Willie Brown: California’s confused fight against the coronavirus


From the top down, you can sum up the current fight against the coronavirus in one word: confusion.

Nobody seems able to interpret or explain the various and at times contradictory rules, orders or advice. And that includes the people who make the rules and give the advice.

Say I’m the owner of a cafe. Can I open?

And if so, how much? Takeout only? Sidewalk seating? Indoors but with masks? Oh, it depends on what county I’m in?

How about if I slide my big picture windows open. Does that qualify as outdoor dining, which might or might not be legal where I am?

Even if you can find someone in the bureaucracy to answer the phone, chances are they won’t know the answer.

And there is little if any evidence that anyone is ready to enforce the orders.

Let’s get real. Between the state budget problems and the public employee labor rules and lack of training, you can’t suddenly create or redesign a workforce to cover the entire state looking for infractions. Even if you could, the rules on those infractions change literally by the day.

It is all very chaotic, to say the least.

Trump turn: The polls may have President Trump trailing Joe Biden by 10 points or so, but I don’t think Trump believes it. He figures he was down in 2016 and won, so it will happen again.

What’s different this time, however, is that the issue of race in America is driving up Black participation in numbers we last saw when Barack Obama was the Democratic nominee, not Hillary Clinton.

Blacks turned out for Obama for hope and pride. This time Blacks are turning out because they are against Trump, without Biden having to say a word.

Everything Trump is doing — putting preservation of Confederate monuments at the center of his campaign, being overtly hostile to Black Lives Matter, scheduling his “comeback” rally in a city where one of the worst anti-Black riots took place — is sending a message to people of color. And they get it.

Black is back: It’s time for the term “African American” to go.

I am not African American. I am Black.

I started out being Black, then Negro and then back to Black.

And that is where it should have stayed.

Being Black dates back to the ’60s, with the Black Panthers, Black Power and Black is Beautiful.

As James Brown sang, “Say it loud — I’m Black and I’m proud.”

It’s not African American Lives Matter. It’s Black Lives Matter.

Stick with Black.

Food thoughts: Food trucks have long been a favorite dining option for Millennials. But now that many Millennials are working from home, food trucks are turning into the main dining option for construction workers. And according to several food truck operators I’ve talked to, construction workers are lighter tippers.

Food trucks or restaurants, we’re all eating outdoors if we’re eating out. Outdoor dining in San Francisco can be a chilly affair unless you’re seated directly under a portable heater. So dress warmly and order food that requires no heat.

And for dessert, it’s definitely Baked Alaska.

Test pattern: Testing for the coronavirus can be painful. That long stick up your nose feels like it’s touching your brain.

Nonetheless, I highly recommend the procedure. Positive or negative, it’s best to know.

Shop talk: Shopping by appointment only in the high-end stores is becoming a way of life, and it’s proving to be a boom for the stores. Appointment shopping keeps the lookie-loos out, so store employees don’t have to waste time keeping an eye on them.

People who make an appointment plan to spend, and the stores know it.

The attention becomes more personal, the complimentary wine and cocktails flow, and the stores have plenty of time to increase their sales potential.

I went by appointment to take a look at a suit the other day on Maiden Lane. They had a salesperson and tailor waiting for me to make any adjustments on the spot while I browsed.

The salesperson steered me to what had been the case for matching pocket squares. The squares had been retailored into the latest fashion accessory — matching masks.

The price: $124.

Some things never change.

Want to sound off? Email: wbrown@sfchronicle.com

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