we seek only to be expert at our own experience

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Syd Barrett "Barrett"



Here are the things that I already know about Syd Barrett:

  • I know that he was in Pink Floyd
  • I know that he went crazy
  • I know that it is sad
  • I also know that “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is about him

I really like the way the front and the back covers of this album look and I…

Great take on a truly amazing album, Syd Barrett’s “Barrett”

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Hey everyone! Alex and I happen to be going on vacation tomorrow- to Scotland! So I have to take a break from blogging for 10 days because you can’t listen to records on a plane.

This vacation also comes at an interesting time. Very quickly, this blog has gone from something I shared with my…

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What is this?



Alex and I have lived together for 9 years. In those 9 years we have packed up, moved and unpacked his record collection 5 times. It’s about 15 boxes, about 1500 hundred records “that includes the singles and stuff, which you’re also going to have to review.” Is what Alex just said to me from…

Here’s the BG on alltherecords and “My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection” (which she is clearly saying with tongue at least partially inserted in cheek)

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Albert Ayler "Spirits Rejoice"



The first thing that I noticed about this album before I put it on is that it says in all caps on the back, PURE VIRGIN VINYL. I read it out loud and then Alex said, that’s actually a technical term, but he didn’t know exactly what it meant. After looking it up, it has something to do with not…

Just discovered this site today. We love it! 

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When Martin Luther King Met James Lawson in Oberlin

Reverend James Lawson, the man Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the brain of the civil rights movement,” is a visiting scholar this week at Oberlin College on “The Transformative Power of Nonviolent Conflict.” In 1956-57 our Kendal at Oberlin neighbor John Elder and Lawson were first-year students at the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology when King made his first visit to speak at Oberlin. The rendezvous of King and Lawson that week changed history. Elder recently  related the story in the Oberlin Review and the Oberlin News Tribune. He has kindly given us permission to repost it here. 


Reverend James Lawson (photo credit:

James Lawson speaks at a public convocation tonight, Monday, March 3, 2014, at 7:30 PM at First Church Oberlin on “The Impact of Plantation Capitalism on Today’s Human Rights.”

When Martin Luther King Met James Lawson in Oberlin

by John Elder

Martin Luther King Jr. made several visits to Oberlin, but his first, in February 1957, proved momentous for the future of the Civil Rights Movement.

The 381-day Montgomery bus boycott, during which King began to make a name for himself in the movement, had just ended. King spoke at First Church on “Justice Without Violence” and “The New Negro in the South” and at a Finney Chapel assembly on “The Montgomery Story.” After one of these lectures, theologian Harvey Cox, then the YMCA-YWCA Secretary at Oberlin College, arranged for King to meet an African-American first-year student at the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology, James M. Lawson Jr.

Lawson, the son of a militantly anti-racist Methodist minister and his pacifist wife, had declared himself a conscientious objector at the age of 19 and was sentenced to federal prison. After his release in 1951, Lawson returned to his BA studies at Baldwin-Wallace College, but also spent time meeting with Methodist student groups, including at Oberlin, to talk about pacifism and non-violence.

Following graduation, Lawson traveled as a short-term Methodist missionary to India, where he continued his study of Gandhian non-violence. On his return in 1956, Lawson enrolled in the Oberlin “Theolog,” which at the time probably enrolled more black students than all other seminaries combined.

Among the courses Lawson took was “The Pacifism of the Early Church: Jesus through Constantine.” When Lawson and King met at the beginning of the second semester, King was so impressed by Lawson’s knowledge of the theory and practice of non-violence that he insisted Lawson must immediately go south to help the movement.

Lawson decided to transfer to Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tenn. The Fellowship of Reconciliation employed him as field secretary to teach local groups about Christian peacemaking and reconciliation in race relations. Soon Lawson was building the base for the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins of 1960. Central to this process were the workshops in non-violence Lawson offered in local churches and attended by students from the several historically-black academic institutions in the area, as well as Vanderbilt ministerial students.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (left), Rev. James Lawson (center) and others participated in the James Meredith March Against Fear (photo credit: Fred Griffith)

In Lawson’s workshops, participants explored the roots of segregation and how to apply the Gandhian theory of non-violence, blended together with Christian principles, in actions toward what Lawson called “constructive social change.” In the sit-ins Lawson was arrested along with many others who became leaders in the civil rights movement, including present Georgia Congressman John Lewis. The lunch counters were successfully desegregated, but because arrest violated Vanderbilt’s code of conduct. The racially conservative board of trust and the chancellor (ironically, himself a scholar of the New Testament) had an excuse for expelling Lawson. Many Vanderbilt faculty tendered their resignations in support of Lawson, and he was re-admitted, but decided instead to complete his studies at Boston University.

Julian Bond, then active in student protests, says, “Lawson was like a bad younger brother, pushing King to do more, to be more militant, to extend non-violence — just to do more… He envisioned a militant non-violence… You didn’t have to wait for the evil to come to you, you could go to the evil.”

King himself called Lawson “the greatest teacher of non-violence in America” and “the mind of the movement.”

In 1962, Lawson became pastor of Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis, where he continued his activism, most notably in the 1968 strike by black sanitation workers. Union leader Jerry Wurf recalled that the Memphis city leaders “feared Lawson for the most interesting of all reasons — he was a totally moral man, and totally moral men you can’t manipulate and you can’t buy and you can’t hustle.”


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. James M. Lawson, and Dr. H. Ralph Jackson at a Memphis press conference March 28, 1968 after a march in support of striking sanitation workers. (photo credit: Jack E. Cantrell, Memphis Press-Scimitar, courtesy University of Memphis Libraries)

Lawson persuaded King to go to Memphis to support the strikers, and it was there that King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. In 1974, Lawson accepted the position of senior pastor at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles. Although retired from that ministry, he continues to be active as a teacher and in movements for labor rights, immigrant rights, civil rights and international peace.

In 2010, Oberlin College awarded James M. Lawson Jr. an honorary doctorate. He returns to Oberlin today for a week’s residence as distinguished visiting lecturer. At an Oberlin College convocation at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 3, 2014, at First Church, where James Lawson and Martin Luther King had their initial meeting in 1957, he will speak on “The Impact of Plantation Capitalism on Today’s Human Rights.” The public is invited to hear this man of extraordinary integrity, wisdom, and vision for our time.


First Church Oberlin (photo credit: wikimedia)

Filed under Martin Luther King Jr. James Lawson John Elder Oberln College Kendal at Oberlin First Church Oberlin

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2013: The Year of Engaging Intentionally

One year ago, we said 2012 was an unexpected madcap year online. Now the bulk of our naïveté is exhausted. We can’t say our 2013 online “just happened.” Indeed, it was quite intentional. But what is it we are intending to do?


Larry and Arlene with Dan Dehaan (photo: courtesy of Susan Griggs)

Hmm, good question! We’ve talked a lot this year about what we do, why we do it, and what is the aesthetic point of view we bring to this activity. One thing we can say for sure is we are not critics in any classical sense of the term. We are neither academically qualified nor suitably inclined. That’s not to say that criticism is not valuable and necessary. We think it is vitally important for artists to get the kind of feedback that savvy, knowledgable critics can provide. But that’s not us.  

What are we doing? Here’s the deal: we love contemporary music. We crave the excitement of always being on the edge of our seats, never sure what we are going to hear next. So, we are enthusiasts. We seek to share that enthusiasm and the experience we have listening to new music. 

Our approach to writing about music is pretty simple: 

  • Open our ears, and our selves, to the experience of the music and let it wash over us.
  • Do our best to reveal that experience to others, as raw and honestly as possible. 
  • Write as artfully as we can, so it is enjoyable to read. 

That’s it. We didn’t design this aesthetic. It arose organically from what we are doing. Other than Claire Chase initially urging us to write for the ICEblog, we had no reason to think there was an audience for this. We built it and they came. We have created something of value that we don’t entirely understand. But we sense that value is there, and so we have dedicated ourselves to keep doing it. 

Here are some 2013 numbers: 

  • We wrote and posted 47 articles this year (2 more than 2012)
  • We posted on five sites this year (two new, Cleveland Classical and Oberlin ConNotations)
  • We hooked up 612 new followers on Twitter and blasted out another 7,500 tweets. 
  • We made 238 new connections on Facebook

Of course we don’t write only about contemporary music, and we do other things besides write. For example, we packed up our entire lives and moved to Oberlin in the middle of 2013 (there’s an article about that indexed below). And we both have audited classes at Oberlin College and Conservatory this semester (which led to some of the writing you’ll see indexed below).

We also found time to be significant contributors to Twitter Boot Camp (#TwitBootCamp) organized by our friend Ma’ayan Plaut, Manager, Social Strategy & Projects at Oberlin College (@plautmaayan). And our arrival in Oberlin caused a bit of an online stir. Madeline Raynor, Culture Editor for the independent Oberlin student blog Fearless and Loathing (), wrote a flattering portrait of us in November (

Here is the full index to our 2013 posts. 

ICEblog [12 posts]

An ICE octet mashed up the music of Franz Schubert and George Lewis at Chicago Cultural Center:

ICE Solo(4) featured Rebekah Heller at Corbett and Dempsey gallery in Chicaog:

ICE solo(5) featured Phyllis Chen:

Composer/violinist/singer Carla Kihlstedt’s #ICElab dreams project at MCA Chicago: 

ICElab Confidential, the second installment of our series about composer Dan Dehaan’s #ICElab experience:

ICE at Americas Society in New York:

ICE performed David Lang’s Whisper Opera at MCA:

Rebekah Heller’s 100 Names CD Release event at Constellation Chicago:

Claire Chase Density CD release event at Constellation:

David Bowlin performed Sciarrino in Oberlin:

ICE celebrated John Zorn at 60 at MCA:

ICElab Confidential, part 3: ICE premiered Dan Dehaan Trompe l’Corps at Roulette in Brroklyn:


Chicago Q Ensemble at The Empty Bottle:

Fifth House Ensemble premiered works of Zorn and Burhans at MCA:

Another #ChicagoNewMusicPlethora:

Fonema Consort presented Mirrors II in Chicago:

Interview with contemporary art and music advocate Scott Hunter:

Interview with the founders of Chicago’s new music media empire Parlour Tapes+:

Spektral Quartet and Pretty Monsters ushered in the summer at The Hideout in Chicago:

Performances at the biennial Oberlin Percussion Institute:

Joffrey Ballet and The Cleveland Orchestra presented the revival production of The Rite of Spring at Blossom Music Center:

No Exit New Music Ensemble performed music of Jeffrey Mumford and other local composers at Lorain County Community College:

The JACK Quartet performed  at Cleveland State University:

Ryan Muncy HOT CD release event at Constellation:

Oberlin Conservatory Contemporary Music Ensemble with special guests eighth blackbird:

Paul Lansky premiere by Hammer Klavier Quartet at Oberlin:

Ensemble Dal Niente at the Bowling Green New Music Festival:

Interview with Ellen McSweeney of the Chicago Q Ensemble:

Interview with Time Weiss, Director of the Contemporary Music Division at Oberlin Conservatory:

Morton Subotnick performed at MOCA Cleveland:

Interview with toy piano virtuoso and impresario Phyllis Chen:

Interview with Cleveland-based percussionist Luke Rindeknecht:

Cleveland Classical [2 posts] covers the classical music scene in the greater Northeast Ohio region. Editors Dan Hathaway and Mike Telin, along with former Cleveland Plain Dealer culture critic Don Rosenberg team-teach the Introduction to Music Criticism course at Oberlin Conservatory, which Larry audited this semester. 

Review of Rebekah Heller’s 100 Names CD:

Report on the Bowling Green New Wusic Festival:

Oberlin ConNotations [4 posts]

Oberlin ConNotations is a new site created this fall to feature the writing of participants in the Introduction to Music Criticism course. 

Review of the Oberln Opera Theater’s production of Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel:

Review of a concert of the chamber music of Maurice Ravel:

Review of eighth blackbird’s Fred CD:

Review of the new Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd CD Holding it Down:

Acornometrics [9 posts]

Destination: Oberlin, an examination of how and why we decided to move to Oberlin:

Recipe: Orange Marmalade

Review of bassist Matt Adomeit’s senior recital, featuring the deturtle sextet

Recipe: Harissa, Tunisian chili paste:

Recipe: Pickled Red Onions:

Thoughts on the Cooper International Competition at Oberlin Conservatory:

Recipe: Classic Andalusian Gazpacho:

Love in the Late 60s, the story of how we met and fell in love:

Arlene’s semester project for the class she is auditing at Oberlin Conservatory, Introduction to African American Music, taught by Fredara Hadley

Filed under Arlene & Larry Dunn