"Hollyweed": Artist Says He's Responsible for Sign Alteration But It Wasn't Vandalism
"I did it out of love and a certain peace from within."
Pretty much everyone in Hollywood was doing a double take on New Year's Day when looking up at the town's iconic sign, which then read "Hollyweed."
Overnight, someone changed the landmark, which was assumed to be a prank due to the recent California legalization of marijuana for recreational use.
As of Friday, Los Angeles police said the case was still under investigation and no arrests had been made. That same day, the person claiming responsibility for the sign alteration granted a short, impromptu interview to The Hollywood Reporter, explaining why he did what he did.
The artist who allegedly altered the sign, who goes by the name Jesus Hands, hung out with Tommy Chong before he talked to THR. The movie star and marijuana advocate gifted a pound of his brand of marijuana, Chong's Choice, for his alteration efforts.
Why did you do it?
I did it out of love and a certain peace from within. 2016 was a rough year for a lot of people. You got hurt and then you grew. 2017 is perfect to conjure up the growth. It was a very personal thing at first, and it still is. I hold it very personal. It was a personal thing and a tribute to the artist, (who did a similar stunt in 1976) the late Daniel Finegood. I felt his message speak to me and it felt like that message needed to be shared. It was honestly just a work of art, but it becomes so much more because of people's interpretations of it. Pot art. That's what it is.
Was it difficult to alter the sign?
It was an interesting thing. It was a spiritual experience. It took a while. It took a couple of hours, honestly. Normally, I am a person who bites off more than they can chew. I saw the sign and I happened to be up there while someone was putting an American flag up there. It is still up there now and that is great. I was up there watching this guy and I noticed there was garbage all over the place. So much litter. I left the area cleaner than I found it. It's all freedom of expression, right? Freedom of speech. In all reality, there was no vandalism.
Do you have concerns of the possible legal repercussions?
Where's it going to go from here? I was just a vehicle used. It's about connecting people. There's a message to be had. The message is peace and love, and look how contagious that is. And when someone looks up there, and I brought a good memory in their heart, that's what makes it — look at it. That's my sign right there.
Jesus Hands also seemed to take credit for the sign alteration on his Instagram page.
Hanging out with Zach, the Hollyweed guy pic.twitter.com/mTZQEO1IzX— Tommy Chong (@tommychong) January 6, 2017