The It List: Mick LaSalle shows the California dream on screen

San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle leads viewers through a virtual journey into the mythology of California and its depiction in film.

Many of you will remember how, at the beginning of the pandemic, we changed the name of this column from the “It List” to the “Sit List” because, well, we were all sitting at home a lot more. With things opening up, we’re making the change back to the “It List.” We’ll still be writing about online happenings you can join from home, but we’re now resuming our coverage of live, in-person events. 

Dream State: California in the Movies book cover
Credit: Heyday Books

An immersive show and discussion about California movie magic is being hosted next week by Heyday Books and Wildbound Live. In his filmed one-man show, San Francisco Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle leads viewers through a virtual journey into the mythology of California and its depiction in film. The show is based on LaSalle’s book, Dream State: California in the Movies, which explores the psyche of California through the movies. Recorded at the iconic Fox Theatre in Oakland, the film shows how the California dream is “always in reach, yet always out of sight, this unrelenting spirit of pursuit, of positivity,” says Julia Drake of Wildbound Live. LaSalle combines his performance with movie clips from films like The Wizard of Oz and Vertigo to show the paradox of the California dream. 

“Given the challenges of 2020, we wanted to bring that [California] spirit to the forefront, but also show how closely it is related to community,” says Drake. “We also wanted to bring audiences into the awesome experience of being inside the iconic Fox Theatre in Oakland, standing empty, yearning for life to return, for community and togetherness to fill the void we have all been feeling this past year.” 

The event will kick off with an introduction by Bay Area radio broadcaster and author Michael Krasny followed by a screening of the film. Krasny will also moderate a live online conversation with LaSalle after the main event. Drake hopes for an interactive experience for the audience: “We want attendees to learn, to laugh, and ponder their own relationship with the California Dream, and of course, be inspired to pick up Mick LaSalle’s fabulous book!” Tuesday, May 18. 7-8 p.m. $10 general admission. $35.50 for a ticket and LaSalle’s book. 


REVOLUTION BOOKS Bring your used books to Revolution Books’ three-day used book sale. Proceeds go towards the National Revolution Tour, which aims to create a world without oppression and exploitation. In addition to donating books, you can spread the word about the sale or volunteer. Friday, May 14, to Sunday, May 16. 2444 Durant Avenue, Berkeley. Call 510-848-1196 or revolutionbooksberkeley@gmail.com to volunteer.

RIGHT-WING RHETORIC At Ashby Village’s “Morphed: How America’s Right-Wing Populism Was Transformed, Virulently, in 2020,” Lawrence Rosenthal, director of the Berkeley Center for Right-Wing Studies at the University of California, will explain how Donald Trump’s political movement took on the “significant and baleful features of twentieth-century fascism.” Free. Sunday, May 16. 1-3 p.m.

GROWL MEOW WINE Pet owners, don’t miss the SPCA East Bay’s annual spring fundraising event. Over Zoom, you’ll get fun animal appearances, a silent auction and live auction, chances at audience participation, and a $25,000 matching gift opportunity. Grab your wine, sit your pet next to you and join the show. Sunday, May 16, 4-5 p.m.