Oh, it was a party 140 years in the making, and one that will be remembered for the ages. On Friday, August 2, a select crowd of dignitaries, family, friends, partners and readers gathered at Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina in Montauk to celebrate the 60th summer of Dan’s Papers and the 80th birthday of our founder, Dan Rattiner. As befits a night dedicated to Dan and Dan’s Papers, there was plenty of laughter, a few tears and a surprise or two.
The evening kicked off with a speech from Dan’s wife, Christine Wasserstein, who spoke of her husband’s steadfast dedication to his writing, his affinity for the beach and some behind-the-curtain secrets about his creative process. She reflected with great fondness on her life with Dan, and announced that they were celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary that very night!
New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Southampton Town supervisor Jay Schneiderman stepped up next and presented Dan with a special proclamation in honor of the anniversary. Both Thiele and Schneiderman joked that Dan’s signature hoax stories have long been the cause of frenzied phone calls from concerned constituents, but acknowledged that the Hamptons wouldn’t be the same without him or Dan’s Papers. Storied author and professor Roger Rosenblatt also feted, and lightly roasted, Dan and his unconventional and quirky reporting style, before saying how much he admires the man and all that he’s accomplished over the years.
Dan’s Hamptons Media Chairman Richard Burns told the tale of his tenure with Dan and the love he has had for the paper since first visiting the East End from New York City decades ago. “Those colored, painted glossy covers confirmed that you’d crossed the border from Nassau County to Suffolk County to Dan’s Country,” Burns said, drawing a raucous cheer.
“In seeking an appropriate commemoration of today’s landmark anniversaries,” he went on, “how would we talk to Dan’s life, liberty and his pursuit of happiness, his roots in Montauk, his sense of justice mingled with that all-important sense of humor?” He then revealed a huge surprise—an enormous statue of Dan as the Statue of Liberty, holding a miniature Montauk Lighthouse in place of a torch.
Dan himself hammed it up a bit with his statue, then, after a standing ovation, stood before the rapt crowd and offered a moving thank-you to all—“people I know and people here who I’ve never met”—and a humorous, historic account of how Dan’s Papers got its name.
True to Dan’s Hamptons Media tradition, the culinary aspect of the night was, in a word, fabulous, as six local chefs each prepared a course inspired by one of the six decades of Dan’s Papers. First up was “Foxy” Fluke Crudo from Surf Lodge chef Robert Sieber, with watermelon yuzu dashi, uni emulsion and nori powder. Chef David Piacente of Gosman’s Dock presented “Disco” Chowder—chilled local corn chowder, day boat scallops, poached rock shrimp and colorful herbs.
Scarpetta Beach chef Dane Sayles prepared La Dolce Vita—zucchini tortelloni with black truffle, smoked tomato and chive blossoms. Gurney’s Star Island’s own Showfish chef Jeremy Blutstein revealed 1992 Tavern on the Green, a twist on a BLT, with a Marilee’s heirloom tomato and Alex’s fried green tomato acting as the sandwich to a piece of bacon-like smoked swordfish and garnished with Layton’s mustard greens and kimchi mayo. The Halyard at Sound View Greenport chef Stephan Bogardus represented the North Fork with Omnivore’s Dilemma #locavore—dry aged Crescent Farm duck and braised lettuce with a foie gras emulsion. Duryea’s chef Philippe Corbet provided a sweet finale with #duryeas #dessertlovers, featuring pistachio sponge cake, white chocolate mousse, port wine cherries and creme fraiche ice cream.
With the sun now set and the stars twinkling above Montauk—where a not-yet-20-years-old Dan, working out of his parents’ home, founded The Montauk Pioneer and began the journey so many years ago—guests adjourned to the open-air after party, where music played into the night and many a glass was raised to the Hamptons Subway and Dan’s Taste of Summer events, classic cover artists and that night’s favorite Instagram pics, the ongoing dedication to preserving Hamptons history and taking a brilliant legacy into the future.
Here’s to another 60 summers.