Thursday, April 23, 2015

Orange County References in the Novels of Philip K. Dick

On Friday May 1, at Hibbleton Gallery, we are hosting an art exhibit/zine release entitled "Philip K. Dick in Orange County."  Our focus is on the final years of this science fiction genius' life, when he was living in Fullerton and Santa Ana, when he wrote some of his most iconic and profound novels.  As co-curator of the show, I decided to read the novels that PKD wrote while living in Orange County, paying particular attention to Orange County references.  Here are all the OC references I could find in his last novels...

 from Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974)...

CAL STATE FULLERTON: “You have one private pol,” Jason interrupted, “He’s sixty-two years old and his name is Fred.  Originally he was a sharp-shooter with the Orange County Minutemen; used to pick off student jeters at Cal State Fullerton.”


McCarthy Hall (Cal State Fullerton) 1970.

KNOTTS BERRY FARM: “In the kitchen doorway Ruth appeared, holding up a stoneware platter marked SOUVENIR OF KNOTTS BERRY FARM.  She ran blindly at him and brought it down on his head, her mouth twisting like newborn things just now alive.  At that last instant he managed to lift his left elbow and take the blow there; the stoneware platter broke into three jagged pieces, and, down his elbow, blood spurted.  He gazed at the blood, the shattered pieces of platter on the carpet, then at her.”





THE NIXON LIBRARY: “He trod across the wall-to-wall carpet, which depicted in gold Richard M. Nixon’s final ascent into heaven amid joyous singing above wails of misery below.  At the far door he trod on God, who was smiling a lot as He received his Second Only Begotten Son back into His bosom.”





from A Scanner Darkly (1977)

THRIFTY DRUGS (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.”





THE ANAHEIM LIONS CLUB/OC SHERIFF"S DEPARTMENT: “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 wearying 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.”



ORANGE COUNTY CIVIC CENTER: “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.”





SUBURBAN ANAHEIM: “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 hammed 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.”



KATELLA BLVD (ANAHEIM): “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.”

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





GATESIDE MALL (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.”

FIDDLER'S THREE COFFEE SHOP (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.”

THE FUCKING BLUE CHIP REDEMPTION STAMP CENTER (PLACENTIA): “It’s the fucking Blue Chip Redemption Stamp Center in Placentia,” Charles Freck said.

UNNAMED MEXCAN RESTAURANT (PLACENTIA): “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.”




A "SLUM" APARTMENT IN 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 and won.  She had not attended classes, as far as he knew, in six months.”

DRIVE-IN THEATER (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.”

from VALIS (1981)

ORANGE COUNTY MENTAL HOSPITAL: “Fat found himself locked up in the Orange County Mental Hospital.  An armed cop had pushed him in  a wheelchair from the cardiac intensive care ward through the underground corridor which connected with the psychiatric wing.”

UCI MEDICAL CENTER: “The chief cardiologist at the Orange County Medical Center had exhibited Fat to a whole group of student doctors from UC Irvine.  OCMC was a teaching hospital.  They all wanted to listen to a heart laboring under forty-nine tabs of high-grade digitalis.”

“Being crazy and getting caught at it, out in the open, turns out to be a way to wind up in jail.  Fat now knew this.  Besides having a county drunk tank, the County of Orange had a county lunatic tank.  He was in it…the County of Orange would bill him for his stay in the lock-up…So now he had learned something else about being crazy: not only does it get your locked up, but it costs you a lot of money.”

CAL STATE FULLERTON: “Once, when I lectured at the University of California at Fullerton, a student asked me for a short, simple definition of reality.  I thought it over and answered, ‘Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away.”

DOWNTOWN SANTA ANA: “One of the reasons Beth left Fat stemmed from his visits to Sherri at her rundown room in Santa Ana.  Fat had deluded himself into thinking that he visited her out of charity.  Actually he had become horny, due to the fact that Beth had lost interest in him sexually and he was not, as they say, getting any.”





“Meanwhile he had entered therapy through the Orange County Mental Health people.”

“Driving back to the modern two-bedroom, two bathroom apartment in downtown Santa Ana, a full-security apartment with deadbolt lock in a building with electric gate, underground parking, closed circuit TV scanning of the main entrance…he now lived in this fortress-like, or jail-like, full security new building set dead in the center of the Mexcian barrio.”

EPISCOPAL CHURCH (SANTA ANA): “I can’t give the name of Sherri’s church because it really exists (well, so, too, does Santa Ana), so I will call it what Sherri called it: Jesus’ sweatshop.”

MELODYLAND CHRISTIAN CENTER (ANAHEIM): “I wanted her to go to Melodyland and testify that Jesus had cured her.”





CASA PACIFICA (RICHARD NIXON'S "WESTERN WHITE HOUSE")--SAN CLEMENTE: “Well, Nixon is still walking along a beach in California wondering what happened.” 





MOVIE THEATER (TUSTIN): “A couple of days later the three of us drove up Tustin Avenue and took in the film VALIS once more.”

JOHN WAYNE AIRPORT: “Around me the plane became substantial.  David sat reading a paperback book of T.S. Eliot.  Kevin seemed tense.  “We’re almost there,” I said, “Orange County Airport.”





SANTA ANA: “Time has been overcome.  We are back almost two thousand years; we are not in Santa Ana, California, USA, but in Jerusalem, about 35 C.E.”

from Radio Free Albemuth (1985)

THE RICHARD NIXON LIBRARY: "Being politically oriented, Nicholas had already noted the budding career of the junior senator from California, Ferris F. Fremont, who had issued forth in 1952 from Orange County, far to the south of us, an area so reactionary that to us in Berkeley it seemed a phantom land, made of the mists of dire nightmare, where apparitions spawned that were as terrible as they were real--more real than if they had been composed of solid reality.  Orange County, which no one on Berkeley had ever actually seen, was the fantasy at the other end of the world, Berkeley's opposite; if Berkeley lay in the thrall of illusion, of detachment from reality, it was Orange County which had pushed it there.  Within one universe, the two could never coexist.”



“It was as if Ferris Fremont stood amid the deserts of Orange County and imagined, at the north end of the state, the unreal thralldom of Berkeley and shuddered and said to himself something on the order of: That must go.”

DISNEYLAND: "But when he got down to the LA area, in particular down to Orange County and Disneyland, and had had a chance to cruise around in his old Plymouth, he discovered something unexpected, although more or less in fun I had suggested it to him.  Parts of that region resembled his Mexico dream.  I had been right."



"Maybe your destiny lies directly at the center of Disneyland.  You could sleep directly under the Matterhorn ride and live on Coke and hot dogs, like they sell there.  There're bathrooms.  You'd have all you need."

“I left my wife because I dreamed about a foreign land...which proved to be ten miles from Disneyland, near a lot of orange trees.  Down in plastic-town U.S.A.”

MEXICAN BARRIO (DOWNTOWN PLACENTIA): Upon leaving the freeway near Anaheim--he took the wrong exit ramp and wound up in the town of Placentia--he discovered Mexican buildings, low-rider Mexican cars, Mexican cafes, and little wooden houses filled with Mexicans.  He had stumbled onto a barrio for the first time in his life.  The barrio looked like Mexico, except that there were Yellow Cabs.  Nicholas had made actual contact with the world of his visionary dream.”

“It was spectactular; here he was, raised in Berkeley, sitting in his modern apartment (Berkeley has no modern apartments) in Placentia, wearing a florid Southern California-style shirt and slacks and shoes; already he had become part of the lifestyle here.  The days of bluejeans were gone."

"I really don't understand much of what they say.  I just get impressions of their presence.  They did want me to move down here to Orange County; I was right about that.  I think it's because they can contact me better, being near the desert with the Santa Ana wind blowing a lot of the time.  I've bought a bunch of books to do research, like the Brittanica."

“Orange County isn't nuts; it's very conservative and very stable.  The nuts are up north in LA county, not here.  I missed the nut belt by sixty-five miles; I overshot.  Hell, I didn't overshoot; I was deliberately shot down here, to central Orange County.”

ST. JUDE HOSPITAL (FULLERTON): "Tell him you're bringing Johnny into the emergency room at St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton.  Tell him to be there."




ORANGE COUNTY JAIL (SANTA ANA): "Wonderful.  Now what was I supposed to do?  They really had me.  I cooperated or I went to the Orange County Jail.  And people died--were clubbed to death--at the Orange County Jail; it happened all the time.  Especially political prisoners."







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