Mrs. Homegrown here:
Nothing about growing or making today–sorry to go off topic (Erik is wincing a bit as I post this), but I want to talk about our Foot. It’s a very local sort of story, but isn’t localism what it’s all about?
The podiatrist’s sign above marks the entrance to our neighborhood. It charmed us the first time we saw it: It’s a foot–with feet! And we immediately named it the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign. Soon we learned that other people called it The Happy Foot/Sad Foot Sign as well. The name seemed predestined and universally applied, and it was recognizable enough that we could pinpoint our location off of Sunset Blvd. by saying, “You know the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign?”
The Foot rotates slowly, unless it’s broken, which it often is of late. But when it’s rotating, you are always tempted to check out which side is facing you when you first come into sight of it. A happy, smiling foot is portends a good day, or at least a general thumbs up from the universe. We’ve always thought so, and come to find out, many other people also practice this form of primitive divination.
It’s even immortalized in fiction. Our friend, Anne, resident of this same ‘hood, tipped us off that The Foot is featured in You Don’t Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem (2008):
Lucinda’s view took in a three quarter’s slice of the sign as it turned in its vigil over Sunset Boulevard: happy foot and sad foot suspended in dialog forever. The two images presented not so much a one-or-the-other choice as an eternal marriage of opposites, the emblem of some ancient foot-based philosophical system. This was Lucinda’s oracle: once glance to pick out the sad or happy foot, and a coin was flipped, to legislate any decision she’d delegated to the foot god.
A quick Google search shows the Foot is acknowledged (it shows up in Flickr sets and odd comments here and there) but not famous, outside this locale. However, I was delighted to find an animation called Happy Foot vs. Sad Foot. Instead of seeing the Foot as a marriage of opposites, as Lethem does, the animator portrays the Feet as two characters engaged in an endless, existential binary feud. For Sad Foot, life will always suck, while Happy Foot will always gets his way. (Note in the comments for this animation that someone steps forward claiming to be the designer of the sign’s graphics.)
Lately we’ve been hearing that our neighborhood has been dubbed “HaFo SaFo” in tribute to The Foot. This isn’t as strange as it sounds, because our neighborhood is wedged between the villages of Silver Lake and Echo Park, but technically it belongs to neither. It’s real name is Edendale, but no one knows it by that name, even though Edendale was the home of the first motion picture studios. If we claim we live in Edendale, we get blank looks, so we’re forced to either assert our property value by claiming we live in Silver Lake, or our cool quotient, by claiming Echo Park. Usually we just mumble instead. Anyway, we predict that this HaFo SaFo business is going to stick, because it is so very silly and insidery. I can’t find any HaFo SaFo mentions on Google yet, so you heard it first right here.
Do you all have special, beloved signs or divination systems local to the place you live? Share them!
ETA: One of out commenters points out there’s an Eels song dedicated to this sign, too, called Sad Foot Sign: Sad foot sign/Why you gotta taunt me this way?/The happy side is broken now/It’s gonna be an awful day