Tuesday, June 5, 2007

PKD's House in East Gak-ville

Last Friday I set out in the car to locate the house in East Oakland (PKD called it "East Gak-ville") that Dick rented between June of 1964 and late 1965, a mere 5.5 miles away from my house by yahoomaps' reckoning, at 3919 Lyon Ave.

There are houses like this all over East Oakland, one of the areas where my wife and I are considering buying a house. What I love about this house and Dick's apartment in Anaheim where he had the 2-3-74 experiences, is the ordinariness of the place. Somewhere in this house two very different realities existed right next to one another: this average house on an average street with a car on three wheels decaying by the front curb, and Dick's hands at the typewriter inside, living with his characters in those dystopian futures. But now I'm just fantasizing; Dick didn't do very much writing while he lived here.

The year and a half that Dick spent on Lyon Ave was not a particularly good one. While the house was a gathering place for sf writers like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ray Nelson, Advram Davidson and others, Dick moved in following the collapse of his marriage to Anne, and his time in the house was marred by physical injury, mental instability, and Dick's first serious case of writer's block. Dick went from a fairly bourgeois country existence living in Point Reyes in Anne's large modern house with acreage and livestock (featured in Confessions of a Crap Artist) to a relatively poor neighborhood near the Oakland Coliseum. Immediately before moving into the house Dick had produced two very good novels The Zap Gun and The Penultimate Truth but he suffered serious writers block while living here.

PKD injured his shoulder when he rolled his VW Bug and spent a lot of time in this house with the shoulder immobilized. Dick took LSD with Ray Nelson during this period and imagined that he was a Roman gladiator being impaled, but I'm not sure whether it was here or at Nelson's place. Dick fictionalized some of his bad trip and added that it to his novella The Unteleported Man (which would eventually be released without Dick's final revisions as Lies,Inc.).

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of The Gak-Ville Year


John said...

Wow, thanks for the article. I just found your blog, so happy to bump into a such well-informed fellow Dickhead :)

How did you know he lived at this address? Does Sutin mention this?

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