Toke of the Town Video of the Day: Hollyweed, USA

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Laffin’ Place
The “Hollywood” sign was famously defaced in 1976 after the decriminalization of marijuana in California

On January 1, 1976, the iconic “HOLLYWOOD” sign was altered to read “Hollyweed” by the late Danny Finegood of Los Angeles and a few of his college friends. The stunt — celebrating the decriminalization of marijuana in California — got worldwide publicity at the time.

To accomplish the stunt, Finegood and his buds used ropes and sheets, and reportedly spent only around 50 bucks for materials. The prank was a class project while he was an art major at Cal State Northridge. (Yes, he got an “A” for the project.)
Finegood considered himself an environmental artist, not a vandal. In a letter to the L.A. Times in 1983, he said of the “Hollyweed” sign: “An artist’s role throughout history has been to create representations of the culture he exists in. By hanging four relatively small pieces of fabric on the landmark, we were able to change people’s perception of the Hollywood sign.”

Writer David Batterson was so knocked out by the event that he wrote lyrics to a song and his friend, former radio DJ and musician Mark Giles, a resident of Santa Barbara, wrote the music. They called the song, you guessed it, “Hollyweed, USA.”


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David Batterson
David Batterson, now 69, wrote the lyrics to “Hollyweed USA” back in 1976.

“I was living in Hollywood at the time of the prank,” Batterson said, “and I thought it was an awesome achievement. So I penned a song about it (lyrics only) in January 1976, and sent the lyrics to Giles.”
Giles, however, busy with his job, put the song aside. He rediscovered the lyric sheet in a box in 2006, composed music for it, and recorded a demo.
“When he sent it to me, I was amazed at what he had done,” Batterson said. “With the attitude toward marijuana usage so changed, and the move toward legalization in California (despite the constant drug busts by local, state and federal law enforcement), the song could finally catch on.”
Batterson said he’d like to see a movie also made from the infamous artistic stunt. “It could capture the vibe of that era,” he said. “I envision it as a successful movie like other films made from songs, like ‘Alice’s Restaurant,’ ‘Ode To Billy Joe,’ and ‘Harper Valley PTA.’ “





HOLLYWEED, USA

Music by Mark Giles / Words by David Batterson

(Registered with ASCAP)

  

There’s a great big sign in the Hollywood
hills

That the tourists and the natives all read

This is a story about that big ol’ sign, and

The day Hollywood became Holly-WEED

 

Well, they passed a law back in seventy-five

Don’t you worry if you smoke a little grass

Everybody said it was a wonderful law

Smokin’ pot was put in traffic-fine class

 

Hollyweed, USA

Now it’s finally safe to take a little toke

Hollyweed, USA

Let me tell you ’bout a practical joke

 

Four young guys one day got stoned

And they thought they’d have a little bit of
fun

They said they couldn’t think of any better
way

To see the law take effect January One

 

On December thirty-first well they made their
move

With their black bed sheets in hand

They changed the double Os into double Es

And they carried out their master plan

 

Hollyweed, USA

Now it’s finally safe to take a little toke

Hollyweed, USA

It was just a little practical joke

 

So the town woke up on January First

And they saw quite an infamous deed

The famous sign that the world all knows

Was changed into Holly-WEED

 

There’s a great big sign in the Hollywood
hills

That the tourists and the natives all read

This is the story about that glorious day

When they turned Hollywood into Holly-WEED

 

Hollyweed, USA

Now it’s finally safe to take a little toke

Hollyweed, USA

It was all just a practical joke

 

Hollyweed, USA

Now it’s finally safe to take a little toke

Hollyweed, USA

Just a practical joke.


 

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