Ted Cruz Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
By Virge Randall

Ted Cruz brandished the phrase “New York Values” like an accusation, joining the millions of “out people” who think they know New York City. As if.


New York Values are:

People lining up around the block for blocks on end to donate blood on 9/12/2001.

It’s people eating pizza on the subway because they’ve got someplace else to go, something to do, and no time to eat anywhere else.

It’s people taking their pants off on the subway one day for a laugh, and starting a worldwide phenomenon.

It’s the guy who owns China Fun shaking hands and offering compliments of the day with the guy who owns Mumtaz Restaurant. On Christmas.

It’s someone opening a tiny store in the East Village that only sells pencils.

It’s a seven-year-old boy from Brooklyn debuting on Broadway.

It’s the grandparents of every one of my close friends leaving the rigged game at their homelands behind, coming here with nothing and no safety net, and making homes and families…

…and the longtime residents remembering their grandparents’ stories of coming here with nothing and giving someone newer a hand.

It’s millions of people riding the subway every day packed closely together enough to declare each other dependents on their income tax.

It’s as brutal as a gang rape in a Brooklyn park and as generous as a guy literally giving the shirt off his back to a homeless man.

If you sneer at New York Values, you’re sneering at Brooklyn the Borough of Churches, and the annual coat drive. You’re sneering at God’s Love We Deliver and City Harvest. You’re sneering at the creative fountain from which countless people drink for inspiration, for fun, and for survival.

You’re sneering at the Duccio at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Nutcracker at Christmas, and the Fringe Festival. You might not be comfortable with the Fringe Festival, but we didn’t make it for you.


Things do move a lot faster here — people, trends, businesses. Cherished traditions fade away and are replaced with the speed of an unattended laptop at Starbucks. That’s because New York Values are simply human nature writ larger, faster, and more competitively than anywhere else.

We let Texas-native Taylor Swift be a spokesperson. Would Houston take Al Pacino? Hah. We’re too ethnic, too gritty, too idiosyncratic, too….New York-y to be anything else but what we are, and damned proud of it.

Every day, every hour, New York takes in the people other communities cast out — the oddballs, the marginalized, the ones who have yet to grow into their talent. New York is the whetstone of their talents and abilities, the touchstone of their hopes and dreams.

New York is hard for anyone outside the City to understand. It’s a complex stew of people thrown together, living in spaces small enough to give a veal calf claustrophobia, on limited dough, paying ridiculous rents and the highest cost of living, and the City says, “deal with it.”

It’s a petri dish of opportunism and generosity, swindlers and saints, and gamblers and entrepreneurs, risking it all on a single toss of the dice and rent-seekers looking for a sure thing.

You keep your friends close and your wallet closer here.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You think Texas is big? Only in acreage, pal.

…but don’t get me started about that.