Sad foot sign, the end is comin’

News arrived this week that the rotating podiatrist sign that gives our Los Angeles neighborhood its identity will move and no longer rotate. Several years ago Kelly and I decided to help promote the idea of calling our disputed border region, located between the neighborhoods of Silver Lake and Echo Park, “Happy Foot Sad Foot” or “HaFoSaFo” for short.

Kelly detailed, in a 2010 blog post, the many cultural references to the sign including a novel by Jonathan Lethem.¬† A reader pointed to a song by the Eels. Later we found out that David Foster Wallace used the sign in his posthumously published novel, The Pale King. Allow me to digress for a moment to note that the longest half hour of my life was the time I was part of a film crew interviewing Wallace. He had an epic, paranoid freakout as soon as we started taping and it took most of that half hour to calm him down and assure him that his thoughts would not be taken our of context. He kept staring into the lens and repeatedly asking, “Who is going to edit this?” Once calmed, he went on to have a reasonable discussion about David Lynch. But back to the Foot. In The Pale King, while he references the sign, though moves its location to Chicago.

Many of the bards that frequent our hiptsery ‘hood have sung tributes to the Foot. There’s a song by Yacht animated by Mike Hollingsworth:

And the aforementioned Eels:

Sad foot sign, why you gotta
Taunt me this way
The happy side is broken now
It’s gonna be an awful day

And if I have to drive back by
To see from a different side
Would it be enough to say
The first time was a lie?

Sad foot sign, the end is comin’
That’s what they say
Maybe you could, see it in
Your heart for one day

To let me feel what it’s about
To really be alive
To live and breathe
And see and feel, then I can die

And when I come back to this room
I’ll put on a uniform
And go into, the foot sign shop
Where you were born

In the comments to Kelly’s original foot post, readers contributed neighborhood defining commercial signage from other parts of the U.S. including the Frederick, Maryland’s Freeze King:

The demented sign of the Lebanon Missouri Chiropractic Center:

An odd dual Hotel/Motel sign that used to be in Waco, Texas:

And I’ll add the Doggie Diner sign in San Francisco that was an obsession of Zippy the Pinhead cartoonist Bill Griffith:

When the Doggie Diner went out of business one of the iconic fiberglass doggie heads was moved to a median strip at Sloat Boulevard and 45th Avenue and deemed San Francisco landmark No. 254.

If only we could find a median strip for the rotating foot. Instead we might have to revive our efforts to call this place the Free Republic of Edendale. Some years ago I even came up with currency featuring the common neighborhood vista of a street mattress:

In all seriousness, our corrupt city government does a very poor job of placemaking. The best they can do is name intersections after people with pathetic little signs posted high up on a signal. You know you’re in trouble when a podiatrist sign is a better placemaking option. Paris LA ain’t. I think we’re going to have to take things into our own hands and build our own Happy Foot Sad Foot Arc de Triomphe. One we do that the People’s Parliament of the Free Republic of Edendale can get around to those much needed protected bike lanes . . .

Does your neighborhood have a distinctive and quirky sign? Leave a comment!

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  1. Pingback: What will happen to the Happy Foot Sad Foot sign? - Ian L. Brooks Estates

  2. Sorry to read about your fallen arch, so to speak. While our neighborhood doesn’t have a distinctive or quirky sign to use as moniker (like your “HaFoSaFo”), we residents are aware that silent movie era cowboy superstar Tom Mix had his 14-acre film lot “Mixville” at the foot of our hill, 1914-1925. We have named ourselves “Mixville Heights.” It had never occurred to me to design our own currency, but if I do, I think it should feature the image entitled “Tom Mix’ Injuries” found at “Danger and difficulty have never daunted Tom Mix, nor broken bones stopped him.” They are labeled A to Z. “X marks fractures; circles, bullet wounds.”

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