Take a Philip K. Dick tour of Berkeley, CaliforniaWith the release of the newest Blade Runner 2049 trailer and the anticipation for the upcoming release of the movie reaching frantic levels (for me anyway), we're reminded that Philip K. Dick's mind continues to fuel Hollywood productions long after his death.
To get ready for the movie, and as a celebration for a truly bad-ass trailer, I've collected some of the top places you can visit to remember PKD's life in one of the cities that had the biggest influence on his career: Berkeley, California.
Even though PKD only attended UC-Berkeley for about two months (September 1949 to November 11, 1949 according to Wikipedia) this campus had a profound impact on his life and work.
It was here that Dick's philosophical investigations began in earnest, and the ideas around the nature of humanity and reality that permeate his novels first formed. UC-Berkeley was also where PKD befriended literary contemporaries like Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, and became fully embedded in the Berkeley/Bay Area beat and experimental writing scene of the '50s and '60s.
2. Amoeba Music, Telegraph Avenue
While he, like, just took some time for himself (AKA dropped out of college after only attending for two months), Dick worked at a record store on the infamous Telegraph Avenue. That record store, allegedly called Art Music Company, is long gone now, but Amoeba Music will easily fill the void.
Just imagine a young Phil working the counter, ringing up your Nat King Cole record as he grills you on the nature of human existence.
I'd recommend just doing a quick drive-by, unless you can pass off as a high school student 21 Jump Street style, or you want to get arrested for being a creep.
That said, you get the bonus of seeing the creative fertile home of two teenage sci-fi prodigies: Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Leguin were in the same graduating class of 1947 (but apparently hated each other — or just never crossed paths, one of the two).
4. PKD's last house in Berkeley
This was the last house PKD occupied in Berkeley, which he reportedly bought for $2,000. According to Zillow, it's now worth over $950,000. Real estate is a great investment.
Bonus points at this spot for developing crippling agoraphobia while simultaneously exploring socialism, befriending FBI agents and writing books that will go on to become world famous and fuel Hollywood movies for the foreseeable future.
5. Live out A Scanner Darkly
Yeah, yeah, yeah, this one's not actually in Berkeley. But you can take 30 damn minutes for a scenic drive and add this one to your PKD itinerary.
This is the so-called "Hermit House," where the events that would inspire A Scanner Darkly reportedly took place. The homeowners probably won't appreciate you breaking into their rooms in the middle of the night to read their sins to them, or dumping aphids into the carpet, but you can imagine what it must have looked like to neighbors as PKD frantically complained to police that someone had burgled his house — while they eventually came to suspect he had done it himself.
nikkytok via Getty Images
6. Receive information from the pink beam
This one's handy because it can really be done anywhere. The hard part might be triggering it.
For Philip K. Dick, the story goes that as he was recovering from wisdom tooth removal surgery, he received a home delivery from a woman wearing a necklace of the vesica piscis, a fish-like symbol used by early Christians. As the sunlight glinted off the necklace, PKD claimed a pink beam of light was generated, which transmitted information directly into his mind. Among the bits of information? A diagnosis of a life-threatening illness in his infant son, which was later confirmed by doctors (allegedly).
To have your best chances of receiving information from the pink beam, you might try heading back to Telegraph Ave. and visiting the Berkeley Patients' Care Collective marijuana dispensary.
James Kerley is a senior editor at MapQuest, and has yet to fail the Voight-Kampff test.