There are New York val­ues Ted Cruz prob­a­bly never ex­pected

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHANIE MCCRUMMEN

With the New York pri­mary just days away and the air­waves filled with pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates talk­ing about New York val­ues, two guys were dis­cussing the sub­ject dur­ing a cof­fee break on Wall Street.

“Hey, Steve,” one friend called to an­other. “What’s a New York value?”

“Life, lib­erty, the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness — and Ted Cruz is a com­plete a--hole,” said Steve Gian­nan­to­nio, who works in fi­nance. “That’s a New York value.”

Con­ver­sa­tions like this have been go­ing for a few months now, ever since Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) first ridiculed what he called “New York val­ues,” by which he said he meant “so­cially lib­eral” val­ues. In re­sponse, New York­ers, in­clud­ing his Repub­li­can ri­val Don­ald Trump, united in their New York­er­ness, say­ing he re­ally blew it. The tabloids de­ployed front pages telling Cruz to take the “FU” train, and de­pict­ing the Statue of Lib­erty show­ing him a mid­dle fin­ger. When Cruz gave an

im­pas­sioned speech at a GOP fundraiser in the city last week, at­ten­dees chat­ted amongst them­selves, clink­ing forks on plates, ex­er­cis­ing the New York value of ig­nor­ing a yelling per­son.

Mean­while, at a bar on Colum­bus Av­enue, a woman was em­brac­ing the New York value of a cold mar­tini and a plate of eggs when the sub­ject was raised.

“I just want to fin­ish my brunch,” said Mar­cia Gille­spie, 72, a for­mer ed­i­tor in chief of Essence and Ms. mag­a­zines. On the next bar stool, a woman who wished to be iden­ti­fied only as a res­i­dent of West 70th Street at­tempted to ex­plain.

“We’re neigh­bors here,” she be­gan calmly. “We en­joy the the­ater. We en­joy the arts. We en­joy Cen­tral Park, we en­joy the city — that’s New York. We’ve got all kinds of peo­ple, and we’ve all got to get along. Be kind, be pa­tient, be gen­tle. Cruz is a moron. Mar­cia, what do you think of that jerk?”

“He was us­ing New York as a sym­bol,” said Gille­spie. “It’s code speak, so if you buy into the code, you start to de­fend it, and it’s in­de­fen­si­ble.”

“That’s a very good in­sight,” said her friend.

“Thank you, sweet­heart,” said Gille­spie.

Neigh­bor­li­ness: a New York value. Out­side, it was a sunny day in the city. The mul­ti­tudes were sling­ing home bags of gro­ceries from Fair­way Mar­ket, or jog­ging in Cen­tral Park, or shop­ping for pre-war plumb­ing parts, or stand­ing in line for a for­eign film about an Ama­zo­nian tribe, or tak­ing a cig­a­rette break.

“Where is Ted Cruz from, any­way?” said Freddy Aponte, 35, a build­ing su­per from the Bronx.

“I don’t know, Kansas?” said his co-worker Eli­jah Moses, 30, from Har­lem. “Ohio?”

“Some place with 99 peo­ple,” said Jeury Jimenez, 19, a baker from Har­lem.

What did New York val­ues mean to three guys stand­ing by a trash can on Broad­way?

“It means we have zero tol­er­ance for bulls---,” said Aponte.

“It means you en­slave your­self to work,” said Jimenez.

“It means every­where you go there’s con­struc­tion and traf­fic,” said Moses.

“It means you’re on your way to work and you get stuck in some movie shoot,” said Aponte.

“Or a mac-and-cheese-eat­ing con­test,” said Moses. “That hap­pened to me to­day.” “Where?” said Aponte. “Times Square,” said Moses, who reached into Aponte’s shirt pocket for a New­port.

“New York val­ues is give me a cig­a­rette,” he said.

“New York val­ues is you buy the next pack,” said Aponte, mak­ing the point that in an ev­er­chang­ing city of 8 mil­lion peo­ple, it was in many ways ab­surd to speak of some fixed set of New York val­ues be­yond the fun­da­men­tal ones that in­volve get­ting along.

Like on the sub­way to Har­lem, where a woman with a baby in a stroller sat next to a man read­ing a Doris Less­ing novel, who was thigh-to-thigh with a man in a blue uni­form fall­ing asleep sit­ting. A barely in­tel­li­gi­ble an­nounce­ment came over the loud­speaker. Some­thing about con­struc­tion, the next stop and doors in only the first five cars open­ing.

“Are we in the first five cars?” asked the woman with the stroller, look­ing around.

“We’re in the first five cars,” said Jose Navarro, 48, a DJ from Har­lem. “We are?” said the woman. “We are, you’ll see, watch,” he said, stand­ing up at the doors. The train stopped.

“Bam!” he said as the doors opened.

Know­ing your lo­gis­tics is a New York value, Navarro said as they all headed out to Adam Clay­ton Pow­ell Boule­vard, but there were oth­ers.

“It’s learn­ing the things you need to sur­vive in New York City,” he said. “You learn how to work. You learn how to take care of your fam­ily. Make sure your mom’s okay, your fam­ily’s okay, you pay your bills, pay your rent. You re­al­ize the party life is not every­thing. When you go to jail, you wish you re­mem­bered your New York val­ues,” Navarro said, re­fer­ring to his own stint be­hind bars as he headed home. “I’m sen­ti­men­tal. I’m soft in the heart.”

Just to the north of Har­lem in the Bronx, Ted Cruz tooled around last week mi­cro-tar­get­ing evan­gel­i­cal Latino vot­ers, and say­ing that when he men­tioned New York val­ues he was ac­tu­ally re­fer­ring to “lib­eral politi­cians” and not the citizens of New York, but he still got the Bronx cheer. School­child­ren threat­ened to walk out dur­ing a visit he had planned to make to their high school, which he can­celled. He wound up eat­ing lunch at a Chi­nese-Do­mini­can restau­rant called Sabro­sura 2, where man­ager Nel­son Ng did not want to com­ment on the Texan other than say­ing: “We don’t care who comes in — Hil­lary, Bernie, who­ever, we don’t care. We’re just do­ing busi­ness.”

Do­ing busi­ness: a New York value.

Down the street at a cor­ner store called On the Six, cashier Rob Karkat was talk­ing to his ac­coun­tant through the phone tucked un­der his chin while mak­ing a turkey sand­wich for a cus­tomer, while look­ing for a Bic lighter for an­other, while say­ing of Cruz:

“He’s Cuban and he doesn’t like Span­ish-speak­ing peo­ple. There’s some­thing funny about that.”

It was def­i­nitely not a New York value, he said, spread­ing mayo on a roll, an­swer­ing in­come tax ques­tions on the phone — “Yes, mar­ried, yes, my daugh­ter is a baby” — while greet­ing a reg­u­lar.

“You got the green ap­ple?” the reg­u­lar asked, re­fer­ring to a liq­uid en­ergy power shot.

“No, I got the berry,” Karkat replied, hand­ing him the berry fla­vor.

“New York val­ues?” he said, tip­ping the phone down. “Ev­ery­one wants to work, to make their fam­ily happy, to pay their bills and live life,” he said, go­ing back to the phone. “Yeah, Ron­nie, what’s up?”

Liv­ing your own life and deal­ing with what comes your way: a New York value.

And this: In a down­town Man­hat­tan sub­way sta­tion, a train dis­patcher was get­ting off work Sun­day night. It was late, and he pulled out of a car­ton of hard­boiled eggs. He set them on a wooden bench. He taped a note to the car­ton that read “FREE hard boiled eggs,” and the date, all of which was for a home­less man he had no­ticed sleep­ing there in re­cent weeks.

He got on the sub­way, choos­ing to ig­nore a young man who pole danced through three stops, then got off and walked home along East Eighth Street, past mil­lion­dol­lar apart­ment build­ings, cheap shoe stores and an old church with an elab­o­rate gar­den in­side a wrought iron fence. “I couldn’t live any­where else,” said the dis­patcher, who wanted to give only his first name, Joe.

The next day was sunny, and down on Wall Street, a guy in a leather jacket was sit­ting out­side in the late af­ter­noon, read­ing the pa­per. This was Paul Fein­berg, 63, who spoke for many New York­ers when he said of Cruz and the whole New York val­ues con­tro­versy: “I don’t care what Ted Cruz said or what he thinks. I couldn’t care less. It’s just a phrase, you know? Not to be vague, but it’s just a phrase. I sup­pose any­one with a brain is con­sid­ered hav­ing New York val­ues.”

Hav­ing a brain: a New York value.

Just down the street, two guys in nice-look­ing suits were stand­ing out­side, not far from where the World Trade Cen­ter tow­ers had once been. They looked like Wall Street bankers, but it turned out that one of them was a lawyer who was a part-time ac­tor, and the other was a writer, di­rec­tor and ac­tor, and they were about to film a car com­mer­cial, prov­ing the point that an­other New York value is not mak­ing as­sump­tions about peo­ple.

“I think he meant to dis­tin­guish New York Jewish elite lib­er­als from the rest of the country,” said David Denowitz, 59, the lawyer, re­fer­ring to Cruz’s jab. “I took it very badly, be­cause I’m a New York Jewish elite lib­eral. Well, up­per-mid­dle class and ed­u­cated.”

He thought about his own New York val­ues.

“New York is re­ally a shin­ing ex­am­ple for the rest of the world — we’re Mus­lim, Catholic, Jewish, and we all ride the same sub­way, we all sit at the same lunch counter, and no bombs go off be­cause no one feels the need,” he said, point­ing out that the ob­vi­ous ex­cep­tions were the work of out­siders.

Denowitz had spent that Septem­ber 11 like thou­sands of other New York­ers did, walk­ing around the city, try­ing to give blood, he said, “only there was no one to give blood to.”

“Were you here that day?” he asked his col­league, Michael Si­mon Hall, 48, who nod­ded, and now they were quiet for a mo­ment, re­mem­ber­ing. “What a day,” Hall said. “What a day,” Denowitz said. Hall thought about New York, and val­ues.

“I don’t think I can put it in a few words,” he said.


Wait­ing for a pas­trami sand­wich at Katz’s Del­i­catessen re­quires a par­tic­u­lar kind of New York value.


Sub­way riders squeeze into a No. 6 train in Man­hat­tan head­ing up­town. Lo­gis­tics are a New York value, and it pays to know where you are, where you’re go­ing and how you’re get­ting there.

Staten Is­land’s Kia Robin­son, 37, says New York­ers are mis­un­der­stood. “Peo­ple think we are mean, but we are sim­ply hus­tling,” said Robin­son, right, as she got off the sub­way in Man­hat­tan with Tony Lo­gan, 57, of Brook­lyn.

A fam­ily walks past a mu­ral painted on the out­side of Sabro­sura 2, a restau­rant in the Bronx. Ted Cruz re­cently ate at the Chi­nese-Do­mini­can restau­rant, and the man­ager gave a diplo­matic re­sponse when asked about the visit.

Jeff Jor­dan, 23, who works in in­vest­ments, took is­sue with Cruz’s gen­er­al­iza­tions about New York. “You can’t just look at New York as one co­he­sive thing . . . . We are still all New York­ers, still all Amer­i­cans.”

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