It was New Year’s Day 2017, just 365 days before California upended the rationing switch. Angelenos woke up to the usual post-NYE content — extravagant rose floats, embarrassing party photos, and res posts. But something was wrong with The Hills: Hollywood’s iconic sign reads “Hollywood.” What?!
News reports around the world called it “vandalism” by a “prankster” saying the act may have been the work of a “thrill-seeker”. the Los Angeles Times The LAPD Department of Security Services was quoted as saying that the security footage around the sign showed a person dressed in black at 3 a.m. “climbing up the mountain, climbing the stairs of the sign and hanging a tarpaulin over the OS to change them into Es.”
“My first thought was that it was some kind of weird PR stunt,” says Alberto Sandomier, a cannabis farmer from Auroville who saw the Hollywood sign that morning. He just moved back to Los Angeles, and like most grass market operators circa 2018, he’s been delivering flowers both locally and out of state. “It definitely brought a lot of attention to the weed business in Los Angeles in general and made a statement about how much Los Angeles is a part of the cannabis culture.”
The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation to find out who interfered with the tombstone to no avail. After a full week artist Zack Fernandez dubbed The Artist @tweet On Instagram, he turned himself in and was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing. Los Angeles City Council members were outraged because the spectacle had drawn large numbers of Southern Californians to the area to view the sign. Former council member David Rio encouraged the city’s attorney and the LAPD at the time to pursue a case against the artist even though there was no damage to the sign..
This was no joke, Fernandez, who says he is a daily cannabis user, told the media at the time. It was an art installation that he considered sacred. Swapping double Os with Es was a tip of the hat for artist Danny Finegood who himself modified the iconic sign to read “HOLLYWeeD” nearly half a century ago on January 1, 1976, the day cannabis possession was downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor in California. Fittingly, Fernandez’s delivery of Hollyweed happened just three months after Golden State approved Proposition 64 in the 2016 election.
But did the art facility have opportunistic intentions? Dr.. Dinathe woman who inspired the character “Nancy Botwin” on the show herbs, co-owns SoCal’s oldest continuously operating dispensary, Alternative Herbal Health Services. She did point out that the Hollyweed brand was primarily marketing. “Hollyweed was recreated a few years ago because the original photographer refused to let anyone use their image and the CBD brand re-designed it for their own brand image,” says Dr. Dina, who is given her nickname by Snoop Dogg. “I know this because one of my first employees at the dispensary was the son of the original photographer whose idea it was!”
Reflecting on the latest version of Hollyweed, hindsight reveals a context we couldn’t decipher in 2017. Hollyweed wasn’t just a cheeky art installation, and its symbolism arguably carries more inertia than its ’70s predecessor: the label foreshadowed cannabis’ rise to mainstream. It signified the City of Angels’ dominance in the California market, the advent of “suits and ties,” the dividing line between legal and “traditional” operators, the elegant dispensaries of the Apple Store, the weed parties of the Hollywood Hills, the eponymous strains of temperamental appeals, and the “apprenticeship.” general for cannabis.
“There was a change of guard when Proposition 64 was approved,” Sandomier says. “Hollyweed was a sign of things really turning into a different landscape for the old farmers.”
Dr. Dina also points out that the sign of Hollyweed is a symbolic changing of the guard. “We started as nonprofit groups run by real freedom fighters who risked their freedom on a daily basis so they could help others only for this industry to turn into a for-profit business run by opportunists looking to make money, who don’t care about patients,” says Penn. Overnight, patients became customers, and we lost our ability to provide free medicines to patients who really needed them.”
Hollyweed also represents the affinity of media, entertainment, and cannabis. In January 2017, High times announced that it would move its headquarters to Los Angeles after remaining in New York for more than four decades. Pong applicationetita TV series on Viceland featuring host Abdullah Said throwing cannabis dinners, released its first episode on December 14, 2016.
“It was a great time for us and for the show,” he says. Jason Pinskyproject Pong applicationetit, who filmed an episode of the show with Fernandez shortly after turning himself in. “When I look at what we did in 2017 compared to future seasons – like Season 3, once regulation and retail sales are in effect – everything had to be done with receipts and through the system. Pong applicationetit In the halcyon days of 2017 when we built the warehouse. Today, we wouldn’t be able to do what we did back then without huge budgets. The symbolism of the Hollyweed mark was a massive celebration of Jesus’ hands and what He did for Him Vice And for Bong Appetite And what we’ve been doing: popularizing cannabis to a global audience.”
Pinsky says he came to Hollywood for the affinity of cannabis, the industry, and entertainment. The Hollyweed brand is a manifestation of it all for him personally, and the burgeoning California cannabis industry.
Sometimes the line is fine between art and vandalism, but I would argue that Hollyweed’s mark revealed that most people can’t tell the difference between the two, especially the LAPD and most of the city’s politicians. And even if the banners are marketing, the defacement of one of the world’s most iconic landmarks has garnered a massive response, which is always the artist’s ultimate goal.
Hollyweed 2017 will go down in history as a precursor to the subsequent tectonic shifts still occurring in the California cannabis market. But on that New Year’s Day, not so long ago, the power of art once again captured the moment—and the city’s collective imagination—completely.
This story was originally published in Issue 47 printed edition of hemp now.