One Person Changed Hollywood Sign To Hollyweed, Police Actively Investigating Prank

Photo: WesleybCarter

Police say the altering of the iconic Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed” on New Year’s Eve was the work of a “lone gentleman,” who’s believed to have pulled off the prank at sometime between midnight and 2AM. Although the authorities were able to capture the alleged act of “vandalism” on surveillance footage, it’s hard to make out the person’s identity or even his height, because according to L.A. Police Officer Christopher Garcia, the intervention was done under the cover of darkness and it was raining out.

A community affairs officer with the Hollywood Police Department told Mass Appeal that the man is facing two misdemeanor charges: vandalism and trespassing. He apparently used tarps to cover the O’s in the sign and make them E’s. It reportedly took several hours to pull down the material because it was tough to locate city workers on a holiday, making the timing of this creative caper impeccable.

This is not the first time someone changed the sign to make it more pot-centric and timed it to coincide with the newly relaxed weed laws. On January 1, 1976, art student Danny Finegood enlisted three friends to help him manipulate the letters with four 6×12-foot sheets. Finegood, who passed away in 2007, told the media in previous interviews, that the operation cost him about $50, took around four hours, and earned him an A in his art class. Had he not tipped off the media, no one would have likely seen the change, since police and park rangers responded so quickly reports the Los Angeles Times (article here). With reporters in tow, the Hollyweed image was seen around the world. He also sold images of it via t-shirts he would advertise in High Times and on a now defunct website hollyweed.net.

The Hollywood sign was also changed to read Hollyweed in 1983, when a movie crew was given permission by the local chamber of commerce to transform the letters. The scene was filmed by a helicopter and a glimpse of the revision can be seen in the trailer for a low budget comedy called Hollywood Hot Tubs (around the :32 mark). A spokesperson for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, rationalized the stunt to the LA Times (article here), by noting that it was done for a tiny production company. “Usually we wouldn’t do something like this because it’s bad P.R. (public relations,” said Monique Moss. “But it actually happened. Anyway, so few people are going to see this film that it hardly matters.”

Two years later, the sign was altered yet again, but this time it wasn’t done with fabric and it didn’t spell out w-e-e-d. In 1985, SEEN, the “godfather of graffiti,” spray-painted his name across a few of the letters. “I gathered up about 50 cans of paint,” recalls SEEN in an interview, “and I bought a few hardware gardening tools to cut down some small trees and weeds that were at the bottom of the letters. And I climbed the mountain.”

The rest is history… but who’s got next?


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