Local Legend Tully Flynn
Tully Flynn has been in the epicenter of the local skate scene for over a decade. He was around for the Dirty Hessian days all the way through until the official switch to DH48.
Back when it was shredders like Jared Smith, Tyler Hamblin, Shane Justus, Mark White, Mike Murdock and Andy Pitts leading the skate scene (and still are). He was there for the original days of skating Liberty Park, the University and the Court House. Tully said, “There was always that spot where everyone would be. If you wanted to see skating on Saturday or Sunday you would go to Liberty Park. Everyone would be there bustin’ tricks.” The skate scene changed, as did Tully. The era of Connections came and went along with the radical run of Shelby Menzel’s Mutiny videos. There were days of having no money and no job he said, “I was completely broke, didn’t even have a nickel. I was writing bad checks for my income.” He was living a wild nomadic life, taking things at face value, and going with the flow. Everything from a wild move to California, to coming back to Salt Lake City, retreating away from the skate scene, becoming a father or, Poppa T if you will, to beautiful daughter Eveny Littlefire and during this time rethinking his identity and slipping into his own place. Days moved on. Tully said, “Things had started putting themselves back together … I think its kind of formed around the family structure.”
The man is a kindred spirit: wise, filled with knowledge, always listening to the world with an open ear. He is also a very gracious host always throwing together backyard BBQs for his friends during the warm weather months. So much so that they have developed the nick-name of “TullyQs.” With the crème de le crème of all, TullyQs being the annual tree burning that kicks off the summer season. “If you’ve never seen it, it gets scarier every year it does run through my head that I could burn down … I don’t know … half of this block,” Tully said. However, don’t take his gracious and humble approach to life for granted because if you cross him, there will be a vicious bottle-smashing beast for you to recon with.
With all of this history and experience encompassing the world of Tully Flynn, it was obvious that he was well overdue for us to acknowledge and bring some attention to his grandiose life. So I sat down with him to just talk—not interview, but to listen and learn about the life, past and present of Tully Flynn. The following words are short excerpts, stories, thoughts and ideas from that conversation.
TULLY: I was thinking about why people consider me a legend and I basically broke it down to the fact that at one time, years ago when I was 18, I was good at skating. I was the shit … or at least I thought I was. I moved around for a little while. I had a trick in the Zero video Dying To Live, that didn’t hurt … I don’t think about it but considering that it did happen, it is one of the sickest things I’ve done with my skateboarding. I somehow got in with all those dudes. It was like when I moved out to California, I just moved in with the right dude and all of a sudden I was a friend with Jamie Thomas. It blew my mind. When I came back here I never really got too much back into skating again. Actually really pushing anything or myself, I never really went out and filmed. I would be just out with my friends fucking around not really caring about anything. Then Eveny came about at that time I just started to lose myself. Forgetting whoever I was at one point and I had just totally lost myself. My identity or whatever, I just slipped into my own place. That’s when I really started to recognize the Salt Lake community rather than just the always been here. I’ve always been this dude in the scene. I think in that respect that’s why people consider me a local legend, so to speak.
SLUG: Have you talked with Isaiah Beh lately and his island adventures?
TULLY: Good ol’ Isaiah. Isaiah came into my life in a good spot when we were at the old El Caliente lot. He was just a good person all around—so much energy jumping around. I remember this one skate trip I went on with him and he got a tick in his neck. We couldn’t figure it out—we slept on the side of the road on the way to California. Jared and Tyler slept in the car. He and I slept outside and he woke up with a tick. That thing grew and grew until eventually he cut it off, a couple times, until he got the root out. That trip was so fun we were heading down to San Diego. It was when we were all in our writing bad checks hay-day. Shit man, those were the days when we could just hop in the car and go like that. We were just writing bad checks. Jared pretty much funded the whole trip. We got cash in Vegas to gamble with. We were all just rooting for him because nobody had any money. I knew at the time I was completely broke. This was right about the time period when Shilo was pregnant with Eveny. I had no money no job prospects, kid on the way, so to get 800 bucks I got the bunion surgery where they basically cut your foot open and straighten your big toe out and test pain-killers on you. It was so gnarly … test surgery … fuck that sucked, lab rat. Luckily I didn’t get the placebo. I got a good pain killer.
SLUG: I’ve heard about some of your skate theories and methods that you’ve adopted over the years like the Man Hole Theory and chalk lines to mark your pop spot. Talking with Snuggles, he said, “I remember when you where trying to kickflip over something you would have to mark where you would pop from to get over it. It was awesome, it was so scientific. You would be kickfliping over piles of snow and with chalk you would mark where you had to pop from to get over the piles of snow.”
TULLY: Mark White helped me out with Man Hole Theory. Basically, if you can do a trick over a man hole then you can do that trick down anything. It applies to flip tricks—the speed and timing you need to get over a man whole is all you need to do anything because once you’ve got the catch you just float from there. The Man Hole Theory is everything—it relates to everything. Either you know Man Hole Theory or you have Man Hole Theory.
Some of the best advice I ever got about skating was from an interview—I can’t quite remember who it was but he said, “The key to skateboarding is skate fast and bend your knees—if someone tells you different punch them in the face. That’s about all you need to know about skateboarding.” With skateboarding, every time I go out, I’m wondering if this is going to be a good skate day or am I just going to hate it. There are just those days when the negativity comes out and you just lay on the bench. It is so weird how some days are such different energies. I often think about what makes a good skate day when you skate for like five hours and land everything you want to, if you could just harness that somehow—I think it comes down to when you’re conscious and aware, living in the moment. That is when you’re going to have a good skate day. Not thinking about yesterday’s bullshit. That is when you’re going to hit fart rocks and slam. The brain is funny—It can definitely conjure up negative shit like, if you think you’re getting sick you can basically give yourself any symptom out of paranoia. It must be true that you can use this power in a positive way, but it’s definitely harder to use it for good. That’s what I really want to master. It’s so easy to meditate on the most negative thing. It will just eat you. How often do you just sit there and think about how good something is and let that eat you? I think it’s something to do with how lots of people just get off on pain and suffering?
SLUG: I have an idea that all people strive for some sort of self-destruction. That people kind of need it in some form or another. You have got to have a balance between good and bad. Because with just about everything in life, you can’t understand it unless you can compare it to something else—so your good has to compare with your bad for you to feel it and understand it.
TULLY: It’s like in relationships a lot of times you find yourself sabotaging yourself to destroy a relationship subconsciously.
SLUG: I guess the challenge then would be how do you still get that balance of good and bad in destruction and creation while still getting that satisfaction of destruction but harnessing that destruction into something positive—creating a positive energy from it.
TULLY: You have to always try and be conscious of the destruction so that you can control it rather than subconsciously letting it destroy you and other things around you.
SLUG: This even applies to skating—I was randomly talking to Braydon Szafranski one night at a bar in Melbourne and he said something to the effect of how a piece of you needs to thrive after the pain of skateboarding. The pain of a good slam feels good because you need it. That is part of what will really push you as a skater.
TULLY: It is because you need to know you’re not made of glass. I miss just being scabbed up every day, just bleeding. I hope I can maintain scabbage for a long ass time. There is no reason why I can’t.
Our conversation carried on we talked of various things and people laughed about the on going dead arm challenge between Sean Hadley, Jared Smith and Tully. Apparently the one that can withstand the brutal repetitive blows the longest becomes the alpha male of the pack. Tully claims Hadley’s punches are weak and he bruises like a peach. However Hadley did take alpha status from Tully but as of recently its Jared Smith leading the pack. We’ll just have to see where this one ends up.
Chances are you’ll see Tully around the city be it Nobrow enjoying a cup from Joe or powering through Liberty Park. He’s always been a part of Salt Lake City and he will remain a part of Salt Lake for years to come, regardless of where the road of life takes him. So if you ever get the chance to skate down the street or muddle your mind over a game of chess with Tully I suggest you clinch the opportunity for he is a remarkable man with an exuberant amount of mental energy and knowledge to share.