FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Catching Ziggy on the Lower East Side

An old friend of mine was in town a couple weeks ago. He said he wanted to see the Lower East Side, so we went out drinking. After the eighth or ninth round I can’t say how much local scenery we saw, but we did glimpse a familiar face across the tracks of the L train. The face belonged to an actor named James Ransone, who played this great tragic character, “Ziggy”, on a TV show called The Wire. Generally I would have let him go about his train ride in peace, but my bellyful of Jameson told me that yelling “ZIGGY!” across the tracks was a much better idea. He turned quickly and shot me a surprised and horrified look before the silver blur of the incoming train blocked out our line of sight.

After a full night of sleep and half a bottle of aspirin I got to thinking about artists and the characters they portray. It’s an old joke that even super fans can’t separate Shatner from Captain Kirk or Mark Hamill from Luke Skywalker. They go to conventions and talk to these actors as if they really are the people on their TV. Our culture tries to make it clear to us that these are just storytellers, not real people.

For some reason we don’t make the same distinctions with our musical celebrities. People don’t think of 50 Cent as Curtis Jackson in costume. We have a hard time seeing that the woman who created the character Tina Turner was a girl from rural Tennessee named Anna Mae Bullock. Instead, the guy with the microphone is supposed to be the same person on the street as they are on the stage.

And the greatest performers do put a lot of themselves into their characters. You can tell that the guy who steps on stage with The E Street Band every night is more fact than fiction. You can’t make a character that believable without finding some personal truths to support the image. Springsteen created a wildly popular persona from a lot of different sources, including his own personality.

My good friend “Ziggy” proved that the opposite is true as well. When I shouted the name of a fictional person he knew immediately who I was talking to. He turned quickly enough to betray more than just his annoyance, he was admitting that you can never really separate yourself from the people you “pretend” to be.

LORENZO WOLFF is a musician living in New York. He can be reached at: lorenzowolff@gmail.com

 

More articles by:

LORENZO WOLFF is a musician living in New York. He can be reached at: lorenzowolff@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Control of Nature
Louis Proyect
COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper
Kathleen Wallace
The Highly Contagious Idea
Kenneth Good
The Apartheid Wars: Non-Accountability and Freedom for Perpetrators.
Andrew Levine
Democracy in America: Sorry, But You Can’t Get There from Here.
Ramzy Baroud
Tunisia Leads the Way: New Report Exposes Israel’s False Democracy
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the State-of-Emergency Pandemic
Matthew Stevenson
Will Trump Cancel the Election? Will the Democrats Dump Joe?
Ron Jacobs
Seattle—Anti-Capitalist Hotbed
Michael T. Klare
Avenger Planet: Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
Jack Rasmus
COVID-19 and the Forgotten Working Class
Werner Lange
The Madness of More Nukes and Less Rights in Pandemic Times
J.P. Linstroth
Why a Race is Not a Virus and a Virus is Not a Race
John Feffer
We Need a Coronavirus Truce
Thomas S. Harrington
“New Corona Cases”: the Ultimate Floating Signifier
John Grant
Is the Pandemic Patriarchal?
Victor Grossman
Corona and What Then?
Katie Fite
Permanent Pandemic on Public Lands: Welfare Sheep Ranchers and Their Enablers Hold the West’s Bighorns Hostage
Patrick Bond
Covid-19 Attacks the Down-and-Out in Ultra-Unequal South Africa
Eve Ottenberg
Capitalism vs. Humanity
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 2: Panic On the Streets of Tehran
Jonas Ecke
Would Dying for the Economy Help Anybody?
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Could COVID-19 Reshape Global Leadership?
Jeff Mackler
Capitalism is the Virus!
Andrew Moss
Incarceration, Detention, and Covid-19
Faramarz Farbod
Prayers, Piffle and Privation in the Time of Pandemic
Will Solomon
In the New Dystopia
Dean Baker
The Relative Generosity of the Economic Rescue Package: Boeing vs. Public Broadcasting
Dr. Leo Lopez, III
We Need a Lot More Transparency From the CDC
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Reflections on a Glass of Homemade Cider
Robert Koehler
Developing a Vaccine Against War
Rashid Nuri
Homegrown Crisis Response: Who Grows Your Food?
Mark Luskus
Worst Case Scenario: Healthcare Workers Need Masks, ASAP
Volker Franke
The Virus That May Bring us Together
Mitchell Zimmerman
A Q & A on the GOP’s Call for Elder Sacrifice
Olfat al-Kurd
COVID-19 Could Be Catastrophic for Us: Notes From Gaza
Eileen Appelbaum - Roesmary Batt
Hospital Bailouts Begin…for Those Owned by Private Equity Firms
Nabri Ginwa
Carcinogens
Jill Richardson
Efficiency vs. Resilience
Lee Ballinger
Eddie Van Halen and the Future of Humanity
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail