It was there, one night in December of 2009, that he hosted an intimate holiday party attended by the staff of DNAinfo.com, the curiously named neighborhood news website Ricketts bankrolls.
Some guests were surprised by the feel of the apartment. It lacked the overweening worldliness you might expect from a billionaire’s pad 750 feet over Central Park. The warm wooden furniture and touches of Americana evoked an almost countrified homeyness resonant of Ricketts’ Midwestern roots—perhaps a nod here or there to the style of his primary residence in Little Jackson Hole, Wyo. But the understated decor was offset by sweeping views of the starry Manhattan skyline.
The party itself wasn’t an overly sophisticated affair, either, although there were plenty of drinks and hors d’oeuvres, including bison sliders, courtesy of High Plains Bison, another one of Ricketts’ entrepreneurial pursuits. (Ricketts would add a chocolate fondue fountain to the following year’s holiday bash.)
That night, DNAinfo’s journalists were getting an early taste of the paradox of Joe Ricketts in New York: Ambitious and adventurous as any of the city’s plutocrats, but without any concern for social cachet. Friendly chatter revealed a man with a grandfatherly mien, prone to talk about business and finance but also about the historical movies on his Netflix queue, or his frequent travels, which in recent years have included a cross-country motorcycle trip through Canada and a fly-fishing expedition in Chile. It’s a life full of the good things, but without any real gestures toward glamor.
If you’re into this sort of thing, the rest is here.
Most interesting thing I learned at tonight’s reading of “The Greatest 3-Minute Punk Stories 2" at Housing Works: The Magnetic Fields’ long-time former merch guy was a roadie in the ’90s for My Pal Trigger and—before that—Skavoovie and the Epitones.
“According to Remnick, Hersh ‘was working on the Watergate story. The New York Times needed to catch up with the Washington Post … it was killing them. He needed to get Charles Colson, one of the bad guys of Watergate, on the phone. How did he do that? He got to the office at eight a.m. — nobody gets to a newspaper at eight a.m. — and on a rotary phone, he called Chuck Colson’s home number every 15 minutes till seven p.m. Eight a.m. to seven p.m., every 15 minutes on a rotary-dial phone. … He got Chuck Colson, and there was the front page story.’”—“When I hear a writer say that they ‘put in a call,’ I want to pull my hair out.”