I went to see who would turn out at the late party promoter-writer’s memorial party last Friday at the Plumm, a miserable box of a nightclub where Nell’s used to be. Fitting Baird, it seemed sleazy and inscrutable. I recognized no one, but felt I was being leered at. There were a good two dozen men with gray beards, and half of them danced enthusiastically. I wished I had a camera.
Baird scared me a bit; he was so jocular. Now I read it was because he was drunk all the time. (Who knew?) He supported all the photo and art events I worked on over the years, in his own weird way. He’d pull me aside and tell me how to pay for a column item or give him a piece of art in return for a mention, neither of which I could ever bring myself to do. But his pay-for-play approach to journalism was fascinating nonetheless, and he told me a number of stories that opened my eyes to how Page Six and others occasionally did business behind the scenes.
Since I was a magazine and newspaper cub in New York in the late '80s (working at Fortune, USA Today, and Details—I know, the combo didn’t make sense to me, either), he was always putting my name on invitations without asking and inviting me to nightclubs that were going out of business. I loved it. One time he threw a party in my honor at the Tunnel (anybody remember the Tunnel?), so I put all my friends’ names on the invitation and even dragged all my bosses there. The turnout must not have been good enough, since he suddenly stopped calling and mailing. Years later, when both our roles had morphed, I reminded him about it and he didn’t even remember knowing me. He was unique, to say the least, and I will miss him.