Update: Mystery solved!!! A reader has pointed us to the culprit. Details at the bottom.
Romantic drug dealer? Pop street artist? “Wicked” marketing ploy?
Har-har theories have been flying in from all directions since Dorothy's ruby slippers first started showing up around Los Angeles in late August, dangling off telephone wires from Los Feliz to West Hollywood.
Though the little sky jewels come at a clutch time for “Wicked” — the broadway show is set for a big L.A. return this fall, and its much-decorated past could explain the trophy that dangles alongside all the slippers — a rep denies this to the Beverly Press.
And he has us convinced: The show company's spokesman points out that “in the production, the ruby slippers are actually called “jeweled shoes” and are silver.” So this would actually be the worst marketing ploy ever. (Rubies to silver = letdown!)
LAPD officers give their own predictably silly explanation to CBS LA:
The LAPD tells [reporter Stephanie Abrams] that shoes strung over a wire indicate drug dealers are doing business in the immediate vicinity. But police admit they have never heard of ruby slippers being used before. Nor do they get the connection.
Sharp ones, those coppers! Anyway, in conclusion: This is obviously the work of some starry-eyed street artist, drawing on Judy Garland's upbringing in Hollywood and perhaps a juxtaposition of Hollywood's ghettoization and druggy reality with the glamorous facade that is its global reputation. Hell, it's art! You decide!
The Silver Lake Street Art blog posted a majestic video of one such installment above Sunset Junction:
And the nicest photo evidence we've come across so far, via Twitter user Gretchen Sneider:
We'll continue searching for the source of these commute-brighteners — and you should, too. Let us know what you find. (Hint: He/she is either a fucking spidermonkey, or has killer aim.) Though on second thought, this might be one of those mysteries better left unsolved.
Update: We are humbled by the Internet sleuthing skills of a reader named Vanessa, who found these GIFs (including the ones below) posted to Reddit this morning after spotting “a ton of those ruby red shoes” on her way to work.
Basically, the trophy is a symbol belonging to “This Hollywood Life.” From what we can tell, THL is an artist, or group of artists, who will be showing their work at the iam8bit gallery in Echo Park. Under “upcoming shows” on the gallery's website, you can see the trophy symbol (identical to the the trophies hanging from the telephone lines). And THL's email address is linked to the iam8bit website.
So it is an ad — but an arty one. Looks like a small neon gallery in Echo Park just blew “Wicked's” marketing team out of the water!
Update: On August 26, the artist posted this “before” shot to his Facebook. It explains where he found so many ruby slippers (he didn't — glitter and glue, baby) and just kind of fills us with joy in general. Happy Friday: