$1,000 fine for Silly String possession in Los Angeles


Don't even think about hiding a can in your crotchal area *. They will find it.

Silly String ban


  1. Illegal? How can anything be legal only during certain times pronounced by a temporary sign? When was it passed into law?

    I ask merely for information, and not just out of pompous outrage.

    1. this law is just as valid as having temporary no parking zones (designated by a sign that goes up shortly before the period starts and come down when it ends).

      the reason it is only banned that one night is because halloween is the only night it is used so much that it is a problem to clean up. I live in Hollywood and when it was still legal the area was covered in it. shop windows, streets, sidewalks, drains. especially on Hollywood Blvd.

    1. i don’t buy the $200k price tag to clean the silly string.
      every morning at 5-6:30am hollywood blvd is blasted with water jets up and down all along the walk of fame, then there is a weekly scheduled street clean which they also bump up during special street events and weekends.
      and considering the outrageous fine, it just seems like another money making gimmick devised by city hall, like their atrocious parking fines and temporary no parking signs that can appear at any time even though there is supposed to be a 48 hr notice.
      avoid living in hollywood at all costs, you will go broke with the fines.
      i think i personally financed the installation of a new park, but now i am free, free, free, oh lord, i am free!

  2. Ok, I can MAYBE understand some of the reasoning behind this, (silly string can cause damage and costs taxpayer money to clean up, etc. etc.).
    But, POSSESSION? Really?

    AFAIR, California has pretty much decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot… but get caught with a can of this stuff in your backpack and face a big fine or even time in jail. Too funny.

    “Hmm… city coffers are getting a little low, what else can we make illegal for a day or so, so we can make some fine money?”

  3. Oh yeah… and another STUPID thing about that sign (and this is a gigantic pet peeve with me), there is no such thing as 12:00 AM. It is either 12 noon or 12 midnight. At the hour of 12:00, AM and PM are completely ambiguous and therefore useless (not to mention incorrect).


    1. And is “12:00 midnight October 31” the midnight between October 31 and November 1, or the midnight between October 30 and October 31? Is Silly String prohibited for 12 hours, or 36? Can’t tell from the sign.

    2. Oh yeah… and another STUPID thing about that sign (and this is a gigantic pet peeve with me), there is no such thing as 12:00 AM. It is either 12 noon or 12 midnight. At the hour of 12:00, AM and PM are completely ambiguous and therefore useless (not to mention incorrect).


      This is really sad. People actually get worked up over useless bits of info like this?

      Jesus H. Christ!!!

      1. I’m also pretty sure he is incorrect in what he is getting worked up about. There is nothing incorrect or ambiguous about what 12 am means.

      2. Hey Shithead and Rider, I’m not really that worked up. Ok, sorry I said grrrr. But yes, in fact 12am has no meaning. Noon and midnight are special cases in the scheme of 12-hour timekeeping. And the sign banning silly string is even inconsistent with itself, since it refers to 12noon and 12am.


    3. Not true – you forgot that there are also seconds to differentiate the meridiems. There is 12:00:00 AM and it lasts 60 seconds.

      1. Nope. Doesn’t matter. No matter how thin you slice it, there is a quantum of time (actually two) which is neither AM or PM.

        I can see you are not going to concede, so I give up.


  4. If people are freely allowed to use treasonous Silly String whenever they want then the terrorists have won!

    Only in America could a sign like this exist.

  5. I can see it now…

    “What are ya in for, brother?”

    “Silly String. Possession of Silly String with the intent to spray.”

    “No, really, what are you in for?”

  6. Another thing wrong is that they’re banning a particular product by using its brand name, and not a class of products that would be similar. They should really ban all aerosol extruded plastic foam products.

    “But your Honor, I wasn’t using Silly String, just Happy Yarn.”

    1. Actually, they handle the issue of Silly String being a brand name in the law: “”Silly String” shall mean any putty-like substance that is shot or expelled in the form of string from an aerosol can or other pressurized device, regardless of whether it is sold under the name “Silly String” or any other name.” Quoted from the ordinance linked from http://cityclerk.lacity.org/lacityclerkconnect/index.cfm?fa=ccfi.viewrecord&cfnumber=04-0772 which has all the details about the passage of the law.

      1. And so it does.

        They mention the problem is also with the empty cans either left on the street or thrown at whom- or whatever.

        I don’t know if it’s “putty-like.” Silly Putty is putty-like.

        Next thing you know they’ll be taking away the handguns.

  7. I don’t get why people are bitching about “12 AM.” That’s something that people say; it’s not new, it’s not ambiguous. 12 AM on Oct 31 is midnight, i.e. the very beginning of the day, Oct 31. Nothing to bitch about here, move along.

    Besides, there are such better things to bitch about, such as, how the closing scare quotes are facing the wrong direction. The horror!

    1. Well, Anon, I don’t think “people” are bitching about the 12AM thing. Far as I can tell, it was only me. And I’m not really “bitching”, I was just pointing out that the usage is incorrect and it grates on my nerves, along with stuff like “eksetera and “ax”.

      Thanks anyway for your anonymous critique. :D

  8. “… will be given the option to voluntarily discard the product or face a maximum $1000 fine and/or six months in jail.”

  9. Thank God, I can still smoke Silly String in the comfort of my own home out of my Silly Bong all while getting Silly Eyed.

  10. It is bad enough that they improperly use quotation marks for “emphasis” but they also used the wrong kind curly quote at the end quote. Grrr… Bad laws are one thing, but bad orthography?? Inexcusable!

  11. At first, they came for the Silly String. But I didn’t speak up, because I had no Silly String. Then they came for the Slinkies. But I didn’t speak up, because I had no Slinkies. Then, they came for my Legos, and I blew their fucking heads off with my SuperSoaker.

  12. Spraying Silly String on someone lighting a reefer or a cigarette at a Halloween celebration is inviting tragedy.

    There are a lot of YouTube videos on Silly String combustion mishaps.

    Please tell me that this is has something to do with fire hazards.

  13. As Ramona noted above, since “illegal” is in quotes I assume it is either a new, coined usage of the word, perhaps meaning completely legal and even encouraged; or its ALL CAPS and in quotes being perhaps the height of ironic. In either case Angelinos, enjoy your silly string…

  14. I have no silly strings, only a somber and serious can of compressed foam product. am i get “$1,000.00” fines lol?

  15. Also putting the punishment in quotes means they probably will not actually fine you, but they might still taze you and dump you into the ocean

  16. Never one to pass up a new nit to pick, I saw your comment and thought “the hell you talkin’ about?” <type><type><google> and sure enough (from http://physics.nist.gov/News/Releases/questions.html):

    To illustrate this, consider that “a.m.” and “p.m.” are abbreviations for “ante meridiem” and “post meridiem.” They mean “before noon” and “after noon,” respectively. Of course, noon is neither before nor after noon; it is simply noon. Therefore, neither the “a.m.” nor “p.m.” designation is correct. On the other hand, midnight is both 12 hours before noon and 12 hours after noon. Therefore, either 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. could work as a designation for midnight, but both would be ambiguous.
    To get around the problem, the terms 12 noon and 12 midnight should be used instead of 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. For example, a bank might be open on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Or, a grocery store might be open daily until midnight. If you are making schedules, times such as 12:01 a.m. (one minute after midnight), or 11:59 p.m. (one minute before midnight) also can eliminate ambiguity. This method is used by the railroads and airlines.


    Of course, countries that use the 24h clock don’t have the problem, there’s only one 00:00 after all.

  17. If you say “12am, the 31st” then do you mean 12am, the morning of the 31st, or do you mean 12am, midnight of the 31st (morning of the 1st)? 12am is ambiguous. it’s easier for everyone just to put “12n” or “12m” when giving 12:00 as an advance time

  18. Vandalism is already illegal, banning possession of the stuff is just silly, limited in scope or otherwise.

  19. The fine is excessive, but the ban was overdue. Twenty years ago I lived 1/2 a block north of the Chinese Theater on Orchid south of Franklin, and I liked how they’d close off Hollywood Boulevard for the night and everybody would wander around in costume. Wasn’t quite as queerly awesome as Santa Monica & Robertson, but it was still a grand party. But then, a few years later, came the Silly String. It seemed like every street vendor in town lay down his peanuts and oranges for the day and started hawking cans of Silly String. Last time I tried to do anything in Hollywood on Halloween was probably right before the ban was instated. You couldn’t walk 30 yards without getting assaulted by a dozen little moppets wielding cans in both fists. I don’t blame the kids; they’re kids, after all, and what’s more fun to a ten-year-old than an apparent license to blast the world with Silly String, since everyone else is doing it?

    If you were in costume, your costume would be ruined, or at least inconveniently festooned with neon ropes of foam. I never thought it was particularly dangerous, but my god it got annoying so fast. I haven’t been to Hollywood on Halloween in years, just because of the damned Silly String, so it’s no wonder I didn’t realize that they’d banned the stuff six years ago.

    I understand that some people might think this ban to be a little heavy-handed, but really it’s tough to overstate the sheer volume of Silly String that used to fly on All Hallow’s Eve. You might think banning possession to be overkill, but really, are you ever packin’ a can of Silly String while walking through Hollywood on Halloween with absolutely no intention of cracking it open and spraying that very night? No, sirs and mesdames, you are not. As for the reasonableness of the ban itself, consider: on your average summertime Sunday afternoon, can you walk down the street and just throw or spray any substance, no matter how harmless, onto passersby and expect to be met with naught but indulgent smiles and laughter?

  20. @Jake0748: “ax” has apparently been used for centuries, and Language Log had a piece referring to it only last week; the context was a Berkeley psychiatrist complaining that excessive leaf-blower noise helped cause Oakland kids to say “ax”.

    LL’s Mark Liberman said:

    “As the OED explains, the verb form spelled ‘ax’, and meaning ‘To call upon any one for information, or an answer’, originated more than a thousand years ago in OE. (‘Old English’), some time prior to the invention of the leaf blower:

    “[…] ‘Acsian, axian, survived in ax, down to nearly 1600 the regular literary form, and still used everywhere in midl. and south. dialects, though supplanted in standard English by ask, originally the northern form’.

    “Thus from The Seven Sages of Rome, (Anon., 1100-1500 Middle English Romances):
    3170 Certeys, quothe the Erle, hit ys my wylle
    3171 Alle that you ax to fullefylle.”

      1. I have no information on “Ekcetera”. Interestingly, though, “LOL” is attested from the 14thC*.

        *I made that up. Ho ho!

  21. Has any entrepreneurial genius thought to buy cans of generic aerosol string and sell it under the brand “Serious String”?

  22. Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it.

    –Alvin Toffler

  23. In my opinion I think they shouldn’t give people fines for using silly strings silly strings are only use once a year people should use tweir brain and let other people have fun with it . if you don’t like it don’t use it or buy it. I understand that silly string can be dangerous if you light it up. but when you are having fu I don’t think that there is going to be any problem people only use silly strings in partys same holidays but to put a little of fun to it thats it.

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