The friendly skies

Kelly Bauman finds his country roots.

Kelly Bauman finds his country roots.

Don’t call them stewardesses
I’m enthralled with flight attendants. Fascinated. What interesting lives they must lead, traveling all over the country and even the world, interacting with thousands of people of different races and backgrounds.

And how do flight attendants spend their days off? Sometimes I create little backstories in my head. Like the female flight attendant who splits time between San Francisco, where she performs S&M on seemingly uptight businesspeople, and Seattle, where she has a normal family life with her husband and teenage daughter. (“Mom, why is there a studded whip in your suitcase?”)

I do the same with passengers. I wonder what they do for a living, even if it might not be as exciting as, say, performing S&M on seemingly uptight businesspeople. What brings them to Portland on a Friday night? Is that woman pecking away on her laptop going to seal some major deal? Will these be the last people I see if the plane goes down in flames?

These are the kinds of things you think about when you forget to bring a book or an iPod.

The not-so-friendly skies
One thing I’ve noticed is that flight attendants are always friendly. I haven’t quite grasped the concept of waiting on people day in and day out without becoming a surly prick.

It was interesting during a recent trip to compare and contrast the different crews. On the Friday-night flight there was a young and hip crew cracking jokes on the mic. There was probably a tub of beer in the cockpit.

On the return flight (a Monday morning), it was a completely different situation—let’s just say it was a “veteran” crew. It was definitely a more structured flight. No goofing around. And nothing got by them … they actually made sure your bag was completely stowed underneath the seat.

As we approached our destination, a passenger had forgotten to put his seat into the upright and locked position. One of the attendants walked by. She must have been in her late 60s. Her smile quickly disappeared as she sternly told him to move his seat forward. I was taken aback, although I could have sworn he asked her to say it louder and call him bitch.

Fully operational
It’s funny: Deathstar was the anti-Mother Hips in Chico back in the day—loud dissonance to the Hips’ country-influenced bar rock. So it was interesting to see former Deathstar frontman and Portlander Kelly Bauman perform at the Doug Fir with his current band, which took on more of a country feel … albeit still plenty loud and poppy.

The songs had those sonic elements of Bauman’s past work, but with more twang in the mix. Some of it reminded my of the Mo-Hips’ newer material. Bauman’s new album Gomorrah is out on Jealous Butcher Records (M. Ward, The Decemberists), and dishes up breezy Americana ditties with layered vocals and guitars a la The Byrds. Listen to “I See Stars” at

Learnin’ the locals
The students have arrived by parent-purchased cars to spend their out-of-town money. Here. In Chico. It’s like Europeans coming to the States and realizing that their money goes a lot further than it does at home.

Some locals hate this time of year—less parking, longer lines downtown, generally more crowded. But I think the students bring a little energy to lazy Chico. Here’s a joke: What do you call Chico without the students? Oroville. It’s funnier when told out loud.

Just remember to look both ways before crossing the street … even if it’s a one-way. Also remember that even if those shots and that burrito get lost in a pile of puke on the sidewalk, the $21.50 still stays in the local economy!

Keep it local