People use Happy Foot / Sad Foot sign as fortune teller


This is a rotating sign for a foot clinic in Los Angeles. If the happy foot is facing you when you see it, you will have a good day. But a sad foot means you will experience bad luck. Kelly Coyne of Homegrown Evolution has more:

The podiatrist's sign above marks the entrance to our neighborhood. It charmed us the first time we saw it: It's a foot -- with feet!  And we immediately named it the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign. Soon we learned that other people called it The Happy Foot/Sad Foot Sign as well. The name seemed predestined and universally applied, and it was recognizable enough that we could pinpoint our location off of Sunset Blvd. by saying, "You know the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign?"

The Foot rotates slowly, unless it's broken, which it often is of late. But when it's rotating, you are always tempted to check out which side is facing you when you first come into sight of it.  A happy, smiling foot is portends a good day, or at least a general thumbs up from the universe. We've always thought so, and come to find out, many other people also practice this form of primitive divination.

It's even immortalized in fiction. Our friend, Anne, resident of this same 'hood, tipped us off that The Foot is featured in You Don't Love Me Yet  by Jonathan Lethem (2008):

Lucinda's view took in a three quarter's slice of the sign as it turned in its vigil over Sunset Boulevard: happy foot and sad foot suspended in dialog forever. The two images presented not so much a one-or-the-other choice as an eternal marriage of opposites, the emblem of some ancient foot-based philosophical system. This was Lucinda's oracle: once glance to pick out the sad or happy foot, and a coin was flipped, to legislate any decision she'd delegated to the foot god.

A quick Google search shows the Foot is acknowledged (it shows up in Flickr sets and odd comments here and there) but not famous, outside this locale. However, I was delighted to find an animation called Happy Foot vs. Sad Foot. Instead of seeing the Foot as a marriage of opposites, as Lethem does, the animator portrays the Feet as two characters engaged in an endless, existential binary feud. For Sad Foot, life will always suck, while Happy Foot will always gets his way. (Note in the comments for this animation that someone steps forward claiming to be the designer of the sign's graphics.)

Read the rest of Kelly's essay: Our Happy Foot / Sad Foot Sign



  1. The Citgo sign in Kenmore Square in Boston served the same function. It alternated Cit with Go. So you could think of a question and then open your eyes to see if the sign told you to sit or go.

  2. I used to live just down the street from that sign. Happy Foot meant go home and veg out on the couch with a movie or a video game. Sad Foot meant go down to the Laundromat and finish all the household chores.

    I hate that Sad Foot.

  3. I used to live directly across the street on LaFayette and for 4 years would peer out my sun porch window to see what the day held. I’m still of the mind to make a happy foot/sad foot t-shirt with happy foot on the front and sad foot on the back. I think it would sell well in Silver Lake/Echo Park…. did I say that out loud?! damn.

  4. I read this post, then happened to find the sign on my lunch break today! (Went to Tommy’s for a delicious hamburger.) It was off and happy, at least coming from the east. I guess I’m having a happy day!
    @pundog that costume is AWESOME.

  5. When I lived in Silverlake 20 years ago, my place was very difficult to find. At that same corner was a sign for the “Amigo Chinese Cafe” and I instructed people that they should turn at that sign – they’d show up at my door saying “You really DO live behind the Amigo Chinese Cafe!” as if I were making that up – a sign that speaks of that kind of diversity, should have taken a picture of it.

  6. I think the most amazing thing is seeing a sign that has a phone number without an area code.
    I lived in LA for a while 20 years ago and it was all 213, but surely there must be a lot more area codes by now. Isn’t it compulsory to for all adults to carry a cell phone there?

    1. surely there must be a lot more area codes by now

      I started working in the entertainment industry during the last few months when the receptionist, when taking a message, could write the caller’s phone number as 3/555-1212 if they lived in the Basin (area code 213), or 8/555-1212 if they were in the Valley (area code 818). (Of course, those Industry types who went with 2/555-1212 were New Yorkers.) And then this practice ended when the 310 came to be, out on the Westside. And a few years later, the 323 split the difference between 213 (which is mostly downtown now) and the 310. So some Hollywood types finally had to change their letterhead to 323, sometimes after decades of 213-hood. (There are still a whole bunch of 323-467-xxxx numbers in Hollywood, dating back to when they were identified as HOllywood-7xxxx.)

      And then Glendale/Pasadena split off with 626, and there have been other new area codes besides. I remember when 714 covered seemingly all of California south of LA, not just parts of Orange County.

      I seem to remember the original rationale for the creation of 310 wasn’t because of cell phones or explosive population growth… but because of fax machines.


  7. I love these foots (I am not sure if I can say feet, as these are different foot from maybe different feet). It´s very cute that they are having feet on their own, as also arms and gloves!. These feet foot, are sad or happy feet?.

    About the divination method, it would be irresistible to me to use it as these persons are using it.

  8. Wow. Most everyone here is to some degree a secular and educated humanist, and yet we (myself included) celebrate and observe clearly nonsensical pseudo-pagan divination rituals. I imagine this sort of on-the-fly scrying has been going on for just about as long as the concept of luck has been around. It’s so G-ddamn sweet to be human.

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