April 9, 2018
The Charlotte Omelette is a satirical newspaper that’s been making stuff up about your neighborhood for a year and a half now. It’s the pet project of Tyler Baum, the musician/prankster behind the exotica-lounge act Don Telling’s Island Mysteries. As with the band, Baum uses the farcical premise of the Omelette as a stage for his inexhaustible absurdist humor. With its dubious contributors and content, the Omelette is like a stoned stroll through a junk shop of Charlotte-native nostalgia. On April 14th, Baum will be hosting Omelette Fest, a celebration of hitting the 10 issue-mark, at Petra’s. I emailed Baum some questions about it, and he emailed me some answers.
For people who’ve never heard of The Charlotte Omelette, or for those who’ve seen it around and not picked it up, tell us — what is it and why does it exist?
The Charlotte Omelette is a free entertainment/humor/badminton newspaper available at 53 upstanding establishments in Charlotte, NC. It exists because the ink molecules are magically fused to the molecules of the newsprint.
What is an “Omelette Fest”? Will there be a buffet?
Omelette Fest is a celebration of the release of the tenth issue of The Charlotte Omelette at Petra’s on April 14. Ten issues since September 2016. That’s a new issue every two months, with only a few dozen typos and punctuation errors in each one! All of our writers and illustrators will be there and copies of Omelettes #1 – #10 will be available for free. There will be a buffet of entertainment including Mike Strauss, Joshua Cotterino, and Human Pippi Armstrong. Admission is free although donations will gladly be accepted because we use very expensive ink. It’s on a Saturday afternoon in Plaza Midwood, so prepare to park in Ballantyne and walk.
“Fake news” is in the news. Have you ever been accused of faking the news? Do you get the fake-news blues?
Everyone’s got the 24-hour fake-news blues. The Charlotte Omelette isn’t interested in real or fake news. Our specialty is “entertaining information” or, as we call it, “entfortaintion.”
You like to do nostalgic write-ups on restaurants that went out of business decades ago. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever heard in response to one of these?
Remember Athens Restaurant on Independence Blvd.? A former waitress called our news hotline – (980) 785-EGGS – and admitted that the kitchen staff never wore shoes while working. She agreed to be interviewed and we ran a shocking four-page exposé on the restaurant in our third issue in 2017. It had been closed for several years by that point but we felt that the public needed to know that something unsavory was afoot.
One week after publication, we received a shiny size nine men’s dress shoe in our P.O. Box. Apparently, that’s an old Greek way of expressing dissatisfaction. We printed a full apology in our next issue and received another men’s dress shoe, but this time it was size 10.5 and not very shiny. That’s the Greek way of saying that the apology was accepted.
How do you keep bigger publications from poaching your top talent?
Our staff of artists and writers is the best in North Carolina. Charlie Bagwell draws a surrealistic slice-of-life cartoon called “Banana Peels.” Jeremy Fisher writes about all things architecture. Casey Ramone has a column about whatever she wants it to be. Bip Kunkler Sr. writes about his traumatic experiences as Sir Purr’s private yoga instructor. There are others, but I can’t remember them right now because I’m driving on 277 and my engine is smoking pretty bad. All of them unknowingly signed eternal allegiance contracts with The Charlotte Omelette under deep hypnotic trances. Please don’t mention anything about that to them at Omelette Fest.
How do you deal with the pressure to stay ahead of the curve?
I’m currently a few milliseconds ahead of the curve and will lose my lead by the time this sentence comes to an end. Oh well. I’m immune to the hazards of experiencing any pressure. Every other morning, rain or shine, I meditate at the corner of Central Avenue and Kilborne Drive for five hours. At noon, I eat an all dessert lunch at The Landmark Diner and eavesdrop on the conversations around me for inspiration. Then, I try on all the shirts at Value Village until sunset. The newspaper is created, edited and assembled in the very last minutes before deadline in the parking lot of the printing company. Usually hungover or drunk. Often both.
Who was the most annoying person that you ever fake-interviewed?
Jennifer Roberts. She kept interrupting my questions to sing along to the jukebox at The Thirsty Beaver. I let it slide because she’d just lost her bid for re-election and she knew every single word to “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean” by Waylon Jennings.
I mailed $5 to someone for a chest expander that I saw advertised in The Charlotte Omelette. Six months later, no chest expander. Can you look into this for me?
$5?!! That’s way too much. The chest things in life are free!
Celebrate the tenth issue of The Charlotte Omelette at Omelette Fest Saturday, April 14 at Petra’s.