Maybe it’s popped up in your news feed, but perhaps one of my new favorite pranks of all time took place in Hollywood over New Year’s. A couple of artist ganga-lantes, I’m calling them, changed the iconic Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed.”
I’ll admit I’m smitten by good word play, a flare for the dramatic and admire the disruption of complacency. Sure, it’s causing the park rangers to tighten security around the sign, since it seems there are still blindspots in the motion detectors and cameras. But, hey, I’m a sucker for a good old-fashioned prank!
After researching the story, I found that this is not the first time that the Hollywood sign had been changed to read something else. Even better, it’s not the first time it’s read “HOLLYWeeD” either.
Back in 1976, Cal State Northridge art student Daniel Finegood, who did the same thing on New Years day. His stunt was part of an art class assignment on scale (for which he received an A!). It just so happened to also take place the first day that California passed a law classifying a personal amount of marijuana as a misdemeanor.
So when the pranksters and artists Zach Fernandez and Sarah Fern hung the black tarps covering parts of the o’s, they were both paying homage to a this art piece and ringing in the enactment of Prop 64, legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21+ throughout the state.
The LA Police department stated that they will be submitting the case to the District Attorney for review, although Fernandez and Fern will not be arrested for trespassing.
From CalTech to Pope John Paul, the sign has a long history of pranksters playing word games for their own amusement. The sign is easy to access from the public road that runs behind it, but scaling its facade is not necessarily an easy task.