great story, and now is the time to tell it. 

After almost a year of rest I woke up my passport and caught a redeye flight from NYC to Split, and met up with the social media manager of The Yacht Week, my good friend, Rob Berry. He introduced me to my Swedish film crew with whom I would be working with to shoot a 90-second commercial; our job was to capture fantasy and prove that it could be a reality. We were an assembled team of creatives: filmmakers, photographers, content creators, all brought together on a 57 foot boat to bring visions to life. 

To sell the dream we had to live the dream, and so our days were spent sailing in the sun, hopping from island to island, exploring white walled port towns, riding scooters through the mountains, tanning by the mast and floating in the sea to cool off. Our nights were spent in good conversation, laughing over candlelit dinners, absorbing the ambiences of hidden paradises, engaging in philosophical stargazed conversation, or, on our more vigorous evenings, we would venture to private parties for music and drinks. It seemed that we had the perfect story to tell, but what would be the perfect way to tell it? What exactly was our story really about?

The views? The paintings that we were sailing through? No, those were all too perfect. The parties? The dancing on tables, turning castles into clubs, slow-motion fist bumping, the movement, the tension, the no sleep-spastic energy that kept you going? Hectic, for sure, but that wasn't our purpose.

Then it hit us, it was obvious: the people. Our story is about the people. It is always about the people. Its about the faces that you see that you've never seen before. Its about the laughs that make you laugh, the smiles that make you smile, the eyes that show you their souls, its about becoming a part of new lives and adding to your own. What really matters is escaping with strangers and finding yourself by getting lost. There is nothing more important than being: being crazy, being young, being free, being happy, being you, being there, in that moment, in every moment! Its about holding nothing back and having no regrets, its about living the dream, no, living your dream. It is not the views in front of you it is the people taking pictures beside you that you will remember. Its not the parties its the people who move you, and move with you that are special. The ones who make it real are the proof that these feelings are possible.

So, that is what we did down in Croatia, we turned moments into memories and made a movie out of it. We had the time of our lives to try and inspire the time of your lives, and all you really need is a week, but not just any week, The Yacht Week.  

-Ryan Anthony Dube

(All Photos by Amanda Gylling, Louis Agace, and Ryan Anthony Dube)

14 Days Finding Freedom


Perhaps freedom is a phantom, a ghost to be believed in, chased but never caught. Maybe its captured only in our dreams and in the television screens that tell you where its been and sell you where to look for it next. I remember seeing freedom a long time ago. It was in the grainy movies with golden light and palm trees; I saw it in an old mustang with the top down on a burning black road, it was blowing in the summer breeze and doing backflips into shaded lakes. Maybe it was these staticky visions of freedom playing in front of my wide eager eyes that led me to up and leave New York City to chase this illusion of an idea across the entire country. I didn't understand it at the time, why it was that I wanted to go, and I'm not sure I even understand it now, all that it was was an adventure with no plan or purpose, just a feeling I was after. I guess its safe to say that it was freedom that I was ultimately searching for, and looking back I admit that I have to laugh at all the places I tried to find it. 

I swear that I could feel it hanging in the air around me that very first morning, a few minutes before four, as I packed the trunk of my two-seater car with an old tent, a torn suitcase of dirty clothes, and enough non-perishable groceries to survive the trip. I thought I saw it waiting at the local bus station, sharing a bench with one of my most adventurous friends, and I rubbed my eyes twice when it climbed in the car with us and put its feet up on the dashboard as we headed west. I heard it creeping into our voices as we shared stories of emotional emancipation over the low hum of the radio, half-asleep, hoping to speak our dreams into existence with the windows rolled down, bouncing our desires off of the face of the first quarter moon.

Days and nights, just us and our veiled freedom, passing through the lives of others while chasing the meaning of our own. We would rise with the sun and scan the horizon as it set each night, squinted eyes expecting to see it within the melting colors of the dusk sky. We stood in open grass fields with craned necks, watching cotton clouds shape-shift, trying to find the hidden messages, and we would lay on our backs on the hood of the car to see if the stars held any secrets.

We knew it was all around us, and we searched everywhere for that feeling.  

We scavenged broken down barns for it, we weaved through cornfields, we climbed over waterfalls, we ducked through wet caves and traversed vast red rock canyons, constantly seeking, constantly in pursuit. We thought we could find it in the rocky mountain hikes, dodging hail and rain while ascending through the thinnest of air, views that took our breath away you could say. We tried to taste it in the strange canned meat and pickle sandwiches we ate for every dinner, we slept near it in the empty Walmart parking lots, we danced with it in front of national monuments, we swam with it in hidden reservoirs, we wandered lonely dirt roads hoping to bump into it, it tried to guard us when we played basketball with the locals, we sped on interstates trying to catch it in the blur and we came to a complete stop to search for it within ourselves.  

All in all we spent 14 days finding our freedom, and I can't tell you for sure that we found it. But, we felt it, these shoebox pictures are the proof of that, and maybe, in the end, that's all you can do.      

- Ryan Anthony Dube

(All Photos by Kevin Czopek + Ryan Dube)