David Bowie passed away on Sunday, and people have been paying tribute in all sorts of ways — sharing eulogies, penning essays, covering his songs. And now, as Consequence Of Sound reports, one grieving Bowie fan has honored the late icon with an act of vandalism, replacing the Bowie Street sign at the intersection of Bowie and 5th in downtown Austin with a new sign reading “David Bowie St.”
City officials have confirmed that the Bowie street-sign memorial was not officially authorized, and according to Austin police, the culprit could be charged with theft and criminal mischief. That said, because they’re apparently pretty cool, the Austin Transportation Department has decided to leave “David Bowie St” up for a full week, as per a statement issued today:
The Austin Transportation Department has been notified that someone got creative with the street sign at Bowie and 5th Streets, changing the sign to read “David Bowie” in memory of the musician and pop-culture icon. We appreciate Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World and recognize David Bowie for all he did for the music industry and more. To this end, we will leave the sign up until Tuesday, January 19, so our community can enjoy the makeshift memorial a few days longer. At that time we will have to replace it with the real street name sign.
Although the sign in question happens to be just across the street from SXSW’s offices in Austin, SXSW is claiming no responsibility for the swap. “It’s just a coincidence it’s across the street from our office at 400 (David) Bowie St,” says festival founder Roland Swenson. The real culprit remains unknown and at large.
The actual Bowie Street is presumably named for James Bowie, the 19th century pioneer who played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution and died at the Alamo, but there’s already a petition on Change.org to permanently rename the street “David Bowie St.”
— SXSW (@sxsw) January 14, 2016
UPDATE: SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson and Jason Carter, owner of Austin’s Wicked Signs, have confirmed in a statement that they were behind David Bowie St, KeyeTV reports. Swenson had the idea for the sign and contacted Carter to design a sticker, which was then placed on top of the existing sign early Wednesday morning. The sticker can be peeled off without causing any damage to the sign.
“After [Bowie] passed away this week, I thought to myself ‘We’ll never have Bowie at SXSW, but we can still have David Bowie St,'” Swenson wrote in a statement. According to their attorneys, they were just “paying tribute to a great musician” and there was “never any intent to vandalize anything or waste any of the city’s resources.”