Meet the Linda Lindas, the Tween Punk Band Who Called Out Racism & Misogyny and Scored a Record Deal

“Sticks and stones may break my bones,” we chanted as kids, but “words will never hurt me.” The saying seems to both invite physical violence and deny the real effects of verbal abuse. Maybe this was once effective as a stock playground retort, but it’s never been true, as anyone who’s been picked on as a child can attest. When the taunts are racist, the damage is exponentially multiplied. Not only are kids being singled out and mocked for immutable characteristics, but their family and entire culture of origin are being targeted.

What to do? Lash out? Fight back? Ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening? To quote another cliche, “the best revenge is success.” More appropriately for the case at hand, take an original line from Radiohead’s Thom Yorke: “Be constructive with your blues.”




The Linda Lindas, a four-piece punk band ranging in age from 10 to 16 would agree. When one of the girls was harassed by a classmate, they got bummed about it, then rallied, wrote a song, went viral, and scored a record deal. Dealing with bullies will rarely lead to such joyful results, but it’s worth paying attention when it does.

The song, “Racist, Sexist Boy” has “become something of a 2021 anthem,” writes NPR, with its gleeful call-outs (“Poser! Blockhead! Riffraff! Jerk face!”) and crunchy power chords. “In what has become a very familiar cycle to music-industry watchers, the band landed a record deal almost as soon as its video went viral,” signing with L.A.’s Epitaph Records. “By Friday, the band’s performance of ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’ had been posted on Epitaph’s YouTube channel.” The video comes from a performance at the Los Angeles Public Library, which you can watch in full above, with an introduction and interview with the band. (See a setlist on YouTube and don’t miss their cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” at 35:56.)

So, who are the Linda Lindas? On their Bandcamp page, they describe themselves as “Half Asian / half Latinx. Two sisters, a cousin, and their close friend. The Linda Lindas channel the spirit of original punk, power pop, and new wave through today’s ears, eyes and minds.” You can meet the multi-talented tweens and teens in the video above, made in 2019 by a fifth grade teacher to inspire his students. The girls are hardly new to the music business. Clips in the video show them performing with Money Mark and opening for Bikini Kill. They got their start in 2018 at Girlschool LA, “a celebration of females challenging the status quo,” and they’ve been mentored by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The Linda Lindas also captured the attention of Amy Pohler, who featured the band in her Netflix documentary Moxie. See a clip above. Not every kid who fights bullying with music — or art, science, sports, or whatever their talent — can expect celebrity, and we shouldn’t set kids up to think they can all win the internet lottery. But the Linda Lindas have become heroes for millions of young girls who look like them, and who dream not of fame and fortune but of a united front of friendship and fun against racism, misogyny, and the pains of growing up.

Related Content: 

Venerable Female Artists, Musicians & Authors Give Advice to the Young: Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson & More

Elementary School Kids Sing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” & Other Rock Hits: A Cult Classic Recorded in 1976

Hear 11-Year-Old Björk Sing “I Love to Love”: Her First Recorded Song (1976)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Watch Blondie’s Debbie Harry Perform “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog on The Muppet Show (1981)

Do you dig songs about rainbows?

The host of one of the very last episodes of The Muppet Show — Debbie Harry, lead singer of Blondie – does, and in 1981, she seized the opportunity to duet with Kermit the Frog on his signature tune, “The Rainbow Connection” — its only performance in the series’ five season run.

Many of us associate the folksy number with The Muppet Movie‘s pastoral opening scene. This rendition transfers the action backstage to the kimono-clad Harry’s dressing room.




Who knew her sweet soprano would pair so nicely with a banjo?

She also exhibits a game willingness to lean into Muppet-style hamminess, responding to the lyric “Have you heard voices?” with an expression that verges on psychological horror.

Midway through, the two are joined by a chorus of juvenile frogs in scouting uniforms.

A little context — these youngsters spend the episode trying to earn their punk merit badge.

No wonder. By 1981, when the episode aired, Blondie had achieved massive mainstream success, with such hits as “One Way or Another” and “Call Me,” both of which were shoehorned into the episode.

As creator Jim Henson’s son, Brian, recalled in a brief introduction to its video release:

…I was in high school and my father knew that Debbie Harry was, like, the biggest thing in the world to me. And he booked her to be on The Muppet Show during a vacation week from school and he didn’t tell me. We went out to dinner the night before shooting and they made me sit next to Debbie Harry at this fancy restaurant. And I just remember this whole dinner I was just endlessly sweating and all I knew was that I was aware of Debbie Harry sitting on the side of me. I don’t think I ever said a word to her, I don’t think I ever looked at her, but she did a great episode, she’s a great performer and she’s a lovely lady.

With punk permeating the airwaves, the fan site Tough Pigs, Muppet Fans Who Grew Up laments other guest hosts who might have been booked before the show ended its run:

It’s a shame Debbie Harry was the only member of her scene to make it to The Muppet Show. Can you imagine special guest stars, The Ramones, The B-52’s or even Talking Heads? … Harry’s guest stint reveals that the Muppets’ chaotic and textured world has more in common with the punk scene than one would initially expect.

The finale finds the Frog Scouts moshing to “Call Me,” with a reasonably “punk” looking, rainbow-clad backing Muppets band (Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem sat this one out due to their pre-existing associations with Motown, jazz, and a more classic rock sound.)

Related Content: 

The Muppets Sing the First & Second Acts of Hamilton

Witness the Birth of Kermit the Frog in Jim Henson’s Live TV Show, Sam and Friends (1955)

When Debbie Harry Combined Artistic Forces with H.R. Giger

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Harvard’s Digital Giza Project Lets You Access the Largest Online Archive on the Egyptian Pyramids (Including a 3D Giza Tour)

Nothing excites the imagination of young history-and-science-minded kids like the Egyptian pyramids, which is maybe why so many people grow up into amateur Egyptologists with very strong opinions about the pyramids. For such people, access to the highest quality information seems critical for their online debates. For professional academics and serious students of ancient Egypt such access is critical to doing their work properly. All lovers and students of ancient Egypt will find what they need, freely available, at Harvard University’s Digital Giza Project.

“Children and specialized scholars alike may study the material culture of this ancient civilization from afar,” Harvard’s Metalab writes, “often with greater access than could be achieved in person.” The project opened at Harvard in 2011 after spending its first eleven years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with the goal of “digitizing and posting for free online all of the archaeological documentation from the Harvard University—Boston Museum of Fine Arts Expedition to Giza, Egypt (about 1904–1947),” notes the about page.




The Digital Giza Project was born from a need to centralize research and artifacts that have been scattered all over the globe. “Documents and images are held in faraway archives,” the Harvard Gazette points out, “artifacts and other relics of ancient Egypt have been dispersed, stolen, or destroyed, and tombs and monuments have been dismantled, weather-worn, or locked away behind passages filled in when an excavation closes.” Other obstacles to research include the expense of travel and, more recently, the impossibility of visiting far-off sites.

Expanding far beyond the scope of the original expeditions, the project has partnered with “many other institutions around the world with Giza-related collections” to compile its searchable library of downloadable PDF books and journal articles. Kids, adult enthusiasts, and specialists will all appreciate Giza 3D, a reconstruction with guided tours of all the major archeological sites at the pyramids, from tombs to temples to the Great Sphinx, as well as links to images and archeological details about each of the various finds within.

For a preview of the multimedia experience on offer at the Digital Giza Project, see the videos here from project’s YouTube channel. Each short video provides a wealth of information; young learners and those just getting started in their Egyptology studies can find lessons, glossaries, an overview of the people and places of Giza, and more at the Giza @ School page. Whatever your age, occupation, or level of commitment, if you’re interested in learning more about the pyramids at Giza, you need to bookmark Digital Giza. Start here.

Related Content: 

Who Built the Egyptian Pyramids & How Did They Do It?: New Archeological Evidence Busts Ancient Myths

A 3,000-Year-Old Painter’s Palette from Ancient Egypt, with Traces of the Original Colors Still In It

What Ancient Egyptian Sounded Like & How We Know It

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Watch Cartoonist Lynda Barry’s Two-Hour Drawing Workshop

We know you’re Zoomed out, but might you make an exception for the pre-recorded drawing and writing session above with legendary cartoonist and illustrator Lynda Barry?

Under the auspices of Graphic Medicine’s participatory online series, Drawing Together, the notoriously playful Barry led participants through a series of exercises from her book, Making Comics, and seemed genuinely pleased to be back in teaching mode. (All of her in-person classes at the University of Wisconsin have been cancelled until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as has her usual summer stint at the Omega Institute.)




Barry endeavored to loosen her students up right away, brandishing toys and dancing to an amazing playlist in a friend’s borrowed attic, confiding that the wifi situation here was far superior to that in her old farmhouse.

Teacher divided the large group in half by birthdays, as a way to organize viewing each other’s work after each timed exercise.

This couldn’t quite replicate the experience of the live classroom, where students have the opportunity to handle each other’s work, and more time to take it in, but still fun to see the incredible diversity—and in the case of closed-eye exercises—thrilling similarities on display.

Barry’s delight extended beyond the confines of the page, imitating the way some students beam like swaying sunflowers throughout the 60-second closed eye sessions, while others knit their brows, lower their chins and power through.

A series of self-portraits followed, with prompts designed to tap into the sort of imaginative powers that frequently seep away in adolescence—draw yourself as an animal, an astronaut, a member of a marching band, any fruit that’s not a banana…

Longer exercises involved turning random squiggles into monsters, with an extra minute granted after the timer went off to add whatever missing things the artist felt each drawing needed, then choosing one of those monsters to star in a family album of sorts.

Barry, who has, over the course of her career, filled a number of panels with hilariously out-of-touch teachers making life a hell for child characters, is audibly appreciative of her students’ efforts, frequently congratulating them for bringing something into the world that didn’t exist a few minutes prior:

This is the thing about comics! They come intact, they come all together and the most important thing you need to do is just make time to draw them, the uninterrupted time, even if it’s just 2 minutes.

Truth!

The final exercise of the day drew on some of the writing techniques Barry featured in Syllabus, with participants, quickly jotting down memories after a prompt, then choosing one  to explore more deeply, with special attention devoted to sensory recall.

To play along from home after the fact, you’ll need a couple of hours, ten or so sheets of paper, a pencil or pen (Barry favors black felt tips), and your “original digital devices” (hint: they’re attached to the ends of your arms).

Find information on how to participate in upcoming free Drawing Together sessions here.

All drawings used with the permission of participant Ayun Halliday.

Related Content:

Lynda Barry’s New Book Offers a Master Class in Making Comics

Lynda Barry on How the Smartphone Is Endangering Three Ingredients of Creativity: Loneliness, Uncertainty & Boredom

Lynda Barry’s Illustrated Syllabus & Homework Assignments from Her New UW-Madison Course, “Making Comics”

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She most recently appeared as a French Canadian bear who travels to New York City in search of food and meaning in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Blob Opera Lets You Create Festive Music with Ease: An Interactive Experiment Powered by Machine Learning

Tis the season when we’re never more than one singalong Messiah away from wishing we had a better voice.

David Li’s interactive Blob Opera allows us to pretend.

The machine learning experiment takes its cues from four opera singers—soprano Olivia Doutney, mezzo-soprano Joanna Gamble, tenor Christian Joel, and bass Freddie Tong—who provided it with 16 hours of recorded material.

The result is truly an all-ages activity that’s much easier on the ears than most digital diversions.




Click and drag one of the gummy-bodied blobs up and down to change its pitch.

Pull them forwards and backwards to vary their vowel sounds.

Once all four are in position, the three you’re not actively controlling will harmonize like a heavenly host.

You can disable individual blobs’ audio to create solos, duets and trios within your composition.

Press record and you can share with the world.

The blobs don’t sing in any discernible language, but they can do legato, staccato, and shoot up to incredibly high notes with a minimum of effort. Their eyes pinwheel when they harmonize.

As Li describes to co-producer Google Arts & Culture below, it’s not the original singers’ voices we’re channeling, but rather the machine learning model’s understanding of the operatic sound.

Click the pine tree icon and the blobs will serenade you with the most-searched Christmas carols.

Begin your collaboration with Blob Opera here.

If you find yourself wanting more, have a go at the interactive Choir Li created for Adult Swim.

Related Content:

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Science of Opera,” a Discussion of How Music Moves Us Physically to Tears

The Met Opera Streaming Free Operas Online to Get You Through COVID-19

The Opera Database: Find Scores, Libretti & Synopses for Thousands of Operas Free Online

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She most recently appeared as a French Canadian bear who travels to New York City in search of food and meaning in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Why Humans Are Obsessed with Cats

A house cat is not really a fur baby, but it is something rather more remarkable: a tiny conquistador with the whole planet at its feet —Abigail Tucker

As part of its Annals of Obsession video series, The New Yorker invited science journalist Abigail Tucker, author of The Lion in the Living Room, to reflect on “how felines took over the Internet, our homes, and our lives.”

It goes without saying that cats and humans have co-existed for a very long time.

Most of us are acquainted with the high regard in which Ancient Egyptians held Felis catus.

And we may know something of their seafaring history, beginning with the Vikings and continuing on through Unsinkable Sam and other celebrated ship’s cats.




An overwhelming majority of us have spent the last decade or so glued to online examples of their antics—riding robot vacuumsreacting with terror to cucumbers, and pouncing on humans, some of whom have had the temerity to write and record voiceovers that suggest they have insight as to what goes on inside a cat’s hat. (As if!)

It’s gratifying to hear Tucker echo what cat lovers have long suspected (and emblazoned on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and decorative pillows)—the cats, not the owners, are the ones running the show.

Forgive us. Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.

Cats took a commensal path to domestication, motivated, then as now, by the food they knew to be stored in our settlements.

Tucker describes it as a series of cat controlled takeovers—a process of artificial selection, undertaken on the cats’ own initiative:

House cats are supremely adaptable. They can live anywhere and, while they must have plenty of protein, they eat practically anything that moves, from pelicans to crickets, and many things that don’t, like hot dogs. (Some of their imperiled feline relatives, by contrast, are adapted to hunt only a rare species of chinchilla.) House cats can tweak their sleeping schedules and social lives. They can breed like crazy.

In certain ways the house cat’s rise is tragic, for the same forces that favor them have destroyed many other creatures. House cats are carpetbaggers, arrivistes, and they’re among the most transformative invaders the world has ever seen—except for Homo sapiens, of course. It’s no coincidence that when they show up in ecosystems, lions and other megafauna are usually on their way out.

Aloof as many of their number may be, cats have engineered things in such a way as to be physically irresistible to most humans:

Their big heads and big eyes are so cute!

Their fur is so soft!

We can carry them around!

Dress them in doll clothes (sometimes)!

Their cries mimic the cries of hungry human babies, and elicit a similar response from their human caregivers.

We may not love litter box duty, but with 1 in 3 humans infected by Toxoplasma gondii, we’ll likely be tethered to them for all eternity.

For better or worse, we love them. And so do dog lovers. They just don’t know it yet.

But do not ever imagine that the feeling is reciprocal.

They’re archcarnivores who cannot open their own cans. As Tucker wryly observes:

I think it’s fair to say that we are obsessed and they are not.

Related Content: 

An Animated History of Cats: How Over 10,000 Years the Cat Went from Wild Predator to Sofa Sidekick

GPS Tracking Reveals the Secret Lives of Outdoor Cats

In 1183, a Chinese Poet Describes Being Domesticated by His Own Cats

How Humans Domesticated Cats (Twice)

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. She loves cats, but most recently appeared as a French Canadian bear who travels to New York City in search of food and meaning in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Uncanny Children’s Book Illustrations of Sigmund’s Freud’s Niece, Tom Seidmann-Freud

In 1919, Sigmund Freud published “The ‘Uncanny,’” his rare attempt as a psychoanalyst “to investigate the subject of aesthetics.” The essay arrived in the midst of a modernist revolution Freud himself unwittingly inspired in the work of Surrealists like Salvador Dali, Andre Breton, and many others. He also had an influence on another artist of the period: his niece Martha-Gertrud Freud, who started going by the name “Tom” after the age of 15, and who became known as children’s book author and illustrator Tom Seidmann-Freud after she married Jakob Seidmann and the two established their own publishing house in 1921.

Seidmann-Freud’s work cannot help but remind students of her uncle’s work of the unheimlich—that which is both frightening and familiar at once. Uncanniness is a feeling of traumatic dislocation: something is where it does not belong and yet it seems to have always been there. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Seidmann-Freud’s named their publishing company Peregrin, which comes from “the Latin, Peregrinos,” notes an exhibition catalogue, “meaning ‘foreigner,’ or ‘from abroad’—a title used during the Roman Empire to identify individuals who were not Roman citizens.”

Uncanny dislocation was a theme explored by many an artist—many of them Jewish—who would later be labeled “decadent” by the Nazis and killed or forced into exile. Seidmann-Freud herself had migrated often in her young life, from Vienna to London, where she studied art, then to Munich to finish her studies, and finally to Berlin with her husband. She became familiar with the Jewish philosopher and mystic Gershom Scholem, who interested her in illustrating a Hebrew alphabet book. The project fell through, but she continued to write and publish her own children’s books in Hebrew.




In Berlin, the couple established themselves in the Charlottenburg neighborhood, the center of the Hebrew publishing industry. Seidmann-Freud’s books were part of a larger effort to establish a specifically Jewish modernism. Tom “was a typical example of the busy dawn of the 1920s,” Christine Brinck writes at Der Tagesspiegel. Scholem called the chain-smoking artist an “authentic Bohèmienne” and an “illustrator… bordering on genius.” Her work shows evidence of a “close familiarity with the world of dreams and the subconscious,” writes Hadar Ben-Yehuda, and a fascination with the fear and wonder of childhood.

In her 1923 The Fish’s Journey, Seidmann-Freud draws on a personal trauma, “the first real tragedy to have struck her young life when her beloved brother Theodor died by drowning.” Other works illustrate texts—chosen by Jakob and the couple’s business partner, poet Hayim Nahman Bialik—by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, “with drawings adapted to the landscapes of a Mediterranean community,” “a Jewish, socialist notion… added to the texts,” “and the difference between boys and girls made indecipherable,” the Seidmann-Freud exhibition catalogue points out.

These books were part of a larger mission to “introduce Hebrew-speaking children to world literature, as part of establishing a modern Hebrew society in Palestine.” Tragically, the publishing venture failed, and Jakob hung himself, the event that precipitated Tom’s own tragic end, as Ben-Yehuda tells it:

The delicate, sensitive illustrator never recovered from her husband’s death. She fell into depression and stopped eating. She was hospitalized, but no one from her family and friends, not even her uncle Sigmund Freud who came to visit and to care for her was able to lift her spirits. After a few months, she died of anorexia at the age of thirty-eight.

Seidmann-Freud passed away in 1930, “the same year that the liberal democracy in Germany, the Weimar Republic, started it frenzied downward descent,” a biography written by her family points out. Her work was burned by the Nazis, but copies of her books survived in the hands of the couple’s only daughter, Angela, who changed her name to Aviva and “emigrated to Israel just before the outbreak of World War II.”

The “whimsically apocalyptic” illustrations in books like Buch Der Hasengeschichten, or The Book of Rabbit Stories from 1924, may seem more ominous in hindsight. But we can also say that Tom, like her uncle and like so many contemporary avant-garde artists, drew from a general sense of uncanniness that permeated the 1920s and often seemed to anticipate more full-blown horror. See more Seidmann-Freud illustrations at 50 Watts, the Freud Museum London, KulturPort, and at her family-maintained site, where you can also purchase prints of her many weird and wonderful scenes.

via 50 Watts

Related Content:

Sigmund Freud Speaks: Hear the Only Known Recording of His Voice, 1938

Ralph Steadman Creates an Unorthodox Illustrated Biography of Sigmund Freud, the Father of Psychoanalysis (1979)

Enter an Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books, All Digitized and Free to Read Online

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Free Stanford Course on How to Teach Online: Designed for Middle & High School Teachers

Update: You can find the video recording of the workshop here.

This past spring, teachers and students everywhere got an abrupt introduction to online learning. When classrooms moved online in March, many teachers experimented with online pedagogy for the first time, often without much training or support. To help ease this transition, the Stanford Online High School–an independent high school that operates entirely online–launched a free course designed to help teachers get comfortable teaching in this new medium. 7,000 teachers signed up. To continue providing support, an updated version of this free course will be offered again this weekend.

Teaching Your Class Online” will take place this Saturday (November 21) and Sunday (November 22),  and run from 9:00 am – 11:00 am Pacific time each day. (Update: The lectures are now available online.) Designed mainly for instructors teaching grades 7-12, the course can be helpful for elementary and college instructors as well. Topics covered will include “challenges [such] as student engagement and discussion (including for large groups, breakout rooms, and hybrid groups), effective communication with students and parents, assessment and curriculum adaptation for online pedagogy, and strategies for supporting both students and yourselves.”

Teaching Your Class Online” is supported by Stanford Online High School and Stanford Continuing Studies. You can enroll in the course on the Continuing Studies website here.

If you know any teachers who could benefit from this free course, please feel free to share this post with them.

Related Content:

1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites & More

“I Will Survive,” the Coronavirus Version for Teachers Going Online

How to Teach and Learn Philosophy During the Pandemic: A Collection of 450+ Philosophy Videos Free Online

More in this category... »
Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.