I live near Sunset and Benton Way. A neighbor told me I’m “HaFo/SaFo adjacent.” What’s the story?


Illustration by Jason Schneider

Neighborhood nicknames in New York take their cues from street monikers; L.A. finds inspiration in business signage. In this case, “HaFo/SaFo” is short for “Happy Foot/Sad Foot” and was inspired by the Sunset Foot Clinic’s rotating sign in Silver Lake that features an illustration of a smiling foot on one side and an angst-ridden one on the other. Podiatrist Schlomo Schmuel opened his practice in 1985 and later replaced the original pink Plexiglas foot with an electric blue spinning version. Those toes are cultural icons: The sign has popped up in songs by Eels as well as in the works of David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Lethem. Some locals—Beck was one—base their day on which side they see. That group includes, I’m guessing, Mark Lisanti. The writer and ex-New Yorker, who moved to Silver Lake in 2006, is credited with giving the nabe its nickname.