People have a lot of feelings about Silver Lake’s Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign, the one at 2711 W. Sunset Blvd. (If you’re unfamiliar or just a west sider, the sign spins lazily on its axis and shows an ebullient, healthy foot on one side and a dejected, injured foot on the other.) Local legend states that when Beck was living in the neighborhood, he considered the sign to have real prognostic value: “We would walk out to the front porch, and if it was a sad foot…it was probably best to stay in,” he told Anthem magazine in 2004. The writer Jonathan Lethem has called the sign a “non-Internet meme” and even went so far as to immortalize it in his 2007 novel You Don’t Love Me Yet (the book’s protagonist uses it “to legislate any decision she’d delegated to the foot god”). David Foster Wallace wrote a Chicago-based version of the sign into his posthumous 2011 novel, The Pale King. The sign has inspired tattoos, pillows, and it’s even spawned a nickname for the surrounding area: HaFo SaFo. (Gretchen, stop trying to make HaFo SaFo happen.)
The sign’s latest cultural coup comes courtesy of BoJack Horseman supervising director Mike Hollingsworth and the L.A. band YACHT. More than a decade ago, Hollingsworth storyboarded a video starring Happy Foot and Sad Foot. He recently put it in front of YACHT’s Claire Evans and Jona Bechtolt, both of whom loved it so much that they made it the official video for their latest single, “Hard World,” off their new EP, Strawberry Moon.
“I definitely wanted this to be with an L.A. band because it’s such an L.A.-centric thing,” Hollingsworth says of the animation. “So I was so excited to connect it with a band who, for me, really speaks to the L.A. music scene. Basically what I’m saying is, fuck you, Cleveland bands! You were never even considered.”
“Hard World” is awash in YACHT’s trademark dance-pop vibes, but the lyrics are as heavy and esoteric as the rest of their catalog. “The song is very much our animal rights song,” Evans says. “It’s about the vulnerability of living beings. And the video is kind of a weird match in a way—”
“—both are about everyday brutality,” Bechtolt tacks on. It’s true: The video, which follows a day in the life of Happy Foot and Sad Foot, hits BoJack levels of grimness near the end (interesting considering Hollingsworth crafted the video’s narrative way before joining the show. So maybe BoJack hits Happy Foot/Sad Foot levels of grimness). “They are the feet versions of BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter,” Hollingsworth says with a laugh.
“And, it’s so crazy, we used to live right by the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign, and it was a huge part of our daily experience of the city,” Evans says. “We believe in the half-assed urban legends that all Angelenos east of La Brea believe, which is that there’s some kind of prophetic quality to it.” So does Hollingsworth. “Every time I’d pass it, I would kind of be like, ‘What is it saying about the day I’m having today?'”
Check out the world premiere of “Hard World” right here, then maybe go drive by that sign to see how your weekend’s about to shape up.
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