California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 18.

Officials warn of deeper and longer isolation.
Acts of kindness proliferate amid the gloom.
And a tribute to the grand experiment that is L.A.



Shelter-in-place directives spread across the state Tuesday as the city of Palm Springs and the counties of Sonoma, San Benito, and Monterey all ordered residents to stay home unless performing essential tasks. Sacramento adopted what it called a "stay at home" directive, with essentially the same mandate. L.A. Times | Sacramento Bee

Numerous other jurisdictions restricted freedoms to one degree or another. Among them: the counties of Orange, Ventura, and San Bernardino, and the cities of Riverside, Fresno, and Davis.


San Francisco's California Street was mostly empty on Tuesday.

Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

"People hid in their homes and merchants wondered whether their businesses would collapse."

A mood of dread pervaded the Bay Area on Day 1 of the most severe virtual lockdown in the nation. Among the few open businesses: Bay Area gun stores that defied the order to close. Sales were brisk. S.F. Chronicle | The Guardian

Also humming along: cannabis dispensaries, which were deemed essential businesses and allowed to stay open. S.F. Examiner | Reuters


Crewmembers in Hollywood. Hotel workers in the Coachella Valley. Bartenders in Sacramento. The toll of closures on California workers came into clearer focus. Eater San Francisco said the Bay Area's world-renowned dining scene was unlikely to recover without a bailout. "This is worse than 9/11," one chef said, "worse than the financial crisis, worse than pretty much anything I've been through." Eater San Francisco


Idled school buses in Gardena on Tuesday.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

"I would plan, and assume, that it's unlikely that many of these schools — few, if any — will open before the summer break." That was Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday suggesting that California's school year could very well be over. If he's right, it would mean a five-month break from formal education for nearly 6 million students across the state. S.F. Chronicle | A.P.

The school districts that remain open are clustered in rural parts of the state, where student meals are essential and home internet access is scarce. Record Searchlight

Here's a map of all school closures in California. EdSource


New deaths in Riverside and Santa Clara counties, 50 new cases in Los Angeles County, first cases in Monterey County, and the infection of a bold-named patient: Kevin Durant, the former Golden State Warrior. Here are latest coronavirus totals:

Confirmed cases:
5,881 in U.S.A.
740 in California
356 in Bay Area
265 in Southern California

101 in U.S.
13 in California

See trackers of coronavirus cases in California, the U.S., and worldwide.


A Northgate market in La Habra opened early for people over 65 on Tuesday.

Mark Rightmire/O.C. Register via Getty Images

Even as infections spread, so did acts of kindness. A few examples:

The grocery chain Raley's said it would give away daily $20 bags of food to seniors and at-risk customers.
A Sikh group with chapters across California offered to do shopping runs for elderly or immunocompromised persons. Instagram
A charity teamed up with a BBQ joint in Bakersfield to deliver plates of food to vulnerable people. Bakersfield Californian
And Target, Dollar General, Northgate markets, and other retailers said they would set aside hours for senior citizens.

Still working as California locks down: ICE. Masks at the ready, immigration agents have been out making arrests as usual. Early Monday they grabbed Pedro Castillo Bravo, who was on his way out to work and buy groceries. His offense: A 2015 DUI. "I'm the head of the house," Castillo said, teary eyed. "If they have me here locked up, what about rent and food?" L.A. Times

The Trump administration, citing the coronavirus threat, plans to turn back all asylum seekers and other foreigners trying to cross the southern border illegally. N.Y. Times | S.D. Union-Tribune


Mel’s Drive-In in Sherman Oaks.

A few other coronavirus developments:

One Californian member of the House voted against the coronavirus relief bill: Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents a wide swath of the Sierra. He said the measure "actively encourages unemployment." Sacramento Bee
Mel's Drive-In, an icon for the city of Los Angeles, is reviving its carhop service so you can eat safely inside your car — just like in the "American Graffiti" days. L.A. Magazine
Newsom announced he had put the California National Guard on alert. If needed, they'll be called upon to perform humanitarian missions such as food distribution. S.D. Union-Tribune | Eureka Times-Standard



Duncan Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in federal prison. Prosecutors said the former San Diego-area congressman used hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for family vacations, theater tickets, and even to facilitate extramarital affairs. "Unfortunately," said Phillip Halpern, an assistant U.S. attorney, "in our country, too many people have come to embrace the notion that the individuals who write the laws feel they're above the laws." Washington Post | A.P.


Lloyd Kahn at his home in Bolinas.

Lloyd Kahn on self-sufficiency: "You never quite get there, but you're moving toward it all the time."

The N.Y. Times did a nice profile of Kahn, California's king of alternative architecture. Long before cabin porn and van life became Instagram hashtags, Kahn served as shelter editor for the counterculture bible Whole Earth Catalog in the 1960s. He's been publishing examples of owner-built, unarchitected dwellings — tree houses, wigwams, yurts, straw bale structures, and more — ever since. N.Y. Times


Pictured above is the excavation of a shell mound in Emeryville, circa 1930. The Bay Area was once filled with hundreds of the tribal burial sites, built up by humans over thousands of years. Then all but a handful were flattened to make way for the sacred objects of capitalism: a Burger King in Oakland, for example, and a dance hall in Emeryville — where people literally danced on graves. Fights to preserve what remains of them continue to this day. KQED


Some years ago, the cinematographer Colin Rich created a series of time-lapse videos of Los Angeles entitled "Trilogy of Light." The works, highlighting the city glittering under nightfall, collected rave reviews and millions of views. Watching them, you can't helped but be moved by the grand experiment that is Los Angeles. Vimeo | Phoblographer


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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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