An anticipations list: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Hunger Games soundtrack, Sam McPheeters, ‘Alien vs. Predator’
Each week, Capital's editors and writers will offer a list of the events, activities, releases and personal obsessions that we are looking forward to during the next week. Here is a list of our anticipations.
The Hunger Games' surprisingly great soundtrack artist: Laurie Spiegel
Gabe: Just the other night I was talking to a friend about how soundtracks were once such a dominant cultural force. There was an era when I probably bought more soundtrack than regular albums, sometimes without any intention of seeing the related film. The soundtrack album has always been popular, but somehow it seemed to reach its apex of importance in the ‘90s, between Pulp Fiction, Singles, Reality Bites, Trainspotting, The Crow, and Juice. We all came to know all those songs, and in some cases these were bands and sounds that would never have otherwise entered the mainstream. Some of my favorite albums of the ‘90s are the soundtracks to New Jack City, Boogie Nights, Velvet Goldmine, The Doom Generation.
It’s looking like I’ll be heading out to see The Hunger Games early next week (not my idea, but since I saw was We Need to Talk About Kevin I’m no longer a stranger to watching children murder by bow and arrow). The Hunger Games soundtrack looks OK, but most of the songs I listened to were pretty forgettable tracks by artists who are capable of much better work (sorry Neko Case; you rule anyway!).
But in my searches I came across this very interesting tidbit. Evidently The Hunger Games uses a very obscure and quite astonishing song called from 1972 called “Sediment” by electronic musician Laurie Spiegel for a pivotal scene (there’s a great little piece about her and the song here). The song isn’t on the official soundtrack, but I’m pleased to have learned about it and about Spiegel, who composed the 9-minute piece using analog synths and tape-delay machines (for which she had to shut off her fridge so the gear wouldn’t go out of tune!).
Listening to that song reminded me that there is still music being paired with film in interesting ways, and of Jonny Greenwood’s terrifying score for There Will Be Blood and Trent Reznor’s subtly anxious work on The Social Network. It’s nice to know some folks out there are still trying to get the sound and the image to do good work together. Here’s Spiegel playing live in 1977. It is awesome.
Blaine Harden's Escape from Camp 14
Joe: I've been utterly engrossed in Blaine Harden's new book about a young man's odds-defying escape from one of North Korea's notorious labor camps. After I read an excerpt in The Guardian two Sundays ago, my fiance (who still regularly gets galleys and review copies from a previous stint as a books columnist) pointed out that it had been sitting on our bookshelf for a few weeks. It's a total page-turner--a deeply-reported exercise in narrative nonfiction and a survival story that is grisly and heartbreaking but also uplifting. It's also a handy primer on the social, political and economic conditions behind one of the world's most hermetic and oppressive regimes. I plan to polish off the last few chapters this weekend. Other plans? Drinks with my very first editor who mentored me when I was a cub reporter covering zoning board meetings for a small community broadsheet.
Sam McPheeters and a Alien vs. Predator party
Gillian: Sam McPheeters, the former lead singer of bonkers punk band Born Against and co-founder of a soon-to-be published new magazine with Jesse Pearson, is on tour promoting his first novel, The Loom of Ruin. He is flying in from California this weekend, making his first stop this Sunday, April 1 at Generation Records at 4 p.m. On the same day, he will be at Book Thug Nation in Williamsburg, where Al Burian, who writes an excellent zine called Burn Collector, will join him for readings at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Mr. McPheeters will also be at St. Marks Bookshop on Monday, April 2, with his Exploding View co-founder, Mr. Pearson, at 7 p.m. Prepare your pitches.
More literary fun: Michael Robbins, a poet who has been published in The New Yorker and Poetry and on The Awl, is releasing his first collection, Alien vs. Predator, next week. Writer Zach Baron will host a party for him on Wednesday, April 4, at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. The Awl's Choire Sicha; Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution; Kristin Hersh, musician and author of Rat Girl: A Memoir; New Yorker pop music critic Sasha Frere-Jones; and Robbins himself will celebrate the work in the collection, which is "equal parts hip-hop, John Berryman, and capitalism seeking death and not finding it." Highly recommended. The poster is mesmerizing.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Dana: This weekend is my birthday weekend. I turn 32, which is exciting because it means I'm only 12 months away from my happiest year on earth. My friend Kate's coming up from D.C. for the occasion, which makes me feel very special. I believe there will be a trip to Franny's for some decadent pizza-eating, and a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. According to the garden's Twitter feed, Magnolia Plaza is in full bloom.