San Francisco

Will Barack Obama lose the votes of Catholics in November over the contraception contretemps, even after Friday’s attempt at “accommodation”? Well, it depends on what on-the-fence, churchgoing Catholics make of rhetoric such as this, which they’ll apparently be hearing for weeks to come: At St. Brendan Church in San Francisco, the Rev. Michael Quinn compared the church’s opposition to the contraceptive rules to the civil-rights fight waged by 1950s activist Rosa Parks, who refused to give her seat up to a white man on a bus.

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There’s a moment in Me and You and Everyone We Know, Miranda July’s hilarious and discomfiting first film, in which the director of a contemporary art museum and her assistant are fawning over a new show. “It really is amazing. It just looks so real,” the director kvells over what she believes is a sculpture of a discarded hamburger wrapper. “Oh, that wrapper is real,” says the artist, a young man with blond Fabio-style hair.

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In October, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that banned misleading advertisements for the city’s crisis pregnancy centers. The ordinance allows courts to fine crisis pregnancy centers, which counsel pregnant women against abortion, up to $500 every time they falsely imply in advertisements that they offer abortion services. First Resort, Inc., one of the centers singled out by the law, responded with a suit accusing the city of a First Amendment violation in less than a month. The case is now going to the United States District Court for Northern California.

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Where can you find a land so sublime it instills in you an almost biblical, yearning delight? Where time slows so dramatically that the direction in which purple, wheat-colored, and yellow grasses blow becomes the indolent object of concentrated fascination?

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Western Civilization

Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art 1945-1980 An Initiative of The Getty Foundation I. The bohemian luxe of a big white room full of Beatrice Wood’s ceramics, with dozens of fantastically shaped bowls, teapots, and chalices clothed in shimmering metallic glazes, is one of the capital impressions from “Pacific Standard Time,” an extravaganza involving exhibitions at more than sixty southern Californian cultural institutions.

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[with contributions from Matt O’Brien and Darius Tahir] If you’re an obsessive blog reader, then chances are good you’ve seen the viral campaign ad for Ed Lee, who’s running for reelection as mayor of San Francisco. But just in case some of you missed it, you can watch it above. A quick programming note: A feature deadline looms, so posting may be light for the next few days. Elsewhere: For the 99 percent: Greg Sargent teamed up with Citizens for Tax Justice to figure out how many people would pay the proposed millionaire surtax to finance infrastructure spending. The answer?

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Paul Berman on why Occupy Wall Street is an exuberant festival.

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Frank Kameny never thought he would live to see what happened on April 23, 2009. Over five decades earlier, in December of 1957, Kameny was fired from his job at the Army Map Service. Two years earlier, he had been arrested in a police sting at a San Francisco men’s room, a routine incident in an era when local authorities devoted significant resources in the entrapment of homosexuals.

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Capital Tracks

Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern AmericaBy Richard White (W.W. Norton, 660 pp., $35) I. The scene is iconic, known to many Americans even casually acquainted with their history. Locomotives of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads come engine grate to engine grate, separated by a mere railroad tie, at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, commemorating the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

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Echoes

In the autumn, everybody wonders what’s going to happen next in the arts. This is a natural feeling, a good feeling. Optimism is in the air. But if you’ve already spent your fair share of autumns waiting to see what comes next, you probably cannot avoid the echoes of seasons past, a sense, alternately exhilarating and depressing, that we are always returning to places we’ve been before.

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