House

Viben: “Pablo Picasso”

Lyrics are a fickle field. You can be wordy as hell, hoping that at least one line sticks in listener’s minds. Or, you could just loop the hell out of some barebones sentences – guaranteed to have a lot more hypnotic staying power through sheer repetition, especially in the realm of dance music.

Now let’s talk about Ben Fish, who operates here in Austin under a few different avenues: as a DJ, as frontman of his full band Viben & The Submersibles, and as the mononymous solo act Viben. Viben categorizes his stuff as “Scuba Funk”, a label that totally mirrors his liquid grooves, but doesn’t necessarily require a lot of deep diving in terms of lyrical accessibility. So while Viben’s sophisticated soundscapes have earned him a place on our local sonar since his start in 2018, his latest release proves that a more basic approach can be just as good.

Which reminds us of the great Pablo Picasso, who once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” And that quote really resonates with the vibrant simplicity of Viben’s latest, “Pablo Picasso”. This super trendy, Euro-friendly piece of house chic translates Picasso’s genius brushstrokes into brilliantly swung drums, synth, rhythm guitar, and bass, while Viben’s vocals pine for an artistic ascent towards the tune’s namesake legendary status.

Will Viben one day become a celebrated painter? We don’t know. But will “Pablo Picasso” be remembered as an uncomplicated piece of genuine expression in Austin’s electronic oeuvre? No doubt.

Examining Texas’ legacy of anti-LGBT laws

After seven months pushing a school voucher-like plan, Gov. Greg Abbott gets a firm pushback from fellow Republicans. Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report shares the latest.

Mexico plans to offer “know your rights” educational sessions in Texas as lawmakers send a wide-ranging border security bill to the governor.

Amid slowing sales of EV’s, one city in Texas seems to be leading the switch away from gas pumps to charging stations.

The past legislative session saw the filing of a historic number of bills impacting LGBT Texans – but that’s just the latest effort in what’s been a half-century of criminalizing these communities, according to a new investigation from KXAN TV.

Is this the end of efforts to keep Fairfield Lake State Park public?

For the first time in modern memory, the Texas House is set to take up a school voucher-like plan.

How do you put a price tag on a state park? We’ll hear more about the challenges facing Texas Parks and Wildlife as it tries to reclaim parkland purchased by developers.

In a dramatic U-turn this week, China’s president appears to be trying to warm up to the U.S. Some clues as to why might be found in a new report from the Dallas Federal Reserve.

Also: What some forecasters are calling a “super El Niño” is coming soon to Texas.

Tracing the foodways of Black Seminoles

The Supreme Court finally has its own ethics code for justices following a series of scandals – including a Texas billionaire showering gifts on Justice Clarence Thomas. Will this new code of conduct make a difference?

Bison once ruled the Great Plains of North America before being hunted almost to extinction. We’ll hear about how Indigenous people in Texas are supporting their slow rebound.

For descendants of Black Seminoles – a group whose members included former slaves and the Seminole native people – finding foodways through Texas and Mexico takes care and intention.

And: Colleges can no longer use race as a determining factor in admissions, thanks to a Supreme Court decision earlier this year. What’s the upshot? It may surprise you.

The Texas Standard team wants to know what you think about the Texas Standard podcast! Take the Texas Standard Podcast survey

Why bird watchers are flocking to Texas cemeteries

Early voting is now underway in Texas – but what’s on the ballot? We’ll get caught up on the 14 constitutional amendments Texans are being asked to weigh in on, ranging from property taxes to education, infrastructure and more.

First it’s Exxon mobil scooping up Pioneer, now Chevron acquiring Hess. Is it a new era of mergers and acquisitions in the oil field – and if so, why?

Final resting places are also surprisingly active sites for a certain group of hobbyists. The Standard’s Raul Alonzo has more with “Cemetery Birding” author Jennifer Bristol.

And the Texas Rangers are off to the World Series after defeating the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS.

How a Texas constitutional amendment would aid childcare centers

With the House of Representatives on hold in the absence of a speaker, a possible vote today could be a turning point.

Texas voters are about to face a big decision: a constitutional amendment aimed at boosting the availability of child care options. Lina Ruiz of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells us more.

Two games in for the Astros and Rangers, what’s Major League Baseball’s first All-Texas league championship looking like?

More than 100 homes and businesses are on the fast track to demolition as the state moves to expand a portion Interstate 35.

Ken Paxton survived his impeachment trial. What’s next?

Ken Paxton has been acquitted on all impeachment charges by a jury of the Texas Senate. Supporters of the newly-reinstalled attorney general say it’s a victory for the rule of law and the constitution. Opponents called it a sham. It underscores a huge rift in the Republican Party of Texas almost certain to have echoes in the 2024 presidential race. We’ll have analysis of the historic trial and the Saturday vote.

More on the huge UAW labor action, and how Texas could be directly affected.

And we’ll go into the ring with the director of the new film “Cassandro.”

A budding pipeline fight highlights activists’ changing tactics

What does the first day of Attorney General Ken Paxton’s historic impeachment trial tell us about what remains ahead? The Texas Newsroom’s Sergio Martínez-Beltrán joins us from the Capitol with a recap.

We’ll hear the latest on a new fight over a natural gas pipeline in West Texas – and how new strategies by opponents of such development are getting traction.

Among the new laws now in effect in Texas is a requirement for those who want to run for county sheriff.

The sister of Botham Jean, who was killed in Dallas five years ago, has written a new memoir, “After Botham: Healing from my Brother’s Murder by a Police Officer.”

Plus an update on wildfire dangers statewide.

Japanese snow monkeys thrive in South Texas scrub

Voters will ultimately get the final say on the new property tax cuts passed by the Texas Legislature. What’s in it for them, and what’s missing?

The investigation of a Texas A&M professor raises new questions about political pressure on campus coming from very high places.

U.S. military academies make way for a big change: allowing cadets to be parents.

Japanese snow monkeys were brought to Texas for research 50 years ago – and a journalist was driven to find out whatever happened to them.

2024 Senate race comes into focus as Gutierrez announces candidacy

In a second special session, Texas House and Senate leaders reach a deal on property tax relief. What does it add up to?

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez has announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, making him the second high-profile Democrat – along with Rep. Colin Allred – to challenge Sen. Ted Cruz.

How Texas has become a ground zero for self-driving trucks, with word that driverless semi runs between Dallas and Houston could become a regular thing as soon as next year.

We’ll get the rundown on a legal battle between a group of nuns and a bishop in North Texas.

And a quick cooldown at a Texas ice house.

A Texas program pushes drivers to pay old tickets – and over 600,000 have lost their licenses

A federal courtroom was filled with anger and tears as relatives of the victims of the 2019 mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart faced the gunman ahead of his sentencing. Julián Aguilar of the Texas Newsroom shares more.

A program aimed at helping Texans pay off old tickets has left hundreds of thousands without driver’s licenses and tangled in red tape.

Amid a stalemate between House and Senate Republicans over property taxes, House Democrats weigh in with a plan.

A new study has found air pollution from U.S. oil and gas production is responsible for $77 billion in health impacts every year, with Texas among the states with the highest proportion of health damages.

Houston is celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with an exhibit and film screenings at the Houston Museum of African American Culture.

And the week in politics with the Texas Tribune.

As one special session ends, the next one begins

Has the Texas border become like the Iowa State Fair, a mandatory stop for Republican presidential candidates?

It’s a long, hot summer for Texas lawmakers as the governor calls another special session, focusing solely on property taxes.

Rethink35, the organization questioning another expansion of the interstate highway that cuts through Austin, has given up its legal battle – at least for now. Why other cities in Texas
are watching closely.

Also, how Muslims in Texas are celebrating a holiday often referred to as Big Eid.

Everything you always wanted to know about the Texas energy grid

Texas senators met yesterday to talk about two divisive issues: property taxes and the impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton. So where do things stand?

Can Texas’ power grid withstand the heat? We’ll get detailed on supply and demand.

A new book from journalist Dan Solomon, ‘The Fight for Midnight,’ reimagines Wendy Davis’ 2013 abortion filibuster as YA fiction.

And a new law protecting trap-neuter-release programs for cats will soon go into effect – but some say there’s a problem no one considered.

Insurers are bailing on homes in disaster-prone regions. Is Texas next?

The Texas Senate passed three new bills on border security – but with the House adjourned, does it mean anything?

The Texas Education Agency has taken over the Houston Independent School District, and already some major reforms are taking shape.

Two major insurance companies say they won’t write new homeowner policies in California, citing the costs of climate change. Could something similar happen in Texas?

Pro baseball is a favorite summer sport for many Texans, but a rule change is making it a little less lazy than it once was – for better or for worse? We’ll take a look.

Uvalde mariachi team’s win was a bright spot in a year of darkness

Why couldn’t Republicans who control the Legislature see eye to eye?

There’s a cost to Texas taxpayers that comes with the Legislature going into overtime. Professor Mark Jones of Rice University helps us crunch the numbers.

The Texas Education Agency is expected to take over the Houston Independent School District on Thursday. We’ll take a look at what state-appointed managers face once they start getting settled in.

How did a fight over state incentives to attract business in Texas turn out – and did business boosters get what they wanted?

Plus, the young mariachi band that gave Uvalde something to cheer for.

What are the weirdest laws in Texas?

At the Capitol, an intraparty rivalry between Republicans explodes into the open. The dueling charges between Attorney General Ken Paxton and House Speaker Dade Phelan are so personal and serious, some longtime Capitol watchers are characterizing the battle as among the most significant in Texas political history. Lauren McGaughey of the Dallas Morning news will have details.

After a scandal at a Bastrop foster care facility, Texas lawmakers pass two new bills to crack down on abuses.

We’ll have more on a vigil last night in Uvalde marking the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary.

The Texas Legislature will finish its session having made lots of new laws. But there are plenty of old laws on the books that seem pretty weird by today’s standards.

And debt collectors get a new high-tech tool.

Why the Rio Grande Valley is a transit desert

It started 5 months ago, and if all goes according to plan, it ends this week. Sergio Martínez-Beltrán of the Texas Newsroom joins us with his look ahead at the final days of the Texas legislative session. And what happens to the many proposals that didn’t pass? To understand, a knowledge of zombies might be beneficial.

Why have so many Democrats been lining up with Republicans on key items this session?

And you’ve heard the song “Whiskey River”? Though the song’s a fable, a new book shows how whiskey flows through Texas history more than you might expect.

Kate the Chemist aims to answer ‘the big questions’ about science with new podcast

Erin Douglas of the Texas Tribune joins with details on water infrastructure efforts that have bipartisan support, but a chasm separating House and Senate proposals – and just 11 more days to come to agreement.

More money for Texas public school teachers? Some educators say the proposals on the table aren’t enough to keep them in the classroom.

In San Antonio, what appears to be a first-of-its-kind effort to dramatically improve access to public bathrooms for people with disabilities.

And UT-Austin chemistry professor Kate Biberdorf – aka Kate the Chemist – shares a preview of her new podcast, “Seeking a Scientist.”

How the ‘We Buy Ugly Houses’ company preyed on desperate and elderly sellers

Migrant crossings at the border with Mexico are reported to be dramatically down after the end of Title 42.

Adolescent medicine doctors at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin are out amid calls from politicians for an investigation of gender-affirming care at the hospital.

A bill to preempt new local regulations on a variety of issues including labor and the environment moves quickly toward an expected passage in the Texas Senate.

And what’s the story behind those “We Buy Ugly Houses” signs? A ProPublica investigation reveals that the buyers behind the signs took advantage of elderly homeowners.

NASA mission sounds like a reality show, but it’s gathering data for a Mars journey

One of the state’s biggest counties is looking for a new top election official amid friction over the difficulty of running non-partisan elections. With early voting underway in races statewide, why the resignation of the top elections official in Tarrant County has special resonance.

A closer look at claims of Republican voter suppression in Harris County: how does the narrative square with the data?

In parts of rural Texas, growing opposition to solar and wind farms, where Texas has taken a lead.

And a virtual mission to Mars, in a hangar south of Houston? Four people, one year, and little contact with the outside world.