Friday, August 15, 2014

Orange County Places Mentioned in Philip K. Dick’s “A Scanner Darkly”

"Nothing gets old or worn or dirty here because if it does the police come in and kill it."

--Philip K. Dick on living in Fullerton (1972)

I’m currently working on a research/writing project with my friend Christine Granillo, a graduate student at Cal State Fullerton, entitled “Philip K. Dick in Orange County.”  Acclaimed science fiction author Philip K. Dick lived in OC for the last ten years of his life, and wrote his last five novels here.  Our project intends to explore that reality.  We are guided by questions like: How did Orange County influence his writing?  What kinds of insights did he have about this part of the world?  Last semester, for a class, Christine and her classmates put together a web site and a Facebook page dedicated to this topic.  I just finished reading “A Scanner Darkly,” a dystopian novel which is set in Orange County, and carefully marked all the passages which mention OC places.  Here they are, organized by city…

1.) Fullerton

“But in actuality the Thrifty (Drug Store in Fullerton) had a display of nothing: combs, bottles of mineral oil, spray cans of deodorant, always crap like that.  But I bet the pharmacy in the back has slow death under lock and key in an unstepped-on, pure, unadulterated, uncut form, he thought as he drove from the parking lot onto Harbor Boulevard, into the afternoon traffic.”

2.) Anaheim

“Gentlemen of the Anaheim Lions Club, the man at the microphone said, “we have a wonderful opportunity this afternoon, for, you see, the County of Orange has provided us with the chance to hear from—and then put questions to and of—an undercover narcotics agent from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.:”  He beamed, this man wearing his pink waffle-fiber suit and wide plastic yellow tie and blue shirt and fake leather shoes; he was an overweight man, overaged as well, overhappy even when there as little or nothing to be happy about.”

“He did not feel like returning right away to the Orange County Civic Center and room 430, so he wandered down one of the commercial streets in Ahaheim, inspecting the McDonaldburger stands and car washes and gas stations and Pizza Huts and other marvels.”

“Life in Ahaheim, California, was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed.  Nothing changed; it just spread out farther and farther in the form of neon ooze.  What there was always more of had been congealed into permanence long ago, as if the automatic factory that cranked out these objects had jammed in the ‘on’ position.  How the land became plastic, he thought, remembering the fairy tale ‘How the Sea Became Salt.’  Someday, he thought, it’ll be mandatory that we all sell the McDonald’s hamburger as well as buy it;  we’ll sell it back and forth to each other forever from our living rooms.  That way we won’t even have to go outside.”

“Driving slowly up Katella Boulevard, Bob Arctor searched for the New-Path sign and the wooden building, formerly a private dwelling, that the energetic rehab people operated in this area.”

“Hey,” Donna said with enthusiasm, “could you take me to a rock concert?  At the Anaheim Stadium next week?  Could you?”

3.) Costa Mesa

“Donna worked behind the counter of a little perfume shop in Gateside Mall in Costa Mesa, to which she drove every morning in her MG.”

4.) Santa Ana

“Seated with Jim Barris in the Fiddler’s Three coffee shop in Santa Ana, he fooled around with his sugar-glazed doughnut morosely.”

“Magazine clipping thumbtacked to the wall of the lounge at the Samararkand House, New-Path’s residence building in Santa Ana, California: When the senile patient awakens in the morning and asks for his mother, remind him that she is long since dead, that he is over eighty years old and living in a convalescent hime, and that this is 1992 and not 1913 and that he must face reality and the fact that…

5.) Placentia

“It’s the fucking Blue Chip Redemption Stamp Center in Placentia,” Charles Freck said.

“Every week small-denomination bills were dispensed to him by a machine masquerading as a Dr. Pepper source at a Mexican bar and restaurant in Placentia.”

6.) Brea

“Strung out on injectable Substance D already, she lived in a slum room in Brea, upstairs, the only heat radiating from a water heater, her source of income a State of California tuition scholarship she had won.  She had not attended classes, as far as he knew, in six months.”

7.) La Habra

“They burned me by vending that ham sandwich, so what I did—don’t rat on me—next time we went to the drive-in, the one in La Habra, I stuck a bent coin in the slot and a couple more in other vending machines for good measure…we fucked up a bunch of them.”

And, finally, my favorite:

“And this was Orange County.  Full of Birchers and Minutemen.  With guns.  Looking for just this kind of uppity sass from bearded dopers.”

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