The Profile: Lance Armstrong’s second act & Joe Biden’s mysterious son

Let me tell you about someone I met recently: Louis Gritsipis.

He’s the owner of an old-school Greek diner located inside of a four-story building boxed in by luxury high-rises in Midtown Manhattan. Gritsipis, who is in his late 70s, still works behind the counter of a place he’s named the 42nd Street Pizza Corporation.

Gritsipis grew up poor and became infatuated with America as a kid growing up in Kandila, Greece. After World War II, he remembers American soldiers gifting him pants and giving out flour to the community. After visiting New York at age 18, he returned to Greece and joined the NATO Navy where he became a cook on a ship.

He eventually immigrated to the United States in 1958, and bought his building for $150,000 in 1980. “Coming here with no English, no money, still I did it,” he says.

In 2000, developers offered him $10 million for the building, which has three two-bedroom apartments along with the diner on the ground floor. 

And then Gritsipis did something crazy. He turned it down — and has continued to turn down lucrative offers ever since. “Even if they give me $1 billion, I will not sell,” he told The New York Times. “Where am I going to go? This is my Park Avenue, my Fifth Avenue.”

He adds, “What am I going to do with the money? I’m happy with what I have, whether it’s one dollar or 500. I have my health. I work 16, 17 hours a day and didn’t go to a doctor for the first time until I was 65.” 

Gritsipis embodies the American Dream in a way that is admirable, but the reality of his situation is also incredibly sad. The neighborhood has changed dramatically since he first bought the building. With Hudson Yards nearby, it’s turned into a billionaire’s playground, and Gritsipis feels he is being pushed out. He pays almost $70,000 in annual property taxes, while many of his new high-rise neighbors receive tax abatements. Gritsipis is hoping his son keeps running the family business when he’s older, but that’s also uncertain.

“I tell him, ‘This is going to be yours one day,’” Gritsipis’ wife said. “And he says, ‘What am I going to do? Can I be strong like my father? Can I resist?’”

Are there stories like this one in your community? I’d love to hear them -- reply to this email & send them my way.

Here we go:

— Lance Armstrong’s second act [**HIGHLY RECOMMEND**]
— Joe Biden’s mysterious son
— The first Gen Z superstar
— The man outsmarting the robots
— The star grappling with trauma
— The billion-dollar streetwear brand
— The In-N-Out burger billionaire


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PEOPLE TO KNOW.

Lance Armstrong’s second act: During his professional cycling career, Lance Armstrong was known as a heroic cancer survivor who went on to win the Tour de France a record seven times. He was also, of course, a cheater—the leader of a team that, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, “ran the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” Armed with a popular podcast and a new venture capital firm, Armstrong is attempting to make a return in the good graces of the public. Can he find a way back?

“Tim Ferris, Chris Sacca, Gary Vaynerchuk—they all do this. Nobody does it specifically dedicated to this world—endurance, outdoors, health and fitness.”

Joe Biden’s mysterious son: Presidential candidate Joe Biden rarely talks about his son Hunter, but news outlets have zoomed in on his tumultuous private life. Hunter has struggled for decades with alcohol addiction and drug abuse; he went through an acrimonious divorce from his first wife, Kathleen Buhle Biden; and he had a subsequent relationship with his deceased brother’s widow, Hallie. He was also recently sued for child support by an Arkansas woman who claims that he is the father of her child. There’s a lot to unpack in here.

“There’s addiction in every family. I was in that darkness. I was in that tunnel—it’s a never-ending tunnel.”

The first Gen Z superstar: Billie Eilish was born in December 2001, making her the first artist with a chart-topping album to be born this millennium. She’s never bought a CD. She says things like, “I’m never gonna be 27 — that’s too old.” Four years ago, she uploaded to SoundCloud a song called “Ocean Eyes,” which was meant for her dance teacher, who’d asked for a song to choreograph a routine to. But when it went viral overnight, the industry came calling. She had a billion streams on Spotify before her album had even come out. She’s actually a really fascinating person, and this profile captures her well.

“Fame is pretty cool. If I’m putting on my third-person cocky hat, the shit is fucking amazing.”

The man outsmarting the robots: AI and robots have automated a lot of jobs, but there’s one person you cannot automate away: Bobby Tuna. Of all the things, fish is the final frontier in food delivery that still requires a human touch. Bobby Tuna can tell if that fish you ordered online is fresh or mushada — a little soft. “By the time they invent a computer that can do what I can do,” he says, ”I’ll be dead.”

“To get the best out of fishmongers, they have to have a relationship with you. To trust you. Then you’re going to get the best stuff. How’s a robot supposed to be able to do that?”

The star grappling with trauma : Although pop star Ariana Grande is enjoying the most successful chapter of her career, it has also been a spectacularly brutal couple of years. In 2017, Grande performed at her sold-out show in Manchester, England, when a suicide bomber detonated, leaving 23 people dead. In 2018, her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller died of an overdose, and her brief engagement to the SNL comic Pete Davidson ended. In this profile, she opens up about heartache, grief, and growing up.

“I still don’t trust myself with the life stuff.”

COMPANIES TO WATCH.

The billion-dollar streetwear brand: When it first opened in 1994, Supreme sprung to life as a meet-up spot for the growing downtown New York skate community. Twenty-five years later, Supreme remains a skate brand, but it is something much more than that too. Supreme's clothing and accessories sell out instantly, and the brand is valued at $1 billion. Here’s how it’s worked its way to the very center of culture and fashion.

“I think Supreme created the world that the entire fashion industry lives in today.”

THROWBACK.

The In-N-Out burger billionaireAt 36 years old, Lynsi Snyder is the youngest woman on this year’s Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. With a net worth of $3 billion, she’s the sole owner of burger empire In-N-Out. Snyder’s past lies in stark contrast to the company’s long-standing stability — she never graduated from college, battled through drug use, and went through three divorces. Taking over the franchise in 2010 gave her a sense of purpose. “When you persevere, you end up developing more strength,” she said.

“It’s not about the money for us. Unless God sends a lightning bolt down and changes my heart miraculously, I would not ever sell.”