The infamous artist, Zach Fernandez, whose reworking of the Hollywood sign was highly enjoyed and even inspired a spin-off series of memes, has officially spoken out about the reason he decided to change the sign.
Early on New Year’s Day, Fernandez braved the climb to the Hollywood sign and, with carefully placed pieces of fabric, successfully changed it to read ‘Hollyweed.’ When LA residents awoke to the sign change, it quickly went viral and caused many to smile at the simple gesture that helped ring in the new year. Armed with $35 worth of supplies, including cloth and clamps, he worked for three hours on the plan he had laid out for the past two weeks.
When speaking with Buzzfeed about his motivation for the project, he said,
“It was something to smile and laugh out loud about. Just lift their spirits and let them live because 2016 was a crazy year, dude.”The artist, however, was not working on an original idea; a little-known fact about Hollywood sign history is that activist Danny Finegood and friends actually made the first ‘Hollyweed’ rendition of the sign back in 1976. The Moscone Act of 1976 had recently passed, which dropped charges for cannabis possession from a felony to a misdemeanor in California. When Finegood’s wife was asked about the stunt, she said,
“It wasn’t a prank, it was a message.”
Fernandez paid homage to the activist by including a note that read, “A tribute to Mr. Finegood.” Finegood, who died in 2007, would have been proud to witness the year that California finally legalized the use of cannabis for recreation.
No good deed goes unpunished, however, and Fernandez made it clear that he did not want to run from the law in the wake of his stunt. He turned himself into authorities who are charging him with trespassing, but not vandalism because the sign didn’t sustain any permanent damage from the incident.