Sunday, August 6, 2023

Announcing Dick-Fest 2024 in Ft. Morgan, Colorado!


Mark your calendars, Dick-Heads, and prepare yourselves for Dick-Fest 2024 -- June 13-16, 2024...

The Fest is being helmed by the incomparable Ganymedean Slime Mold, Lord Running Clam, who you may know as David Hyde. Designed to be a Dickian hybrid of fan and scholar cultures, The Fest is a petri dish of high weirdness, from which strange collaborations and even friendships can emerge. There will be lectures, music, art, imbibing, and esoteric conversation! Reconnect with your favorite Dick-head, or meet some new ones! 

Ft Morgan is, as they say, where the bodies are buried. In this case, Jane and Phil. The city and surrounding area provide important context to Dick's familial ancestry (hint: it's bleak!). And proximity, even to the deceased, is bound to stoke our enthusiasm even as we pay our respects. 

Featured speakers include: Andrew M. Butler, Sam Umland, David AgranoffTed Hand, Frank Hollander, Josh Lind, Blake Wilson, and myself. With many more names on the way. If you'd like to present or want to get involved in the planning stages of the event, shoot an email to me ( or Lord RC ( 

Stay tuned to this channel as more info becomes available. 

For reference, here's info about the 2012 Dick-Fest, as well as this one which inspired it. 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

PKD's Berkeley Houses: 1711 Allston Way

This is the house Philip K. Dick lived in during high school. Exact dates are tough, but Phil and Dorothy moved into this house 1711 Allston Way sometime after Phil sent the letter to Amazing Stories in March of 1944 and December of 1947 when Phil moved out of his mother's house and into a shared apartment with poets Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. 

According to Sutin, Dorothy's room was upstairs, Phil's downstairs. Dorothy would often come home late and simply retire to her bedroom. As a result Phil enjoyed some relative freedom and had an active social life with friends coming over. 

It was while living here most likely that Phil began work at University Radio. 

After Phil moved out, Dorothy moved away sometime before 1950 when census records indicate she was living about ten miles north in El Cerrito. The census from that year also seems to indicate that Dorothy had taken another job in charge of personnel at the Federal Department of Agriculture. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

PKD's Berkeley Houses: 1411 Arch St.


Today's house is an interesting one, mostly because none of the biographers seems to have known about 1411 Arch St, where Phil apparently lived at least in 1944. In fact, we learned of Dick's residency only because the special folks at SFFaudio found and Tweeted a letter from sixteen-year-old Philip K Dick to Amazing Stories published in March of 1944. The letter to the editors demonstrates that Dick was a careful and knowledgeable consumer of SF stories, who clearly had a sense for what they liked and dislike. 

In the letter young Philip bemoans the current state of SF in the monthlies, stating the most recent issue of Amazing was the first that didn't "come up to par." 

Not because the editor can't pick good stories, but because "We all realize that most of your best men have gone to war." 

If there's an income gradient in Berkeley from the blue-collar "flats" as they're called to the 1% at the top of the Berkeley Hills, this house on Arch St. represents Dorothy and Phil's high water mark. In fact the house is less than five hundred feet from Ursula LeGuin's amazing house at 1325 Arch St

Records are scarce on this house, and I suppose it's possible young Phil wrote a fake address to the magazine, but that seems less likely than him living in the house without it making it to the biographies. While we don't know when exactly Phil and Dorothy moved in or out of this house, we do know that they were living on Walnut St in 1940 and by 1946 had moved to 1711 Alston Way, which I will write about tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

PKD's Berkeley Houses: 1212 Walnut St.

For my week of visiting PKD's childhood homes in Berkeley, yesterday I visited 1212 Walnut St. According to the very useful chronology in Paul Williams' Only Apparently Real, Phil and mother Dorothy moved into this house sometime around the summer of 1940. Sutin describes the residence as a cottage in the backyard of a larger house on the lot. 

Redfin doesn't mention the second house. According to the website the residence hasn't sold since the 1980s (when it sold for $67k!). This is a nice house in an absolutely amazing neighborhood. This suggests that unlike prior to the move to Washington DC, Dorothy and Phil were enjoying a little bit of financial security. This house is a substantial step up from 560 Colusa where the pair lived previously.  It may have been the job in Washington D.C. with the Bureau of Children within the Department of Labor was a significant step up for Dorothy and allowed her to then get her job with the US Forestry Service and enjoy a thoroughly middle class lifestyle through the 1940s. 

Today, what greets visitors is a wooden gate at street level and then a long, winding staircase down to a house. I can't tell if this is the larger house or the cottage behind it. Regardless, this is the house where young Phil followed the details of World War II as it raged across Europe. 

The house is also in an absolutely idyllic setting, just next to Berkeley's Live Oak Park. The five and half acre park is absolutely gorgeous, even today, and features playgrounds and the famous cement slides which magically transports lots of kids to emergency rooms, while teenagers sit on the grass and explore the outer reaches of inner space, if you know what I mean. 

Dorothy and Phil were living in this house when they took the 1940 census, which provides a lot of additional information. Dorothy apparently owned the house (I assumed they were renting) which was valued at $4000 at the time (a little over $87k in 2023 dollars) and Dorothy listed her income as $2000 for 1939 ($43.5k).  

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

PKD's Berkeley Houses: 560 Colusa


I'll be in north Berkeley every afternoon this week, so I've decided to visit Phil's houses in the area in chronological order. 

Yesterday's spot was 560 Colusa. Phil and his mother Dorothy moved into this bungalow in December of 1938, after relocating to the Bay Area after a three-year stint in Washington DC. My pictures aren't great, because I don't want to seem like a creepy weirdo taking pictures of people's houses. I'd rather be the creepy weirdo who pulls up in his car, snaps a couple shots, and drives off, at least for now. 

It looks like the house was more than two and a half miles from Hillside Elementary, where Phil (who was using the name "Jim" at the time) was a fourth grader. The house is deceptively large, or has been added on to, clocking in at 1600 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths. Dorothy had enough money saved to put a down payment on a house out in Concord (a dusty suburb about a half hour into the foothills from Berkeley), but Phil "threw a fit" and refused. 

For orientation, this house is just about a mile north of the tiny little guitar school where Joe Satriani gave Kirk Hammett guitar lessons. 

Dorothy arranged a job for herself at the US Forestry Service, a job she would keep until she retired. My guess is that Phil was glad to be back in Berkeley. He complains in his 1968 "Self Portrait" of the terrible weather in DC. But also, he was reunited with his maternal grandmother, Meemaw, and her sister, his aunt Marion. 

It's even possible that young Phil, an avid cowboy enthusiast (at least at age 4) would have had the opportunity to meet "Tex" Conley, a "bullwhip expert" who toured Europe with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. "Tex" married aunt Marion in January of 1937. But Phil would have to be quick, by 1940 "Tex" was back in Texas, and by 1941 Marion had met and married fellow artist at the San Francisco Artist's Cooperative, Joe Hudner. 

Phil presumably lived here until the summer of 1940, when he was twelve years old and moved to 1212 Walnut, which I'll visit today. 

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Frank Hollander Gives Us All Something to Ogpon

In the research for my recent article for I spent considerable time trying to decode Dick's use of 'ogpon' in relation the rhetorizor.  Specifically, this bit: 

In the article I was forced to write, "Your guess is as good as mine as to the etymology of "ogpon." "Cogitate upon"?"

Luckily for all of us, master Dick-Head Frank Hollander has cracked the case. He writes: 

"... after seeing the company name Arti-Gan, which awkwardly takes gan from the word organ, I decided that "pon" as the last syllable of a word was going to be the right call ... so I became a little more sympathetic to "cogitate upon" ... however, from a giant word list I have for just this sort of thing, I generated a list of words that end in "pon," of which there are not many ... and the word "weapon" stands out ... that quickly leads me to the absolutely right, entirely thematically correct, and unassailable answer ... "propOGanda weaPON" ... which is the purpose of this device in the fake war." 

I feel like Watson, having watched Holmes solve a case like it was "elementary" 

Hollander signs off: "This is my greatest achievement in life and I am standing by for your praise." 

So give it to him in the comments, folks! 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Philip K Dick Predicted ChatGPT

One of the reasons I started this blog in 2007 was that I hoped to parlay the Dick-Head into something bigger. My dream was to write for a site like While they've done a couple interviews with me about PKD, I haven't been able to sell them an article of my own... until now. 

My latest (and first!) for Salon is up now.

I wrote about Dick's 'rhetorizor' in The Penultimate Truth and its similarities to ChatGPT.  I got my very own pull quotes!

I'm working on an even bigger Dick project I may tell you more about soon.