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We Have Successfully Subjected Two Of You To The Ray Ratto Experience

The Ray Ratto raffle winners, along with Ray Ratto and Patrick Redford, enjoying some lobster from a truck.
Photo by Ray's wife

With Defector reaching its fourth year of existence, our corps of business-style experts fashioned a bold, innovative plan to further secure our company's financial independence: inflicting Ray Ratto upon a subscriber. This past fall, we were high off the rousing success and bafflingly low lift of sending David Roth and cardboard David Roth on a short but cinematic journey to meet the lottery winner, so we drew up a more ambitious plan for the sequel. This time around, readers who donated at least $20 to the Defector tip jar were entered to win a trip to the Bay Area for a sumptuous wine-centric meal with Ray.

Given the East Coast skew of our readership, we thought this would involve a more substantial lift than putting a pair of Davids Roth on the train. So imagine our surprise when the winner of the Ratto raffle happened to live in Sacramento (capital of California, cinematic hub, lots of great places to eat, etc.). If I were in your shoes, dear reader, I would also think the draw was fixed. In order to avoid accusations of skullduggery, we drew a second winner, who flew in from Washington, D.C. for what turned out to be a lovely time out by the Bay. Both winners were named Brian; neither is a lawyer. As Ray's consigliere and alleged son, I tagged along and served as scribe.

Ray set up the group with a handcrafted tour featuring a handful of wineries in Alameda, lobster from a truck (it was delicious), some Cowboys schadenfreude at Almanac Brewing, and a cameo from Ray's wife, who took the photo seen at the top of this blog. Sacramento Brian and D.C. Brian were both excellent company, with D.C. Brian willing to indulge the three of us in a lengthy chat about Northern California. Ray played some of the hits—the Earl Strom story is a favorite. Here's his own recap of the day:

The day was an absolute triumph, in that (a) it sucked far less than it should have, (b) we drank on the company dime, and (c) neither of the Brians in question were annoying phanbois who wanted to know what Brock Purdy was really like (when all we know of him is his public image as an open-faced cheese sandwich with a marketable skill). They had a few stories to share—like California Brian hijacking trucks for the Stockton mob as a summer job between eighth grade and freshman year, which would have been great if he'd actually told it—and they were generally more agreeable and less tedious than what we expected our typical reader to be. We could tell they neither expected or deserved much, and we met both burdens. Now on to the next contest and our next exposure to the customers—Biting Kneecaps, with Defector's Michigan Bureau. Let's see who wants to fly to Detroit.

Ray Ratto

After departing the winery zone, we headed to Ray's local to watch the Lions beat the Rams. D.C. Brian had to watch me watch the Kings lose in the most humiliating fashion possible, which made for a nice spiritual kicker to the evening. Ray promises me he has filed his expense reports.

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